lat_mem_rd - memory read latency benchmark
lat_mem_rd [ -P <parallelism> ] [ -W <warmups> ] [ -N <repetitions> ]
size_in_megabytes stride [ stride stride... ]
lat_mem_rd measures memory read latency for varying memory sizes and
strides. The results are reported in nanoseconds per load and have
been verified accurate to within a few nanoseconds on an SGI Indy.
The entire memory hierarchy is measured, including onboard cache
latency and size, external cache latency and size, main memory latency,
and TLB miss latency.
Only data accesses are measured; the instruction cache is not measured.
The benchmark runs as two nested loops. The outer loop is the stride
size. The inner loop is the array size. For each array size, the
benchmark creates a ring of pointers that point backward one stride.
Traversing the array is done by
p = (char **)*p;
in a for loop (the over head of the for loop is not significant; the
loop is an unrolled loop 100 loads long).
The size of the array varies from 512 bytes to (typically) eight
megabytes. For the small sizes, the cache will have an effect, and the
loads will be much faster. This becomes much more apparent when the
data is plotted.
Since this benchmark uses fixed-stride offsets in the pointer chain, it
may be vulnerable to smart, stride-sensitive cache prefetching
policies. Older machines were typically able to prefetch for
sequential access patterns, and some were able to prefetch for strided
forward access patterns, but only a few could prefetch for backward
strided patterns. These capabilities are becoming more widespread in
Output format is intended as input to xgraph or some similar program
(we use a perl script that produces pic input). There is a set of data
produced for each stride. The data set title is the stride size and
the data points are the array size in megabytes (floating point value)
and the load latency over all points in that array.
INTERPRETING THE OUTPUT
The output is best examined in a graph where you typically get a graph
that has four plateaus. The graph should plotted in log base 2 of the
array size on the X axis and the latency on the Y axis. Each stride is
then plotted as a curve. The plateaus that appear correspond to the
onboard cache (if present), external cache (if present), main memory
latency, and TLB miss latency.
As a rough guide, you may be able to extract the latencies of the
various parts as follows, but you should really look at the graphs,
since these rules of thumb do not always work (some systems do not have
onboard cache, for example).
onboard cache Try stride of 128 and array size of .00098.
external cache Try stride of 128 and array size of .125.
main memory Try stride of 128 and array size of 8.
TLB miss Try the largest stride and the largest array.
This program is dependent on the correct operation of mhz(8). If you
are getting numbers that seem off, check that mhz(8) is giving you a
clock rate that you believe.
Funding for the development of this tool was provided by Sun
Microsystems Computer Corporation.
lmbench(8), tlb(8), cache(8), line(8).
Carl Staelin and Larry McVoy
Comments, suggestions, and bug reports are always welcome.
(c)1994 Larry McVoy $Date$