ATCache: Reducing DRAM-cache Latency via a Small SRAM Tag Cache

Cheng-Chieh Huang, Vijay Nagarajan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract / Description of output

3D-stacking technology has enabled the option of embedding a large DRAM onto the processor. Prior works have proposed to use this as a DRAM cache. Because of its large size (a DRAM cache can be in the order of hundreds of megabytes), the total size of the tags associated with it can also be quite large (in the order of tens of megabytes). The large size of the tags has created a problem. Should we maintain the tags in the DRAM and pay the cost of a costly tag access in the critical path? Or should we maintain the tags in the faster SRAM by paying the area cost of a large SRAM for this purpose? Prior works have primarily chosen the former and proposed a variety of techniques for reducing the cost of a DRAM tag access.

In this paper, we first establish (with the help of a study) that maintaining the tags in SRAM, because of its smaller access latency, leads to overall better performance. Motivated by this study, we ask if it is possible to maintain tags in SRAM without incurring high area overhead. Our key idea is simple. We propose to cache the tags in a small SRAM tag cache – we show that there is enough spatial and temporal locality amongst tag accesses to merit this idea. We propose the ATCache which is a small SRAM tag cache. Similar to a conventional cache, the ATCache caches recently accessed tags to exploit temporal locality; it exploits spatial locality by prefetching tags from nearby cache sets. In order to avoid the high miss latency and cache pollution caused by excessive prefetching, we use a simple technique to throttle the number of sets prefetched. Our proposed ATCache (which consumes 0.4% of overall tag size) can satisfy over 60% of DRAM cache tag accesses on average.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPACT '14 Proceedings of the 23rd international conference on Parallel architectures and compilation
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)978-1-4503-2809-8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


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