PDL Abstract

Row Buffer Locality-Aware Data Placement in Hybrid Memories

SAFARI Technical Report, TR-SAFARI-2011-005, Carnegie Mellon University, September 2011.

HanBin Yoon, Justin Meza, Rachata Ausavarungnirun, Rachael Harding, Onur Mutlu

Carnegie Mellon University
5000 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


Phase change memory (PCM) is a promising alternative to DRAM, though its high latency and energy costs prohibit its adoption as a drop-in DRAM replacement. Hybrid memory systems comprising DRAM and PCM attempt to achieve the low access latencies of DRAM at the large capacities of PCM. However, known solutions neglect to assess the utility of data placed in DRAM, and hence fail to achieve high performance and energy efficiency. We propose a new DRAM-PCM hybrid memory system that exploits row buffer locality. The main idea is to place data that cause frequent row buffer miss accesses in DRAM, and data that do not in PCM. The key insight behind this approach is that data which generally hit in the row buffer can take advantage of the large memory capacity that PCM has to offer, and still be accessed as quickly as if the data were placed in DRAM. We observe our mechanism (1) effectively mitigates the high access latencies and energy costs of PCM, (2) reduces memory channel bandwidth consumption due to the migration of data between DRAM and PCM, and (3) prevents data that exhibit low reuse from polluting DRAM. We evaluate our row buffer locality-aware scheme and show that it outperforms previously proposed hybrid memory systems over a wide range of multiprogrammed workloads. Across 500 workloads on a 16-core system with 256 MB of DRAM, we find that our scheme improves system performance by 41% over using DRAM as a conventional cache to PCM, while reducing maximum slowdown by 32%. Furthermore, our scheme shows 17% performance gain over a competitive all-PCM memory system, and comes to within 21% of the performance of an unlimited-size all-DRAM memory system.