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Designing for a gigahertz [guTS integer processor]

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8 Author(s)
Hofstee, H.P. ; Res. Lab., IBM Corp., Austin, TX, USA ; Sang H.Dhong ; Meltzer, D. ; Nowka, K.J.
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At the IEEE International Solid State Circuits Conference this February, the IBM Austin Research Laboratory presented an experimental 64-bit integer processor called guTS (gigahertz unit Test Site). The goal of the guTS project was to demonstrate that circuit techniques, and circuit-centric design, could significantly increase the performance of microprocessors, thus providing headroom for future performance growth beyond contributions from microarchitecture and CMOS technology. To clearly distinguish the design contributions of this project from innovations in CMOS technology we chose a fabrication technology that was in production in 1997. The guTS processor is a full-custom, nearly 100% dynamic design. Its single-issue core implements 96 instructions from the integer subset of the PowerPC instruction set architecture, and covers in excess of 90% of instructions executed in typical code. Address translation, floating-point, and I/O-related instructions are omitted. All instructions, including loads and stores, execute in one cycle. We measured core speeds in excess of a gigahertz. We focus here on the circuit-centric design approach that enabled the gigahertz result. This approach requires designers to operate across the boundaries of microarchitecture, logic, circuit, and physical design. We explain why developments in CMOS technology increasingly favor this approach

Published in:

Micro, IEEE  (Volume:18 ,  Issue: 3 )

Date of Publication:

May/Jun 1998

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