No single coherence strategy suits all applications well. Many promising adaptive protocols and coherence predictors, capable of dynamically modifying the coherence strategy, have been suggested over the years.
While most dynamic detection schemes rely on plentiful of dedicated hardware, the customization technique suggested in this paper requires no extra hardware support for its per-application coherence strategy. Instead, each application is profiled using a low-overhead profiling tool. The appropriate coherence flag setting, suggested by the profiling, is specified when the application is launched.
We have compared the performance of a hardware DSM (Sun WildFire) to a software DSM built with identical interconnect hardware and coherence strategy. With no support for flexibility, the software DSM runs on average 45 percent slower than the hardware DSM on the 12 studied applications, while the flexibility can get the software DSM within 11 percent. Our all-software system outperforms the hardware DSM on four applications.
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