Comparison of RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computing) and CISC (Complex Instruction Set Computing) architectures

These are some of the key differences between RISC and CISC architectures. RISC architectures focus on simplicity, streamlined instruction sets, and faster execution of individual instructions, while CISC architectures prioritize flexibility, rich instruction sets, and complex instructions that can perform multiple tasks in a single operation.

Instruction Set Simple and fixed instruction set with fewer instructions. Complex and variable instruction set with a large number of instructions.
Instructions Single-cycle instructions with uniform format. Multi-cycle instructions with non-uniform format.
Instruction Length Fixed-length instructions. Variable-length instructions.
Complexity Emphasis on simplicity and regularity. Emphasis on flexibility and functionality.
Registers Typically a large number of general-purpose registers. Fewer general-purpose registers, sometimes combined with specialized registers.
Memory Access Memory access primarily through load/store instructions. Direct memory access by instructions.
Pipeline Deeper and more uniform pipeline stages. Shallower and more irregular pipeline stages.
Execution Speed Generally faster execution of individual instructions. Instructions may take longer to execute due to their complexity.
Hardware Complexity Simplified hardware design with fewer instruction decoding stages. More complex hardware design with intricate instruction decoding logic.
Code Density Larger code size due to simpler instructions. Smaller code size due to complex instructions.
Compiler Optimizations Relies more on compiler optimizations for performance. Relies less on compiler optimizations due to complex instruction set.
Typical Examples ARM, MIPS, RISC-V x86 (Intel), Motorola 68k, VAX
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