RISCPronounced risk, acronym for reduced instruction set computer, a type of microprocessor that recognizes a relatively limited number of instructions. Until the mid-1980s, the tendency among computer manufacturers was to build increasingly complex CPUs that had ever-larger sets of instructions. At that time, however, a number of computer manufacturers decided to reverse this trend by building CPUs capable of executing only a very limited set of instructions. One advantage of reduced instruction set computers is that they can execute their instructions very fast because the instructions are so simple. Another, perhaps more important advantage, is that RISC chips require fewer transistors, which makes them cheaper to design and produce. Since the emergence of RISC computers, conventional computers have been referred to as CISCs (complex instruction set computers).
There is still considerable controversy among experts about the ultimate value of RISC architectures. Its proponents argue that RISC machines are both cheaper and faster, and are therefore the machines of the future. Skeptics note that by making the hardware simpler, RISC architectures put a greater burden on the software. They argue that this is not worth the trouble because conventional microprocessors are becoming increasingly fast and cheap anyway.
To some extent, the argument is becoming moot because CISC and RISC implementations are becoming more and more alike. Many of today's RISC chips support as many instructions as yesterday's CISC chips. And today's CISC chips use many techniques formerly associated with RISC chips.
- Watch Datamation's editor James Maguire moderate roundtable discussions with tech experts from companies such as Accenture, Dell, Blue Jeans Network, Microsoft and more »
Perceptual computing is the ability for a computer to recognize what is going on around it. More specifically, the computer can perceive the... Read More »Apple Pay Promises to Strengthen Payment Security
Experts believe that Apple Pay and other competitive payment systems will be far more secure than cards, even cards equipped with EMV chips. Read More »The Great Data Storage Debate: Is Tape Dead?
Tape clearly is on the decline. But remember, legacy systems can hang for a shockingly long time. Read More »
A network is a group of two or more computer systems or devices, linked together to share resources, exchange files and electronic communications.... Read More »Computer Architecture Study Guide
This Webopedia study guide describes the different parts of a computer system and their relations. Read More »Webopedia Polls
The trend for the past two years has been for shoppers to spend more online during the holiday season. How do you typically shop for holiday... Read More »