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Towards energy- and power-efficient memory technologies

The increasing power and energy demands of computing systems due to memory requirements are having an adverse effect across the board, from mobile devices to supercomputers. An EU initiative aimed to deliver efficient energy, power and memory solutions.
Towards energy- and power-efficient memory technologies
Emerging non-volatile memory (NVM) technologies such as phase-change memory and resistive random-access memory have various properties that help consume less energy. However, they use up more energy per memory access than existing dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) technology.

To address the issue, the EU-funded NOVOSOFT (Software management of non-volatile memory hierarchies) project set out to reduce energy consumption in memory systems. To achieve this, the team examined how NVM technologies may be used to enhance energy efficiency through the potential replacement of NVM chips with DRAM equivalents used in computing systems.

Project partners studied and analysed the energy and performance parameters of potential NVM technologies. They then integrated the parameters into an analytic NVM technology model that predicts whether data is best stored in DRAM or NVM while being accessed by a particular program. Researchers used the model to assess the performance potential and energy efficiency of hybrid memory systems.

An application programming interface was developed to deal with data placement in the hybrid systems. In addition, a task dataflow parallel programming language was extended to determine data placement and migration in a hybrid DRAM/NVM memory system.

The project team evaluated several embedded, compute- and data-intensive workloads. It also demonstrated 50-90 % energy savings, with the range depending on the parameters of the NVM technologies.

NOVOSOFT explored software management methods to operate hybrid memory systems that contain traditional DRAM and up-and-coming NVM technology. By exploiting both technologies, computing systems will consume less energy and power when using memory. This bodes well for battery powered mobile devices, high-performance computer infrastructures and data centres around the world.

Related information


Computing systems, non-volatile memory, random-access memory, DRAM, software management
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