Google Research

A Hierarchical Neural Model of Data Prefetching

Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems (ASPLOS) (2021)


This paper presents Voyager, a novel neural network for data prefetching. Unlike previous neural models for prefetching, which are limited to learning delta correlations, our model can also learn address correlations, which are important for prefetching irregular sequences of memory accesses. The key to our solution is its hierarchical structure that separates addresses into pages and offsets and that introduces a mechanism for learning important relations among pages and offsets.

Voyager provides significant prediction benefits over current data prefetchers. For a set of irregular programs from the SPEC 2006 and GAP benchmark suites, Voyager sees an average IPC improvement of 41.6% over a system with no prefetcher, compared with 21.7% and 28.2%, respectively, for idealized Domino and ISB prefetchers. We also find that for two commercial workloads for which current data prefetchers see very little benefit, Voyager dramatically improves both accuracy and coverage.

At present, slow training and prediction preclude neural models from being practically used in hardware, but Voyager’s overheads are significantly lower—in every dimension—than those of previous neural models. For example, computation cost is reduced by 15-20×, and storage overhead is reduced by 110-200×. Thus, Voyager represents a significant step towards a practical neural prefetcher.

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