CS 1104 Help Session II Virtual Memory Colin Tan,

CS 1104
Help Session II
Virtual Memory
Colin Tan,
[email protected]
• Drive space is very very cheap
– Typically about 2cents per megabyte.
– It would be ideal if we could set aside a portion of drive
space to be used as memory.
– Unfortunately disk drives are very slow
• Fastest access time is about 10ms, or about 1,000 times slower
than SRAM and several hundred times slower than DRAM.
• Idea: Use drive space as memory, and main
memory to cache the drive space!
– This is the idea behind virtual memory.
Will it work?
• Virtual memory accesses come from the programs
executing in CPU just like main memory accesses
• Hence virtual memory accesses will still display
temporal and spatial locality!
• AMAT is now:
AMAT = Tcache + miss_rate x (Tmemory +
page_fault_rate x drive_access_time)
• With locality, miss_rate and page_fault_rate are
very small (2% or 3%), so memory access time is
still almost that of the cache!
Main Idea
System Cache
Is cached by
Main Memory
Is cached by
Virtual Memory
• Virtual memory (residing on disk) is cached by
main memory.
• Main memory is cached by system cache
• All memory transfers are only between
consecutive levels (e.g. VM to main memory,
main memory to cache).
Cache vs. VM
• Concept behind VM is almost identical to concept
behind cache.
• But different terminology!
– Cache: Block
– Cache: Cache Miss
VM: Page
VM: Page Fault
• Caches implemented completely in hardware. VM
implemented in software, with hardware support
from CPU.
• Cache speeds up main memory access, while main
memory speeds up VM access.
Technical Issues of VM
• Relatively cheap to remedy cache misses
– Miss penalty is essentially the time taken to access the
main memory (around 60-80ns).
– Pipeline freezes for about 60-80 cycles.
• Page Faults are EXPENSIVE!
– Page fault penalty is the time taken to access the disk.
– May take up to 50 or more ms, depending on the speed
of the disk and I/O bus.
– Wastes millions of processor cycles!
Virtual Memory Design
• Because page-miss penalties are so heavy, not
practical to implement direct-mapped or setassociative architectures
– These have poorer hit rates.
• Main memory caching of VM is always fully
– 1% or 2% improvement in hit rate over other fully
associative or set associative designs.
– But with heavy page-miss penalties, 1% improvement
is A LOT!
• Also relatively cheap to implement full
associativity in software
Virtual Memory Design
• Main Memory at Virtual Memory are both divided into
fixed size pages.
– Page size is typically about 16KB to 32KB.
– Large page sizes are needed as these can be more efficiently
transferred between main memory and virtual memory.
– Size of physical page ALWAYS equal to size of virtual page.
• Pages in main memory are given physical page numbers,
while pages in virtual memory are given virtual page
– I.e. First 32KB of main memory is physical page 0, 2nd 32KB is
physical page 1 etc.
– First 32KB of virtual memory is virtual page 0, etc.
Virtual Memory Design
• In cache, we can search through all the
blocks until we find the data for the address
we want.
– This is because the number of blocks is small.
• This is extremely impractical for virtual
– The number of VM pages is in the tens of
• Use a look up table.
• The addresses generated by the CPU is called the
virtual address.
• The virtual address is divided into a page offset
and a virtual page number:
Virtual Page Number
Page Offset
• The virtual page number indicates which page of
virtual memory the data that the CPU needs is in.
• The data must also be in physical memory before
it can be used by the CPU!
• Need a way to translate between the virtual page
number where the data is in VM, to the page
number of the physical page where the data is in
physical memory.
• To do this, use Virtual Page Table.
– Page Table resides in main memory.
– One entry per virtual page. Can get VERY large as the
number of virtual pages can be in the tens of thousands.
Virtual Page Table
• Gives the physical page number of a virtual page,
if that page is in memory.
– Once entry per virtual page.
• Gives location on disk if virtual page is not yet in
main memory.
Virtual Memory Table
Physical Memory
VM (on Disk Space)
Page Table Contents
• The page table also contains a Valid Bit (V) to
indicate if the virtual page is in main memory
(V=1) or still on disk (v=0).
• If a page is in physical memory (V=1), then the
page table gives the physical page number.
• Otherwise it gives the location of the page on
disk, in the form (side#, track#, block#).
Accessing Data
• To retrieve data:
1. Extract the Virtual Page Number from the Virtual
Virtual Page Number (e.g. 02)
Virtual Page Number (e.g. 02)
Page Offset
Page Offset
Accessing Data
2. Use the VPN to look up the page table. If V=1, get the
PPN from the page table:
VPN = 2
Here virtual page number 2 mapped to phyiscal page
number 0.
Accessing Data
3. Combine the PPN found with the page offset to form
the physical memory address:
Phyiscal Page Number 0
Page Offset
Physical Page Number 0
Physical Address
Page Offset
Accessing Data
4. Access main memory using the physical address.
– A page consists of many bytes (e.g. 32KB)
– The page offset tells us exactly which byte of these
32KB we are accessing.
• Similar to the idea of block offset and byte offset in caches
Page Fault
• What if the page we want is not in main memory
1. In this case, V=0, and the page table contains the disk
address of the page (e.g. VPN1 in the previous example
is still at side 2, track 1, block 7 (2,1,7) of the disk.
2. Find a free physical page, or if none are available,
apply a replacement policy (e.g. LRU) to find one.
3. Load the virtual page into the physical page. Set the V
flag, and update the page table to show which physical
page the virtual page has gone to.
Writing to VM
• Writes to Virtual Memory is always done on a
write-back basis.
– It is much too expensive to update both main memory
and virtual memory, so write-through schemes are not
• To support write-back, the page-table must be
augmented with a dirty-bit (D).
• This bit is set if the page is updated in physical
Writing to VM
VPN0 0
VPN1 0
VPN2 1
VPN3 0
VPN4 0
VPN5 0
V PPN or disk location
• Here virtual page number 2 was updated in
physical page number 0.
• If PPN0 is ever replaced, its contents must be
written back to disk to update VPN2.
• Similar in concept to write-back cache.
Translation Look-aside Buffer
• An access to virtual memory requires 2 main memory
accesses at best.
– One access to read the page table, another to read the data.
• Remember from the Cache section that main memory is s l - o - w.
• Fortunately, page table accesses themselves tend to display
both temporal and spatial locality!
– Temporal Locality: Accesses to the different words in the same
VPN will cause access to same entry in page table!
– Spatial Locality: Sequential access of data from one virtual page
into the next will cause consecutive accesses to page table entries.
• Initially I am at VPN0, and I access Page Table entry for VPN0. As I
move into VPN1, I will access Page Table entry for VPN1, which is
next to page table entry for VPN0!
Translation Look-aside Buffer
• Solution:
– Implement a cache for the page table! This cache is
called the translation look-aside buffer, or TLB.
– The TLB is separate from the caches we were looking
at earlier.
• Those caches cached data from main memory.
• The TLB caches page table entries! Different!
– TLB is small (about 8 to 10 blocks), and is
implemented as a fully associative cache.
Translation Look-aside Buffer
• Fully Associative
– New page table entries go into the next free TLB block,
or a block is replaced if there are none.
• Note that only page table entries with V=1 are
written to the TLB!
• The page table entries already in the TLB are not
usually updated, so no need to consider writethrough or write-back
– Exceptional cases: VPN aliasing, where more than 1
VPN can refer to the same Physical Page.
Translation Look-aside Buffer
• The tags used in the TLB is the virtual page
number of a virtual address.
• All TLB blocks are searched for the VPN. If
found, we have a TLB hit and the physical page
number is read from the TLB. This is joined with
the page offset to form the physical address.
• If not found, we have a TLB miss. Then we must
go to the page table in main memory to get the
page table entry there. Write this entry to TLB.
Translation Look-aside Buffer
• Complication
– If we have a TLB miss and go to main memory to get
the page table entry, it is possible that this entry has a V
of 0 - page fault.
– In this case we must remedy the page fault first, update
the page table entry in main memory, and then copy the
page table entry into TLB. The tag portion of TLB is
updated to the VPN of the virtual address.
• Note that the TLB must also have a valid bit V to
indicate if the TLB entry is valid (see cache
section for more details on the V bit.)
Integration Cache, Main Memory
and Virtual Memory
• Suppose a Virtual Address V is generated by the CPU
(either from PC for instructions, or from ALU for lw and
sw instructions).
1. Perform address translation from Virtual Address to Physical
(a) Look up TLB or page table (see previous slides). Remedy page
fault if necessary (again, see previous slides).
2. Use the physical address to access the cache (see cache notes).
3. If cache hit, read the data (or instruction) from the cache.
4. If cache miss, read the data from main memory.
Integration Cache, Main Memory
and Virtual Memory
• Note that a page-fault in VM will necessarily
cause a cache miss later on (since the data wasn’t
in physical memory, it cannot possibly be in
• Can optimize algorithm in event of page fault:
1. Remedy the page fault.
2. Copy the data being accessed directly to cache.
3. Restart previous algorithm at step 3.
• This optimization eliminates 1 unnecessary cache
access that would definitely miss.
Page Table Size
• A Virtual Memory System was implemented for a
MIPS workstation with 128MB of main memory.
The Virtual Memory size is 1GB, and each page is
32KB. Calculate the size of the page table.
Page Table Size
• Previous calculation shows that page tables are
• These are sitting in precious main memory space.
• Solutions:
– Use inverted page tables
• Instead of indexing virtual pages, index physical pages.
• Page table will provide virtual page numbers instead.
• Search page table for the VPN of address virtual address V. If
the VPN is found in entry 25, then the data can be found in
physical page 25.
– Have portions of page table in virtual memory.
• Slow, complex
Finer Points of VM
• VM is a collaboration between hardware and OS
– Hardware:
• Page Table Register
– Indicates where the page table is in main memory
• Memory Protection
– Certain virtual pages are allocated to processes running in
– If one process tries to access the virtual page of another process
without permission, hardware will generate exception.
– This gives the famous “General Protection Fault” of windoze and
the “Segmentation Fault” of Unix.
Finer Points of VM
– Hardware
• Does address translations etc.
– Operating System
• Actually implements the virtual memory system.
– Does reads and writes to/from disk
– Creates the page table in memory, sets the Page Table Register to
point to the start of the page table.
– Remedies page faults,updates the page table.
– Remedies VM violations
» Windows: Pops up blue screen of death, dies messily.
Sometimes thrashes your hard-disk.
» Unix: Gives “Segmentation Fault”. Kills offending process
and continues working.
Finer Points of VM
• Where is the Virtual Memory located on disk?
– Virtual memory is normally implemented as a very
large file, created by the OS. E.g. in Windows NT, the
virtual memory file is called swapfile.sys
• Insecure. Sometimes sensitive info gets written to swapfile.sys,
and you can later retrieve the sensitive info.
• In Unix, implemented as a partition on the disk that cannot be
read except by the OS. Unix good. Windows bad.
– Whenever virtual memory is read or written to, the OS
actually reads or writes from/to this file.
• Virtual Memory is NOT the other files on your
disk (e.g. your JAVA assignment)
Finer Points of VM
• The VM shown here is not implemented in the real
– Implicit assumption is that process data, instructions
etc. are created and stored in VM on disk.
– We will access process data, instructions from VM as
and when we need it.
– EXPENSIVE, SLOW => Pretty idiotic system.
• In a real VM, the virtual memory on disk is never
used until the main memory runs out.
Finer Points of VM
• See a good Operating Systems book for more
details on VM implementation.
– Look up web for Windows white-papers
– Try hacking the Linux kernel to understand VM
• Main memory is to VM as what cache is to main
• Due to heavy page-fault penalties, main memory
always caches VM in a fully-associative way.
• Data in VM must be copied to physical memory
before CPU can read it.
• Page tables are used to find the data we want in
physical memory.
• Page Tables mean that we must access main
memory twice
– Once to read page table, once to read data.
• We can speed things up by caching portions of
page table in a special cache called the TLB.
– Page table accesses show temporal and spatial
locality too!
Recommended Reading
• Patterson and Hennessy, pp 603 to 618
– Provides a common framework to understand
both cache and VM.
• Also good to read historical perspectives to
understand why and how cache and VM
came about.