Memory Turbo Boost: Architectural Support for Using Unused Memory for Memory Replication to Boost Server Memory Performance

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Virginia Tech


A significant portion of the memory in servers today is often unused. Our large-scale study of HPC systems finds that more than half of the total memory in active nodes running user jobs are unused for 88% of the time. Google and Azure Cloud studies also report unused memory accounts for 40% of the total memory in their servers, on average.

Leaving so much memory unused is wasteful. To address this problem, we note that in the context of CPUs, Turbo Boost can turn off the unused cores to boost the performance of in-use cores. However, there is no equivalent technology in the context of memory; no matter how much memory is unused, the performance of in-use memory remains the same.

This dissertation explores architectural techniques to utilize the unused memory to boost the performance of in-use memory and refer to them collectively as Memory Turbo Boost. This dissertation explores how to turbo boost memory performance through memory replication; specifically, it explores how to efficiently store the replicas in the unused memory and explores multiple architectural techniques to utilize the replicas to enhance memory system performance.

Performance simulations show that Memory Turbo Boost can improve node-level performance by 18%, on average across a wide spectrum of workloads. Our system-wide simulations show applying Memory Turbo Boost to an HPC system provides 1.4x average speedup on job turnaround time.



Memory Architecture, Memory System, Memory Management, HPC, Operating Systems, DRAM, DDR4, Memory Frequency Margin, Memory Latency Margin, Memory Overclocking, Fault Tolerance, Reliability, Availability, Turbo-boost, Memory Replication