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An Adaptive Serial-Parallel CAM Architecture for Low-Power Cache Blocks

A. Efthymiou, J.D. Garside


There is an on-going debate about which consumes less energy: a RAM-tagged associative cache with an intelligent order of accessing its tags and ways (e.g.way prediction), or a CAM-tagged high associativity cache. If a CAM search can consume less than twice the energy of reading a tag RAM, it would probably be the preferred option for low-power applications. Based on memory traces -- which usually cause tag mismatch within the lower four bits -- a new serial CAM organisation is proposed which consumes just 45% more than a single tag RAM read and is only 25% slower than the conventional, parallel CAM. Furthermore,it can optionally be operated as a parallel CAM, at no speed penalty,and still reduce energy consumption.

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