The Main Memory System: Challenges and Opportunities
Invited Article in Communications of the Korean Institute of Information Scientists and Engineers (KIISE), 2015.
Onur Mutlu, Justin Meza, Lavanya Subramanian
Carnegie Mellon University
The memory system is a fundamental performance and energy bottleneck in almost all computing systems. Recent system design, application, and technology trends that require more capacity, bandwidth, efficiency, and predictability out of the memory system make it an even more important system bottleneck. At the same time, DRAM technology is experiencing difficult technology scaling challenges that make the maintenance and enhancement of its capacity, energy-efficiency, and reliability significantly more costly with conventional techniques.
In this article, after describing the demands and challenges faced by the memory system, we examine some promising research and design directions to overcome challenges posed by memory scaling. Specifically, we describe three major new research challenges and solution directions: 1) enabling new DRAM architectures, functions, interfaces, and better integration of the DRAM and the rest of the system (an approach we call system-DRAM co-design), 2) designing a memory system that employs emerging non-volatile memory technologies and takes advantage of multiple different technologies (i.e., hybrid memory systems), 3) providing predictable performance and QoS to applications sharing the memory system (i.e., QoS-aware memory systems). We also briefly describe our ongoing related work in combating scaling challenges of NAND flash memory.
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