MMIXware: A RISC Computer for the Third Millennium

by Donald E. Knuth (Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag, 1999), viii+550pp.
(Lecture Notes in Computer Science, no. 1750.)
ISBN 978-3-540-66938-8
e-ISBN 978-3-540-46611-6
DOI 10.1007/3-540-46611-8

(A Japanese translation by Tooru Takizawa was published in 2002 by SiBaccess Co. Ltd.)

MMIX is a RISC computer designed by the author to illustrate machine-level aspects of programming. In the next editions of his books The Art of Computer Programming, MMIX will replace the 1960s-style machine MIX. A particular goal in the design of MMIX was to keep its machine language simple, elegant, and easy to learn. At the same time, all of the complexities needed to achieve high performance in practice were also taken into account, so that MMIX could in principle be built and even be competitive with some of the fastest general-purpose machines on the market. All in all, MMIX is a clean, complete, and well-documented machine-independent machine ideally suited as a testbed for long-term research projects of lasting value, even as real computers continue to change rapidly.

This book is a collection of programs written in CWEB that make MMIX a virtual reality. Among other utilities, an assembler converting MMIX symbolic files to MMIX objects and two simulators executing the programs in given object files are provided. Of particular interest is the MMMIX meta-simulator, which is able to do dynamic scheduling of a complex pipeline, allowing superscalar execution with any number of functional units and with many varieties of caching and branch prediction, etc., including a detailed implementation of both hard and soft interrupts.

The main purpose of this book is to provide a complete documentation of the MMIX computer and its assembly language, together with all necessary low-level details such as the format of MMIX object files. A secondary purpose is to provide literate programs of interest in their own right. For example, a full implementation of IEEE standard floating point arithmetic is developed in terms of 32-bit integer arithmetic, including new routines for floating point input and output that deliver the maximum possible accuracy. The meta-simulator includes a tutorial presentation about pipelines, comparing the processing to the activities in a high-tech automobile repair shop.

All programs of this book are in the public domain, and their final versions can be downloaded together with dozens of example programs from The Art of Computer Programming. The right-hand pages of this book contain exclusive mini-indexes, which greatly facilitate reading the programs at one's desk or in a comfortable chair. There also is a general master index covering the entire book.

Available from the publisher, Springer Verlag, Inc..

ONLINE VERSION (pdf format)

Errata

A thoroughly revised printing was issued by the publisher in 2014. It corrected numerous errors and infelicities of the original printing of 1999, thanks to the sharp eyes and wits of many volunteers who checked everything carefully.

The revised printing precisely matches MMIX Version 1.0, as documented in the master software dated 17 October 2013, so it is 100% bug-free by definition. Anything in Version 1.0 that isn't really right should be regarded as a "feature" of this frozen version, to be worked-around as necessary but never to be corrected.

Henceforth I must devote full time to The Art of Computer Programming. However, further developments are being undertaken by an excellent group of volunteers in Germany, who have organized up-to-date MMIX home pages.

Special Offer (While Supplies Last)!

Anybody who discovers a genuine bug in the MMIX software, representing a contribution to Versions 2 or higher, will receive an MMIX T-shirt, courtesy of Addison-Wesley Publishing Company. Multiple bugs entitle you to multiple T-shirts. (You should send bug reports to Germany, as mentioned above, not to me. The people there will dispense one or more T-shirts, if they accept your contribution.) Please specify whether you prefer size L or XL.

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