Mill Computing, Inc. Forums The Mill Architecture Scratchpad design decision Reply To: Scratchpad design decision

Ivan Godard
Keymaster
Post count: 627

I’ll try again. The belt uses temporal addressing; the scratchpad uses spatial addressing. There are two addresses involved in a spill/fill: the belt address of the value to be spilled somewhere, and the “somewhere” address needed to choose what value to fill. The present Mill uses temporal for the first, and like any reference the spill must execute before its target drops off the belt. If scratch were part of the spiller then fill would need a (arbitrarily large) address to look into the spiller history to find the value.

You can’t use temporal addressing for long- or indefinite-lived values because the temporal address range is unbounded. Hardware doesn’t do unbounded. With spatial addressing the address range is bounded by the configured size of the scratchpad. Hardware does that, although the tool chain must deal with running out of the bounds.

Perhaps you are thinking of a scheme whereby the spill op would push the value into a side stack and the fill would use a stack offset rather than a temporal reference to address it. That’s possible, but the stack management hardware is more than is needed for a simple regfile-like array of values. And, returning to the first question, one would need either maximal sized entries, or a map from entry number to packed byte offset, or make the stack byte addressable.

I’m not saying that one couldn’t put the scratchpad in the belt space so that scratch entries could sit in the same latches as belt operands. But the addressing logic to get such a scratch entry back into the space where adds and such could address it is too expensive because it would push up the size of the crossbar. So we keep the addresses space separate.