The Synchronization Power of Coalesced Memory Accesses
Journal article, 2010

Multicore architectures have established themselves as the new generation of computer architectures. As part of the one core to many cores evolution, memory access mechanisms have advanced rapidly. Several new memory access mechanisms have been implemented in many modern commodity multicore architectures. By specifying how processing cores access shared memory, memory access mechanisms directly influence the synchronization capabilities of multicore architectures. Therefore, it is crucial to investigate the synchronization power of these new memory access mechanisms. This paper investigates the synchronization power of coalesced memory accesses, a family of memory access mechanisms introduced in recent large multicore architectures such as the Compute Unified Device Architecture (CUDA). We first define three memory access models to capture the fundamental features of the new memory access mechanisms. Subsequently, we prove the exact synchronization power of these models in terms of their consensus numbers. These tight results show that the coalesced memory access mechanisms can facilitate strong synchronization between the threads of multicore architectures, without the need of synchronization primitives other than reads and writes. In the case of the contemporary CUDA processors, our results imply that the coalesced memory access mechanisms have consensus numbers up to 64.




distributed consensus


Memory access models

multicore architectures


P. H. Ha

Philippas Tsigas

Chalmers, Computer Science and Engineering (Chalmers), Networks and Systems (Chalmers)

O. J. Anshus

IEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems

1045-9219 (ISSN)

Vol. 21 7 939-953

Subject Categories

Computer and Information Science



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