Assignment #4 Cache Simulator Solution

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1    Overview

The  goal of this  assignment  is to help you understand  caches better.  You are required  to write  a  cache  simulator  using  the C programming  language.   The  programs  have  to run on iLab machines.   We are providing  real program  memory  traces as input to your  cache simulator.  The format  and structure of the memory traces are described below.

2    Memory Access Traces

The  input to the cache simulator  is a memory  access trace, which we have  generated  by executing real  programs.   The  trace contains memory  addresses  accessed during  program execution.  Your cache simulator will have to use these addresses  to determine if the access is a hit or a miss, and  the actions  to perform in each case.  The memory trace file consists of multiple  lines. Each line of the trace  file corresponds  to a memory accesses performed by the  program.   Each  line consists of multiple  columns,  which are space separated.  The  first column  reports the PC  (program  counter) when  this particular memory  access occurred, followed by a colon(:).  Second column lists  whether  the memory access is a read  (R)  or a write  (W)  operation.  And the last  column reports  the actual  48-bit  memory  address  that has been accessed by the program.  In this assignment, you only need to consider the second and the third columns (i.e. you dont really need to know the PCs).  The last line of the trace file will be the string  #eof. We have provided  you three input trace files (some of them  are larger in size).

Here is a sample trace file.

0x804ae19: R 0x9cb3d40

0x804ae19: W 0x9cb3d40

0x804ae1c: R 0x9cb3d44

0x804ae1c: W 0x9cb3d44

0x804ae10: R 0xbf8ef498


3    Cache Simulator

You will implement a cache simulator to evaluate di↵erent configurations of caches.  It should be able to run with di↵erent traces files. The followings are the requirements for your cache simulator:

Simulate only one level cache; i.e., an L1 cache.

The cache size,  associativity,  the replacement policy,  and  the block  size are  input parameters. Cache size and block size are specified in bytes.

  • Replacement algorithm: First In First Out (FIFO). When a block needs to be replaced, the cache evicts the block that was accessed first. It does not take into account whether the block is frequently  or recently  accessed.
  • You have to simulate a write through cache.


4    Cache Simulator Interface

You have to name your cache simulator first.  Your program should support the following us- age interface:  ./first <cache size><associativity><cache policy><block size><trace file>


  1. A) <cache size>is the total size of the cache in byt This number should be a power of 2. B) <associativity>is one of:

direct – simulate a direct mapped  cache.

assoc – simulate a fully associative cache.

assoc:n – simulate an n  way associative cache.  n will be a power of 2. C) <cache policy>Here is valid cache policy is fifo.

  1. D) <block size>is a power of 2 integer that specifies the size of the cache block in byt E) <trace file>is the name of the trace file.

Your program  should check if all the inputs are in valid format, if not print error and then terminate the program.

5    Cache Prefetcher

Prefetching  is a  common  technique  to increase  the spatial  locality  of the caches  beyond the  cache  line.   The  idea  of prefetching  is to  bring  the  data  into  the  cache  before  it  is needed  (accessed).   In a normal  cache, you bring  a block of data  into  the cache whenever you experience  a cache-miss.   Now, we want  you to explore a di↵erent  type  of cache that

prefetches not only brings  the block corresponding  to the access but also prefetches one adjacent block, which will result  in one extra  memory read.

For  example,  if a memory  address  0x40 misses in the cache and  the block size is 4 bytes, then  the  prefetcher  would bring  the  block corresponding  to 0x40 + 4 into  the  cache.  The prefetcher  is activated only on  misses and it is not active on a cache hit. If the prefetched block is already  in the cache,  it does not issue a  memory  read.   With respect to cache replacement  policies, if the prefetched  block hits  in the cache, the line replacement  policy status  should  not be updated.  Otherwise, it is treated similar  to a block that missed the cache.

6    Cache Replacement Policy

The goal of the cache replacement policy is to decide which block has to be evicted in case there  is no space in the set for an incoming cache block. It is always preferable – to achieve the best performance  – to replace the block that  will be re-referenced furthest in the future. There  are di↵erent ways one can implement cache replacement policy.  Here we use FIFO replacement policy and LRU policy as extra  credit.

6.1     FIFO

Using this  algorithm,  you can always evict  the block accessed first  in the set  without  any regard to how often or how many times it was accessed before. So let us say that your cache is empty initially and  that each set has two ways.  Now suppose that you access blocks A, B, A, C. To make room for C, you would evict A since it was the first block to be brought into the set.

7    Sample Run

Your  program  should  print out the number  of memory  reads  (per  cache  block),  memory writes (per cache block), cache hits, and cache misses for normal  cache and the cache with prefetcher.   You should  follow the exact  same format shown below (pay  attention to case sensitivity of the letters), otherwise, the autograder can not grade your program  properly.

$./first 32 assoc:2 fifo 4 trace2.txt no-prefetch

Memory reads:  3499

Memory writes:  2861

Cache hits:  6501

Cache misses: 3499 with-prefetch Memory reads:  3521

Memory writes:  2861

Cache hits:  8124

Cache misses: 1876

In this example  above,  we are simulating  2-way set associate  cache of size 32 bytes.  Each cache block is 4 bytes.   The  trace  file name  is trace2.txt.  As you can  see, the simulator should simulate  both  catch  types with the prefetcher  and without the prefetcher  in a single run and display the results  for both.

Note:  Some of the trace files are quite large. So it might take a few minutes for the autograder to grade for all the testcases.

8    Simulation Details

  1. (a) When your program starts, there is nothing in the cache. So, all cache lines are empty


(b) you can assume that  the memory size is 2pow48 .  Therefore,  memory addresses  are 48 bit (zero extend the addresses in the trace file if theyre less than 48-bit in length).

(c) the  number  of bits  in the  tag,  cache address,  and  byte  address  are determined  by the cache size and the block size;

  1. For  a  write-through cache,  there  is the  question  of what  should  happen  in case of a write miss.  In this assignment, the assumption is that the block is first read from memory (one read memory),  and then  followed by a memory write.

3- You do not need to simulate the memory in this assignment.  Because, the traces doesnt contain any information  on data  values transferred between the memory and the caches.

  1. You have to compile your program with the following flags:

-Wall -Werror  -fsanitize=address

9    Extra credit (50 points)

As an extra credit, you should  implement LRU (Least Recently Used) cache policy.  Your program should output exactly the same format output as it shown before. Please note that, you should  clearly mention  in the report  that youve done extra  credit  otherwise  you may not get the points.  Here is an example of running  your program  with LRU policy.

$./first 32 assoc:2 lru 4 trace2.txt no-prefetch

Memory reads:  3292

Memory writes:  2861

Cache hits:  6708

Cache misses: 3292


Memory reads:  3315

Memory writes:  2861

Cache hits:  8331

Cache misses: 1669

10    Submission

You have to e-submit the assignment using Sakai .  Put all files (source code + Makefile + report.pdf ) into a directory  named  first, which itself is a sub-directory under  pa4 .  Then, create  a tar file (follow the  instructions in the previous assignments to create  the tar file). Your submission should be only a tar file named  pa4.tar. You have to e-submit the assign- ment using Sakai.  Your submission should be a tar file named pa4.tar. To create this file, put everything that you are submitting into a directory named pa4.  Then,  cd into the directory containing pa4 (that is, pa4s parent directory) and run the following command:

$tar  cvf pa4.tar pa4

To  check  that you  have  correctly  created  the tar file, you  should  copy  it  (pa4.tar) into an empty directory and run the following command:

$tar  xvf pa4.tar

This is how the folder structure should be.

  • pa4

–  first

⇤   first.c

⇤   first.h

⇤   Makefile

⇤   report.txt

Source code: all source code files necessary  for building  your programs.   e.g.  first.c and first.h.

Makefile: There  should be at least two rules in your Makefile:

first:  build the executables (first).

clean: prepare  for rebuilding  from scratch.

report.txt :  In  a  text file, you  should  briefly  describe  the main  data structures being used in your program.   More importantly, you should  report your observation on how the prefetcher  changed the cache hits and number  of memory reads.  Explain  why?

11    Autograder

First mode

Testing when you are writing code with a pa4 folder.

  1. Lets say you have a pa4 folder with the directory structure as described in the assignment.
  2. Copy the folder to the directory of the autograder
  3. Run the autograder with the following command

$python  auto

It will run the test cases and print your scores. Second mode

This mode is to test your final submission (i.e, pa4.tar) 1.  Copy pa4.tar to the autograder directory

  1. Run the autograder with pa4.tar as the argument as below:

$python  auto  pa4.tar


12    Grading guidelines

  1. We should be able build your program by just running  make.
  2. Your program should follow the format specified above for the usage interface.
  3. Your program should strictly follow the input and output specifications mentioned above. (Note: This  is perhaps  the most  important  guideline:  failing to follow it  might  result  in you losing all or most of your points  for this assignment. Make sure your programs  output format is exactly as specified. Any deviation will cause the automated grader to mark your output as incorrect. REQUESTS  FOR RE-EVALUATIONS OF PROGRAMS REJECTED DUE TO IMPROPER FORMAT WILL NOT BE ENTERTAINED.)