CHARM: Reducing Memory Access Latency with Asymmetric DRAM Bank Organizations

Monday, April 22, 2013
7:00 PM
Free and open to the public

DRAM has been a de facto standard for main memory, and advances in process technology have led to a rapid increase in its capacity and bandwidth. In contrast, its random access latency has remained relatively stagnant, as it is still around 100 CPU clock cycles. Modern computer systems rely on caches or other latency tolerance techniques to lower the average access latency. However, not all applications have ample parallelism or locality that would help hide or reduce the latency. Moreover, applications' demands for memory space will continue to grow, while the capacity gap between last-level caches and main memory is unlikely to shrink. Consequently, reducing the main-memory latency is important for application performance. Unfortunately, previous proposals have not adequately addressed this problem, as they have focused only on improving the bandwidth and capacity or reduced the latency at the cost of significant area overhead.

We propose asymmetric DRAM bank organizations to reduce the average main-memory access latency. We first analyze the access and cycle times of a modern DRAM device to identify key delay components for latency reduction. Then we reorganize a subset of DRAM banks to reduce their access and cycle times by half with low area overhead. By synergistically combining these reorganized DRAM banks with support for non-uniform bank accesses, we introduce a novel DRAM bank organization with center high-aspect-ratio mats called CHARM.

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Jung Ho Ahn

Assistant Professor
Seoul National University