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Challenges to combining general-purpose and multimedia processors

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9 Author(s)
T. M. Conte ; North Carolina State Univ., Raleigh, NC, USA ; P. K. Dubey ; M. D. Jennings ; R. B. Lee
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Multimedia processor media extensions to general purpose processors present new challenges to the compiler writer, language designer, and microarchitect. Multimedia workloads have always held an important role in embedded applications, such as video cards or set top boxes, but these workloads are becoming increasingly common in general purpose computing as well. Over the past three years the major vendors of general purpose processors (GPPs) have announced extensions to their instruction set architectures that supposedly enhance the performance of multimedia workloads. These include North Carolina MAX 2 extensions to Hewlett-Packard PA-RISC, MMX for Intel's x86, UltraSparc's VIS, and MDMX extensions to MIPS V. Merging these new multimedia instructions with existing GPPs poses several challenges. Also, some doubt remains as to whether multimedia extensions are a real development or just a competition induced fad in the GPP industry. If it is indeed a development, how must current processor microarchitectures change in reaction? And if they change, can GPPs and MMPs apply application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) solutions to the same problems?

Published in:

Computer  (Volume:30 ,  Issue: 12 )