Run-time cache bypassing

Teresa L. Johnson, Daniel A. Connors, Matthew C. Merten, Wen Mei W. Hwu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The growing disparity between processor and memory performance has made cache misses increasingly expensive. Additionally, data and instruction caches are not always used efficiently, resulting in large numbers of cache misses. Therefore, the importance of cache performance improvements at each level of the memory hierarchy will continue to grow. In numeric programs, there are several known compiler techniques for optimizing data cache performance. However, integer (nonnumeric) programs often have irregular access patterns that are more difficult for the compiler to optimize. In the past, cache management techniques such as cache bypassing were implemented manually at the machine-language-programming level. As the available chip area grows, it makes sense to spend more resources to allow intelligent control over the cache management. In this paper, we present an approach to improving cache effectiveness, taking advantage of the growing chip area, utilizing run-time adaptive cache management techniques, optimizing both performance and cost of implementation. Specifically, we are aiming to increase data cache effectiveness for integer programs. We propose a microarchitecture scheme where the hardware determines data placement within the cache hierarchy based on dynamic referencing behavior. This scheme is fully compatible with existing Instruction Set Architectures. This paper examines the theoretical upper bounds on the cache hit ratio that cache bypassing can provide for integer applications, including several Windows applications with OS activity. Then, detailed trace-driven simulations of the integer applications are used to show that the implementation described in this paper can achieve performance close to that of the upper bound.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1338-1354
Number of pages17
JournalIEEE Transactions on Computers
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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