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SIGMETRICS 2001 / Performance 2001

A Study of Memory System Performance of Multimedia Applications

Sohum Sohoni <>
Zhiyong Xu <>
Rui Min <>
Yiming Hu <>

Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Computer Science, University of Cincinnati

Multimedia applications are fast becoming one of the dominating workloads for modern computer systems. Since these applications normally have large data sets and little data-reuse, many researchers believe that they have poor memory behavior compared to traditional programs, and that current cache architectures cannot handle them well. It is therefore important to quantitatively characterize the memory behavior of these applications in order to provide insights for future design and research of memory systems. However, very few results on this topic have been published. This paper presents a comprehensive research on the memory requirements of a group of programs that are representative of multimedia applications. These programs include a sub-set of the popular MediaBench suite and several large multimedia programs running on the Linux, Windows NT and Tru UNIX operating systems. We performed extensive measurement and trace-driven simulation experiments.We then compared the memory utilization of these programs to that of SPECint95 applications. We found that multimedia applications actually have better memory behavior than SPECint95 programs. The high cache hit rates of multimedia applications can be contributed to the following three factors. Most multimedia applications apply block partitioning algorithms to the input data, and work on small blocks of data that easily fit into the cache. Secondly, within these blocks, there is significant data reuse as well as spatial locality. The third reason is that a large number of references generated by multimedia applications are to their internal data structures, which are relatively small and can also easily fit into reasonably-sized caches.

[Last updated Fri Mar 23 2001]