Timekeeping in the memory system: Predicting and optimizing memory behaviour

Zhigang Hu, Stefanos Kaxiras, Margaret Martonosi

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

131 Scopus citations


Techniques for analyzing and improving memory referencing behaviour continue to be important for achieving good overall program performance due to the ever-increasing performance gap between processors and main memory. This paper offers afresh perspective on the problem of predicting and optimizing memory behaviour. Namely, we show quantitatively the extent to which detailed timing characteristics of past memory reference events are strongly predictive of future program reference behaviour. We propose a family of time-keeping techniques that optimize behaviour based on observations about particular cache time durations, such as the cache access interval or the cache dead time. Timekeeping techniques can be used to build small, simple, and high-accuracy (often 90% or more) predictors for identifying conflict misses, for predicting dead blocks, and even for estimating the time at which the next reference to a cache frame will occur and the address that will be accessed. Based on these predictors, we demonstrate two new and complementary time-based hardware structures: (1) a time-based victim cache that improves performance by only storing conflict miss lines with likely reuse, and (2) a time-based prefetching technique that hones in on the right address to prefetch, and the right time to schedule the prefetch. Our victim cache technique improves performance over previous proposals by better selections of what to place in the victim cache. Our prefetching technique outperforms similar prior hardware pre fetching proposals, despite being orders of magnitude smaller. Overall, these techniques improve performance by more than 11% across the SPEC2000 benchmark suite.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-220
Number of pages12
JournalConference Proceedings - Annual International Symposium on Computer Architecture, ISCA
StatePublished - 2002
Event29th Annual International Symposium on Computer Architecture - Anchorage, AK, United States
Duration: May 25 2002May 29 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Hardware and Architecture


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