Leveraging Architectural Support of Three Page Sizes with Trident

Venkat Sri Sai Ram, Ashish Panwar, Arkaprava Basu

Large pages are commonly deployed to reduce address translation overheads for big-memory workloads. Modern x86-64 processors from Intel and AMD support two large page sizes -- 1GB and 2MB. However, previous works on large pages have primarily focused on 2MB pages, partly due to lack of substantial evidence on the profitability of 1GB pages to real-world applications. We argue that in fact, inadequate system software support is responsible for a decade of underutilized hardware support for 1GB pages. Through extensive experimentation on a real system, we demonstrate that 1GB pages can improve performance over 2MB pages, and when used in tandem with 2MB pages for an important set of applications; the support for the latter is crucial but missing in current systems. Our design and implementation of \trident{} in Linux fully exploit hardware supported large pages by dynamically and transparently allocating 1GB, 2MB, and 4KB pages as deemed suitable. \trident{} speeds up eight memory-intensive applications by {$18\%$}, on average, over Linux's use of 2MB pages. We also propose \tridentpv{}, an extension to \trident{} that effectively virtualizes 1GB pages via copy-less promotion and compaction in the guest OS. Overall, this paper shows that even GB-sized pages have considerable practical significance with adequate software enablement, in turn motivating architects to continue investing/innovating in large pages.

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