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Operating Systems Concepts Manual 2010

Operating Systems Concepts Manual 2010

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Published by: Takashi Carlton Hamilton on Sep 12, 2011
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What is an Instruction set?

An instruction set is the set of available instructions that the computer can understand and

perform. In other words, it lists the things that the processor can do.

Two basic computer design philosophies predominant in the market today are the complex

instruction set and the reduced instruction set. It is often assumes that these designs differ based

on the size of the instruction sets, however the differences extend further. These designs also

differ in their instruction lengths, addressing modes, number of registers, and the number of

clock cycles needed to execute an instruction.

Introduction to RISC and CISC

CISC - complex instruction set computer. This is the normal type of computer. They take many

clock cycles to complete one instruction.

RISC - reduced instruction set computer. These have fewer instructions in their instruction set.

Some machines have a layer of primitive software that directly controls the hardware and

provides an interface between the hardware and operating system. This software, called the

micro-program (or firmware), is usually located in ROM (read only memory). It is actually an

interpreter, fetching the machine language instructions such as ADD, MOVE, JUMP and

carrying them out as a series of little steps. Some computers, RISC, do not have a micro-

programming level. On these machines, the hardware executes the machine language instructions

directly. The machine language typically has between 50 and 300 instructions mostly for moving

data around the machine, doing arithmetic, and comparing values.

RISC makes the processor simple (non complex) so that they can execute more instructions in

the same amount of time. (More instructions per clock cycle). In removing the complexity in the

way that the processor is designed some instructions are removed. E.g. Multiplication is the

equivalent of a repeated addition. A RISC program is therefore longer than the equivalent CISC

and takes up more storage space. E.g. IBM RS 6000 and those based on the MIPS chip or using

SUN SPARC architecture.

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