Tech Bytes: Instructions Per Clock (IPC)

Tech Bytes and a subject matter expert explain what Instructions Per Clock (IPC) is and the architecture enhancements and IPC improvements in the 11th Gen Intel® Core™ desktop processor family.



Hello, hello, and welcome back to Intel Tech Bytes, where we take technical information and break it down into bite-sized pieces. I'm your host Lexy Marques. To continue on that focus of 11th gen Intel Core desktop processors, today's exciting topic is on Instructions Per Cycle, commonly referred to as IPC. If you've been keeping up on the series, this guest may look familiar. Without further ado, I'd love to introduce Johnnie Rodriques.

Hey, Lexy. Glad to be here again.

All right, Johnnie, we have some pretty exciting stuff to talk about today. What instructions per cycle mean, how did we improve IPC, and why does the consumer care about all of this? I'll let you take it away with the what is instructions per cycle?

Thanks, Lexy. At the most basic level, a cycle is the process of the CPU reading and instruction, figuring out what needs to be done, and executing it and saving that result. It's a building block of everything the processor does. How many or how much the processor can do each cycle is IPC, or instructions per cycle.

When you simplify it like that, it really helps me understand the what. Now, can you explain how? How did we improve IPC?

Well, we improve performance in a lot of different ways. An oversimplified example, and some of the technical folks will probably hate me for this, is an instruction to add 1 plus 1. The processor reads that instruction, figures out what needs to do, and adds those two numbers and executes, then writes that answer back. That's a very simple instruction.

The way we can improve that performance is the CPU realizing there's a lot of similar instructions waiting to be done and group them together and do them at the same time. Another example is for video encoding or decoding. There's a lot of complicated instructions happening in video, but they can be repeated constantly. Understanding that, we created specific technology to handle those complicated tasks in fewer cycles. We call that Intel Quick Sync Video.

You might have heard some of the other technologies, like Intel Advanced Vector Extensions, or AVX, that we have also developed. These technologies reduce the cycles needed, allowing the CPU to complete work faster or to work on other things at the same time. These are some of the things that we do to improve IPC and the performance of the processor.

As always, your explanations make learning this so much easier. Now, if I was to put on my partner shoes and think about what my customers would want, what do they care about?

Well, Lexy, I think customers care about IPC because it allows them to get more value for their dollar. We all want that, right?

More value for their dollar? Of course. Now, Johnnie, if I was to jot all of this down into a flash card in my mind, what's that one thing that's the most important that you would want to emphasize?

I'd say that one thing is that there are a lot of factors that go into improving IPC. And Intel is continuously innovating and improving the performance of our processor.

Gotcha. Thanks, Johnnie. And thanks for joining us for not one but two episodes of Intel Tech Bytes. It was a pleasure having you.

Thank you, Lexy. It was a pleasure being here.

All right, everybody. Thank you again for joining us for another episode of Intel Tech Bytes. As a reminder, if you're looking for more information on IPC, check out your Resource Portal. Thanks again, and looking forward to the next Intel Tech Bytes episode.