Low-power cache design

Vasily G. Moshnyaga, Koji Inoue

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Cache memories are the most area- and energy-consuming units in today’s microprocessors. As the speed disparity between processor and external memory increases, designers try to put large multilevel caches on a chip to reduce the number of external memory accesses and thus boost the system performance. (See Table 25.1 for a survey of the on-die caches for several recent high-end microprocessors.) On-chip data and instruction caches are implemented using arrays of densely packed static RAM cells. The device count for the caches often exceeds the number of transistors devoted to the processor’s datapath and controller. For example, the Alpha21364 [3] and PA-RISC Maco [5] microprocessors have over 90% of their transistors in RAM, with most of them dedicated for caches; the Itanium2 [1] has 80% in caches, the IBM G5 [7] has 72%, the PowerPC [8] has 71%, and Strong-ARM110 [9] has 70%. Due to the large load capacitance and high access rate, these caches account for significant portion of the overall power dissipation (e.g., 35% in Itanium2 [1]; 43% in Strong-ARM [9]). Therefore optimizing caches for power is increasingly important. Although much work on energy reduction has taken place in the circuit and technology domains [10,11], interest in cache design for power efficiency at the architectural level continues to increase. Architecture is the entry point in cache design hierarchy, and decisions taken at this level can drastically affect the efficiency of design.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLow-Power Electronics Design
PublisherCRC Press
ISBN (Electronic)9781420039559
ISBN (Print)9780849319419
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2004
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering
  • General Computer Science


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