Technical Reports (CIS)

Document Type

Technical Report

Date of this Version

June 2008


University of Pennsylvania Department of Computer and Information Science Technical Report No. MS-CIS-08-22.


The coherence protocol is a first-order design concern in multicore designs. Directory protocols are naturally scalable, as they place no restrictions on the interconnect and have minimal bandwidth requirements; however, this scalability comes at the cost of increased sharing latency due to indirection. In contrast, broadcast-based systems such as snooping protocols and token coherence reduce latency of sharing misses by sending requests directly to other processors. Unfortunately, their reliance on totally ordered interconnects and/or broadcast limits their scalability.

This work introduces PATCH (Predictive/Adaptive Token Counting Hybrid), a coherence protocol that provides the scalability of directory protocols while opportunistically using available bandwidth to reduce sharing latency. PATCH extends a standard directory protocol to track tokens and use token counting rules for enforcing coherence permissions. Token counting allows PATCH to support direct requests on an unordered interconnect, while a novel mechanism called token tenure uses local processor timeouts and the directory’s per-block point of ordering at the home node to guarantee forward progress without relying on broadcast.

PATCH makes three main contributions. First, PATCH uses direct request prioritization to match the performance of broadcast-based protocols without restricting scalability. Second, PATCH introduces token tenure, which provides broadcast-free forward progress for token counting protocols. Finally, PATCH provides greater scalability than directory protocols when using inexact encodings of sharers because only processors holding tokens need to acknowledge requests. Overall, PATCH is a “one-size-fits-all” coherence protocol that dynamically adapts to work well for small systems, large systems, and anywhere in between



Date Posted: 06 June 2008