A locality-aware compression scheme for highly reliable embedded systems

Juhyung Hong, Jeongbin Kim, Sangwoo Han, Eui Young Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Dynamic random access memory (DRAM) reliability has become one of the critical issues in embedded systems, as DRAM process technology advances with the increase in bit error probability. Unfortunately, redundant error-correction code (ECC) chips cannot be applied to embedded systems since cores and DRAMs are tightly coupled without a dual in-line memory module (DIMM) slot to account for the form factor, cost, and limited pin count. Therefore, ECC parities are typically placed in the same physical array where the user and system data reside. This coexistence eventually deteriorates data locality, which could be the critical factor in DRAM performance degradation. To address this issue, we propose an ECC scheme called locality-aware compression (LoComp) which integrates a compression algorithm, DRAM data layout, and memory controller especially optimized for embedded systems. We focus on the locality of the dataset and its corresponding metadata, as well as spatial data locality in the design of DRAM data layout, which reduces the number of row activations. The major feature in a compression algorithm is adjusting the misalignment of data streams caused by the data packing in many embedded systems. Moreover, we specialize the memory controller to reduce DRAM access for ECC parities and compression flags. The core technologies for the memory controller are the adoption of a set of small caches for metadata and the support of partial write operation without changing the DRAM interface. LoComp+, an enhanced version of LoComp, further reduces DRAM access for metadata by placing the metadata close to the corresponding data. In the experiment, previous works increase the DRAM access time from 68% to over twice the value compared to ECC DIMM. Whereas, LoComp and LoComp+ show reduced performance degradation by 33% and 48%, respectively. In other words, LoComp and LoComp+ substantially improved performance from between 13% and 33% compared to previous embedded ECC schemes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8323191
Pages (from-to)453-465
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Computer-Aided Design of Integrated Circuits and Systems
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Mar

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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