Buffer-on-board memory systems


The design and implementation of the commodity memory architecture has resulted in significant performance and capacity limitations. To circumvent these limitations, designers and vendors have begun to place intermediate logic between the CPU and DRAM. This additional logic has two functions: to control the DRAM and to communicate with the CPU over a fast and narrow bus. The benefit provided by this logic is a reduction in pin-out to the memory system and increased signal integrity to the DRAM, allowing faster clock rates while maintaining capacity. While the few vendors utilizing this design have used the same general approach, their implementations vary greatly in their nontrivial details. A hardware-verified simulation suite is developed to accurately model and evaluate the behavior of this buffer-onboard memory system. A study of this design space is used to determine optimal use of the resources involved. This includes DRAM and bus organization, queue storage, and mapping schemes. Various constraints based on implementation costs are placed on simulated configurations to confirm that these optimizations apply to viable systems. Finally, full system simulations are performed to better understand how this memory system interacts with an operating system executing an application with the goal of uncovering behaviors not present in simple limit case simulations. When applying insights gleaned from these simulations, optimal performance can be achieved while still considering outside constraints (i.e., pin-out, power, and fabrication costs).

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@article{CooperBalis2012BufferonboardMS, title={Buffer-on-board memory systems}, author={Elliott Cooper-Balis and Paul Rosenfeld and Bruce Jacob}, journal={2012 39th Annual International Symposium on Computer Architecture (ISCA)}, year={2012}, pages={392-403} }