Reading Assignment and Discussion Topics
Computer Science 471

for class on Thursday Sept. 28, 2000

Please read Sections 4.1 through 4.5 of the Patterson & Hennessy text, and be prepared to discuss the following issues:

The text develops the design for a MIPS ALU, which is brought to glorious fruition in Figure 4.19. Well, maybe not so glorious: this design is both broken and slow. Please figure out what you might do about these problems. The broken part is the Set output from the most significant bit; to see why, consult Exercise 4.23. (Exercise 4.42 may also be helpful.) Then consider how you would speed up a non-broken version of the ALU. A faster adder will surely help (and is discussed in the text). But even with a fast adder, there will be some long combinational logic paths through the design. (Remember that a logical "path" is just a route from some input to some output that passes through a sequence of interconnected parts.) Try to see how to shorten the longest ones by re-arranging, compressing, or otherwise redesigning the logic. Feel free to use more logic to reduce delays. Make some sketches of your ideas.