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The Unabridged Pentium 4 IA32 Processor Genealogy by Bob Colwell, Tom Shanley

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The Overall Cache Architecture

Introduction

This section introduces the cache designs most commonly found in IA32 processor implementations.

The Fully-Associative Cache

A fully-associative cache design is comprised of two major elements:

  • One bank, or Way, of cache SRAM in which the lines of information are stored.

  • One directory that is used to keep track of where each line originated in memory and what the current state of the line is.

Whenever a memory address is submitted to the cache for a lookup, it is compared to all of the directory entries simultaneously. If there's a match on a valid entry, the cache line in the same relative position in the Way is the desired line. When a new line is fetched from memory, the cache directory is consulted ...

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