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Fundamental limits on Serial Computing: Three “Walls”

  • Power Wall

    • Increasingly, microprocessor performance is limited by achievable power dissipation rather than by the number of available integrated-circuit resources (transistors and wires). Thus, the only way to significantly increase the performance of microprocessors is to improve power efficiency at about the same rate as the performance increase.

  • Frequency Wall

    • Conventional processors require increasingly deeper instruction pipelines to achieve higher operating frequencies. This technique has reached a pointof diminishing returns, and even negative returns if power is taken into account.

  • Memory Wall

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  • On multi-gigahertz symmetric processors --- even those with integrated memory controllers --- latency to DRAM memory is currently approaching 1,000 cycles. As a result, program performance is dominated by the activity of moving data between main storage (the effective-address space that includes main memory) and the processor.

COMP 422, Spring 2008 (V.Sarkar)

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