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A Case for Bufferless Routing in On-Chip Networks

Thomas Moscibroda and Onur Mutlu


Buffers in on-chip networks consume significant energy, occupy chip area, and increase design complexity. In this paper, we make a case for a new approach to designing on-chip interconnection networks that eliminates the need for buffers for routing or flow control. We describe new algorithms for routing without using buffers in router input/output ports. We analyze the advantages and disadvantages of bufferless routing and discuss how router latency can be reduced by taking advantage of the fact that input/output buffers do not exist. Our evaluations show that routing without buffers significantly reduces the energy consumption of the on-chip cache/processor-to-cache network, while providing similar performance to that of existing buffered routing algorithms at low network utilization (i.e., on most real applications). We conclude that bufferless routing can be an attractive and energy-efficient design option for on-chip cache/processor-to-cache networks where network utilization is low.


Publication typeInproceedings
Published in36th International Symposium on Computer Architecture (ISCA)
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc.
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