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Bi-Modal DRAM Cache: Improving Hit Rate, Hit Latency and Bandwidth

47th Annual IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Microarchitecture, MICRO 2014
Cambridge, United Kingdom, December 13--17, 2014


  1. Nagendra Dwarakanath Gulur, Supercomputer Education and Research Centre
  2. R. Govindarajan, Supercomputer Education and Research Centre; Department of Computer Science and Automation


In this paper, we present Bi-Modal Cache - a flexible stacked DRAM cache organization which simultaneously achieves several objectives: (i) improved cache hit ratio, (ii) moving the tag storage overhead to DRAM, (iii) lower cache hit latency than tags-in-SRAM, and (iv) reduction in off-chip bandwidth wastage. The Bi-Modal Cache addresses the miss rate versus off-chip bandwidth dilemma by organizing the data in a bi-modal fashion - blocks with high spatial locality a reorganized as large blocks and those with little spatial locality as small blocks. By adaptively selecting the right granularity of storage for individual blocks at run-time, the proposed DRAM cache organization is able to make judicious use of the available DRAM cache capacity as well as reduce the off chip memory bandwidth consumption. The Bi-Modal Cache improves cache hit latency despite moving the metadata to DRAM by means of a small SRAM based Way Locator. Further by leveraging the tremendous internal bandwidth and capacity that stacked DRAM organizations provide, the Bi-Modal Cache enables efficient concurrent accesses to tags and data to reduce hit time. Through detailed simulations, we demonstrate that the Bi-Modal Cache achieves overall performance improvement (in terms of Average Normalized Turnaround Time (ANTT)) of 10.8%, 13.8% and 14.0% in 4-core, 8-core and 16-coreworkloads respectively.


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