Hardware Is the New Software

Hardware is the new software Baumann, HotOS’17

This is a very readable short paper that sheds an interesting light on what’s been happening with the Intel x86 instruction set architecture (ISA) of late. We’re seeing a sharp rise in the number and complexity of extensions, with some interesting implications for systems researchers (and for Intel!). We’re also seeing an increasing use of microcode blurring the role of the ISA as the boundary between hardware and software.

We argue that these extensions are now approaching software-like levels of complexity, yet carry all the attendant drawbacks of a hardware implementation and the slow deployment cycle that implies. We suspect that the current path may be unsustainable, and posit an alternative future with the ultimate goal of decoupling new ISA features from the underlying hardware.

Read more at The Morning Paper


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