Pipelining

(n.) (1) A technique used in advanced microprocessors where the microprocessor begins executing a second instruction before the first has been completed. That is, several instructions are in the pipeline simultaneously, each at a different processing stage.

The pipeline is divided into segments and each segment can execute its operation concurrently with the other segments. When a segment completes an operation, it passes the result to the next segment in the pipeline and fetches the next operation from the preceding segment. The final results of each instruction emerge at the end of the pipeline in rapid succession.

Although formerly a feature only of high-performance and RISC -based microprocessors, pipelining is now common in microprocessors used in personal computers. Intel’s Pentium chip, for example, uses pipelining to execute as many as six instructions simultaneously.

Pipelining is also called pipeline processing.

(2) A similar technique used in DRAM, in which the memory loads the requested memory contents into a small cache composed of SRAM and then immediately begins fetching the next memory contents. This creates a two-stage pipeline, where data is read from or written to SRAM in one stage, and data is read from or written to memory in the other stage.

DRAM pipelining is usually combined with another performance technique called burst mode. The two techniques together are called a pipeline burst cache.

Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal is a freelance business and technology writer covering Internet technologies and online business since the late '90s.

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