Modern Chip Components

In: Computers and Technology

Submitted By ginish
Words 5800
Pages 24
Chapter 3

Computer Hardware


The four most important concepts in microprocessor architectures are functional units, pipelines, caches, and buses. These factors determine how fast a processor will run and how efficiently it will communicate with the outside world. Functional units are subsystems of logic circuits that carry out a program’s instructions. Different types of functional units handle different instructions. Integer units handle fixed-point arithmetic and Boolean logic. Floating-point units handle more complex arithmetic operations, involving noninteger values. Load/store units load data from and store data to memory. Pipelines work like factory assembly lines. Each stage of the pipeline handles one relatively small and simple task that comprises part of the work needed to execute one computer instruction. A simple pipeline has four stages: fetch (retrieve an instruction from cache); decode (figure out what the instruction does); execute (carry out the instruction); and write back (store the result). Each pipeline stage usually takes one clock cycle. Most modern processors have superscalar pipelines, which are two or more pipelines arranged in parallel. That way, the processor can issue and complete multiple instructions in each clock cycle. The processor may also rearrange the instructions at execution time to put them in a more efficient order. This procedure is called dynamic execution. Modern processors can operate at speeds above 1 GHz. To maintain this rate, the processor must fetch a new instruction every nanosecond. Unfortunately, the main memory system that holds the computer program needs as much as 70 nanoseconds to pull an instruction out of its memory banks and send it to the processor. Caches provide a solution to this speed mismatch. Caches are blocks of fast memory that temporarily hold instructions and data.…...

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