GCA: Global Congestion Awareness for Load Balance in Networks-on-Chip
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As modern CMPs scale to ever increasing core counts, Networks-on-Chip (NoCs) are emerging as an interconnection fabric, enabling communication between components. While NoCs are easy to implement and provide high and scalable bandwidth, current routing algorithms, such as dimension-ordered routing, suffer from poor load balance, leading to reduced throughput and high latencies. Improving load balance, hence, is critical in future CMP designs where increased latency leads to wasted power and energy waiting for outstanding requests to resolve. Adaptive routing is a known technique to improve load balance; however, prior adaptive routing techniques either use local, myopic information or misinformed, regionally-aggregated information to form their routing decisions. This thesis proposes a new, light-weight, adaptive routing algorithm for on-chip routers based on global link state and congestion information, Global Congestion Awareness (GCA). GCA leverages unused bits in existing packet header flits to "piggyback" congestion state information around the network and uses a simple, low-complexity route calculation unit, to calculate optimal packet paths to their destination without the myopia of local decisions, nor the aggregation of unrelated status information, found in prior designs. In particular GCA outperforms local adaptive routing by up to 82%, Regional Congestion Awareness (RCA) by up to 51%, and a recent competing adaptive routing algorithm, DAR, by 8% on average on realistic workloads.
Ramakrishna, Mukund (2012). GCA: Global Congestion Awareness for Load Balance in Networks-on-Chip. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from