ISCA 2020
Conference paper

Data Compression Accelerator on IBM POWER9 and z15 Processors : Industrial Product

View publication


Lossless data compression is highly desirable in enterprise and cloud environments for storage and memory cost savings and improved utilization I/O and network. While the value provided by compression is recognized, its application in practice is often limited because it's a processor intensive operation resulting low throughput and high elapsed time for compression intense workloads. The IBM POWER9 and IBM z15 systems overcome the shortcomings of existing approaches by including a novel on-chip integrated data compression accelerator. The accelerator reduces processor cycles, I/O traffic, memory and storage footprint of many applications practically with zero hardware cost. The accelerator also eliminates the cost and I/O slots that would have been necessary with FPGA/ASIC based compression adapters. On the POWER9 chip, a single accelerator uses less than 0.5% of the processor chip area, but provides a 388x speedup factor over the zlib compression software running on a general-purpose core and provides a 13x speedup factor over the entire chip of cores. On a POWER9 system, the accelerators provide an end-to-end 23% speedup to Apache Spark TPC-DS workload compared to the software baseline. The z15 chip doubles the compression rate of POWER9 resulting in even much higher speedup factors over the compression software running on general-purpose cores. On a maximally configured z15 system topology, on-chip compression accelerators provide up to 280 GB/s data compression rate, the highest in the industry. Overall, the on-chip accelerators significantly advance the state of the art in terms of area, throughput, latency, compression ratio, reduced processor utilization, power/energy efficiency, and integration into the system stack. This paper describes the architecture, and novel elements of the POWER9 and z15 compression/decompression accelerators with emphasis on trade-offs that made the on-chip implementation possible.