IEEE Transactions on Computers

IEEE Transactions on Computers (TC) is a monthly publication that publishes research in such areas as computer organizations and architectures, digital devices, operating systems, and new and important applications and trends.

From the March 2015 issue

Leaving One Slot Empty: Flit Bubble Flow Control for Torus Cache-Coherent NoCs

By Sheng Ma, Zhiying Wang, Zonglin Liu, and Natalie Enright Jerger

Featured article thumbnail imageShort and long packets co-exist in cache-coherent NoCs. Existing designs for torus networks do not efficiently handle variable-size packets. For deadlock free operations, a design uses two VCs, which negatively affects the router frequency. Some optimizations use one VC. Yet, they regard all packets as maximum-length packets, inefficiently utilizing the precious buffers. We propose flit bubble flow control (FBFC), which maintains one free flit-size buffer slot to avoid deadlock. FBFC uses one VC, and does not treat short packets as long ones. It achieves both high frequency and efficient buffer utilization. FBFC performs 92.8 and 34.2 percent better than LBS and CBS for synthetic traffic in a $4 \times 4$ torus. The gains increase in larger networks; they are 107.2 and 40.1 percent in an $8 \times 8$ torus. FBFC achieves an average 13.0 percent speedup over LBS for PARSEC workloads. Our results also show that FBFC is more power efficient than LBS and CBS, and a torus with FBFC is more power efficient than a mesh.

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