Hardware and software techniques for controlling DRAM power modes

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90 Scopus citations


The anticipated explosive growth of pervasive and mobile computing devices that are typically constrained by energy has brought hardware and software techniques far energy conservation into the spotlight. While there have been several studies and proposals for energy conservation for CPUs and peripherals, energy optimization techniques for selective operating mode control of DRAMs have not been fully explored. It has been shown that, for some systems, as much as 90 percent of overall system energy (excluding I/O) is consumed by the DRAM modules, thus, they serve as a good candidate for energy optimizations. Further, DRAM technology has also matured to provide several low energy operating modes (power modes), making it an opportunistic moment to conduct studies exploring the potential benefits of mode control techniques. This paper conducts an in-depth investigation of software and hardware techniques to take advantage of the DRAM mode control capabilities at a module granularity for energy savings. Using a memory system architecture capturing five different energy modes and corresponding resynchronization times, this paper presents several novel compilation techniques to both cluster the data across memory banks as well as to detect module idleness and perform energy mode transitions. In addition, hardware-assisted approaches (called self-monitoring) based on predictions of module interaccess times are proposed. These techniques are extensively evaluated using a set of a dozen benchmarks. It is shown that we get an average of 61 percent savings in DRAM energy using compiler-directed mode control. One of the self-monitored approaches gives as much as 89 percent savings (72 percent on the average), coming as close as 8.8 percent to the optimal energy savings that one can expect with DRAM module mode control. The optimization techniques are demonstrated to be invaluable for energy savings as memory technologies continue to evolve.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1154-1173
Number of pages20
JournalIEEE Transactions on Computers
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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