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A question of protocol

Next generation architectures offer more than meets the eye. By John Hickey.

Over the last decade the complexity and performance levels of networking, wireless and storage equipment have escalated. With development cycles compacted by commercial pressures, the design engineer's job continues to become even harder. To address this challenge, configurable processors evolved, which enabled some elements of the architecture, such as number of registers and the addition of instructions, to be changed.

Now, the next generation of processor architecture, and the tools used to create them, allow engineers to create scalable configurable processors. This means that for the first time a designer can get into the processor and change virtually all of the elements:

The classification of processors shown in figure 1 does not define processors as complex instruction (cisc) or reduced instruction set computers (risc). Typically the more modern processors tend to be risc, but in many applications the ability to use more complex instruction has significant advantages. Protocol processing is one of these applications.

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Graham Pitcher

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