doi: 10.7873/DATE.2015.0709

Memory Fast-Forward: A Low Cost Special Function Unit to Enhance Energy Efficiency in GPU for Big Data Processing

Eunhyeok Park1, Junwhan Ahn2, Sungpack Hong3, Sungjoo Yoo1 and Sunggu Lee2

1Embedded System Architecture Lab., POSTECH, South Korea

2Design Automation Lab, Seoul National University, South Korea

3Oracle Labs, South Korea


Big data processing, e.g., graph computation and MapReduce, is characterized by massive parallelism in computation and a large amount of fine-grained random memory accesses often with structural localities due to graph-like data dependency. Recently, GPU is gaining more and more attention for servers due to its capability of parallel computation. However, the current GPU architecture is not well suited to big data workloads due to the limited capability of handling a large number of memory requests. In this paper, we present a special function unit, called memory fast-forward (MFF) unit, to address this problem. Our proposed MFF unit provides two key functions. First, it supports pointer chasing which enables computation threads to issue as many memory requests as possible to increase the potential of coalescing memory requests. Second, it coalesces memory requests bound for the same cache block, often due to structural locality, thereby reducing memory traffics. Both pointer chasing and memory request coalescing contribute to reducing memory stall time as well as improving the real utilization of memory bandwidth, by removing duplicate memory traffics, thereby improving performance and energy efficiency. Our experiments with graph computation algorithms and real graphs show that the proposed MFF unit can improve the energy efficiency of GPU in graph computation by average 54.6% at a negligible area cost.

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