PhD Defence | Memory System Design for Application-Specific Hardware
Computing drives a lot of developments all around us, and leads to innovation in many fields of science, engineering, and entertainment. As such, the need for computing is increasing at fast pace. This pace has seen the prevalent use of multi- and many-core processors, where parallelism is a sustainable way (for now) to feed our computing needs. We now see single machines reaching multiple TFLOPs in performance, when combining multi-core CPUs and many-core accelerators.
However, a second bottleneck arises in many of these computing systems: the memory. The so-called “memory wall”, a term coined in 1994 by Wulf and McKee, is a metaphor for the significant performance limitations that the memory itself poses for computing systems. Simply put, the memory system is often unable to provide enough data to the computing system, thus limiting the performance of the entire computing system. One way to go around the memory wall is to redesign the memory system to support more parallelism, and be better suited for the applications running on the computing system. The work presented in this thesis illustrates different ways in which such a novel design can be approached and deployed, as well as the potential performance gains such novel memory systems can provide.