================ Start Lecture #17 ================
Homework: 16, 8 (should have been assigned last time.
Comments on the Midterm exam and midterm grades
I graded the midterm exam.
The grades ranged from 64-98, with a mean of 83.4 and median of 82.
I was pleased to see that there were no failing exams.
The breakdown was
The midterm grades were based on just lab1 and the midterm exam (lab2
had not yet been graded) with the midterm counting roughly 2 to 1,
reflecting the fact that the final grade is roughly 2/3 exams 1/3 labs.
I only assign midterm grades of A B C C- D F
For the final grades I of course use the full complement of +- grades
(no C-) and look at homeworks for students just below a cutoff
I am pleased to say that there were no Fs.
10 students have not handed in the first lab (linker).
They account for all 7 Ds and 3 of the four C-'s.
End of Comments
4.3: Virtual Memory (meaning fetch on demand)
Idea is that a program can execute even if only the active portion of its
address space is memory resident. That is, swap in and swap out
portions of a program. In a crude sense this can be called
Can run a program larger than the total physical memory.
Can increase the multiprogramming level since the total size of
the active, i.e. loaded, programs (running + ready + blocked) can
exceed the size of the physical memory.
Since some portions of a program are rarely if ever used, it is an
inefficient use of memory to have them loaded all the time. Fetch
on demand will not load them if not used and will unload them
during replacement if they are not used for a long time
Execution time less predictable (depends on other jobs).
Can over-commit memory.
** 4.3.1: Paging (meaning demand paging)
Fetch pages from disk to memory when they are referenced, with a hope
of getting the most actively used pages in memory.
- Very common: dominates modern operating systems.
- Started by the Atlas system at Manchester University in the 60s
- Each PTE continues to have the frame number if the page is
- But what if the page is not loaded (exists only on disk)?
- The PTE has a flag indicating if it is loaded (can think of
the X in the diagram on the right as indicating that this flag is
- If not loaded, the location on disk could be kept in the PTE,
but normally it is not
- When a reference is made to a non-loaded page (sometimes
called a non-existent page, but that is a bad name), the system
has a lot of work to do. We give more details
- Choose a free frame, if one exists.
- If not
- Choose a victim frame.
- More later on how to choose a victim.
- Called the replacement question
- Write victim back to disk if dirty,
- Update the victim PTE to show that it is not loaded.
- Copy the referenced page from disk to the free frame.
- Update the PTE of the referenced page to show that it is
loaded and give the frame number.
- Do the standard paging address translation (p#,off)-->(f#,off).
- Really not done quite this way
- There is “always” a free frame because ...
- ... there is a deamon active that checks the number of free frames
and if this is too low, chooses victims and “pages them out”
(writing them back to disk if dirty).
Choice of page size is discussed below.
4.3.2: Page tables
A discussion of page tables is also appropriate for (non-demand)
paging, but the issues are more acute with demand paging since the
tables can be much larger. Why?
The total size of the active processes is no longer limited to the
size of physical memory. Since the total size of the processes is
greater, the total size of the page tables is greater and hence
concerns over the size of the page table are more acute.
With demand paging an important question is the choice of a victim
page to page out. Data in the page table
can be useful in this choice.
We must be able access to the page table very quickly since it is
needed for every memory access.
Unfortunate laws of hardware.
Big and fast are essentially incompatible.
Big and fast and low cost is hopeless.
So we can't just say, put the page table in fast processor registers,
and let it be huge, and sell the system for $1000.
The simplest solution is to put the page table in main memory.
However it seems to be both too slow and two big.
Seems too slow since all memory references require two reference.
This can be largely repaired by using a TLB,
which is fast and in many cases captures almost all references
to the page table even though it is small.
For this course TLB “do not exist”, that is if you
are asked to perform a translation, you should assume there is
Nonetheless we will discuss them below and in reality they
very much do exist.
The page table might be too big.
Currently we are considering contiguous virtual
addresses ranges (i.e. the virtual addresses have no holes).
Typically put the stack at one end of virtual address and the
global (or static) data at the other end and let them grow towards
The memory in between is unused.
This unused virtual memory can be huge (in address range) and
hence the page table will mostly contain unneeded PTEs.
Works fine if the maximum virtual address size is small, which
was once true (e.g., the PDP-11 of the 1970s) but is no longer the
The “fix” is to use multiple levels of mapping.
We will see two examples below: two-level paging and
segmentation plus paging.
Contents of a PTE
Each page has a corresponding page table entry (PTE). The
information in a PTE is for use by the hardware. Information set by
and used by the OS is normally kept in other OS tables. The page
table format is determined by the hardware so access routines are not
portable. The following fields are often present.
The valid bit. This tells if
the page is currently loaded (i.e., is in a frame). If set, the frame
pointer is valid. It is also called the presence or
presence/absence bit. If a page is accessed with the valid
bit zero, a page fault is generated by the hardware.
The frame number. This is the main reason for the table. It gives
the virtual to physical address translation.
The Modified bit. Indicates that some part of the page
has been written since it was loaded. This is needed if the page is
evicted so that the OS can tell if the page must be written back to
The referenced bit. Indicates that some word in the page
has been referenced. Used to select a victim: unreferenced pages make
good victims by the locality property (discussed below).
Protection bits. For example one can mark text pages as
execute only. This requires that boundaries between regions with
different protection are on page boundaries. Normally many
consecutive (in logical address) pages have the same protection so
many page protection bits are redundant.
Protection is more
naturally done with segmentation.
Multilevel page tables
Recall the previous diagram. Most of the virtual memory is the
unused space between the data and stack regions. However, with demand
paging this space does not waste real memory. But the single
large page table does waste real memory.
The idea of multi-level page tables (a similar idea is used in Unix
i-node-based file systems, which we study later) is to add a level of
indirection and have a page table containing pointers to page tables.
Imagine one big page table.
Call it the second level page table and
cut it into pieces each the size of a page.
Note that many (typically 1024 or 2048) PTEs fit in one page so
there are far fewer of these pages than PTEs.
Now construct a first level page table containing PTEs that
point to these pages.
This first level PT is small enough to store in memory. It
contains one PTE for every page of PTEs in the 2nd level PT. A
space reduction of one or two thousand.
But since we still have the 2nd level PT, we have made the world
bigger not smaller!
Don't store in memory those 2nd level page tables all of whose PTEs
refer to unused memory. That is use demand paging on the (second
level) page table
Address translation with a 2-level page table
For a two level page table the virtual address is divided into
| P#1 | P#2 | Offset|
P#1 gives the index into the first level page table.
Follow the pointer in the corresponding PTE to reach the frame
containing the relevant 2nd level page table.
P#2 gives the index into this 2nd level page table
Follow the pointer in the corresponding PTE to reach the frame
containing the (originally) requested frame.
Offset gives the offset in this frame where the requested word is
Do an example on the board
The VAX used a 2-level page table structure, but with some wrinkles
(see Tanenbaum for details).
Naturally, there is no need to stop at 2 levels. In fact the SPARC
has 3 levels and the Motorola 68030 has 4 (and the number of bits of
Virtual Address used for P#1, P#2, P#3, and P#4 can be varied).
4.3.3: TLBs--Translation Lookaside Buffers (and General
Tanenbaum suggests that “associative memory” and “translation
lookaside buffer” are synonyms. This is wrong. Associative memory
is a general concept and translation lookaside buffer is a special
An associative memory is a
content addressable memory.
That is you access the memory by giving the value
of some field and the hardware searches all the records and returns
the record whose field contains the requested value.
Name | Animal | Mood | Color
Moris | Cat | Finicky | Grey
Fido | Dog | Friendly | Black
Izzy | Iguana | Quiet | Brown
Bud | Frog | Smashed | Green
If the index field is Animal and Iguana is given, the associative
Izzy | Iguana | Quiet | Brown
A Translation Lookaside Buffer
is an associate memory
where the index field is the page number. The other fields include
the frame number, dirty bit, valid bit, and others.
A TLB is small and expensive but at least it is
fast. When the page number is in the TLB, the frame number
is returned very quickly.
On a miss, the page number is looked up in the page table. The record
found is placed in the TLB and a victim is discarded. There is no
placement question since all entries are accessed at the same time.
But there is a replacement question.