Journal of Computer Science and Technology, vol. 20 no. 5 September 2005, pp 586-595

This paper explores potential for the RAMpage memory hierarchy to use a microkernel with a small memory footprint, in a specialized cache-speed static RAM (tightly coupled memory, TCM). Dreamy memory is DRAM kept in low-power mode, unless referenced. Simulations show that a small microkernel suits RAMpage well, in that it achieves significantly better speed and energy gains than a standard hierarchy from adding TCM. RAMpage, in its best 128 KB L2 case, gained 11% speed using TCM, and reduced energy 14%. Equivalent conventional hierarchy gains were under 1%. While 1 MB L2 was significantly faster against lower-energy cases for the smaller L2, the larger SRAM’s energy does not justify the speed gain. Using a 128 KB L2 cache in a conventional architecture resulted in a best-case overall run time of 2.58s, compared with the best dreamy mode run time (RAMpage without context switches on misses) of 3.34s, a speed penalty of 29%. Energy in the fastest 128 KB L2 case was 2.18J vs. 1.50J, a reduction of 31%. The same RAMpage configuration without dreamy mode took 2.83s as simulated, and used 2.39J, an acceptable trade-off (penalty under 10%) for being able to switch easily to a lower-energy mode.

© Journal of Computer Science and Technology 2005

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