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As technology advances both in increasing bandwidth and in reducing latency for I/O buses and devices, moving I/O data in/out memory has become critical. In this paper, we have observed the different characteristics of I/O and CPU memory reference behavior, and found the potential benefits of separating I/O data from CPU data. We propose a DMA cache technique to store I/O data in dedicated on-chip storage and present two DMA cache designs. The first design, Decoupled DMA Cache (DDC), adopts additional on-chip storage as the DMA cache to buffer I/O data. The second design, Partition-Based DMA Cache (PBDC), does not require additional on-chip storage, but can dynamically use some ways of the processor's last level cache (LLC) as the DMA cache. We have implemented and evaluated the two DMA cache designs by using an FPGA-based emulation platform and the memory reference traces of real-world applications. Experimental results show that, compared with the existing snooping-cache scheme, DDC can reduce memory access latency (in bus cycles) by 34.8% on average (up to 58.4%), while PBDC can achieve about 80% of DDC's performance improvements despite no additional on-chip storage.
Date of Conference: 9-14 Jan. 2010