[Python-ideas] Associative arrays in hardware

Neil Toronto ntoronto at cs.byu.edu
Tue Apr 15 07:24:26 CEST 2008

Full-on associative memory wouldn't be necessary. If there were a 
machine-level instruction in current chips that did a dict-style lookup 
almost as fast as a base+index*size, Python could *scream*. It might 
work like 80x86's lea (load effective address):

     hashaddr   base, recsize, dictsize, value, destreg

It would be very CISCy, and there are a whole host of practical problems 
dealing with hashing functions, good collision resolution, etc. But any 
pointer/index-based (e.g. interned string) lookup could go almost as 
fast as C++'s "this->". Mainstream is moving toward dynamic languages, 
and it makes sense to support that in hardware.

Heck, I hear routers and switches already have things like this. Does 
anybody have the ear of an Intel chip designer?


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