Buddy Compression: Enabling Larger Memory for Deep Learning and HPC Workloads on GPUs

GPUs accelerate high-throughput applications, which require orders-of-magnitude higher memory bandwidth than traditional CPU-only systems. However, the capacity of such high-bandwidth memory tends to be relatively small. Buddy Compression is an architecture that makes novel use of compression to utilize a larger buddy-memory from the host or disaggregated memory, effectively increasing the memory capacity of the GPU. Buddy Compression splits each compressed 128B memory-entry between the high-bandwidth GPU memory and a slower-but-larger buddy memory such that compressible memory-entries are accessed completely from GPU memory, while incompressible entries source some of their data from off-GPU memory. With Buddy Compression, compressibility changes never result in expensive page movement or re-allocation. Buddy Compression achieves on average 1.9× effective GPU memory expansion for representative HPC applications and 1.5× for deep learning training, performing within 2% of an unrealistic system with no memory limit. This makes Buddy Compression attractive for performance-conscious developers that require additional GPU memory capacity.

Authors: 
Esha Chouske (Microsoft)
Mattan Erez (University of Texas - Austin)
Jeff Pool (NVIDIA)
Publication Date: 
Wednesday, June 3, 2020
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