A Performance Comparison of Contemporary DRAM Architectures

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"A performance comparison of contemporary DRAM architectures." Vinodh Cuppu, Bruce Jacob, Brian Davis, and Trevor Mudge. Proc. 26th International Symposium on Computer Architecture (ISCA'99), pp. 222-233. Atlanta GA, May 1999.



In response to the growing gap between memory access time and processor speed, DRAM manufacturers have created several new DRAM architectures. This paper presents a simulation-based performance study of a representative group, each evaluated in a small system organization. These small-system organizations correspond to workstation-class computers and use on the order of 10 DRAM chips. The study covers Fast Page Mode, Extended Data Out, Synchronous, Enhanced Synchronous, Synchronous Link, Rambus, and Direct Rambus designs. Our simulations reveal several things: (a) current advanced DRAM technologies are attacking the memory bandwidth problem but not the latency problem; (b) bus transmission speed will soon become a primary factor limiting memory-system performance; (c) the post-L2 address stream still contains significant locality, though it varies from application to application; and (d) as we move to wider buses, row access time becomes more prominent, making it important to investigate techniques to exploit the available locality to decrease access time.