Hybrid cache architecture with disparate memory technologies

  • Authors:
  • Xiaoxia Wu;Jian Li;Lixin Zhang;Evan Speight;Ram Rajamony;Yuan Xie

  • Affiliations:
  • Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA;IBM Austin Research Lab, Austin, TX, USA;IBM Austin Research Lab, Austin, TX, USA;IBM Austin Research Lab, Austin, TX, USA;IBM Austin Research Lab, Austin, TX, USA;Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA

  • Venue:
  • Proceedings of the 36th annual international symposium on Computer architecture
  • Year:
  • 2009

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Caching techniques have been an efficient mechanism for mitigating the effects of the processor-memory speed gap. Traditional multi-level SRAM-based cache hierarchies, especially in the context of chip multiprocessors (CMPs), present many challenges in area requirements, core-to-cache balance, power consumption, and design complexity. New advancements in technology enable caches to be built from other technologies, such as Embedded DRAM (EDRAM), Magnetic RAM (MRAM), and Phase-change RAM (PRAM), in both 2D chips or 3D stacked chips. Caches fabricated in these technologies offer dramatically different power and performance characteristics when compared with SRAM-based caches, particularly in the areas of access latency, cell density, and overall power consumption. In this paper, we propose to take advantage of the best characteristics that each technology offers, through the use of Hybrid Cache Architecture (HCA) designs. We discuss and evaluate two types of hybrid cache architectures: inter cache Level HCA (LHCA), in which the levels in a cache hierarchy can be made of disparate memory technologies; and intra cache level or cache Region based HCA (RHCA), where a single level of cache can be partitioned into multiple regions, each of a different memory technology. We have studied a number of different HCA architectures and explored the potential of hardware support for intra-cache data movement and power consumption management within HCA caches. Utilizing a full-system simulator that has been validated against real hardware, we demonstrate that an LHCA design can provide a geometric mean 7% IPC improvement over a baseline 3-level SRAM cache design under the same area constraint across a collection of 25 workloads. A more aggressive RHCA-based design provides 12% IPC improvement over the baseline. Finally, a 2-layer 3D cache stack (3DHCA) of high density memory technology within the same chip footprint gives 18% IPC improvement over the baseline. Furthermore, up to 70% reduction in power consumption over a baseline SRAM-only design is achieved.