Cache Replacement Policies for Multicore Processors

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Almost all of the modern computers use multiple cores, and the number of cores is expected to increase as hardware prices go down, and Moore's law fails to hold. Most of the theoretical algorithmic work so far has focused on the setting where multiple cores are performing the same task. Indeed, one is tempted to assume that when the cores are independent then the current design performs well. This work infirms this assumption by showing that even when the cores run completely independent tasks, there exist dependencies arising from running on the same chip, and using the same cache. These dependencies cause the standard caching algorithms to underperform. To address the new challenge, we revisit some aspects of the classical caching design. More specifically, we focus on the page replacement policy of the first cache shared between all the cores (usually the L2 cache). We make the simplifying assumption that since the cores are running independent tasks, they are accessing disjoint memory locations (in particular this means that maintaining coherency is not an issue). We show, that even under this simplifying assumption, the multicore case is fundamentally different then the single core case. In particular 1. LRU performs poorly, even with resource augmentation. 2. The offline version of the caching problem is NP complete. Any attempt to design an efficient cache for a multicore machine in which the cores may access the same memory has to perform well also in this simpler setting. We provide some intuition to what an efficient solution could look like, by 1. Partly characterizing the offline solution, showing that it is determined by the part of the cache which is devoted to each core at every timestep. 2. Presenting a PTAS for the offline problem, for some range of the parameters. In the recent years, multicore caching was the subject of extensive experimental research. The conclusions of some of these works are that LRU is inefficient in practice. The heuristics which they propose to replace it are based on dividing the cache between cores, and handling each part independently. Our work can be seen as a theoretical explanation to the results of these experiments.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationICS
StatePublished - 2010

Bibliographical note

Place of conference:China


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