PDL Abstract

Enabling Practical Processing in and Near Memory for Data-Intensive Computing

Proc. of the Design Automation Conference (DAC), Las Vegas, NV, June 2019.

O. Mutlu†§, S. Ghose§, J. Gómez-Luna†, R. Ausavarungnirun§

† ETH Zürich
§ Carnegie Mellon University


Modern computing systems suffer from the dichotomy between computation on one side, which is performed only in the processor (and accelerators), and data storage/movement on the other, which all other parts of the system are dedicated to. Due to this dichotomy, data moves a lot in order for the system to perform computation on it. Unfortunately, data movement is extremely expensive in terms of energy and latency, much more so than computation. As a result, a large fraction of system energy is spent and performance is lost solely on moving data in a modern computing system.

In this work, we re-examine the idea of reducing data movement by performing Processing in Memory (PIM). PIM places computation mechanisms in or near where the data is stored (i.e., inside the memory chips, in the logic layer of 3D-stacked logic and DRAM, or in the memory controllers), so that data movement between the computation units and memory is reduced or eliminated. While the idea of PIM is not new, we examine two new approaches to enabling PIM: 1) exploiting analog properties of DRAM to perform massively-parallel operations in memory, and 2) exploiting 3Dstacked memory technology design to provide high bandwidth to in-memory logic. We conclude by discussing work on solving key challenges to the practical adoption of PIM.