Translation Look aside Buffer (TLB)

You must have the concept of paging before to learn Translation lookaside Buffer. But In term of paging, we have to access the main memory twice or more for accessing a page.

  • Once when we get the Page table from main memory.
  • And second when we get the particular page from main memory of corresponding frame.

 In this way, main memory is accessed twice in paging and even more than twice while using multilevel paging. So it was time consuming.

This problem is overcome by using TLB. TLB is hardware component and is a part of MMU. TLB works like Cache Memory. It Exists within CPU casing and in some cases it found on IC chip. 

Working of TLB

when CPU generates virtual address of any page then it first look that particular page in TLB.In case of TLB hit, data is directly accessed from main memory without accessing the main memory twice or more.

In case of TLB miss, OS have to repeat the concept of paging again to find required page. After getting that particular page from main memory, it first loaded into TLB . So that, if CPU demand for this page in later, then it could be easily access from TLB, without repeating the paging.

TLB contains Tag (Process No + Process ID) and Frame. Page Number is compared with Tag .As, it contains pages of only running processes. So, Process ID is not compulsory. Lets look at TLB diagram given under,

Translation Look aside Buffer (TLB)

TLB only contains the pages that are accessible to the current process. If process A is currently running, then TLB will contains only the translation (Logical to physical address) for the pages of process A. If process B is currently running then there will be no page of Process A in TLB and vice versa.

When CPU switches from one process to another process then TLB of currently running process is also cleared. This process is also known as flushing of TLB.

Translation Look aside Buffer VS Cache Memory

 Both TLB and Cache memory are hardware’s exist within the CPU chip. The basic purpose of both these components is to access faster data. The major differences between TLB and Cache are.

TLB Cache Memory
1. TLB is required only when Virtual Memory is used by CPU. 1. Cache memory is the basic component of modern system.
2. TLB is used to speed up address translation for Virtual memory so that page table is not need to access for every address. 2. CPU Cache is used to speed up main memory access. Most recently and most frequently data is present in Cache memory. If data is found in Cache the there is no need to go for RAM.
3. TLB performs operations at the time of address translation by MMU. 3. CPU cache performs operations at the time of memory access by CPU.


Cache and TLB working Model

In fact, in all modern CPU’s having the all Cache levels and TLB as well. Working Model of Cache and TLB with diagram,

cache and TLB working together

Multiple TLBs

Same like the caches, TLBs also have multiple levels. Now a days CPU has multiple TLB’s.  CPU may have three (ITLB1, DTLB1, TLB2) or four TLBs. These TLB’s s are differing in Speed and capacity from it’s others types.

Question on TLB

Effective Memory Access Time Calculation Formula’s

TLB_hit_time: = TLB_search_time + memory_access_time

TLB_miss_time: = TLB_search_time + memory_access_time + memory_access_time

EMAT: = hit_ratio * TLB_hit_time + (1- hit-ratio) * (TLB_miss_time) 


EMAT: = hit_ratio * (TLB_search_time + memory_access_time) + (1 – hit_ratio) * (TLB_search_time + 2*memory_access-time)

 If hit ratio is denoted By “P”, TLB search time is “t” and TLB memory access time is “m” then EMAT will be.

 EMAT = P(t+m) + (1-P)(t+2m)

Question: A paging scheme using TLB. TLB access time 10ns and main memory access time takes 50ns. What is effective memory access time (in ns) if TLB hit ratio is 90% and there is no page fault.


EMAT: = hit_ratio * (TLB_search_time + memory_access_time) + (1 – hit_ratio) * (TLB_search_time + 2*memory_access-time)

= 90%(10+50) +10%(10+2(50))


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