ACM SIGARCH Computer Architecture News

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ISSN / EISSN : 0163-5964 / 1943-5851
Total articles ≅ 3,260
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Amro Awad, Yipeng Wang, Deborah Shands, Yan Solihin
ACM SIGARCH Computer Architecture News, Volume 45, pp 107-119;

Trustworthy software requires strong privacy and security guarantees from a secure trust base in hardware. While chipmakers provide hardware support for basic security and privacy primitives such as enclaves and memory encryption. these primitives do not address hiding of the memory access pattern, information about which may enable attacks on the system or reveal characteristics of sensitive user data. State-of-the-art approaches to protecting the access pattern are largely based on Oblivious RAM (ORAM). Unfortunately, current ORAM implementations suffer from very significant practicality and overhead concerns, including roughly an order of magnitude slowdown, more than 100% memory capacity overheads, and the potential for system deadlock. Memory technology trends are moving towards 3D and 2.5D integration, enabling significant logic capabilities and sophisticated memory interfaces. Leveraging the trends, we propose a new approach to access pattern obfuscation, called ObfusMem. ObfusMem adds the memory to the trusted computing base and incorporates cryptographic engines within the memory. ObfusMem encrypts commands and addresses on the memory bus, hence the access pattern is cryptographically obfuscated from external observers. Our evaluation shows that ObfusMem incurs an overhead of 10.9% on average, which is about an order of magnitude faster than ORAM implementations. Furthermore, ObfusMem does not incur capacity overheads and does not amplify writes. We analyze and compare the security protections provided by ObfusMem and ORAM, and highlight their differences.
, Longfei Wang, Weize Yu, Selçuk Köse, Ulya R. Karpuzcu
ACM SIGARCH Computer Architecture News, Volume 45, pp 120-132;

Tailoring the operating voltage to fine-grain temporal changes in the power and performance needs of the workload can effectively enhance power efficiency. Therefore, power-limited computing platforms of today widely deploy integrated (i.e., on-chip) voltage regulation which enables fast fine-grain voltage control. Voltage regulators convert and distribute power from an external energy source to the processor. Unfortunately, power conversion loss is inevitable and projected integrated regulator designs are unlikely to eliminate this loss even asymptotically. Reconfigurable power delivery by selective shut-down, i.e., gating, of distributed on-chip regulators in response to spatio-temporal changes in power demand can sustain operation at the minimum conversion loss. However, even the minimum conversion loss is sizable, and as conversion loss gets dissipated as heat, on-chip regulators can easily cause thermal emergencies due to their small footprint. Although reconfigurable distributed on-chip power delivery is emerging as a new design paradigm to enforce sustained operation at minimum possible power conversion loss, thermal implications have been overlooked at the architectural level. This paper hence provides a thermal characterization. We introduce ThermoGater, an architectural governor for a collection of practical, thermally-aware regulator gating policies to mitigate (if not prevent) regulator-induced thermal emergencies, which also consider potential implications for voltage noise. Practical ThermoGater policies can not only sustain minimum power conversion loss throughout execution effectively, but also keep the maximum temperature (thermal gradient) across chip within 0.6°C (0.3°C) on average in comparison to thermally-optimal oracular regulator gating, while the maximum voltage noise stays within 1.0% of the best case voltage noise profile.
, Trevor E. Carlson, , Stefanos Kaxiras
ACM SIGARCH Computer Architecture News, Volume 45, pp 187-200;

In Total Store Order memory consistency (TSO), loads can be speculatively reordered to improve performance. If a load-load reordering is seen by other cores, speculative loads must be squashed and re-executed. In architectures with an unordered interconnection network and directory coherence, this has been the established view for decades. We show, for the first time, that it is not necessary to squash and re-execute speculatively reordered loads in TSO when their reordering is seen. Instead, the reordering can be hidden form other cores by the coherence protocol. The implication is that we can irrevocably bind speculative loads. This allows us to commit reordered loads out-of-order without having to wait (for the loads to become non-speculative) or without having to checkpoint committed state (and rollback if needed), just to ensure correctness in the rare case of some core seeing the reordering. We show that by exposing a reordering to the coherence layer and by appropriately modifying a typical directory protocol we can successfully hide load-load reordering without perceptible performance cost and without deadlock. Our solution is cost-effective and increases the performance of out-of-order commit by a sizable margin, compared to the base case where memory operations are not allowed to commit if the consistency model could be violated.
Hanna Alam, Tianhao Zhang, Mattan Erez, Yoav Etsion
ACM SIGARCH Computer Architecture News, Volume 45, pp 457-468;

In this paper, we introduce the Do-It-Yourself virtual memory translation (DVMT) architecture as a flexible complement for current hardware-fixed translation flows. DVMT decouples the virtual-to-physical mapping process from the access permissions, giving applications freedom in choosing mapping schemes, while maintaining security within the operating system. Furthermore, DVMT is designed to support virtualized environments, as a means to collapse the costly, hardware-assisted two-dimensional translations. We describe the architecture in detail and demonstrate its effectiveness by evaluating several different DVMT schemes on a range of virtualized applications with a model based on measurements from a commercial system. We show that different DVMT configurations preserve the native performance, while achieving speedups of 1.2x to 2.0x in virtualized environments.
Muhammad Shoaib Bin Altaf, David A. Wood
ACM SIGARCH Computer Architecture News, Volume 45, pp 375-388;

With the end of Dennard scaling, architects have increasingly turned to special-purpose hardware accelerators to improve the performance and energy efficiency for some applications. Unfortunately, accelerators don't always live up to their expectations and may under-perform in some situations. Understanding the factors which effect the performance of an accelerator is crucial for both architects and programmers early in the design stage. Detailed models can be highly accurate, but often require low-level details which are not available until late in the design cycle. In contrast, simple analytical models can provide useful insights by abstracting away low-level system details. In this paper, we propose LogCA---a high-level performance model for hardware accelerators. LogCA helps both programmers and architects identify performance bounds and design bottlenecks early in the design cycle, and provide insight into which optimizations may alleviate these bottlenecks. We validate our model across a variety of kernels, ranging from sub-linear to super-linear complexities on both on-chip and off-chip accelerators. We also describe the utility of LogCA using two retrospective case studies. First, we discuss the evolution of interface design in SUN/Oracle's encryption accelerators. Second, we discuss the evolution of memory interface design in three different GPU architectures. In both cases, we show that the adopted design optimizations for these machines are similar to LogCA's suggested optimizations. We argue that architects and programmers can use insights from these retrospective studies for improving future designs.
Chang Hyun Park, Taekyung Heo, Jungi Jeong, Jaehyuk Huh
ACM SIGARCH Computer Architecture News, Volume 45, pp 444-456;

To mitigate excessive TLB misses in large memory applications, techniques such as large pages, variable length segments, and HW coalescing, increase the coverage of limited hardware translation entries by exploiting the contiguous memory allocation. However, recent studies show that in non-uniform memory systems, using large pages often leads to performance degradation, or allocating large chunks of memory becomes more difficult due to memory fragmentation. Although each of the prior techniques favors its own best chunk size, diverse contiguity of memory allocation in real systems cannot always provide the optimal chunk of each technique. Under such fragmented and diverse memory allocations, this paper proposes a novel HW-SW hybrid translation architecture, which can adapt to different memory mappings efficiently. In the proposed hybrid coalescing technique, the operating system encodes memory contiguity information in a subset of page table entries, called anchor entries. During address translation through TLBs, an anchor entry provides translation for contiguous pages following the anchor entry. As a smaller number of anchor entries can cover a large portion of virtual address space, the efficiency of TLB can be significantly improved. The most important benefit of hybrid coalescing is its ability to change the coverage of the anchor entry dynamically, reflecting the current allocation contiguity status. By using the contiguity information directly set by the operating system, the technique can provide scalable translation coverage improvements with minor hardware changes, while allowing the flexibility of memory allocation. Our experimental results show that across diverse allocation scenarios with different distributions of contiguous memory chunks, the proposed scheme can effectively reap the potential translation coverage improvement from the existing contiguity.
Rajat Kateja, Anirudh Badam, Sriram Govindan, Bikash Sharma, Greg Ganger
ACM SIGARCH Computer Architecture News, Volume 45, pp 613-626;

Non-Volatile Memories (NVMs) can significantly improve the performance of data-intensive applications. A popular form of NVM is Battery-backed DRAM, which is available and in use today with DRAMs latency and without the endurance problems of emerging NVM technologies. Modern servers can be provisioned with up-to 4 TB of DRAM, and provisioning battery backup to write out such large memories is hard because of the large battery sizes and the added hardware and cooling costs. We present Viyojit, a system that exploits the skew in write working sets of applications to provision substantially smaller batteries while still ensuring durability for the entire DRAM capacity. Viyojit achieves this by bounding the number of dirty pages in DRAM based on the provisioned battery capacity and proactively writing out infrequently written pages to an SSD. Even for write-heavy workloads with less skew than we observe in analysis of real data center traces, Viyojit reduces the required battery capacity to 11% of the original size, with a performance overhead of 7-25%. Thus, Viyojit frees battery-backed DRAM from stunted growth of battery capacities and enables servers with terabytes of battery-backed DRAM.
Mario Drumond, Alexandros Daglis, Nooshin Mirzadeh, Dmitrii Ustiugov, Javier Picorel, Babak Falsafi, Boris Grot, Dionisios Pnevmatikatos
ACM SIGARCH Computer Architecture News, Volume 45, pp 639-651;

The increasing demand for extracting value out of ever-growing data poses an ongoing challenge to system designers, a task only made trickier by the end of Dennard scaling. As the performance density of traditional CPU-centric architectures stagnates, advancing compute capabilities necessitates novel architectural approaches. Near-memory processing (NMP) architectures are reemerging as promising candidates to improve computing efficiency through tight coupling of logic and memory. NMP architectures are especially fitting for data analytics, as they provide immense bandwidth to memory-resident data and dramatically reduce data movement, the main source of energy consumption. Modern data analytics operators are optimized for CPU execution and hence rely on large caches and employ random memory accesses. In the context of NMP, such random accesses result in wasteful DRAM row buffer activations that account for a significant fraction of the total memory access energy. In addition, utilizing NMP's ample bandwidth with fine-grained random accesses requires complex hardware that cannot be accommodated under NMP's tight area and power constraints. Our thesis is that efficient NMP calls for an algorithm-hardware co-design that favors algorithms with sequential accesses to enable simple hardware that accesses memory in streams. We introduce an instance of such a co-designed NMP architecture for data analytics, the Mondrian Data Engine. Compared to a CPU-centric and a baseline NMP system, the Mondrian Data Engine improves the performance of basic data analytics operators by up to 49x and 5x, and efficiency by up to 28x and 5x, respectively.
Yongming Shen, Michael Ferdman, Peter Milder
ACM SIGARCH Computer Architecture News, Volume 45, pp 535-547;

Convolutional neural networks (CNNs) are revolutionizing machine learning, but they present significant computational challenges. Recently, many FPGA-based accelerators have been proposed to improve the performance and efficiency of CNNs. Current approaches construct a single processor that computes the CNN layers one at a time; the processor is optimized to maximize the throughput at which the collection of layers is computed. However, this approach leads to inefficient designs because the same processor structure is used to compute CNN layers of radically varying dimensions. We present a new CNN accelerator paradigm and an accompanying automated design methodology that partitions the available FPGA resources into multiple processors, each of which is tailored for a different subset of the CNN convolutional layers. Using the same FPGA resources as a single large processor, multiple smaller specialized processors increase computational efficiency and lead to a higher overall throughput. Our design methodology achieves 3.8x higher throughput than the state-of-the-art approach on evaluating the popular AlexNet CNN on a Xilinx Virtex-7 FPGA. For the more recent SqueezeNet and GoogLeNet, the speedups are 2.2x and 2.0x.
Jaeha Kung, Yun Long, Duckhwan Kim, Saibal Mukhopadhyay
ACM SIGARCH Computer Architecture News, Volume 45, pp 403-415;

The fast and energy-efficient simulation of dynamical systems defined by coupled ordinary/partial differential equations has emerged as an important problem. The accelerated simulation of coupled ODE/PDE is critical for analysis of physical systems as well as computing with dynamical systems. This paper presents a fast and programmable accelerator for simulating dynamical systems. The computing model of the proposed platform is based on multilayer cellular nonlinear network (CeNN) augmented with nonlinear function evaluation engines. The platform can be programmed to accelerate wide classes of ODEs/PDEs by modulating the connectivity within the multilayer CeNN engine. An innovative hardware architecture including data reuse, memory hierarchy, and near-memory processing is designed to accelerate the augmented multilayer CeNN. A dataflow model is presented which is supported by optimized memory hierarchy for efficient function evaluation. The proposed solver is designed and synthesized in 15nm technology for the hardware analysis. The performance is evaluated and compared to GPU nodes when solving wide classes of differential equations and the power consumption is analyzed to show orders of magnitude improvement in energy efficiency.
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