TriCheck: Memory Model Verification at the Trisection of Software, Hardware, and ISA
Memory consistency models (MCMs) which govern inter-module interactions in a shared memory system, are a significant, yet often under-appreciated, aspect of system design. MCMs are defined at the various layers of the hardware-software stack, requiring thoroughly verified specifications, compilers, and implementations at the interfaces between layers. Current verification techniques evaluate segments of the system stack in isolation, such as proving compiler mappings from a high-level language (HLL) to an ISA or proving validity of a microarchitectural implementation of an ISA. This paper makes a case for full-stack MCM verification and provides a toolflow, TriCheck, capable of verifying that the HLL, compiler, ISA, and implementation collectively uphold MCM requirements. The work showcases TriCheck’s ability to evaluate a proposed ISA MCM in order to ensure that each layer and each mapping is correct and complete. Specifically, we apply TriCheck to the open source RISCV ISA, seeking to verify accurate, efficient, and legal compilations from C11. We uncover under-specifications and potential inefficiencies in the current RISC-V ISA documentation and identify possible solutions for each. As an example, we find that a RISC-V-compliant microachitecture allows 144 outcomes forbidden by C11 to be observed out of 1,701 litmus tests examined. Overall, this paper demonstrates the necessity of full-stack verification for detecting MCM-related bugs in the hardware-software stack.
Copyright by the Association for Computing Machinery, Inc. Permission to make digital or hard copies of part or all of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. Copyrights for components of this work owned by others than ACM must be honored. Abstracting with credit is permitted. To copy otherwise, to republish, to post on servers, or to redistribute to lists, requires prior specific permission and/or a fee. Request permissions from Publications Dept, ACM Inc., fax +1 (212) 869-0481, or email@example.com. The definitive version of this paper can be found at ACM's Digital Library http://www.acm.org/dl/.