Understanding the Tradeoffs Between Software-Managed Vs. Hardware-Managed Caches in GPUs

Provided by: North Carolina State University
Topic: Hardware
Format: PDF
On-chip caches are commonly used in computer systems to hide long off-chip memory access latencies. To manage on-chip caches, either software-managed or hardware-managed schemes can be employed. State-of-art accelerators, such as the NVIDIA Fermi or Kepler GPUs and Intel's forthcoming MIC \"KNights Landing\" (KNL), support both software-managed caches, aka. shared memory (GPUs) or near memory (KNL), and hardware-managed L1 Data caches (D-caches). Furthermore, shared memory and the L1 D-cache on a GPU utilize the same physical storage and their capacity can be configured at runtime (same for KNL). In this paper, the authors present an in-depth study to reveal interesting and sometimes unexpected tradeoffs between shared memory and the hardware-managed L1 D- caches in GPU architecture.

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