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Self-Optimizing Memory Controllers: A Reinforcement Learning Approach

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4 Author(s)
Engin Ipek ; Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY ; Onur Mutlu ; José F. Martínez ; Rich Caruana

Efficiently utilizing off-chip DRAM bandwidth is a critical issue in designing cost-effective, high-performance chip multiprocessors (CMPs). Conventional memory controllers deliver relatively low performance in part because they often employ fixed, rigid access scheduling policies designed for average-case application behavior. As a result, they cannot learn and optimize the long-term performance impact of their scheduling decisions,and cannot adapt their scheduling policies to dynamic workload behavior.We propose a new, self-optimizing memory controller design that operates using the principles of reinforcement learning (RL)to overcome these limitations. Our RL-based memory controller observes the system state and estimates the long-term performance impact of each action it can take. In this way, the controller learns to optimize its scheduling policy on the fly to maximize long-term performance. Our results show that an RL-based memory controller improves the performance of a set of parallel applications run on a 4-core CMP by 19% on average (upto 33%), and it improves DRAM bandwidth utilization by 22%compared to a state-of-the-art controller.

Published in:

Computer Architecture, 2008. ISCA '08. 35th International Symposium on

Date of Conference:

21-25 June 2008