Architectural Mechanisms for Explicit Communication in Shared Memory Multiprocessors
Shah, Gautam H.
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The goal of this work is to explore architectural mechanisms for supporting explicit communication in cache-coherent shared memory multiprocessors. The motivation stems from the observation that applications display wide diversity in terms of sharing characteristics and hence impose different communication requirements on the system. Explicit communication mechanisms would allow tailoring the coherence management under software control to match these differing needs and strive to provide a close approximation to a zero overhead machine from the application perspective. Toward achieving these goals, we first analyze the characteristics of sharing observed in certain specific applications. We then use these characteristics to synthesize explicit communication primitives. The proposed primitives allow selectively updating a set of processors, or requesting a stream of data ahead of its intended use. These primitives are essentially generalizations of prefetch and poststore, with the ability to specify the sharer set for poststore either statically or dynamically. The proposed primitives are to be used in conjunction with an underlying invalidation based protocol. Used in this manner, the resulting memory system can dynamically adapt itself to performing either invalidations or updates to match the communication needs. Through application driven performance study we show the utility of these mechanisms in being able to reduce and tolerate communication latencies.