Chris Rowen is Founder and CTO of Tensilica, an IP company based in Silicon Valley. We spoke last week by phone to discuss how an IP company decides what and when to introduce new products.
I first asked to Chris for a brief history of the RISC [Reduced Instruction Set Computing] architecture he is closely associated with, and how that history segued into the founding of Tensilica.
From RISC to Tensilica …
Q: Can you give me a quick overview of the origins of RISC architecture?
Chris Rowen: RISC is a set of ideas that grew up in academia and IBM in response to increased architectures in both the mainframe and microprocessor worlds.
People saw machines with really high hardware costs being built for assembly [language applications]. However, as compiler technology got better, people said: If I want a compiler to run well, I don’t need fancy instructions. I only need a common set of instructions that run really fast. All other complex operations could be composed by the compiler out of these fast, simple operations.
RISC grew out of these compiler technology advances, and a recognition in the VLSI era that there was an opportunity to rethink the process of how the architecture could be put together. (more…)