On Modeling Contention for Shared Caches in Multi-Core Processors with Techniques from Ecology

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Natural Computing




Multi-core x86_64 processors introduced an important change in architecture, a shared last level cache. Historically, each processor has had access to a large private cache that seamlessly and transparently (to end users) interfaced with main memory. Previously, processes or threads only had to compete for memory bandwidth, but now they are competing for actual space. Competition for space and environmental resources is a problem studied in other scientific domains. This paper introduces methods from ecology to model multi-core cache usage with the competitive Lotka–Volterra equations. A model is presented and validated for characterizing the interaction of cores through shared caching, and for predicting the degree to which different workloads will interfere with each others’ execution from cache contention.