Energy Characterization of Hardware-Based Data Prefetching

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IEEE International Conference on Computer Design


pp. 518-523

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This paper evaluates several hardware-based data prefetching techniques from an energy perspective, and explores their energy/performance tradeoffs. We present detailed simulation results and make performance and energy comparisons between different configurations. Power characterization is provided based on HSpice circuit-level simulation of state-of-the-art low-power cache designs implemented in deep-submicron process technology. This is combined with architecture-level simulation of switching activities in the memory system. The results show that while aggressive prefetching techniques often help to improve performance, they increase energy consumption in most of the cases. In designs implemented in deepsubmicron 100-nm BPTM process technology, cache leakage becomes one of the dominant factors of the energy consumption. We have, however, found that if leakage is optimized with recently-proposed circuit-level techniques, most of the energy degradation is due to prefetch-hardware related costs and unnecessary L1 data cache lookups related to prefetches that hit in the L1 cache. This overhead on the memory system can be as much as 20%.

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