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Building a 32-Bit, One-Instruction Computer 269

Hugh Pickens writes "The advantages of RISC are well known — simplifying the CPU core by reducing the complexity of the instruction set allows faster speeds, more registers, and pipelining to provide the appearance of single-cycle execution. Al Williams writes in Dr Dobbs about taking RISC to its logical conclusion by designing a functional computer called One-Der with only a single simple instruction — a 32-bit Transfer Triggered Architecture (TTA) CPU that operates at roughly 10 MIPS. 'When I tell this story in person, people are usually squirming with the inevitable question: What's the one instruction?' writes Williams. 'It turns out there's several ways to construct a single instruction CPU, but the method I had stumbled on does everything via a move instruction (hence the name, "Transfer Triggered Architecture").' The CPU is implemented on a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) device and the prototype works on a 'Spartan 3 Starter Board' with an XS3C1000 device available from Digilent that has the equivalent of about 1,000,000 logic gates, costing between $100 and $200. 'Applications that can benefit from custom instruction in hardware — things like digital signal processing, for example — are ideal for One-Der since you can implement parts of your algorithm in hardware and then easily integrate those parts with the CPU.'"

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