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Replication cache: a small fully associative cache to improve data cache reliability

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1 Author(s)
Wei Zhang ; Dept. of Electr. & Comput. Eng., Southern Illinois Univ., Carbondale, IL, USA

Soft error conscious cache design has become increasingly crucial for reliable computing. The widely used ECC or parity-based integrity checking techniques have only limited capability in error detection and correction, while incurring nontrivial penalty in area or performance. The N modular redundancy (NMR) scheme is too costly for processors with stringent cost constraints. This paper proposes a cost-effective solution to enhance data reliability significantly with minimum impact on performance. The idea is to add a small fully associative cache to store the replica of every write to the L1 data cache. Due to data locality and its full associativity, the replication cache can be kept small while providing replicas for a significant fraction of read hits in L1, which can be used to enhance data integrity against soft errors. Our experiments show that a replication cache with eight blocks can provide replicas for 97.3 percent of read hits in L1 on average. Moreover, compared with the recently proposed in-cache replication schemes, the replication cache is more energy efficient, while improving the data integrity against soft errors significantly.

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Computers, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:54 ,  Issue: 12 )