ACCORD: Enabling Associativity for Gigascale DRAM Caches by Coordinating Way-Install and Way-Prediction

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Stacked-DRAM technology has enabled high bandwidth gigascale DRAM caches. Since DRAM caches require a tag store of several tens of megabytes, commercial DRAM cache designs typically co-locate tag and data within the DRAM array. DRAM caches are organized as a direct-mapped structure so that the tag and data can be streamed out in a single access. While direct-mapped DRAM caches provide low hit-latency, they suffer from low hit-rate due to conflict misses. Ideally, we want the hit-rate of a set-associative DRAM cache, without incurring additional latency and bandwidth costs of increasing associativity. To address this problem, way prediction can be applied to a set-associative DRAM cache to achieve the latency and bandwidth of a direct-mapped DRAM cache. Unfortunately, conventional way prediction policies typically require per-set storage, causing multi-megabyte storage overheads for gigascale DRAM caches. If we can obtain accurate way prediction without incurring significant storage overheads, we can efficiently enable set-associativity for DRAM caches.

This paper proposes Associativity via Coordinated Way-Install and Way-Prediction (ACCORD), a design that steers an incoming line to a “preferred way” based on the line address and uses the preferred way as the default way prediction. We propose two way-steering policies that are effective for 2-way caches. First, Probabilistic Way-Steering (PWS), which steers lines to a preferred way with high probability, while still allowing lines to be installed in an alternate way in case of conflicts. Second, Ganged Way-Steering (GWS), which steers lines of a spatially contiguous region to the way where an earlier line from that region was installed. On a 2-way cache, ACCORD (PWS+GWS) obtains a way prediction accuracy of 90% and retains a hit-rate similar to a baseline 2-way cache while incurring 320 bytes of storage overhead. We extend ACCORD to support highly-associative caches using a Skewed Way-Steering (SWS) design that steers a line to at-most two ways in the highly-associative cache. This design retains the low-latency of the 2-way ACCORD while obtaining most of the hit-rate benefits of a highly associative design. Our studies with a 4GB DRAM cache backed by non-volatile memory shows that ACCORD provides an average of 11% speedup (up to 54%) across a wide range of workloads.


Vinson Young (Georgia Institute of Technology)
Chiachen Chou (Georgia Institute of Technology)
Moinuddin Qureshi (Georgia Institute of Technology)

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