The Case for Holistic Design

Computer system design, in general, and memory hierarchy design, in particular, have reached a point at which it is no longer sufficient to design and optimize subsystems in isolation. A subsystem within a memory hierarchy could be a cache system, a DRAM system, or a disk system, but it could be much more fine-grained, such as a signaling scheme, a resource-management policy, a timing convention, a scheduling algorithm and any associated queue structures, a transaction protocol, a bus organization, a network topology, etc. Each of these items, even taken in isolation, is complex enough that it warrants significant research toward design optimization. When these subsystems are combined into a single, highly ...

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