Replicating tag entries for reliability enhancement in cache tag arrays

Shuai Wang, Jie Hu, Sotirios G. Ziavras

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Protecting on-chip cache memories against soft errors has become an increasing challenge in designing new generation reliable microprocessors. Previous efforts have mainly focused on improving the reliability of the cache data arrays. Due to its crucial importance to the correctness of cache accesses, the tag array also demands high reliability against soft errors. Exploiting the address locality of memory accesses, we propose to duplicate most recently accessed tag entries in a small tag replication buffer (TRB) thus to protect the information integrity of the tag array in the data cache. Experimental results show that our proposed TRB scheme achieves a high 90% access-with-replica (AWR) rate with low performance (∼ 0%), energy (16.3%), and area (19.9%) overheads. We also conduct a detailed design space exploration for the TRB design and propose a selective TRB scheme that achieves a higher AWR rate (97.4%) for the dirty cachelines with negligible overheads. To provide a comprehensive evaluation of the tag-array reliability, we further conduct an architectural vulnerability factor (AVF) analysis for the tag array in the data cache and propose a refined metric, detected-without-replica-AVF (DOR-AVF), which combines the AVF and AWR analysis. Based on our DOR-AVF analysis, a selective TRB scheme with early write-back (S-TRB-EWB) is proposed, which achieves a zero DOR-AVF and 100% AWR rate at a negligible performance overhead. Results from statistical fault/error injection experiment also confirm the effectiveness of our TRB schemes and the achieved reliability of the cache tag array that recovers 100% of detected errors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5720542
Pages (from-to)643-654
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) Systems
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • Cache tag array
  • reliability
  • soft error
  • tag replication buffer (TRB)


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