Impact of Increased Cache Misses on Runtime Performance of MPX-enabled Programs

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Virginia Tech

Low level languages like C and C++ provide high performance and direct control over memory management. But these languages are prone to memory safety violations. Intel introduced a new ISA extension-Memory Protection Extension(MPX), a hardware-assisted full-stack solution, to protect against the memory safety violations. While MPX efficiently prevents memory errors like buffer overflows and out of bound memory accesses, it comes at the cost of high performance overheads. Also, the cache locality worsens in MPX protected applications.

In our research, we analyze if there is a correlation between increase in cache misses and runtime degradation in programs compiled with MPX support. We analyze 15 SPEC CPU benchmark programs for different input sizes on Windows platform, compiled with Intel's ICC compiler. We find that for input sizes train(medium) and ref(large), the average performance overheads are 140% and 144% respectively. We find that 5 out of 15 benchmarks do not have any runtime overheads and also, do not have any change in cache misses at any level. However for rest of the 10 benchmarks, we find a strong correlation between runtime overheads and cache misses overheads, with the correlation coefficients ranging from 0.8 to 0.36 for different input sizes. Based on our findings, we conclude that there is a direct correlation between runtime overheads and increase in cache misses. We also find that instructions overheads and runtime overheads have a positive correlation, with the coefficient values ranging from 0.7 to 0.33 for different input sizes.

Spatial Security, Memory Protection Extensions, Caches, Benchmarks, Runtime, Overheads, TLB