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This code adds a significant amount of complexity to the virtual memory allocation subsystem, but the result is well worth the effort. Page coloring makes virtual memory as deterministic as physical memory with regard to cache performance. Page coloring is employed in operating systems such as Solaris, FreeBSD, NetBSD, and Windows NT.
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We will end with the page coloring optimizations. Page coloring is a performance optimization designed to ensure that accesses to contiguous pages in virtual memory make the best use of the processor cache. In ancient times (i.e. 10+ years ago) processor caches tended to map virtual memory rather than physical memory. This led to a huge number of problems including having to clear the cache on every context switch in some cases, and problems with data aliasing in the cache. Modern processor caches map physical memory precisely to solve those problems. This means that two side-by-side pages in a processes address space may not correspond to two side-by-side pages in the cache. In fact, if you are not careful side-by-side pages in virtual memory could wind up using the same page in the processor cache—leading to cacheable data being thrown away prematurely and reducing CPU performance. This is true even with multi-way set-associative caches (though the effect is mitigated somewhat).
Physical memory pages are “colored” so that pages with different “colors” have different positions in CPU cache memory. When allocating sequential pages in virtual memory for processes, the kernel collects pages with different “colors” and maps them to the virtual memory. In this way, sequential pages in virtual memory do not contend for the same cache line.
References External links “Page Placement Algorithms for Large Real-Indexed Caches,” by R. E. Kessler, Mark D. Hill, University of Wisconsin, 1992. “Colorable Memory,” by Jochen Liedtke, IBM T.
J. Watson Center, Nov. 1996. “缓存着色技术,” by Maray, CSDN Technological Blog, 2008.
In computer science, cache coloring (also known as page coloring) is the process of attempting to allocate free pages that are contiguous from the CPU cache’s point of view, in order to maximize the total number of pages cached by the processor. Cache coloring is typically employed by low-level dynamic memory allocation code in the operating system, when mapping virtual memory to physical memory. A virtual memory subsystem that lacks cache coloring is less deterministic with regards to cache performance, as differences in page allocation from one program run to the next can lead to large differences in program performance.
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A physically indexed CPU cache is designed such that addresses in adjacent physical memory blocks take different positions (“cache lines”) in the cache, but this is not the case when it comes to virtual memory; when virtually adjacent but not physically adjacent memory blocks are allocated, they could potentially both take the same position in the cache. Coloring is a technique implemented in memory management software, which solves this problem by selecting pages that do not contend with neighbor pages.
1 Details of operations 2 Implementations 3 References 4 External links
Illustration of cache coloring. Left is virtual memory spaces, center is the physical memory space, and right is the CPU cache.
FreeBSD’s memory allocation code implements page coloring optimizations, which means that the memory allocation code will attempt to locate free pages that are contiguous from the point of view of the cache. For example, if page 16 of physical memory is assigned to page 0 of a process’s virtual memory and the cache can hold 4 pages, the page coloring code will not assign page 20 of physical memory to page 1 of a process’s virtual memory. It would, instead, assign page 21 of physical memory. The page coloring code attempts to avoid assigning page 20 because this maps over the same cache memory as page 16 and would result in non-optimal caching. This code adds a significant amount of complexity to the VM memory allocation subsystem as you can well imagine, but the result is well worth the effort. Page Coloring makes VM memory as deterministic as physical memory in regards to cache performance.
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