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Decimal floating-point: algorism for computers

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1 Author(s)
Cowlishaw, M.F. ; Dept. of Comput. Sci., Warwick Univ., Coventry, UK

Decimal arithmetic is the norm in human calculations, and human centric applications must use a decimal floating point arithmetic to achieve the same results. Initial benchmarks indicate that some applications spend 50% to 90% of their time in decimal processing, because software decimal arithmetic suffers a 100× to 1000× performance penalty over hardware. The need for decimal floating point in hardware is urgent. Existing designs, however, either fail to conform to modern standards or are incompatible with the established rules of decimal arithmetic. We introduce a new approach to decimal floating point which not only provides the strict results which are necessary for commercial applications but also meets the constraints and requirements of the IEEE 854 standard. A hardware implementation of this arithmetic is in development, and it is expected that this will significantly accelerate a wide variety of applications.

Published in:

Computer Arithmetic, 2003. Proceedings. 16th IEEE Symposium on

Date of Conference:

15-18 June 2003