Douglas Hall

Date of Award

Winter 2-28-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Electrical and Computer Engineering


Electrical and Computer Engineering

Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 50 pages)


Memory management (Computer science), Random access memory, Computer storage devices




Two common goals in computing system design are increasing performance and decreasing power consumption. DRAM-based memory subsystems are a major component of both system performance and power consumption. Memory controllers employ strategies to efficiently schedule DRAM operations to reduce latency and to utilize DRAM low power modes when possible. One of the most important of these is the page policy, which determines when to close pages in DRAM. An effective DRAM memory controller page policy is important to minimizing power consumption and increasing system performance. This thesis explores the impact memory controller page policy has on performance as measured by the number of page-hits minus page-misses and estimated average memory access latency. I captured real-time DDR3 command and address memory traces for the SPEC CPU2006 benchmarks under three memory controller page policies: closed page, fixed open-page, and Intel's adaptive open-page [1]. Traces were captured using a programmable memory traffic analyzer (PMTA), a device interposed between the DIMM slot and DDR3 DIMM on the motherboard. The memory traces for each benchmark were analyzed to determine the absolute number of page-hits and page-misses that occurred. In software post-processing I simulated a theoretically perfect "oracle" page policy for each captured trace to compare the efficiency of existing policies. The SPEC CPU 2006 benchmarks under the oracle page policy for each trace exhibited an average increase in the number of page-hits minus page-misses of 280.3% and an average decrease in the average memory latency of 11.1%. Two new adaptive open-page policies are proposed and simulated using the captured memory traces. These proposed policies result in an average increase of 74.8% and 62.4% in the number of page-hits minus page-misses over Intel's adaptive open-page policy and an average decrease in the average memory latency of 3.8% and 3.4%.

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