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Communications of the ACM


Linear Address Spaces

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Credit: Mark Rademaker

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I recently bought an Apple computer with the new M1 CPU to supplement the beastiarium known as Varnish Cache's continuous integration cluster. I am a bit impressed that it goes head-to-head with the s390x virtual machine borrowed from IBM, while never drawing more than 25 watts, but other than that: Meh …

This is one disadvantage of being a systems programmer: You see up close how each successive generation in an architecture has been inflicted with yet another "extension," "accelerator," "cache," "look-aside buffer," or some other kind of "marchitecture," to the point where the once-nice and orthogonal architecture is almost obscured by the "improvements" that followed. It seems almost like a law of nature:

Any successful computer architecture, under immense pressure to "improve" while "remaining 100% compatible," will become a complicated mess.


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