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<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01//EN"
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"http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/strict.dtd">
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<HTML>
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<HEAD>
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<TITLE>html/Pipelining</TITLE>
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<META NAME="generator" CONTENT="HTML::TextToHTML v2.46">
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<LINK REL="stylesheet" TYPE="text/css" HREF="lecture.css">
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</HEAD>
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<BODY>
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<P><table class="ttop"><th class="tpre"><a href="02_Top_Level.html">Previous Lesson</a></th><th class="ttop"><a href="toc.html">Table of Content</a></th><th class="tnxt"><a href="04_Cpu_Core.html">Next Lesson</a></th></table>
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<hr>
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<H1><A NAME="section_1">3 DIGRESSION: PIPELINING</A></H1>
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<P>In this short lesson we will give a brief overview of a design technique
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known as pipelining. Most readers will already be familiar with it; those
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readers should take a day off or proceed to the next lesson.
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<P>Assume we have a piece of combinational logic that happens to have a
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long propagation delay even in its fastest implementation. The long delay
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is then caused by the slowest path through the logic, which will run
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through either many fast elements (like gates) or a number of slower
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elements (likes adders or multipliers), or both.
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<P>That is the situation where you should use pipelining. We will explain
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it by an example. Consider the circuit shown in the following figure.
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<P><br>
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<P><img src="pipelining_1.png">
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<P><br>
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<P>The circuit is a sequential logic which consists of 3 combinational
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functions f1, f2, and f3 and a flip-flop at the output of f3.
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<P>Let t1, t2, and t3 be the respective propagation delays of f1, f2, and f3.
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Assume that the slowest path of the combinational logic runs from the
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upper input of f1 towards the output of f3. Then the total delay of
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the combinational is t = t1 + t2 + t3. The entire circuit cannot be
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clocked faster than with frequency 1/t.
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<P>Now pipelining is a technique that slightly increases the delay of a
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combinational circuit, but thereby allows different parts of the logic
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at the same time. The slight increase in total propagation delay is more
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than compensated by a much higher throughput.
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<P>Pipelining divides a complex combinational logic with an accordingly long
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delay into a number of stages and places flip-flops between the stages as
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shown in the next figure.
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<P><br>
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<P><img src="pipelining_2.png">
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<P><br>
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<P>The slowest path is now max(t1, t2, t3) and the new circuit can be clocked
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with frequency 1/max(t1, t2, t3) instead of 1/(t1 + t2 + t3). If the
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functions f1, f2, and f3 had equal propagation delays, then the max.
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frequency of the new circuit would have tripled compared to the old circuit.
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<P>It is generally a good idea when using pipelining to divide the
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combinational logic that shall be pipelined into pieces with similar delay.
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Another aspect is to divide the combinational logic at  places where the
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number of connections between the pieces is small since this reduces the
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number of flip-flops that are being inserted.
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<P>The first design of the CPU described in this lecture had the opcode decoding
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logic (which is combinational) and the data path logic combined. That design
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had a worst path delay of over 50 ns (and hence a max. frequency of less
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than 20 MHz). After splitting of the opcode decoder, the worst path delay
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was below 30 ns which allows for a frequency of 33 MHz. We could have
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divides the pipeline into even more stages (and thereby increasing the
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max. frequency even further). This would, however, have obscured the design
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so we did not do it.
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<P>The reason for the improved throughput is that the different stages of a
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pipeline work in parallel while without pipelining the entire logic would
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be occupied by a single operation. In a pipeline the single operation is
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often displayed like this (one color = one operation).
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<P><br>
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<P><img src="pipelining_3.png">
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<P><br>
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<P>This kind of diagram shows how an operation is distributed over the
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different stages over time.
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<P>To summarize, pipelining typically results in:
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<UL>
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  <LI>a slightly more complex design,
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  <LI>a moderately longer total delay, and
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  <LI>a considerable improvement in throughput.
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</UL>
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<P><hr><BR>
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<table class="ttop"><th class="tpre"><a href="02_Top_Level.html">Previous Lesson</a></th><th class="ttop"><a href="toc.html">Table of Content</a></th><th class="tnxt"><a href="04_Cpu_Core.html">Next Lesson</a></th></table>
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