Report Number: CSL-TR-81-228
Institution: Stanford University, Computer Systems Laboratory
Title: Hardware/software tradeoffs for increased performance
Author: Hennessy, John L.
Author: Jouppi, Norman
Author: Baskett, Forest
Author: Gross, Thomas
Author: Gill, John
Date: February 1983
Abstract: Most new computer architectures are concerned with maximizing performance by providing suitable instruction sets for compiled code, and support for systems functions. We argue that the most effective design methodology must make simultaneous tradeoffs across all three areas: hardware, software support, and systems support. Recent trends lean toward extensive hardware support for both the compiler and operating systems software. However, consideration of all possible design tradeoffs may often lead to less hardware support. Several examples of this approach are presented, including: omission of condition codes, word-addressed machines, and imposing pipeline interlocks in software. The specifics and performance of these approaches are examined with respect to the MIPS processor.