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Memory Hierarchy

Memory Hierarchy

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Published by: Isuru Kasthurirathne on Oct 05, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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ASSIGNMENT 2(1) What is meant by the term “Memory Hierarchy”? What is the rationale forhaving a memory hierarchy?
Simply ahierarchicalarrangement of storagein currentcomputer architecturesis called the memory hierarchy. The objective of having a memory hierarchy is to havea memory system with a sufficient capacity and which is cheap as the cheapestmemory type and as fast as the fastest memory type. In principle, for a simple single processor machine, the memory architecture is quite simple, the memory is connectedto the memory address lines and the memory data lines and to a set of control lines.So that whenever an address is presented to the memory the data corresponding to thataddress appears on the data lines. This is adequate for processors which can address arelatively small address space In general, the faster a memory is in general the moreexpensive it is per bit of storage.On systems which have a large amount of memory, there is usually a hierarchy of memories, each with different access speeds and storage capacities. Typically, a largesystem has a small amount of very high speed memory, called a cache where datafrom frequently used memory locations may be temporarily stored. This cache isconnected to a much larger ``main memory'' which is a medium speed memory,currently likely to be ``dynamic memory''. Cache memory access times are typically10 to 20 times faster than main memory access times. (In some very large computer systems, the main memory is organized into two or more ``banks'', each of whichcontains adjacent memory words which can be addressed individually andsimultaneously. A memory organized in this way is called an ``interleaved'' memory.)The largest block of ``memory'' in a modern computer system is usually one or morelarge magnetic disks, on which data is stored in fixed size blocks of from 256 to 8192 bytes. This disk memory is usually connected directly to the main memory, and has avariable access time depending on how far the disk head must move to reach theappropriate track, and how much the disk must rotate to reach the appropriate sector for the data. Some very large systems have multiple head disks which can read fromseveral tracks at once.
(2) Write short notes on the following terms related to memory and storage.i. Latency
Latency is the period of time that one component in a system is spinning its wheelswaiting for another component. Latency, therefore, is wasted time. For example, inaccessing data on adisk,latency is defined as the time it takes to position the proper sector under theread /write head.
ii. Memory Controller
The memory
controller is a digital circuit which manages the flow of data going toand from themain memory.It can be a separate as on thedieof amicroprocessor . Memory controllers contain the logic necessary to read and writedynamic randomaccess memory(DRAM), and to "refresh" the DRAM by sending current through theentire device. Without constant refreshes, DRAM will lose the data written to it as thecapacitorsleak their chargewithin a fraction of a second
iii. Memory Bus
The memory bus is made up of two parts: the data bus and the address bus. When people just make reference to "the memory bus" they are usually referring to the data bus, which carries actual memory data within the PC. The address bus is used toselect the memory address that the data will come from or go to on a read or write.Simply the memory bus is the set of wires that is used to carry memory addresses anddata to and from the system RAM
iv. Little-endian
Little-endian is a term that describes the order in which a sequence of  bytes are storedin computer memory. Little-endian is an order in which the "little end" (leastsignificant value in the sequence) is stored first.
v. Virtual Memory
Virtual Memory is an imaginarymemoryareasupportedby someoperating systems) in conjunction with thehardware.
The purpose of virtual memory is to enlarge theaddress space, the set of addresses a program can utilize
(3) Define the major characteristics of the following memory technologies.i. Random Access Memory (RAM)
Short for Random Access Memory, RAM, also known as main memory or systemmemory, is a term commonly used to describe the memory within a computer.Today,it takes the form of integrated circuitsthat allow storeddatato be accessed in any order.
ii. Magnetic Disks
A magnetic disk is a memory device, such as a floppy disk, a hard disk, or aremovable cartridge, that is covered with a magnetic coating on which digitalinformation is stored in the form of microscopically small, magnetized needles.
iii. Tape Drive
A tape drive is a device that stores computer data on magnetictape,especially for  backupandarchiving purposes. Drives can be rewinding, where the device issues a rewind command at the end of a session, or non-rewinding. Rewinding devices aremost commonly used when a tape is to be unmounted at the end of a session after  batchprocessing of large amounts of data.
iv. Registers
Registers are temporary memory units that storewords. The registers are located inthe processor, instead of inRAM,so data can be accessed and stored faster. Processor registers are at the top of thememory hierarchy, and provide the fastest way for aCPUto access data. There are several types of CPU registers such as ProgramCounter (PC), Instruction Register (IR), Accumulator (A), Flag Register (F), GeneralPurpose Register (GPR).

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