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Computer Memory Hierarchy or What are the different types of memory available to computer?
The hierarchical arrangement of storage in current computer architectures is called the memory hierarchy. It is designed to take advantage of memory locality in computer programs. Each level of the hierarchy has the properties of higher bandwidth, smaller size, and lower latency than lower levels.
Most modern CPU’s are so fast that for most program workloads, the locality of reference of memory accesses and the efficiency of the caching and memory transfer between different levels of the hierarchy are the practical limitations on processing speed.
As a result, the CPU spends much of its time idling, waiting for memory I/O to complete. The is sometimes called the space cost, as a larger memory object is more likely to overflow a small/fast level and require use of a larger/slower level.
The memory hierarchy in most computers is:
- Processor registers-fastest possible access only hundreds of bytes in size.
- Level 1 (L1) cache-often accessed in just a few cycles, usually tens of kilobytes.
- Level 2 (L2) cache-higher latency than L1 by Lx to 10x, often 512KiB or more.
- Main memory (DRAM) may take hundreds of cycles, but can be multiple gigabytes. Access times may not be uniform , in thee case of a NUMA machine
- Disk storage-millions of cycles latency, but very large.
- Tertiary storage-several second’s latency, can bee huge.
The various major units in a typical memory system can be viewed as forming a hierarchy of memories in which each member m, is in a sense subordinate to the next highest member m of the hierarchy.
Modern programming languages mainly assume two levels of memory, main memory and disk storage, through in assembly language, and in inline assembler in languages such as C, registers can be directly accessed. Taking optimal advantage of the memory hierarchy requires the cooperation of programmers, hardware, and compilers.
Are responsible for moving data between disk and memory through file I/O
Is responsible for moving data between memory and caches.
Are responsible for generating code that, when executed, will cause the hardware to use caches and registers.
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