Athena Seminar Series: Understanding a Modern Processing-in-Memory Architecture: Benchmarking and Experimental Analysis

Apr 27

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Thursday, April 27, 2023 – 12:00PM to 1:00PM

Juan Gomez Luna


Juan Gómez-Luna

Processing-in-memory (PIM) is becoming a reality which promises to overcome the data movement bottleneck (i.e., the waste of execution cycles and energy due to frequent movement of data between memory and compute units) by equipping compute systems with compute-capable memories. Several major vendors and startups have prototyped and announced their PIM architectures. Among them, the UPMEM company commercializes the first publicly-available real-world PIM architecture. This architecture combines traditional DRAM memory arrays with general-purpose in-order cores, called DRAM Processing Units (DPUs), integrated in the same chip. In this talk, we will provide an overview of the first comprehensive analysis of the first publicly-available real-world PIM architecture. We make two key contributions. First, we conduct an experimental characterization of the UPMEM-based PIM system using microbenchmarks to assess various architecture limits such as compute throughput and memory bandwidth, yielding new insights. Second, we present PrIM (Processing-In-Memory benchmarks), a benchmark suite of 16 workloads from different application domains (e.g., dense/sparse linear algebra, databases, data analytics, graph processing, neural networks, bioinformatics, image processing), which we identify as memory-bound. We evaluate the performance and scaling characteristics of PrIM benchmarks on the UPMEM PIM architecture and compare their performance and energy consumption to their state-of-the-art CPU and GPU counterparts. Our extensive evaluation conducted on two real UPMEM-based PIM systems with 640 and 2,556 DPUs provides new insights about suitability of different workloads to the PIM system, programming recommendations for software designers, and suggestions and hints for hardware and architecture designers of future PIM systems.