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Energy-efficiency and reliability are two major design constraints influencing next generation system designs. In this work, we focus on the interaction between power consumption and reliability considering the on-chip data caches. First, we investigate the impact of two commonly used architectural-level leakage reduction approaches on the data reliability. Our results indicate that the leakage optimization techniques can have very different reliability behavior as compared to an original cache with no leakage optimizations. Next, we investigate on providing data reliability in an energy-efficient fashion in the presence of soft-errors. In contrast to current commercial caches that treat and protect all data using the same error detection/correction mechanism, we present an adaptive error coding scheme that treats dirty and clean data cache blocks differently. Furthermore, we present an early-write-back scheme that enhances the ability to use a less powerful error protection scheme for a longer time without sacrificing reliability. Experimental results show that proposed schemes, when used in conjunction, can reduce dynamic energy of error protection components in L1 data cache by 11% on average without impacting the performance or reliability.
Date of Conference: 9-11 Aug. 2004