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Pointer Chasing

Pointer chasing refers to a common sequence of instructions that involves a repeated series of irregular memory access patterns that require the accessed data to determine the subsequent pointer address to be accessed, forming a serially-dependent chain of loads.


Pointer chasing sequences involve a series of irregular memory access patterns whereby the data of the previous memory access is required in order to determine the memory address of the next pointer access. Such operations are found in many types of applications that employ linked data structures (LDSs). Pointer chasing is therefore inherently both memory bound and latency sensitive. Since there are usually very few operations between subsequent memory accesses, pointer chasing loops tends to be highly serialized.

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