Cell Processor-Based Workstation for XML Offload - System Architecture and Design

Letz, Stefan
Cell is a new processor architecture jointly developed by Sony, Toshiba, and IBM. The architecture's first processor combines one Power and eight Single Instruction Multiple Data (SIMD) cores, so-called Synergistic Processing Elements, in a 'supercomputer-on-a-chip'. Besides its intended uses in next-generation game consoles, high-definition television sets, and Cell processor-based workstations, the processor needs to be evaluated in other application scenarios as well. One interesting idea is to exploit Cell for function offload, where compute-intensive processing tasks are moved from application systems to specialized offload systems, enabling existing applications to profit from the computing power of Cell. An especially pressing subject in today's application environments is XML acceleration. XML is becoming more and more of a standard for exchanging and handling data and information, but its processing still shows a tremendous lack of performance. In particular, XML parsing, the very basic step of processing XML, increases the load on application systems that are already at their limits. This diploma thesis designs and evaluates a system architecture for XML offload to a Cell processor-based workstation, bringing together a new processor technology that needs to be evaluated and an increasingly important software technology that suffers from its tremendous performance problem. After presenting the fundamental technologies and introducing the basic concepts of function offload, this thesis describes the design and prototype implementation of a system infrastructure for XML offload from Java applications to a designated server system that provides various offload services. Thereby, the main focus is on transparent integration into existing Java parser interfaces and flexibility of the overall infrastructure. The resulting system infrastructure is evaluated in a number of test series and profiling runs. The results disclose a surprising bottleneck, the resolution of which requires new approaches to the integration of offload functionality into existing Java applications. In addition to designing and evaluating the system infrastructure for XML offload, this work collects and discusses some first ideas about exploiting the Cell processor for XML parsing, and gives an outlook to further work that is necessary to use the full potential of Cell for XML acceleration.
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IBM Deutschland Entwicklung GmbH
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