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FlexVC: Flexible Virtual Channel Management in Low-Diameter Networks

This paper was distinguished with the Best Paper award in the architecture track

Deadlock avoidance mechanisms for lossless lowdistance networks typically increase the order of virtual channel (VC) index with each hop. This restricts the number of buffer resources depending on the routing mechanism and limits performance due to an inefficient use. Dynamic buffer organizations increase implementation complexity and only provide small gains in this context because a significant amount of buffering needs to be allocated statically to avoid congestion. We introduce FlexVC, a simple buffer management mechanism which permits a more flexible use of VCs. It combines statically partitioned buffers, opportunistic routing and a relaxed distancebased deadlock avoidance policy. FlexVC mitigates Head-of-Line blocking and reduces up to 50% the memory requirements. Simulation results in a Dragonfly network show congestion reduction and up to 37.8% throughput improvement, outperforming more complex dynamic approaches. FlexVC merges different flows of traffic in the same buffers, which in some cases makes more difficult to identify the traffic pattern in order to support nonminimal adaptive routing. An alternative denoted FlexVCminCred improves congestion sensing for adaptive routing by tracking separately packets routed minimally and nonminimally, rising throughput up to 20.4% with 25% savings in buffer area.