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USENIX Annual Technical Conference (NO 98), 1998 Abstract

General Purpose Operating System Support for Multiple Page Sizes

Narayanan Ganapathy and Curt Schimmel
Silicon Graphics Computer Systems, Inc.


Many commercial microprocessor architectures support translation lookaside buffer (TLB) entries with multiple page sizes. This support can be used to substantially reduce the overhead introduced by TLB misses incurred when the processor runs an application with a large working set. Applications are currently not able to take advantage of this hardware feature because most commercial operating systems support only one page size. In this paper we present a design that provides general purpose operating system support that allows applications to use multiple page sizes. The paper describes why providing this support is not as simple as it first seems. If not designed carefully, adding this support will require significant modifications and add a lot of overhead to the operating system. The paper shows how our approach simplifies the design without sacrificing functionality and performance. In addition, applications need not be modified to make use of this feature. The design has been implemented on IRIX 6.4 operating system running on the SGI Origin platform. We include some performance results at the end to show how our design allows applications to take advantage of large pages to gain performance improvements.
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