We address the primary limitation of the bandwidth to satisfy the demands for address transactions in future cache-coherent symmetric multiprocessors (SMPs). It is widely known that the bus speed and the coherence overhead limit the snoop/address bandwidth needed to broadcast address transactions to all processors. As a solution, we propose a scalable address subnetwork called symmetric multiprocessor network (SYMNET) in which address requests and snoop responses of SMPs are implemented optically. SYMNET not only has the ability to pipeline address requests, but also multiple address requests from different processors can propagate through the address subnetwork simultaneously. This is in contrast with all electrical bus-based SMPs, where only a single request is broadcast on the physical address bus at any given point in time. The simultaneous propagation of multiple address requests in SYMNET increases the available address bandwidth and lowers the latency of the network, but the preservation of cache coherence can no longer be maintained with the usual fast snooping protocols. A modified snooping cache-coherence protocol, coherence in SYMNET (COSYM) is introduced to solve the coherence problem. We evaluated SYMNET with a subset of Splash-2 benchmarks and compared it with the electrical bus-based MOESI (modified, owned, exclusive, shared, invalid) protocol. Our simulation studies have shown a 5–66% improvement in execution time for COSYM as compared with MOESI for various applications. Simulations have also shown that the average latency for a transaction to complete by use of COSYM protocol was 5–78% better than the MOESI protocol. SYMNET can scale up to hundreds of processors while still using fast snooping-based cache-coherence protocols, and additional performance gains may be attained with further improvement in optical device technology.
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