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The algorithmically minded will have noticed that paging requires associative array (like Java Map of Python dict()) abstract data structure where:
  • the keys are linear pages addresses, thus of integer type
  • the values are physical page addresses, also of integer type
The single level paging scheme uses a simple array implementation of the associative array:
  • the keys are the array index
  • this implementation is very fast in time
  • but it is too inefficient in memory
and in C pseudo-code it looks like this:
linear_address[0]      = physical_address_0
linear_address[1]      = physical_address_1
linear_address[2]      = physical_address_2
linear_address[2^20-1] = physical_address_N
But there another simple associative array implementation that overcomes the memory problem: an (unbalanced) k-ary tree.
A K-ary tree, is just like a binary tree, but with K children instead of 2.
Using a K-ary tree instead of an array implementation has the following trade-offs:
  • it uses way less memory
  • it is slower since we have to de-reference extra pointers
In C-pseudo code, a 2-level K-ary tree with K = 2^10 looks like this:
level0[0] = &level1_0[0]
    level1_0[0]      = physical_address_0_0
    level1_0[1]      = physical_address_0_1
    level1_0[2^10-1] = physical_address_0_N
level0[1] = &level1_1[0]
    level1_1[0]      = physical_address_1_0
    level1_1[1]      = physical_address_1_1
    level1_1[2^10-1] = physical_address_1_N
level0[N] = &level1_N[0]
    level1_N[0]      = physical_address_N_0
    level1_N[1]      = physical_address_N_1
    level1_N[2^10-1] = physical_address_N_N
and we have the following arrays:
  • one directory, which has 2^10 elements. Each element contains a pointer to a page table array.
  • up to 2^10 pagetable arrays. Each one has 2^10 4 byte page entries.
and it still contains 2^10 * 2^10 = 2^20 possible keys.
K-ary trees can save up a lot of space, because if we only have one key, then we only need the following arrays:
  • one directory with 2^10 entries
  • one pagetable at directory[0] with 2^10 entries
  • all other directory[i] are marked as invalid, don't point to anything, and we don't allocate pagetable for them at all


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