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Efficient Cache Coherence Protocol for Many-Core Architectures


As we enter the era of many-core, providing the shared memory abstraction through cache coherence has become progressively difficult. The de-facto standard directory-based cache coherence has been extensively studied; but it does not scale well with increasing core count. Timestamp-based hardware coherence protocols introduced recently offer an attractive alternative solution. In this paper, we propose a timestamp-based coherence protocol, called TC-Release++, that addresses the scalability issues of efficiently supporting cache coherence in large-scale systems.

Our approach is inspired by TC-Weak, a recently pro- posed timestamp-based coherence protocol targeting GPU architectures. We first design TC-Release coherence in an attempt to straightforwardly port TC-Weak to general- purpose many-cores. But re-purposing TC-Weak for general-purpose many-core architectures is challenging due to significant differences both in architecture and the programming model. Indeed the performance of TC-Release turns out to be worse than conventional directory coherence protocols. We overcome the limitations and overheads of TC-Release by introducing simple hardware support to eliminate frequent memory stalls, and an optimized life- time prediction mechanism to improve cache performance. The resulting optimized coherence protocol TC-Release++ is highly scalable (overhead for coherence per last-level cache line scales logarithmically with core count as opposed to linearly for directory coherence) and shows better execution time (3.0%) and comparable network traffic (within 1.3%) relative to the baseline MESI directory coherence protocol.


Figure 1. A simplified example of TC-Release with the execution of the code segment shown at the top.

Figure 2 Hardware extensions for TC-Release

Figure 3 Hardware extensions for signature design in TC-Release++

Figure 4 Normalized execution time of TCR, TCR- Basic, TCR-Ideal with various fixed lifetimes, with respect to baseline MESI directory protocol and TCR++.


Figure 5 Storage overheads for cache coherence in TCR++ and MESI, with up to 256 cores.

Figure 6 Execution time of all configurations, normalized to MESI.

Figure 7 Network traffic of all configurations, normalized to MESI.



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