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If there ever was a time when the architecture of a high-performance micro-processor could spring completely formed from the mind of a single engineer, that time has passed. Modern microprocessor architectures are the result of invention and progressive refinement by a team. Producing a finished microprocessor takes the effort of many engineers in many disciplines, but the first step requires that an architecture team sketch out the organization of a chip. The teams that designed Digital?s Alpha processors are guided in large part by an executable performance model. In this article, the authors describe the performance model that guides a current Alpha processor design project. The model allows the designers to conduct architectural explorations over a large range of processor organizations. In the process, they arrived at a chip organization that met Digital?s design goal of building a better/ faster/cheaper microprocessor.

J. Edmondson and M. Reilly, "Performance Simulation of an Alpha Microprocessor," in Computer, vol. 31, no. , pp. 50-58, 1998.
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