Things CPU architects need to think about
December 21, 2011 12:11 PM Subscribe
Things CPU architects need to think about.
posted by FishBike (29 comments total)
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Bob Colwell gave this lecture in 2004, for the Stanford University Computer Systems Colloquium (EE380). Colwell was the chief architect of the Pentium Pro, Pentium II, Pentium III, and Pentium 4 processors. [About 90 minutes, Windows Media format]
This lecture covers many topics, and although it contains a lot of CPU architecture terminology, I think it'll make sense to any kind of computer geek.
Topics covered include:
- Exponential growth in CPU performance has come with exponential growth in transistor count, power dissipation, complexity, design cost, and bugs. The market may not want to keep paying lots of money for performance once it's good enough, and those exponential trends aren't sustainable anyway. So what do we do next?
- Faster chips don't come from a single big idea any more, they come from lots of little ideas put together. But these little ideas interact in odd ways that are difficult to predict and even more difficult to fix when performance problems occur.
- Products have to be ready to produce as soon as the factory is ready to make them. This leads to design compromises and even corporate structure decisions to make sure new factories never sit there doing nothing.
- How the Pentium FDIV bug and hated "CPUID" feature happened, and the surprisingly weird (from Intel's point of view) public reaction to them.
- How the IA-64 (Itanium) program went so wrong.
- CPU architects need to think about the long term because nobody else will, but also have to design chips that will sell today.
A huge number of other videos are available from the EE380 Colloquia for Previous Quarters