Browse Definitions :
Definition

speculative execution

Speculative execution is an optimization technique in which a processor (CPU) performs a series of tasks before it is prompted to, in order to have the information ready if it is required at any point. Speculative execution uses concurrent processing and out-of-order execution (OoOE) to anticipate and fetch data that might be required at a latter point. It eliminates the stall experienced while waiting for appropriate instructions to arrive for the next step.  Speculative execution uses branch prediction to guess which instructions will most likely be needed in the near future and data flow analysis to arrange the instructions for optimal execution (instead of executing them in the order they came in). The goal is to reduce the total execution time and improve the overall CPU performance.

First, the branch predictor guesses which branch is most likely to be taken in the process and then gathers the next set of instructions associated with that branch. It will then begin speculatively executing them before it knows which of the two branches it will actually be using. If the branch predictor guessed correctly, then the instructions are already lined up and there will be no execution delay. If the branch predictor guessed incorrectly, then the system loads the appropriate information and proceeds with those instructions instead. However, accuracy rates for branch predictors are typically above 95 percent, so the need to reload new information is uncommon.

With in-order execution, a pipeline stall will stop the entire CPU until the issue is solved. Also, a gap is created between CPU and main memory speeds. As the gap grows, the time spent waiting for the main memory to deliver information to the CPU grows as well, thus increasing the time spent waiting on the execution. Speculative execution closes this gap by keeping the CPU busy and minimizing the time it spends idling, thus improving the overall performance of the system.

Speculative execution was adopted by Intel, who started using OoOE with its microprocessors Pentium Pro and Pentium II, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), who introduced it with the K5 microprocessor, and Advanced RISC Machines (ARM), who began using it with the Cortex A9 microprocessor.

While speculative execution can improve the performance of a computer system, it is important to note that it may also cause security flaws such as meltdown CPU vulnerability.

This was last updated in June 2019

Continue Reading About speculative execution

SearchNetworking
  • cloud-native network function (CNF)

    A cloud-native network function (CNF) is a service that performs network duties in software, as opposed to purpose-built hardware.

  • microsegmentation

    Microsegmentation is a security technique that splits a network into definable zones and uses policies to dictate how data and ...

  • Wi-Fi 6E

    Wi-Fi 6E is one variant of the 802.11ax standard.

SearchSecurity
  • MICR (magnetic ink character recognition)

    MICR (magnetic ink character recognition) is a technology invented in the 1950s that's used to verify the legitimacy or ...

  • What is cybersecurity?

    Cybersecurity is the protection of internet-connected systems such as hardware, software and data from cyberthreats.

  • Android System WebView

    Android System WebView is a system component for the Android operating system (OS) that allows Android apps to display web ...

SearchCIO
  • privacy compliance

    Privacy compliance is a company's accordance with established personal information protection guidelines, specifications or ...

  • contingent workforce

    A contingent workforce is a labor pool whose members are hired by an organization on an on-demand basis.

  • product development (new product development -- NPD)

    Product development, also called new product management, is a series of steps that includes the conceptualization, design, ...

SearchHRSoftware
  • talent acquisition

    Talent acquisition is the strategic process employers use to analyze their long-term talent needs in the context of business ...

  • employee retention

    Employee retention is the organizational goal of keeping productive and talented workers and reducing turnover by fostering a ...

  • hybrid work model

    A hybrid work model is a workforce structure that includes employees who work remotely and those who work on site, in a company's...

SearchCustomerExperience
  • Salesforce Trailhead

    Salesforce Trailhead is a series of online tutorials that coach beginner and intermediate developers who need to learn how to ...

  • Salesforce

    Salesforce, Inc. is a cloud computing and social enterprise software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider based in San Francisco.

  • data clean room

    A data clean room is a technology service that helps content platforms keep first person user data private when interacting with ...

Close