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RISC Management

John L. Hennessy and David A. Patterson

Credit: Richard Morgenstein

At a time when "making an impact" can feel like a vague or even overwhelming prospect, it's worth reviewing the accomplishments of two scientists who have done just that: ACM A.M. Turing Award recipients John Hennessy and David Patterson. What began as a simple-sounding insight—that you could improve microprocessor performance by including only instructions that are actually used—blossomed into a paradigm shift as the two honed their ideas in the MIPS (Microprocessor without Interlocked Pipeline Stages) and RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer) processors, respectively. A subsequent textbook, Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach, introduced generations of students not just to that particular architecture, but to critical principles that continue to guide designers as they balance constraints and strive for maximum efficiency.

David, you began working on what became the RISC architecture after a leave of absence at Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC).


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