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Using a victim buffer in an application-specific memory hierarchy

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2 Author(s)
Chuanjun Zhang ; Dept. of Electr. Eng., California Univ., Riverside, CA, USA ; F. Vahid

Customizing a memory hierarchy to a particular application or applications is becoming increasingly common in embedded system design, with one benefit being reduced energy. Adding a victim buffer to the memory hierarchy is known to reduce energy and improve performance on average, yet victim buffers are not typically found in commercial embedded processors. One problem with such buffers is, while they work well on average, they tend to hurt performance for many applications. We show that a victim buffer can be very effective if it is considered as a parameter in designing a memory hierarchy, like the traditional cache parameters of total size, associativity, and line size. We describe experiments on PowerStone and MediaBench benchmarks, showing that having the option of adding a victim buffer to a direct-mapped cache can reduce memory-access energy by a factor of 3 in some cases. Furthermore, even when other cache parameters are configurable, we show that a victim buffer can still reduce energy by 43%. By treating the victim buffer as a parameter, meaning the buffer can be included or excluded, we can avoid performance overhead of up to 4% on some examples. We discuss the victim buffer in the context of both core-based and pre-fabricated platform based design approaches.

Published in:

Design, Automation and Test in Europe Conference and Exhibition, 2004. Proceedings  (Volume:1 )

Date of Conference:

16-20 Feb. 2004