Infoscience

Conference paper

Fine-grain access control for distributed shared memory

The paper discusses implementations of fine-grain memory access control, which selectively restricts reads and writes to cache-block-sized memory regions. Fine-grain access control forms the basis of efficient cache- coherent shared memory. The paper focuses on low-cost implementations that require little or no additional hardware. These techniques permit efficient implementation of shared memory on a wide range of parallel systems, thereby providing shared memory codes with a portability previously limited to message passing. The paper categorizes techniques based on where access control is enforced and where access conflicts are handled. We incorporated three techniques that require no additional hardware into Blizzard, a system that supports distributed shared memory on the CM-5. The first adds a software lookup before each shared memory reference by modifying the program's executable. The second uses the memory's error correcting code (ECC) as cache block valid bits. The third is a hybrid. The software technique ranged from slightly faster to two times slower than the ECC approach. Blizzard's performance is roughly comparable to a hardware shared memory machine. These results argue that clusters of workstations or personal computers with networks comparable to the CM-5's will be able to support the same shared memory interfaces as supercomputers

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