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Communications of the ACM

Optimal shift strategy for a block-transfer CCD memory

For the purposes of this paper, a block-transfer CCD memory is composed of serial shift registers whose shift rate can vary, but which have a definite minimum shift rate (the refresh rate) and a definite maximum shift rate. The bits in the shift registers are numbered 0 to N - 1, and blocks of N bits are always transferred, always starting at bit 0. What is the best shift strategy so that a block transfer request occurring at a random time will have to wait the minimal amount of time before bit 0 can be reached? The minimum shift rate requirement does not allow one to simply “park” at bit 0 and wait for a transfer request. The optimal strategy involves shifting as slowly as possible until bit 0 is passed, then shifting as quickly as possible until a critical boundary is reached, shortly before bit 0 comes around again. This is called the “hurry up and wait” strategy and is well known outside the computer field. The block-transfer CCD memory can also be viewed as a paging drum with a variable (bounded) rotation speed.

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