Simulating DRAM controllers for future system architecture exploration

Andreas Hansson, Neha Agarwal, Aasheesh Kolli, Thomas Wenisch, Aniruddha N. Udipi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

45 Scopus citations

Abstract

Compute requirements are increasing rapidly in systems ranging from mobile devices to servers. These, often massively parallel architectures, put increasing requirements on memory bandwidth and latency. The memory system greatly impacts both system performance and power, and it is key to capture the complex behaviour of the DRAM controller when evaluating CPU and GPU performance. By using full-system simulation, the interactions between the system components is captured. However, traditional DRAM controller models focus on modelling interactions between the controller and the DRAM rather than the interactions with the system. Moreover, the DRAM interactions are modelled on a cycle-by-cycle basis, leading to inflexibility and poor simulation performance. In this work, we present a high-level memory controller model, specifically designed for full-system exploration of future system architectures. Our event-based model is tailored to match a contemporary controller architecture, and captures the most important DRAM timing constraints for current and emerging DRAM interfaces, e.g. DDR3, LPDDR3 and WideIO. We show how our controller leverages the open-source gem5 simulation framework, and compare it to a state-of-the-art DRAM controller simulator. Our results show that our model is 7x faster on average, while maintaining the fidelity of the simulation. To highlight the capabilities of our model, we show that it can be used to evaluate a multi-processor memory system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationISPASS 2014 - IEEE International Symposium on Performance Analysis of Systems and Software
PublisherIEEE Computer Society
Pages201-210
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9781479936052
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014
Event2014 IEEE International Symposium on Performance Analysis of Systems and Software, ISPASS 2014 - Monterey, CA, United States
Duration: Mar 23 2014Mar 25 2014

Publication series

NameISPASS 2014 - IEEE International Symposium on Performance Analysis of Systems and Software

Other

Other2014 IEEE International Symposium on Performance Analysis of Systems and Software, ISPASS 2014
CountryUnited States
CityMonterey, CA
Period3/23/143/25/14

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software

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    Hansson, A., Agarwal, N., Kolli, A., Wenisch, T., & Udipi, A. N. (2014). Simulating DRAM controllers for future system architecture exploration. In ISPASS 2014 - IEEE International Symposium on Performance Analysis of Systems and Software (pp. 201-210). [6844484] (ISPASS 2014 - IEEE International Symposium on Performance Analysis of Systems and Software). IEEE Computer Society. https://doi.org/10.1109/ISPASS.2014.6844484