Mill Computing, Inc. Forums The Mill Architecture Metadata Reply To: Metadata

Ivan Godard
Keymaster
Post count: 627

Does the calling code always know how many results it is expecting, or does it look at one result and then figure out whether it wants any more?

The Mill call operation explicitly states how many belt results it is expecting; the wrong number returned is a fault. The need for this is a consequence of the belt actually being a renaming mechanism rather than a shift register; the hardware needs to know how many drops will happen (i.e. how much to advance the names) before the actual drops happen if it is to be able to advance the belt without a delay cycle.

So if the caller always knows, and the callee always does what is expected, then there’s no problem if different calls to the same function expect (and receive) different counts. But if it is genuinely dynamic then I see no alternative in the present design to always returning a result count as a second result (which is no problem) and returning the excess in some agreed location.

If varying returns are frequently used then this implementation would be unfortunate and we should consider extending the call protocol to deal with it. If however they are only as common as (for example) VARARGS calls in C then the overhead of returning the (mostly unused) count is minor. In what percentage of all calls does the caller care but not know how many results it is expecting?