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A Locality-Aware Memory Hierarchy for Energy-Efficient GPU Architectures

Minsoo Rhu, Michael Sullivan, Jingwen Leng, and Mattan Erez

In Proc. of International Symposium on Microarchitecture, December 2013.

As GPU’s compute capabilities grow, their memory hierarchy increasingly becomes a bottleneck. Current GPU memory hierarchies use coarse-grained memory accesses to exploit spatial locality, maximize peak bandwidth, simplify control, and reduce cache meta-data storage. These coarse-grained memory accesses, however, are a poor match for emerging GPU applications with irregular control flow and memory access patterns. Meanwhile, the massive multi-threading of GPUs and the simplicity of their cache hierarchies make CPU-specific memory system enhancements ineffective for improving the performance of irregular GPU applications. We design and evaluate a locality-aware memory hierarchy for throughput processors, such as GPUs. Our proposed design retains the advantages of coarse-grained accesses for spatially and temporally local programs while permitting selective fine-grained access to memory. By adaptively adjusting the access granularity, memory bandwidth and energy are reduced for data with low spatial/temporal locality without wasting control overheads or prefetching potential for data with high spatial locality. As such, our locality-aware memory hierarchy improves GPU performance, energy-efficiency, and memory throughput for a large range of applications.