The design of new computer architectures relies heavily on simulation. New
architectures that incorporate unconventional features or novel designs can
not usually use established simulators and, therefore, designers have to adapt
an existing one or develop their own from scratch. Traditionally, softwarebased
simulators have been the main platform for architectural exploration.
However, the introduction of high-level hardware description languages, such
as Bluespec, together with improvements in recongurable hardware platforms,
provides an opportunity to challenge the traditional notion and consider
hardware-accelerated simulators for this purpose. This paper presents
a comprehensive analysis of three simulators, a hardware-accelerated one,
a high-delity software-based one and a mature, generic software one, each
of them developed to evaluate dierent aspects of a novel, unconventional
architecture: the SpiNNaker massively-parallel computer. The analysis includes
a discussion of the dierent modelling and implementation trade-os
and a comparison with the real system.