Programming the FlexRAM parallel intelligent memory system

Basilio B. Fraguela, Jose Renau, Paul Featrier, David Padua, Josep Torrellas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In an intelligent memory architecture, the main memory of a computer is enhanced with many simple processors. The result is a highly-parallel, heterogeneous machine that is able to exploit computation in the main memory. While several instantiations of this architecture have been proposed, the question of how to effectively program them with little effort has remained a major challenge. In this paper, we show how to effectively hand-program an intelligent memory architecture at a high level and with very modes effort. We use FlexRAM as a prototype architecture. To program it, we propose a family of high-level compiler directives inspired by OpenMP called CFlex. Such directives enable the processors in memory to execute the program in cooperation with the main processor. In addition, we propose libraries of highly-optimized functions called Intelligent Memory Operations (IMOs). These functions program the processors in memory through CFlex, but make them completely transparent to the programmer. Simulation results show that, with CFlex and IMOs, a server with 64 simple processors in memory runs on average 10 times faster than a conventional server. Moreover, a set of conventional programs with 240 lines on average are transformed into CFlex parallel form with only 7 CFlex directives and 2 additional statements on average.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-60
Number of pages12
JournalACM SIGPLAN Notices
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2003


  • Compiler directives
  • Intelligent memory architecture
  • Parallel languages
  • Programming heterogeneous computers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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