Date of Award

5-1-2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Engineering Science

First Advisor

Botros, Nazeih

Abstract

Decreasing power consumption in small devices such as handhelds, cell phones and high-performance processors is now one of the most critical design concerns. On-chip cache memories dominate the chip area in microprocessors and thus arises the need for power efficient cache memories. Cache is the simplest cost effective method to attain high speed memory hierarchy and, its performance is extremely critical for high speed computers. Cache is used by the microprocessor for channeling the performance gap between processor and main memory (RAM) hence the memory bandwidth is frequently a bottleneck which can affect the peak throughput significantly. In the design of any cache system, the tradeoffs of area/cost, performance, power consumption, and thermal management must be taken into consideration. Previous work has mainly concentrated on performance and area/cost constraints. More recent works have focused on low power design especially for portable devices and media-processing systems, however fewer research has been done on the relationship between heat management, Leakage power and cost per die. Lately, the focus of power dissipation in the new generations of microprocessors has shifted from dynamic power to idle power, a previously underestimated form of power loss that causes battery charge to drain and shutdown too early due the waste of energy. The problem has been aggravated by the aggressive scaling of process; device level method used originally by designers to enhance performance, conserve dissipation and reduces the sizes of digital circuits that are increasingly condensed. This dissertation studies the impact of hotspots, in the cache memory, on leakage consumption and microprocessor reliability and durability. The work will first prove that by eliminating hotspots in the cache memory, leakage power will be reduced and therefore, the reliability will be improved. The second technique studied is data quality management that improves the quality of the data stored in the cache to reduce power consumption. The initial work done on this subject focuses on the type of data that increases leakage consumption and ways to manage without impacting the performance of the microprocessor. The second phase of the project focuses on managing the data storage in different blocks of the cache to smooth the leakage power as well as dynamic power consumption. The last technique is a voltage controlled cache to reduce the leakage consumption of the cache while in execution and even in idle state. Two blocks of the 4-way set associative cache go through a voltage regulator before getting to the voltage well, and the other two are directly connected to the voltage well. The idea behind this technique is to use the replacement algorithm information to increase or decrease voltage of the two blocks depending on the need of the information stored on them.

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