12. Micro-architectural Event Tracking

Version 1.9.1 of the RISC-V Privileged Architecture adds support for Hardware Performance Monitor (HPM) counters. [1] The HPM support allows a nearly infinite number of micro-architectural events to be multiplexed onto up to 29 physical counters. The privilege access levels can also be set on a per-counter basis.

Table: UArch Events

Number Event
1 Committed Branches
2 Committed Branch Mispredictions
and many more (see core.scala)

The available events can be modified in core.scala as desired. [2] It is then up to machine-level software to set the privilege access level and the event selectors for each counter as desired.

Listing 12.1 Enable Micro-arch counters
static void mstatus_init()
   // Enable user/supervisor use of perf counters
   write_csr(mucounteren, -1);
   write_csr(mscounteren, -1);

   // set events 1 and 2 to counters 3 and 4.
   write_csr(mhpmevent3, 1);
   write_csr(mhpmevent4, 2);

12.1. Reading HPM Counters in Software

The Code Example Listing 12.2 demonstrates how to read the value of any CSR register from software.

Listing 12.2 Read CSR Register
#define read_csr_safe(reg) ({ register long __tmp asm("a0"); \
        asm volatile ("csrr %0, " #reg : "=r"(__tmp)); \
        __tmp; })

long csr_cycle  = read_csr_safe(cycle);
long csr_instr  = read_csr_safe(instret);
long csr_hpmc3  = read_csr_safe(hpmcounter3);
long csr_hpmc31 = read_csr_safe(hpmcounter31);
[1]Future efforts may add some counters into a memory-mapped access region. This will open up the ability to track events that, for example, may not be tied to any particular core (like last-level cache misses).
[2]Note: io.events(0) will get mapped to being Event #1 (etc.) from the point of view of the RISC-V software.