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Communications of the ACM

Communications of the ACM

Cold-start vs. warm-start miss ratios

In a two-level computer storage hierarchy, miss ratio measurements are often made from a “cold start”, that is, made with the first-level store initially empty. For large capacities the effect on the measured miss ratio of the misses incurred while filling the first-level store can be significant, even for long reference strings. Use of “warm-start” rather than “cold-start” miss ratios cast doubt on the widespread belief that the observed “S-shape” of lifetime (reciprocal of miss ratio) versus capacity curve indicates a property of behavior of programs that maintain a constant number of pages in main storage. On the other hand, if cold-start miss ratios are measured as a function of capacity and measurement length, then they are useful in studying systems in which operation of a program is periodically interrupted by task switches. It is shown how to obtain, under simple assumptions, the cache miss ratio for multiprogramming from cold-start miss ratio values and how to obtain approximate cold-start miss ratios from warm-start miss ratios.

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