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This invited paper argues that to facilitate formal verification, multiprocessor systems should (1) decouple enforcing coherence from enforcing a memory consistency model and (2) decouple the interconnection network from the cache coherence protocol (by not relying on any specific interconnect ordering or synchronicity properties). Of the two dominant classes of cache coherence protocols — directory protocols and snooping protocols — these two desirable properties favor use of directory protocols over snooping protocols. Although the conceptual simplicity of snooping protocols is seductive, aggressive implementations of snooping protocols lack these decoupling properties, making them perhaps more difficult in practice to reason about, verify, and implement correctly. Conversely, directory protocols may seem more complicated, but they are more amenable to these decoupling properties, which simplify protocol design and verification. Finally, this paper describes the recently-proposed token coherence protocol’s adherence to these properties and discusses some of its implications for future multiprocessor systems.
Martin, Milo, "Formal Verification and its Impact on the Snooping versus Directory Protocol Debate" (2005). Departmental Papers (CIS). Paper 263.
Date Posted: 08 November 2006