On the Off-chip Memory Latency of Real-Time Systems: Is DDR DRAM Really the Best Option?

10/16/2018 ∙ by Mohamed Hassan, et al. ∙ 0

Predictable execution time upon accessing shared memories in multi-core real-time systems is a stringent requirement. A plethora of existing works focus on the analysis of Double Data Rate Dynamic Random Access Memories (DDR DRAMs), or redesigning its memory to provide predictable memory behavior. In this paper, we show that DDR DRAMs by construction suffer inherent limitations associated with achieving such predictability. These limitations lead to 1) highly variable access latencies that fluctuate based on various factors such as access patterns and memory state from previous accesses, and 2) overly pessimistic latency bounds. As a result, DDR DRAMs can be ill-suited for some real-time systems that mandate a strict predictable performance with tight timing constraints. Targeting these systems, we promote an alternative off-chip memory solution that is based on the emerging Reduced Latency DRAM (RLDRAM) protocol, and propose a predictable memory controller (RLDC) managing accesses to this memory. Comparing with the state-of-the-art predictable DDR controllers, the proposed solution provides up to 11x less timing variability and 6.4x reduction in the worst case memory latency.

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