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Improving Utilization of Hardware Signatures in Transactional Memory

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2 Author(s)
Woojin Choi ; University of Southern California, Los Angeles ; Jeffrey Draper

The transactional memory (TM) paradigm promises to increase programmer productivity by making it easier to write correct parallel programs. In fulfilling this goal, a TM system should maximize its performance with limited hardware resources. Conflict detection is an essential element for maintaining correctness among concurrent transactions in a TM system. Hardware signatures have been proposed as an area-efficient method for detecting conflicts. However, signatures can degrade TM performance by falsely declaring conflicts. Hence, improving the accuracy of signatures within a given hardware budget is a crucial issue for TM to be adopted as a mainstream programming model. In this paper, we propose a simple and effective signature design, the unified signature. Instead of using separate read- and write-signatures, we implement a single signature to track all read- and write-accesses. By merging read- and write-signatures, a unified signature can effectively enlarge the signature coverage without additional overhead. Within the constraints of a given hardware budget, a TM system with a unified signature outperforms a baseline system with the same-sized traditional signatures by reducing the number of falsely detected conflicts. Even though the unified signature scheme incurs read-read dependencies, we show that these false dependencies do not negate the benefit of unified signatures and can effectively be filtered out. A TM system with a 2-Kbit unified signature with a helper signature scheme achieves speedups of 15 percent over baseline TM with 33 percent less area and 49 percent less power.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems  (Volume:24 ,  Issue: 11 )