Everything you want to know about caches

Cache memory Components and Its Product Range:

Cache memory is simply a term for a type of random access memory (RAM) that a computer microprocessor can access much more quickly than typical RAM. The way a microprocessor processes data is that looks initially into cache memory. Once the data is found in cache memory first, there is no need to read data from larger memory, which is much more time-consuming. There are different levels of cache memory which is categorized by its level of closeness and accessibility to the microprocessor. For example, L1 is on the same chip as the microprocessor. L2 is on the other hand, is a separate static RAM or SRAM chipped. PowerPC 601 processor has a 32 kB level-1 cache built into its chip while, among others. In addition to the PowerPC 601 processor described above, the Intel MMX microprocessor also uses a thousand bytes of L1 memory. Higher-level such as L3 do also exist. These have larger size, larger blocks, and more blocks in a set than do the previously mentioned it. The advantages of cache memory in a computer are that it is easier for a computer to access the data and it will save time as opposed to getting the data from random access memory (RAM). RAM memory in itself is essentially a type of cache memory for hard disk storage because of all RAM’s contents comes from the hard disk upon initial boot up of the computer and loading of the operating system. RAM also contains an area known as disk memory, which contains data that is read from the hard disk.

Let’s consider this memory, or CPU cache to be exact, in further detail. In general, it is widely used in central processing units of computers for the main purpose of reducing the time it takes to access memory, as previously discussed. It is a smaller and faster form of memory that stores copies of data from frequently used main memory location, hence creating shortcuts to reduce the time. Processors will work by first checking this memory before checking main memory. If the data is immediately read from the cache, the time required to read memory is thus reduced because there is no longer a need to check the main memory. Modern desktop and server CPUs have three independent memories: instruction caches, data caches, and translation look aside buffers. Instruction memory speed up executable instruction fetches, data speed up data fetch and store, and translation look aside buffers are used to speed up the virtual-to-physical address translation for executable instructions as well as data. In modern processors nowadays, chips have multiple interacting memories. There are several factors that characterize the operation of any particular memory, which includes cache size, cache block size, number of blocks in a set, cache set replacement policy, and cache write policy.

Companies such as Kingston Technology Company, Southland Micro Systems, and Viking Interworks are known for manufacturing cache memory, although there are many others. These companies also specialize in other types of memory and digital media products including memory modules, subsystems, and memory upgrades for network servers, graphic substations, telecommunications equipment, personal computers, consumer electronics, and military applications.

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