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.

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From the April 2017 issue

SPACE: Semi-Partitioned CachE for Energy Efficient, Hard Real-Time Systems

By Gil Kedar, Avi Mendelson, and Israel Cidon

Featured article thumbnail imageMulti-core processors are increasingly popular because they yield higher performance, but they also present new challenges for hard real-time systems in that they make it much more difficult to estimate a task's worst-case execution time (WCET). Partitioned cache architecture is being used to ease the problem by providing an isolated execution environment for each thread. Although simple to implement and use, this method may be sub-optimal with respect to both energy consumption and performance since it prevents taking advantage of information shared across threads for both instructions and data. This work presents a new cache architecture termed SPACE (Semi-Partitioned CachE) that makes it possible to leverage information sharing, yielding in turn a tighter WCET. The SPACE architecture together with our new WCET algorithm can be used to maintain the predictability of the execution time of the parallel threads while reducing the overall energy consumption of the system. The new proposed cache architecture was implemented using Verilog and deployed on a Xilinx MicroBlaze multi-core design for testing, validation and measurements. The application level experiments were conducted using the Chronos tool for estimation and the Wattch/SimpleScalar simulator for execution. Using three real-time programs–a radar tracker, a DES encryption algorithm, and an FM radio–we showed that SPACE together with the enhanced WCET algorithm reduce the average system WCET of these applications by 31 percent and reduce the actual energy consumption by 18 percent in comparison with other cache architectures.

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