Design of the 21174 Memory Controller for DIGITAL Personal Workstations

Abstract

Vol. 9 No. 2 1997 57 As microprocessor performance has relentlessly improved in recent years, it has become increasingly important to provide a high-bandwidth, low-latency memory subsystem to achieve the full performance potential of these processors. In past years, improvements in memory latency and bandwidth have not kept pace with reductions in instruction execution time. Caches have been used extensively to patch over this mismatch, but some applications do not use caches effectively. This paper describes the memory controller in the 21174 application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) that was developed for DIGITAL Personal Workstations powered with 21164 or 21164A Alpha microprocessors. Before discussing the major components of the memory controller, this paper presents memory performance measurements, an overview of the system, and a description of data bus sequences. It then discusses the six major sections of the memory controller, including the address decoding scheme and simultaneously active (“hot”) row operation and their effect on latency and bandwidth.

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Cite this paper

@article{Schumann1997DesignOT, title={Design of the 21174 Memory Controller for DIGITAL Personal Workstations}, author={Reinhard C. Schumann}, journal={Digital Technical Journal}, year={1997}, volume={9} }