Collaborative Research: PPoSS: Planning: Towards an Integrated, Full-stack System for Memory-centric Computing

NSF Award CCF-2029014; $185,473 (Collaborative total: $250K); January 2021 through December 2021. This project is a collaborative effort with Rujia Wang and Xian-He Sun at IIT and Peng Jiang at the University of Iowa.

As the volume of data being processed by today's systems continues to grow, the traditional organization of memory systems is shifting to accommodate that accelerating growth. Data-centric applications are becoming common, from scientific simulation to emerging distributed machine learning, and irregular graph mining algorithms. Such applications not only require a large amount of data to compute and store, but they also generate massive amounts of intermediate data to move around the compute resources. Therefore, the memory system has become the bottleneck of high performance computing. Memory-centric computing is a potential solution to overcome the limitations of current systems. To mitigate bandwidth limitations, compute logic can be added near or in memory chips, so that we need not move data all the way up to the processing units. To overcome memory capacity limitations, a remote memory pool can be added to the system so that all compute units can access it via a fast interconnect. Both solutions are promising for breaking down the memory wall. However, simply combining the two solutions will not realize their full potential. We need to properly integrate the architecture and revisit the full system stack through collaborative designs to make it more usable for applications and enable more efficient computing.

In this work, we propose an integrated, full-stack System to enable Memory-Centric Computing (SMC2). We target a system that has near-memory data processors (NDP) as well as an extendable memory pool. We work on the entire system stack to minimize the performance impact of memory accesses from the research tasks in architecture, SW/HW interface, programming model/compiler, and performance model/optimization. First, we propose to utilize the NDP hardware to build an active memory system that supports intelligent data prefetch and speculative data push, which can overlap the data access time with computation. Next, we revisit current memory management mechanisms in order to support NDP function calls, data push operations and virtualization. The new SW/HW interface allows us to propose a new programming model, which can allow the programmer to specify which tasks can run on the NDP resources, and allow efficient NDP to NDP communication. Lastly, we try to optimize the system performance with the help of NDP through a new memory-centric performance model and a global performance optimization framework. Putting the four pieces together, our proposed system support can maximize the performance of memory-centric computing with new system abstractions and theories.

Kyle C. Hale
Assistant Professor of Computer Science

Hale's research lies at the intersection of operating systems, HPC, parallel computing, computer architecture.