Cyrix 6x86 Processor Brief

The Cyrix 6x86™ processor family offers the highest level of performance available for desktop PCs today. Through the use of innovative, sixth-generation architectural techniques, the 6x86 processors achieve best-in-class performance that surpasses the Pentium® processor in each performance class. Cyrix Processor (6x86 PR200+)

The superscalar, superpipelined 6x86 processor, available in PR200+, PR166+, PR150+, PR133+ and PR120+ performance classes, is optimized to run both 16-bit and 32-bit software. It is fully compatible with the x86 instruction set and delivers industry-leading performance running Windows® 95, Windows NT, Windows, OS/2®, DOS, Solaris UNIX® and other operating systems.

The Cyrix 6x86 processor is optimized for both 16-bit and 32-bit applications. Our goal is to offer users of 6x86-based PCs an easy path to higher performance for Windows NT and to MMX that protects today’s PC investment. The next version of Cyrix’s 6x86 processor, code-named M2, will provide optimum performance on 32-bit software and will be fully compatible with MMX. This new processor will leverage existing 6x86 motherboard platforms.

The Cyrix 6x86 processor achieves top performance through the use of two optimized superpipelined integer units and an on-chip FPU. The integer and floating point units are optimized for maximum instruction throughput by using advanced architectural techniques including register renaming, out-of-order completion, data dependency removal, branch prediction and speculative execution. These design innovations eliminate many data dependencies and resource conflicts to achieve high performance when executing existing non-recompiled software programs as well as future x86-compatible code. While the 6x86 achieves superior performance with existing software, it takes advantage of any recompiled code to gain an additional 5-10% performance increase.

Features and Benefits

Superscalar architecture
Provides two pipelines to execute multiple instructions in parallel for faster processing and higher performance.
Increases the number of pipeline stages to avoid execution stalls and keep information flowing faster for higher frequency scalability.
Register Renaming
Provides temporary data storage for instant data availability without waiting for the CPU to access the on-chip cache or main system memory.
Data Dependency Removal
Provides instruction results to both pipelines simultaneously so that neither pipeline is stalled.
Multi-Branch Prediction
Boosts processor performance by predicting with high accuracy the next instructions needed.
Speculative Execution
Allows the pipelines to continuously execute instructions following a branch without stalling the pipelines.
Out-of-Order Completion
Lets the faster instruction exit the pipeline out of order, saving processing time without disrupting program flow.
80-bit Floating Point Unit (FPU)
Provides high performance by speculatively executing FPU and integer instructions in parallel.
16-KByte Unified Write-Back Cache
Stores the most recently used data and instructions for single-cycle, on-chip access.

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Architectural Overview

The 6x86 is the first in a new generation of high-performance, x86-compatible processors. This sixth-generation processor achieves optimum performance on existing and emerging software applications. The superscalar architecture of the Integer Unit allows multiple instructions to be processed simultaneously in two separate pipelines. Through the use of innovative architectural techniques, the 6x86 eliminates many data dependencies and resource conflicts inherent in other microprocessor designs.

The 6x86 consists of five major functional blocks the Integer Unit, Cache Unit, Memory Management Unit, Floating Point Unit and Bus Interface Unit. Instructions are executed in the X and Y pipelines within the Integer Unit and the Floating Point Unit. The Cache Unit stores the most recently used data and instructions allowing fast access to the information by the Integer Unit and FPU.

Physical addresses are calculated by the Memory Management Unit and passed to the Cache Unit and the Bus Interface Unit (BIU). The BIU provides the interface between the external system board and the processor's internal execution units.

Integer Unit

The Integer Unit provides parallel instruction execution using two seven-stage integer pipelines. Each of the two pipelines, X and Y, can process several instructions simultaneously.

Out-of-order processing. If an instruction executes faster than a previous instruction in the other pipeline, the instructions may complete out of order. Out-of-order completion occurs in the EX and WB stages.

Data dependency solutions. Data dependencies typically force serialized execution of instructions and can degrade performance. The 6x86, however, implements register renaming, data dependency removal (including operand and result forwarding), and data bypassing to effectively resolve data dependencies and allow parallel execution of instructions containing these dependencies.

Branch control. Branch instructions occur on average every four to six instructions in x86 compatible programs. The pipeline stages may stall while waiting for the CPU to process the new instruction stream. The 6x86 minimizes the performance degradation and latency of branch instructions through the use of branch prediction and speculative execution.

The 6x86 uses a 256-entry, four-way set associative Branch Target Buffer (BTB) to store branch target addresses and branch prediction information, and an eight-entry return stack to cache the target address of RET instructions. The decision to fetch the taken or not taken target address is based on a four-state branch prediction algorithm that achieves approximately 90% accuracy.

Floating Point Unit

The on-chip FPU achieve high performance by executing floating point instructions in parallel with integer instructions through a 64-bit interface. It is x87 instruction set compatible and adheres to the IEEE-754 standard. The FPU incorporates a four-deep instruction queue and a four-deep store queue to facilitate parallel execution. Information is passed to and from the FPU using eight data registers accessed in a stack-like manner, a control register, and a status register.

Cache Unit

The 6x86 contains two caches a 16-KByte dual-ported unified cache and a 256-byte instruction line cache. As the unified cache can store instructions and data in any ratio, it offers a higher hit rate than separate data and instruction caches of equal size. An increase in overall cache-to-integer unit bandwidth is achieved by supplementing the unified cache with a small, high-speed, fully associative instruction line cache.

Memory Management Unit

The Memory Management Unit (MMU) translates the linear address supplied by the IU into a physical address to be used by the unified cache and the bus interface. Memory management procedures are x86 compatible, adhering to standard paging mechanisms.

Bus Interface Unit

The BIU provides the signals and timing required by external circuitry. The 64-bit data bus supports two different burst cycle address sequence modes. The "one-plus-four" burst mode is compatible with the P54C burst order. Operating the CPU in linear burst mode minimizes bus activity and results in higher performance. Linear burst mode is supported in many existing 64-bit chipsets.

System Management Mode (SMM) provides an interrupt that can be used for system power management or software transparent emulation of I/O peripherals. Additionally, the 6x86 supports a hardware interface that allows the CPU to be placed into a low-power suspend mode.

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Architectural Comparison

                           6x86        Pentium Pro   Pentium
                           Processor   Processor     Processor
Full x86 Instruction Set
   Optimization               X
Superscalar                   X           X             X
Superpipelined                X           X
Register Renaming             X           X
Data Dependency Removal       X           X
Multi-Branch Prediction       X           X
Speculative Execution         X           X
Out-of-Order Completion       X           X
80-Bit Floating Point Unit    X           X             X
16K Primary Cache             X           X             X

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Technical Specifications

Processor            Performance         Bus/Clock
Part No.             Rating              Speed
6x86-PR200+GP         PR200+               75/150 MHz
6x86-PR166+GP         PR166+               66/133 MHz
6x86-PR150+GP         PR150+               60/120 MHz
6x86-PR133+GP         PR133+               55/110 MHz
6x86-PR120+GP         PR120+               50/100 MHz
Clocking             2x, 3x bus-to-core clock multiplier

L1 Cache             16-KByte; write-back; 4-way associative;
                     unified instruction and data; dual-port address

Bus                  64-bit external data bus; 32-bit address bus

Pin/Socket           P54C socket compatible (296-pin PGA)

Compatibility        Fully compatible with x86 operating systems and
                     software including Windows 95, Windows, Windows NT,
                     OS/2, DOS, Solaris and UNIX

Floating Point Unit  80-bit with 64-bit interface; parallel
                     execution; uses x87 instruction set;
                     IEEE-754 compatible

Voltage              3.3V core with 5V I/O tolerance
                     2.8V (6x86L) is split-voltage (2.8V core; 3.3V I/O)

Power Management     System Management Mode (SMM); hardware 
                     suspend; FPU auto-idle

Multiprocessing      Supports SLiC/MP(TM) and OpenPIC(TM) interrupt

Burst Order          1-plus-4 or linear burst

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