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Computer Architecture

4 things to look for to master any Processor!

One only needs to focus on the four key elements of a processor architecture to be able to know and infer everything about it and extract full potential out of it.

Any time I have to work with a new CPU architecture, I look for the details on the four area discussed below.

Instruction Set Architecture

The Instruction Architecture of a processor defines the set of instructions that the processor can execute. In ARM CPUs, we use a Reduced Instruction Set Computing (RISC) architecture, which simplifies instruction decoding and allows for faster execution. The ARM instruction set includes operations such as arithmetic, logical, data movement, and control flow. Additionally, ARM CPUs support SIMD (Single Instruction Multiple Data) instructions, which allow for parallel processing of data.

To master the Instruction Architecture, it is important to understand

  • the different types of instructions and their encoding.
  • Understanding the instruction encoding is essential for implementing a decoder that can correctly interpret and execute the instructions.
  • Additionally, it is essential to understand the interactions between instructions, such as how they affect the condition flags, to design efficient instruction pipelines.

Knowing this would enable you to understand how the processor moves the data around and operates on it.

Exception Handling

Exception Handling is the mechanism by which a processor responds to events that can disrupt normal program execution. ARM CPUs support a range of exceptions, such as interrupts, traps, and faults. When an exception occurs, the processor transfers control to a specific exception handler routine.