Adaptive prefetching on power7: Improving performance and power consumption


Hardware data prefetch engines are integral parts of many general purpose server-class microprocessors in the field today. Some prefetch engines allow users to change some of their parameters. But, the prefetcher is usually enabled in a default configuration during system bring-up, and dynamic reconfiguration of the prefetch engine is not an autonomic feature of current machines. Conceptually, however, it is easy to infer that commonly used prefetch algorithms"when applied in a fixed mode"will not help performance in many cases. In fact, they may actually degrade performance due to useless bus bandwidth consumption and cache pollution, which in turn, will also waste power. We present an adaptive prefetch scheme that dynamically modifies the prefetch settings in order to adapt to workloads' requirements. We use a commercial processor, namely the IBM POWER7 as a vehicle for our study. First we characterize"in terms of performance and power consumption"the prefetcher in that processor using microbenchmarks and SPEC CPU2006.We then present our adaptive prefetch mechanism showing performance improvements with respect to the default prefetch setting up to 2.7X and 1.3X for single-threaded and multiprogrammed workloads, respectively. Adaptive prefetching is also able to reduce power consumption in some cases. Finally, we also evaluate our mechanism with SPECjbb2005, improving both performance and power consumption.