Abstract: Response time requirements for big data processing systems are shrinking. To meet this strict response time requirement, many big data systems store all or most of their data in main memory to reduce the access latency. Main memory capacities have grown, and systems with 2 TB of main memory capacity available today. However, the rate at which processors can access this data—the memory bandwidth—has not grown at the same rate. In fact, some of these big-memory systems can access less than 10% of their main memory capacity in one second (billions of processor cycles). 3D die-stacking is one promising solution to this bandwidth problem, and industry is investing significantly in 3D die-stacking.
We use a simple back-of-the-envelope-style model to characterize if and when the 3D die-stacked architecture is more cost-effective than current architectures for in-memory big data workloads. We find that die-stacking has much higher performance than current systems (up to 256x lower response times), and it does not require expensive memory over provisioning to meet real-time (10 ms) response time service-level agreements. However, the power requirements of the die-stacked systems are significantly higher (up to 50x) than current systems, and its memory capacity is lower in many cases. Even in this limited case study, we find 3D die-stacking is not a panacea. Today, die-stacking is the most cost-effective solution for strict SLAs and by reducing the power of the compute chip and increasing memory densities die-stacking can be cost-effective under other constraints in the future.