Module 4 : Architecture of Advanced Microprocessor

Lecture 35 : Pentium Architecture

Pentium Architecture

The Pentium family of processors originated from the 80486 microprocessor. The term ''Pentium processor'' refers to a family of microprocessors that share a common architecture and instruction set. The first Pentium processors were introduced in 1993. It runs at a clock frequency of either 60 or 66 MHz and has 3.1 million transistors. Some of the features of Pentium architecture are

  • Complex Instruction Set Computer (CISC) architecture with Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC) performance.
  • 64-Bit Bus
  • Upward code compatibility.
  • Pentium processor uses Superscalar architecture and hence can issue multiple instructions per cycle.
  • Multiple Instruction Issue (MII) capability.
  • Pentium processor executes instructions in five stages. This staging, or pipelining, allows the processor to overlap multiple instructions so that it takes less time to execute two instructions in a row.
  • The Pentium processor fetches the branch target instruction before it executes the branch instruction.
  • The Pentium processor has two separate 8-kilobyte (KB) caches on chip, one for instructions and one for data. It allows the Pentium processor to fetch data and instructions from the cache simultaneously.
  • When data is modified, only the data in the cache is changed. Memory data is changed only when the Pentium processor replaces the modified data in the cache with a different set of data
  • The Pentium processor has been optimized to run critical instructions in fewer clock cycles than the 80486 processor.

Fig  35.1 Superscalar Architecture of Pentium

The Pentium processor has two primary operating modes -
  1. Protected Mode - In this mode all instructions and architectural features are available, providing the highest performance and capability. This is the recommended mode that all new applications and operating systems should target.
  2. Real-Address Mode - This mode provides the programming environment of the Intel 8086 processor, with a few extensions. Reset initialization places the processor in real mode where, with a single instruction, it can switch to protected mode

The Pentium's basic integer pipeline is five stages long, with the stages broken down as follows:

  1. Pre-fetch/Fetch : Instructions are fetched from the instruction cache and aligned in pre-fetch buffers for decoding.
  2. Decode1 : Instructions are decoded into the Pentium's internal instruction format. Branch prediction also takes place at this stage.
  3. Decode2 : Same as above, and microcode ROM kicks in here, if necessary. Also, address computations take place at this stage.
  4. Execute : The integer hardware executes the instruction.
  5. Write-back : The results of the computation are written back to the register file.

Fig  35.2 Pentium pipeline stages

Floating Point Unit :

There are 8 general-purpose 80-bit Floating point registers. Floating point unit has 8 stages of pipelining. First five are similar to integer unit. Since the possibility of error is more in Floating Point unit (FPU) than in integer unit, additional error checking stage is there in FPU. The floating point unit is shown as below

Fig 35.3    Floating Point Unit

FRD - Floating Point Rounding
FDD - Floating Point Division
FADD - Floating Point Addition
FEXP - Floating Point Exponent
FAND - Floating Point And
FMUL - Floating Point Multiply