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Integrating DRAM power-down modes in gem5 and quantifying their impact

: Jagtap, Radhika; Jung, Matthias; Elsasser, Wendy; Weis, Christian; Hansson, Andreas; Wehn, Norbert


Jacob, B. ; Association for Computing Machinery -ACM-:
MEMSYS 2017, International Symposium on Memory Systems. Proceedings : Alexandria, Virginia, October 02 - 05, 2017
New York: ACM, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-4503-5335-9
International Symposium on Memory Systems (MEMSYS) <2017, Alexandria/Va.>
Fraunhofer IESE ()

Across applications, DRAM is a significant contributor to the overall system power, with the DRAM access energy per bit up to three orders of magnitude higher compared to on-chip memory accesses. To improve the power efficiency, DRAM technology incorporates multiple power-down modes, each with different trade-offs between achievable power savings and performance impact due to entry and exit delay requirements. Accurate modeling of these low power modes and entry and exit control is crucial to analyze the tradeoffs across controller configurations and workloads with varied memory access characteristics. To address this, we integrate the power-down modes into the DRAM controller model in the opensource simulator gem5. This is the first publicly available full-system simulator with DRAM power-down modes, providing the research community a tool for DRAM power analysis for a breadth of use cases. We validate the power-down functionality with sweep tests, which trigger defined memory access characteristics. We further evaluate the model with real HPC workloads, illustrating the value of integrating low power functionality into a full system simulator.