Uppsala University Department of Information Technology

Technical Report 2012-029

Quantitative Characterization of Memory Contention

David Eklöv, Nikos Nikoleris, David Black-Schaffer, and Erik Hagersten

October 2012


On multicore processors, co-executing applications compete for shared resources, such as cache capacity and memory bandwidth. This leads to suboptimal resource allocation and can cause substantial performance loss, which makes it important to effectively manage these shared resources. This, however, requires insights into how the applications are impacted by such resource sharing.

While there are several methods to analyze the performance impact of cache contention, less attention has been paid to general, quantitative methods for analyzing the impact of contention for memory bandwidth. To this end we introduce the Bandwidth Bandit, a general, quantitative, profiling method for analyzing the performance impact of contention for memory bandwidth on multicore machines.

The profiling data captured by the Bandwidth Bandit is presented in a it bandwidth graph. This graph accurately captures the measured application's performance as a function of its available memory bandwidth, and enables us to determine how much the application suffers when its available bandwidth is reduced. To demonstrate the value of this data, we present a case study in which we use the bandwidth graph to analyze the performance impact of memory contention when co-running multiple instances of single threaded application.

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