[[!oldstandards ]]

Simple-V (Parallelism Extension Proposal) Appendix (OBSOLETE)


  • Copyright (C) 2017, 2018, 2019 Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton
  • Status: DRAFTv0.6
  • Last edited: 30 jun 2019
  • main spec specification

Fail-on-first modes

Fail-on-first data dependency has different behaviour for traps than for conditional testing. "Conditional" is taken to mean "anything that is zero", however with traps, the first element has to be given the opportunity to throw the exact same trap that would be thrown if this were a scalar operation (when VL=1).

Note that implementors are required to mutually exclusively choose one or the other modes: an instruction is not permitted to fail on a trap and fail a conditional test at the same time. This advice to custom opcode writers as well as future extension writers.

Fail-on-first traps

Except for the first element, ffirst stops sequential element processing when a trap occurs. The first element is treated normally (as if ffirst is clear). Should any subsequent element instruction require a trap, instead it and subsequent indexed elements are ignored (or cancelled in out-of-order designs), and VL is set to the last in-sequence instruction that did not take the trap.

Note that predicated-out elements (where the predicate mask bit is zero) are clearly excluded (i.e. the trap will not occur). However, note that the loop still had to test the predicate bit: thus on return, VL is set to include elements that did not take the trap and includes the elements that were predicated (masked) out (not tested up to the point where the trap occurred).

Unlike conditional tests, "fail-on-first trap" instruction behaviour is unaltered by setting zero or non-zero predication mode.

If SUBVL is being used (SUBVL!=1), the first sub-group of elements will cause a trap as normal (as if ffirst is not set); subsequently, the trap must not occur in the sub-group of elements. SUBVL will NOT be modified. Traps must analyse (x)eSTATE (subvl offset indices) to determine the element that caused the trap.

Given that predication bits apply to SUBVL groups, the same rules apply to predicated-out (masked-out) sub-groups in calculating the value that VL is set to.

Fail-on-first conditional tests

ffirst stops sequential (or sequentially-appearing in the case of out-of-order designs) element conditional testing on the first element result being zero (or other "fail" condition). VL is set to the number of elements that were (sequentially) processed before the fail-condition was encountered.

Unlike trap fail-on-first, fail-on-first conditional testing behaviour responds to changes in the zero or non-zero predication mode. Whilst in non-zeroing mode, masked-out elements are simply not tested (and thus considered "never to fail"), in zeroing mode, masked-out elements may be viewed as always (unconditionally) failing. This effectively turns VL into something akin to a software-controlled loop.

Note that just as with traps, if SUBVL!=1, the first trap in the sub-group will cause the processing to end, and, even if there were elements within the sub-group that passed the test, that sub-group is still (entirely) excluded from the count (from setting VL). i.e. VL is set to the total number of sub-groups that had no fail-condition up until execution was stopped. However, again: SUBVL must not be modified: traps must analyse (x)eSTATE (subvl offset indices) to determine the element that caused the trap.

Note again that, just as with traps, predicated-out (masked-out) elements are included in the (sequential) count leading up to the fail-condition, even though they were not tested.


Despite being a 98% complete and accurate topological remap of RVV concepts and functionality, no new instructions are needed. Compared to RVV: All RVV instructions can be re-mapped, however xBitManip becomes a critical dependency for efficient manipulation of predication masks (as a bit-field). Despite the removal of all operations, with the exception of CLIP and VSELECT.X all instructions from RVV Base are topologically re-mapped and retain their complete functionality, intact. Note that if RV64G ever had a MV.X added as well as FCLIP, the full functionality of RVV-Base would be obtained in SV.

Three instructions, VSELECT, VCLIP and VCLIPI, do not have RV Standard equivalents, so are left out of Simple-V. VSELECT could be included if there existed a MV.X instruction in RV (MV.X is a hypothetical non-immediate variant of MV that would allow another register to specify which register was to be copied). Note that if any of these three instructions are added to any given RV extension, their functionality will be inherently parallelised.

With some exceptions, where it does not make sense or is simply too challenging, all RV-Base instructions are parallelised:

  • CSR instructions, whilst a case could be made for fast-polling of a CSR into multiple registers, or for being able to copy multiple contiguously addressed CSRs into contiguous registers, and so on, are the fundamental core basis of SV. If parallelised, extreme care would need to be taken. Additionally, CSR reads are done using x0, and it is really inadviseable to tag x0.
  • LUI, C.J, C.JR, WFI, AUIPC are not suitable for parallelising so are left as scalar.
  • LR/SC could hypothetically be parallelised however their purpose is single (complex) atomic memory operations where the LR must be followed up by a matching SC. A sequence of parallel LR instructions followed by a sequence of parallel SC instructions therefore is guaranteed to not be useful. Not least: the guarantees of a Multi-LR/SC would be impossible to provide if emulated in a trap.
  • EBREAK, NOP, FENCE and others do not use registers so are not inherently paralleliseable anyway.

All other operations using registers are automatically parallelised. This includes AMOMAX, AMOSWAP and so on, where particular care and attention must be paid.

Example pseudo-code for an integer ADD operation (including scalar operations). Floating-point uses the FP Register Table.

function op_add(rd, rs1, rs2) # add not VADD!
  int i, id=0, irs1=0, irs2=0;
  predval = get_pred_val(FALSE, rd);
  rd  = int_vec[rd ].isvector ? int_vec[rd ].regidx : rd;
  rs1 = int_vec[rs1].isvector ? int_vec[rs1].regidx : rs1;
  rs2 = int_vec[rs2].isvector ? int_vec[rs2].regidx : rs2;
  for (i = 0; i < VL; i++)
    STATE.srcoffs = i # save context
    if (predval & 1<<i) # predication uses intregs
       ireg[rd+id] <= ireg[rs1+irs1] + ireg[rs2+irs2];
       if (!int_vec[rd ].isvector) break;
    if (int_vec[rd ].isvector)  { id += 1; }
    if (int_vec[rs1].isvector)  { irs1 += 1; }
    if (int_vec[rs2].isvector)  { irs2 += 1; }
    if (id == VL or irs1 == VL or irs2 == VL) {
      # end VL hardware loop
      STATE.srcoffs = 0; # reset
      STATE.ssvoffs = 0; # reset

Note that for simplicity there is quite a lot missing from the above pseudo-code: PCVBLK, element widths, zeroing on predication, dimensional reshaping and offsets and so on. However it demonstrates the basic principle. Augmentations that produce the full pseudo-code are covered in other sections.

SUBVL Pseudocode

Adding in support for SUBVL is a matter of adding in an extra inner for-loop, where register src and dest are still incremented inside the inner part. Note that the predication is still taken from the VL index.

So whilst elements are indexed by "(i * SUBVL + s)", predicate bits are indexed by "(i)"

function op_add(rd, rs1, rs2) # add not VADD!
  int i, id=0, irs1=0, irs2=0;
  predval = get_pred_val(FALSE, rd);
  rd  = int_vec[rd ].isvector ? int_vec[rd ].regidx : rd;
  rs1 = int_vec[rs1].isvector ? int_vec[rs1].regidx : rs1;
  rs2 = int_vec[rs2].isvector ? int_vec[rs2].regidx : rs2;
  for (i = 0; i < VL; i++)
   xSTATE.srcoffs = i # save context
   for (s = 0; s < SUBVL; s++)
    xSTATE.ssvoffs = s # save context
    if (predval & 1<<i) # predication uses intregs
       # actual add is here (at last)
       ireg[rd+id] <= ireg[rs1+irs1] + ireg[rs2+irs2];
       if (!int_vec[rd ].isvector) break;
    if (int_vec[rd ].isvector)  { id += 1; }
    if (int_vec[rs1].isvector)  { irs1 += 1; }
    if (int_vec[rs2].isvector)  { irs2 += 1; }
    if (id == VL or irs1 == VL or irs2 == VL) {
      # end VL hardware loop
      xSTATE.srcoffs = 0; # reset
      xSTATE.ssvoffs = 0; # reset

NOTE: pseudocode simplified greatly: zeroing, proper predicate handling, elwidth handling etc. all left out.

Instruction Format

It is critical to appreciate that there are no operations added to SV, at all.

Instead, by using CSRs to tag registers as an indication of "changed behaviour", SV overloads pre-existing branch operations into predicated variants, and implicitly overloads arithmetic operations, MV, FCVT, and LOAD/STORE depending on CSR configurations for bitwidth and predication. Everything becomes parallelised. This includes Compressed instructions as well as any future instructions and Custom Extensions.

Note: CSR tags to change behaviour of instructions is nothing new, including in RISC-V. UXL, SXL and MXL change the behaviour so that XLEN=32/64/128. FRM changes the behaviour of the floating-point unit, to alter the rounding mode. Other architectures change the LOAD/STORE byte-order from big-endian to little-endian on a per-instruction basis. SV is just a little more... comprehensive in its effect on instructions.

Branch Instructions

Branch operations are augmented slightly to be a little more like FP Compares (FEQ, FNE etc.), by permitting the cumulation (and storage) of multiple comparisons into a register (taken indirectly from the predicate table) and enhancing them to branch "consensually" depending on multiple tests. "ffirst" - fail-on-first - condition mode can also be enabled, to terminate the comparisons early. See ffirst mode in the Predication Table section.

There are two registers for the comparison operation, therefore there is the opportunity to associate two predicate registers (note: not in the same way as twin-predication). The first is a "normal" predicate register, which acts just as it does on any other single-predicated operation: masks out elements where a bit is zero, applies an inversion to the predicate mask, and enables zeroing / non-zeroing mode.

The second (not to be confused with a twin-predication 2nd register) is utilised to indicate where the results of each comparison are to be stored, as a bitmask. Additionally, the behaviour of the branch - when it occurs - may also be modified depending on whether the 2nd predicate's "invert" and "zeroing" bits are set. These four combinations result in "consensual branches", cbranch.ifnone (NOR), cbranch.ifany (OR), cbranch.ifall (AND), cbranch.ifnotall (NAND).

invert zeroing description operation cbranch
0 0 branch if all pass AND ifall
1 0 branch if one fails NAND ifnall
0 1 branch if one passes OR ifany
1 1 branch if all fail NOR ifnone

This inversion capability covers AND, OR, NAND and NOR branching based on multiple element comparisons. Without the full set of four, it is necessary to have two-sequence branch operations: one conditional, one unconditional.

Note that unlike normal computer programming, early-termination of chains of AND or OR conditional tests, the chain does not terminate early except if fail-on-first is set, and even then ffirst ends on the first data-dependent zero. When ffirst mode is not set, all conditional element tests must be performed (and the result optionally stored in the result mask), with a "post-analysis" phase carried out which checks whether to branch.

Note also that whilst it may seem excessive to have all four (because conditional comparisons may be inverted by swapping src1 and src2), data-dependent fail-on-first is not invertible and only terminates on first zero-condition encountered. Additionally it may be inconvenient to have to swap the predicate registers associated with src1 and src2, because this involves a new VBLOCK Context.

Standard Branch

Branch operations use standard RV opcodes that are reinterpreted to be "predicate variants" in the instance where either of the two src registers are marked as vectors (active=1, vector=1).

Note that the predication register to use (if one is enabled) is taken from the first src register, and that this is used, just as with predicated arithmetic operations, to mask whether the comparison operations take place or not. The target (destination) predication register to use (if one is enabled) is taken from the second src register.

If either of src1 or src2 are scalars (whether by there being no CSR register entry or whether by the CSR entry specifically marking the register as "scalar") the comparison goes ahead as vector-scalar or scalar-vector.

In instances where no vectorisation is detected on either src registers the operation is treated as an absolutely standard scalar branch operation. Where vectorisation is present on either or both src registers, the branch may stil go ahead if any only if all tests succeed (i.e. excluding those tests that are predicated out).

Note that when zero-predication is enabled (from source rs1), a cleared bit in the predicate indicates that the result of the compare is set to "false", i.e. that the corresponding destination bit (or result)) be set to zero. Contrast this with when zeroing is not set: bits in the destination predicate are only set; they are not cleared. This is important to appreciate, as there may be an expectation that, going into the hardware-loop, the destination predicate is always expected to be set to zero: this is not the case. The destination predicate is only set to zero if zeroing is enabled.

Note that just as with the standard (scalar, non-predicated) branch operations, BLE, BGT, BLEU and BTGU may be synthesised by inverting src1 and src2, however note that in doing so, the predicate table setup must also be correspondingly adjusted.

In Hwacha EECS-2015-262 Section 6.7.2 the following pseudocode is given for predicated compare operations of function "cmp":

for (int i=0; i<vl; ++i)
  if ([!]preg[p][i])
     preg[pd][i] = cmp(s1 ? vreg[rs1][i] : sreg[rs1],
                       s2 ? vreg[rs2][i] : sreg[rs2]);

With associated predication, vector-length adjustments and so on, and temporarily ignoring bitwidth (which makes the comparisons more complex), this becomes:

s1 = reg_is_vectorised(src1);
s2 = reg_is_vectorised(src2);

if not s1 && not s2
    if cmp(rs1, rs2) # scalar compare
        goto branch

preg = int_pred_reg[rd]
reg = int_regfile

ps = get_pred_val(I/F==INT, rs1);
rd = get_pred_val(I/F==INT, rs2); # this may not exist

ffirst_mode, zeroing = get_pred_flags(rs1)
if exists(rd):
    pred_inversion, pred_zeroing = get_pred_flags(rs2)
    pred_inversion, pred_zeroing = False, False

if not exists(rd) or zeroing:
    result = (1<<VL)-1 # all 1s
    result = preg[rd]

for (int i = 0; i < VL; ++i)
  if (zeroing)
    if not (ps & (1<<i))
       result &= ~(1<<i);
  else if (ps & (1<<i))
      if (cmp(s1 ? reg[src1+i]:reg[src1],
                           s2 ? reg[src2+i]:reg[src2])
          result |= 1<<i;
          result &= ~(1<<i);
          if ffirst_mode:

if exists(rd):
    preg[rd] = result # store in destination

if pred_inversion:
    if pred_zeroing:
        # NOR
        if result == 0:
            goto branch
        # NAND
        if (result & ps) != result:
            goto branch
    if pred_zeroing:
        # OR
        if result != 0:
            goto branch
        # AND
        if (result & ps) == result:
            goto branch


  • Predicated SIMD comparisons would break src1 and src2 further down into bitwidth-sized chunks (see Appendix "Bitwidth Virtual Register Reordering") setting Vector-Length times (number of SIMD elements) bits in Predicate Register rd, as opposed to just Vector-Length bits.
  • The execution of "parallelised" instructions must be implemented as "re-entrant" (to use a term from software). If an exception (trap) occurs during the middle of a vectorised Branch (now a SV predicated compare) operation, the partial results of any comparisons must be written out to the destination register before the trap is permitted to begin. If however there is no predicate, the entire set of comparisons must be restarted, with the offset loop indices set back to zero. This is because there is no place to store the temporary result during the handling of traps.

TODO: predication now taken from src2. also branch goes ahead if all compares are successful.

Note also that where normally, predication requires that there must also be a CSR register entry for the register being used in order for the predication CSR register entry to also be active, for branches this is not the case. src2 does not have to have its CSR register entry marked as active in order for predication on src2 to be active.

Also note: SV Branch operations are not twin-predicated (see Twin Predication section). This would require three element offsets: one to track src1, one to track src2 and a third to track where to store the accumulation of the results. Given that the element offsets need to be exposed via CSRs so that the parallel hardware looping may be made re-entrant on traps and exceptions, the decision was made not to make SV Branches twin-predicated.

Floating-point Comparisons

There does not exist floating-point branch operations, only compare. Interestingly no change is needed to the instruction format because FP Compare already stores a 1 or a zero in its "rd" integer register target, i.e. it's not actually a Branch at all: it's a compare.

In RV (scalar) Base, a branch on a floating-point compare is done via the sequence "FEQ x1, f0, f5; BEQ x1, x0, #jumploc". This does extend to SV, as long as x1 (in the example sequence given) is vectorised. When that is the case, x1..x(1+VL-1) will also be set to 0 or 1 depending on whether f0==f5, f1==f6, f2==f7 and so on. The BEQ that follows will also compare x1==x0, x2==x0, x3==x0 and so on. Consequently, unlike integer-branch, FP Compare needs no modification in its behaviour.

In addition, it is noted that an entry "FNE" (the opposite of FEQ) is missing, and whilst in ordinary branch code this is fine because the standard RVF compare can always be followed up with an integer BEQ or a BNE (or a compressed comparison to zero or non-zero), in predication terms that becomes more of an impact. To deal with this, SV's predication has had "invert" added to it.

Also: note that FP Compare may be predicated, using the destination integer register (rd) to determine the predicate. FP Compare is not a twin-predication operation, as, again, just as with SV Branches, there are three registers involved: FP src1, FP src2 and INT rd.

Also: note that ffirst (fail first mode) applies directly to this operation.

Compressed Branch Instruction

Compressed Branch instructions are, just like standard Branch instructions, reinterpreted to be vectorised and predicated based on the source register (rs1s) CSR entries. As however there is only the one source register, given that c.beqz a10 is equivalent to beqz a10,x0, the optional target to store the results of the comparisions is taken from CSR predication table entries for x0.

The specific required use of x0 is, with a little thought, quite obvious, but is counterintuitive. Clearly it is not recommended to redirect x0 with a CSR register entry, however as a means to opaquely obtain a predication target it is the only sensible option that does not involve additional special CSRs (or, worse, additional special opcodes).

Note also that, just as with standard branches, the 2nd source (in this case x0 rather than src2) does not have to have its CSR register table marked as "active" in order for predication to work.

Vectorised Dual-operand instructions

There is a series of 2-operand instructions involving copying (and sometimes alteration):

  • C.MV
  • LOAD(-FP) and STORE(-FP)

All of these operations follow the same two-operand pattern, so it is both the source and destination predication masks that are taken into account. This is different from the three-operand arithmetic instructions, where the predication mask is taken from the destination register, and applied uniformly to the elements of the source register(s), element-for-element.

The pseudo-code pattern for twin-predicated operations is as follows:

function op(rd, rs):
  rd = int_csr[rd].active ? int_csr[rd].regidx : rd;
  rs = int_csr[rs].active ? int_csr[rs].regidx : rs;
  ps = get_pred_val(FALSE, rs); # predication on src
  pd = get_pred_val(FALSE, rd); # ... AND on dest
  for (int i = 0, int j = 0; i < VL && j < VL;):
    if (int_csr[rs].isvec) while (!(ps & 1<<i)) i++;
    if (int_csr[rd].isvec) while (!(pd & 1<<j)) j++;
    xSTATE.srcoffs = i # save context
    xSTATE.destoffs = j # save context
    reg[rd+j] = SCALAR_OPERATION_ON(reg[rs+i])
    if (int_csr[rs].isvec) i++;
    if (int_csr[rd].isvec) j++; else break

This pattern covers scalar-scalar, scalar-vector, vector-scalar and vector-vector, and predicated variants of all of those. Zeroing is not presently included (TODO). As such, when compared to RVV, the twin-predicated variants of C.MV and FMV cover all standard vector operations: VINSERT, VSPLAT, VREDUCE, VEXTRACT, VSCATTER, VGATHER, VCOPY, and more.

Note that:

  • elwidth (SIMD) is not covered in the pseudo-code above
  • ending the loop early in scalar cases (VINSERT, VEXTRACT) is also not covered
  • zero predication is also not shown (TODO).

C.MV Instruction

There is no MV instruction in RV however there is a C.MV instruction. It is used for copying integer-to-integer registers (vectorised FMV is used for copying floating-point).

If either the source or the destination register are marked as vectors C.MV is reinterpreted to be a vectorised (multi-register) predicated move operation. The actual instruction's format does not change:

15 12 11 7 6 2 1 0
funct4 rd rs op
4 5 5 2
C.MV dest src C0

A simplified version of the pseudocode for this operation is as follows:

function op_mv(rd, rs) # MV not VMV!
  rd = int_csr[rd].active ? int_csr[rd].regidx : rd;
  rs = int_csr[rs].active ? int_csr[rs].regidx : rs;
  ps = get_pred_val(FALSE, rs); # predication on src
  pd = get_pred_val(FALSE, rd); # ... AND on dest
  for (int i = 0, int j = 0; i < VL && j < VL;):
    if (int_csr[rs].isvec) while (!(ps & 1<<i)) i++;
    if (int_csr[rd].isvec) while (!(pd & 1<<j)) j++;
    xSTATE.srcoffs = i # save context
    xSTATE.destoffs = j # save context
    ireg[rd+j] <= ireg[rs+i];
    if (int_csr[rs].isvec) i++;
    if (int_csr[rd].isvec) j++; else break

There are several different instructions from RVV that are covered by this one opcode:

src dest predication op
scalar vector none VSPLAT
scalar vector destination sparse VSPLAT
scalar vector 1-bit dest VINSERT
vector scalar 1-bit? src VEXTRACT
vector vector none VCOPY
vector vector src Vector Gather
vector vector dest Vector Scatter
vector vector src & dest Gather/Scatter
vector vector src == dest sparse VCOPY

Also, VMERGE may be implemented as back-to-back (macro-op fused) C.MV operations with zeroing off, and inversion on the src and dest predication for one of the two C.MV operations. The non-inverted C.MV will place one set of registers into the destination, and the inverted one the other set. With predicate-inversion, copying and inversion of the predicate mask need not be done as a separate (scalar) instruction.

Note that in the instance where the Compressed Extension is not implemented, MV may be used, but that is a pseudo-operation mapping to addi rd, x0, rs. Note that the behaviour is different from C.MV because with addi the predication mask to use is taken only from rd and is applied against all elements: rs[i] = rd[i].

FMV, FNEG and FABS Instructions

These are identical in form to C.MV, except covering floating-point register copying. The same double-predication rules also apply. However when elwidth is not set to default the instruction is implicitly and automatic converted to a (vectorised) floating-point type conversion operation of the appropriate size covering the source and destination register bitwidths.

(Note that FMV, FNEG and FABS are all actually pseudo-instructions)

FVCT Instructions

These are again identical in form to C.MV, except that they cover floating-point to integer and integer to floating-point. When element width in each vector is set to default, the instructions behave exactly as they are defined for standard RV (scalar) operations, except vectorised in exactly the same fashion as outlined in C.MV.

However when the source or destination element width is not set to default, the opcode's explicit element widths are over-ridden to new definitions, and the opcode's element width is taken as indicative of the SIMD width (if applicable i.e. if packed SIMD is requested) instead.

For example FCVT.S.L would normally be used to convert a 64-bit integer in register rs1 to a 64-bit floating-point number in rd. If however the source rs1 is set to be a vector, where elwidth is set to default/2 and "packed SIMD" is enabled, then the first 32 bits of rs1 are converted to a floating-point number to be stored in rd's first element and the higher 32-bits also converted to floating-point and stored in the second. The 32 bit size comes from the fact that FCVT.S.L's integer width is 64 bit, and with elwidth on rs1 set to divide that by two it means that rs1 element width is to be taken as 32.

Similar rules apply to the destination register.

LOAD / STORE Instructions and LOAD-FP/STORE-FP

An earlier draft of SV modified the behaviour of LOAD/STORE (modified the interpretation of the instruction fields). This actually undermined the fundamental principle of SV, namely that there be no modifications to the scalar behaviour (except where absolutely necessary), in order to simplify an implementor's task if considering converting a pre-existing scalar design to support parallelism.

So the original RISC-V scalar LOAD/STORE and LOAD-FP/STORE-FP functionality do not change in SV, however just as with C.MV it is important to note that dual-predication is possible.

In vectorised architectures there are usually at least two different modes for LOAD/STORE:

  • Read (or write for STORE) from sequential locations, where one register specifies the address, and the one address is incremented by a fixed amount. This is usually known as "Unit Stride" mode.
  • Read (or write) from multiple indirected addresses, where the vector elements each specify separate and distinct addresses.

To support these different addressing modes, the CSR Register "isvector" bit is used. So, for a LOAD, when the src register is set to scalar, the LOADs are sequentially incremented by the src register element width, and when the src register is set to "vector", the elements are treated as indirection addresses. Simplified pseudo-code would look like this:

function op_ld(rd, rs) # LD not VLD!
  rdv = int_csr[rd].active ? int_csr[rd].regidx : rd;
  rsv = int_csr[rs].active ? int_csr[rs].regidx : rs;
  ps = get_pred_val(FALSE, rs); # predication on src
  pd = get_pred_val(FALSE, rd); # ... AND on dest
  for (int i = 0, int j = 0; i < VL && j < VL;):
    if (int_csr[rs].isvec) while (!(ps & 1<<i)) i++;
    if (int_csr[rd].isvec) while (!(pd & 1<<j)) j++;
    if (int_csr[rd].isvec)
      # indirect mode (multi mode)
      srcbase = ireg[rsv+i];
      # unit stride mode
      srcbase = ireg[rsv] + i * XLEN/8; # offset in bytes
    ireg[rdv+j] <= mem[srcbase + imm_offs];
    if (!int_csr[rs].isvec &&
        !int_csr[rd].isvec) break # scalar-scalar LD
    if (int_csr[rs].isvec) i++;
    if (int_csr[rd].isvec) j++;


  • For simplicity, zeroing and elwidth is not included in the above: the key focus here is the decision-making for srcbase; vectorised rs means use sequentially-numbered registers as the indirection address, and scalar rs is "offset" mode.
  • The test towards the end for whether both source and destination are scalar is what makes the above pseudo-code provide the "standard" RV Base behaviour for LD operations.
  • The offset in bytes (XLEN/8) changes depending on whether the operation is a LB (1 byte), LH (2 byes), LW (4 bytes) or LD (8 bytes), and also whether the element width is over-ridden (see special element width section).

Compressed Stack LOAD / STORE Instructions

C.LWSP / C.SWSP and floating-point etc. are also source-dest twin-predicated, where it is implicit in C.LWSP/FLWSP etc. that x2 is the source register. It is therefore possible to use predicated C.LWSP to efficiently pop registers off the stack (by predicating x2 as the source), cherry-picking which registers to store to (by predicating the destination). Likewise for C.SWSP. In this way, LOAD/STORE-Multiple is efficiently achieved.

The two modes ("unit stride" and multi-indirection) are still supported, as with standard LD/ST. Essentially, the only difference is that the use of x2 is hard-coded into the instruction.

Note: it is still possible to redirect x2 to an alternative target register. With care, this allows C.LWSP / C.SWSP (and C.FLWSP) to be used as general-purpose LOAD/STORE operations.

Compressed LOAD / STORE Instructions

Compressed LOAD and STORE are again exactly the same as scalar LOAD/STORE, where the same rules apply and the same pseudo-code apply as for non-compressed LOAD/STORE. Again: setting scalar or vector mode on the src for LOAD and dest for STORE switches mode from "Unit Stride" to "Multi-indirection", respectively.

Element bitwidth polymorphism

Element bitwidth is best covered as its own special section, as it is quite involved and applies uniformly across-the-board. SV restricts bitwidth polymorphism to default, 8-bit, 16-bit and 32-bit.

The effect of setting an element bitwidth is to re-cast each entry in the register table, and for all memory operations involving load/stores of certain specific sizes, to a completely different width. Thus In c-style terms, on an RV64 architecture, effectively each register now looks like this:

typedef union {
    uint8_t  b[8];
    uint16_t s[4];
    uint32_t i[2];
    uint64_t l[1];
} reg_t;

// integer table: assume maximum SV 7-bit regfile size
reg_t int_regfile[128];

where the CSR Register table entry (not the instruction alone) determines which of those union entries is to be used on each operation, and the VL element offset in the hardware-loop specifies the index into each array.

However a naive interpretation of the data structure above masks the fact that setting VL greater than 8, for example, when the bitwidth is 8, accessing one specific register "spills over" to the following parts of the register file in a sequential fashion. So a much more accurate way to reflect this would be:

typedef union {
    uint8_t  actual_bytes[8]; // 8 for RV64, 4 for RV32, 16 for RV128
    uint8_t  b[0]; // array of type uint8_t
    uint16_t s[0];
    uint32_t i[0];
    uint64_t l[0];
    uint128_t d[0];
} reg_t;

reg_t int_regfile[128];

where when accessing any individual regfile[n].b entry it is permitted (in c) to arbitrarily over-run the declared length of the array (zero), and thus "overspill" to consecutive register file entries in a fashion that is completely transparent to a greatly-simplified software / pseudo-code representation. It is however critical to note that it is clearly the responsibility of the implementor to ensure that, towards the end of the register file, an exception is thrown if attempts to access beyond the "real" register bytes is ever attempted.

Now we may modify pseudo-code an operation where all element bitwidths have been set to the same size, where this pseudo-code is otherwise identical to its "non" polymorphic versions (above):

function op_add(rd, rs1, rs2) # add not VADD!
  for (i = 0; i < VL; i++)
       // TODO, calculate if over-run occurs, for each elwidth
       if (elwidth == 8) {
           int_regfile[rd].b[id] <= int_regfile[rs1].i[irs1] +
        } else if elwidth == 16 {
           int_regfile[rd].s[id] <= int_regfile[rs1].s[irs1] +
        } else if elwidth == 32 {
           int_regfile[rd].i[id] <= int_regfile[rs1].i[irs1] +
        } else { // elwidth == 64
           int_regfile[rd].l[id] <= int_regfile[rs1].l[irs1] +

So here we can see clearly: for 8-bit entries rd, rs1 and rs2 (and registers following sequentially on respectively from the same) are "type-cast" to 8-bit; for 16-bit entries likewise and so on.

However that only covers the case where the element widths are the same. Where the element widths are different, the following algorithm applies:

  • Analyse the bitwidth of all source operands and work out the maximum. Record this as "maxsrcbitwidth"
  • If any given source operand requires sign-extension or zero-extension (ldb, div, rem, mul, sll, srl, sra etc.), instead of mandatory 32-bit sign-extension / zero-extension or whatever is specified in the standard RV specification, change that to sign-extending from the respective individual source operand's bitwidth from the CSR table out to "maxsrcbitwidth" (previously calculated), instead.
  • Following separate and distinct (optional) sign/zero-extension of all source operands as specifically required for that operation, carry out the operation at "maxsrcbitwidth". (Note that in the case of LOAD/STORE or MV this may be a "null" (copy) operation, and that with FCVT, the changes to the source and destination bitwidths may also turn FVCT effectively into a copy).
  • If the destination operand requires sign-extension or zero-extension, instead of a mandatory fixed size (typically 32-bit for arithmetic, for subw for example, and otherwise various: 8-bit for sb, 16-bit for sw etc.), overload the RV specification with the bitwidth from the destination register's elwidth entry.
  • Finally, store the (optionally) sign/zero-extended value into its destination: memory for sb/sw etc., or an offset section of the register file for an arithmetic operation.

In this way, polymorphic bitwidths are achieved without requiring a massive 64-way permutation of calculations per opcode, for example (4 possible rs1 bitwidths times 4 possible rs2 bitwidths times 4 possible rd bitwidths). The pseudo-code is therefore as follows:

typedef union {
    uint8_t  b;
    uint16_t s;
    uint32_t i;
    uint64_t l;
} el_reg_t;

    if elwidth == 0: return xlen
    if elwidth == 1: return 8
    if elwidth == 2: return 16
    // elwidth == 3:
    return 32

get_max_elwidth(rs1, rs2):
    return max(bw(int_csr[rs1].elwidth), # default (XLEN) if not set
               bw(int_csr[rs2].elwidth)) # again XLEN if no entry

get_polymorphed_reg(reg, bitwidth, offset):
    el_reg_t res;
    res.l = 0; // TODO: going to need sign-extending / zero-extending
    if bitwidth == 8:
        reg.b = int_regfile[reg].b[offset]
    elif bitwidth == 16:
        reg.s = int_regfile[reg].s[offset]
    elif bitwidth == 32:
        reg.i = int_regfile[reg].i[offset]
    elif bitwidth == 64:
        reg.l = int_regfile[reg].l[offset]
    return res

set_polymorphed_reg(reg, bitwidth, offset, val):
    if (!int_csr[reg].isvec):
        # sign/zero-extend depending on opcode requirements, from
        # the reg's bitwidth out to the full bitwidth of the regfile
        val = sign_or_zero_extend(val, bitwidth, xlen)
        int_regfile[reg].l[0] = val
    elif bitwidth == 8:
        int_regfile[reg].b[offset] = val
    elif bitwidth == 16:
        int_regfile[reg].s[offset] = val
    elif bitwidth == 32:
        int_regfile[reg].i[offset] = val
    elif bitwidth == 64:
        int_regfile[reg].l[offset] = val

  maxsrcwid =  get_max_elwidth(rs1, rs2) # source element width(s)
  destwid = int_csr[rs1].elwidth         # destination element width
  for (i = 0; i < VL; i++)
    if (predval & 1<<i) # predication uses intregs
       // TODO, calculate if over-run occurs, for each elwidth
       src1 = get_polymorphed_reg(rs1, maxsrcwid, irs1)
       // TODO, sign/zero-extend src1 and src2 as operation requires
       if (op_requires_sign_extend_src1)
          src1 = sign_extend(src1, maxsrcwid)
       src2 = get_polymorphed_reg(rs2, maxsrcwid, irs2)
       result = src1 + src2 # actual add here
       // TODO, sign/zero-extend result, as operation requires
       if (op_requires_sign_extend_dest)
          result = sign_extend(result, maxsrcwid)
       set_polymorphed_reg(rd, destwid, ird, result)
       if (!int_vec[rd].isvector) break
    if (int_vec[rd ].isvector)  { id += 1; }
    if (int_vec[rs1].isvector)  { irs1 += 1; }
    if (int_vec[rs2].isvector)  { irs2 += 1; }

Whilst specific sign-extension and zero-extension pseudocode call details are left out, due to each operation being different, the above should be clear that;

  • the source operands are extended out to the maximum bitwidth of all source operands
  • the operation takes place at that maximum source bitwidth (the destination bitwidth is not involved at this point, at all)
  • the result is extended (or potentially even, truncated) before being stored in the destination. i.e. truncation (if required) to the destination width occurs after the operation not before.
  • when the destination is not marked as "vectorised", the full (standard, scalar) register file entry is taken up, i.e. the element is either sign-extended or zero-extended to cover the full register bitwidth (XLEN) if it is not already XLEN bits long.

Implementors are entirely free to optimise the above, particularly if it is specifically known that any given operation will complete accurately in less bits, as long as the results produced are directly equivalent and equal, for all inputs and all outputs, to those produced by the above algorithm.

Polymorphic floating-point operation exceptions and error-handling

For floating-point operations, conversion takes place without raising any kind of exception. Exactly as specified in the standard RV specification, NAN (or appropriate) is stored if the result is beyond the range of the destination, and, again, exactly as with the standard RV specification just as with scalar operations, the floating-point flag is raised (FCSR). And, again, just as with scalar operations, it is software's responsibility to check this flag. Given that the FCSR flags are "accrued", the fact that multiple element operations could have occurred is not a problem.

Note that it is perfectly legitimate for floating-point bitwidths of only 8 to be specified. However whilst it is possible to apply IEEE 754 principles, no actual standard yet exists. Implementors wishing to provide hardware-level 8-bit support rather than throw a trap to emulate in software should contact the author of this specification before proceeding.

Polymorphic shift operators

A special note is needed for changing the element width of left and right shift operators, particularly right-shift. Even for standard RV base, in order for correct results to be returned, the second operand RS2 must be truncated to be within the range of RS1's bitwidth. spike's implementation of sll for example is as follows:

WRITE_RD(sext_xlen(zext_xlen(RS1) << (RS2 & (xlen-1))));

which means: where XLEN is 32 (for RV32), restrict RS2 to cover the range 0..31 so that RS1 will only be left-shifted by the amount that is possible to fit into a 32-bit register. Whilst this appears not to matter for hardware, it matters greatly in software implementations, and it also matters where an RV64 system is set to "RV32" mode, such that the underlying registers RS1 and RS2 comprise 64 hardware bits each.

For SV, where each operand's element bitwidth may be over-ridden, the rule about determining the operation's bitwidth still applies, being defined as the maximum bitwidth of RS1 and RS2. However, this rule also applies to the truncation of RS2. In other words, after determining the maximum bitwidth, RS2's range must also be truncated to ensure a correct answer. Example:

  • RS1 is over-ridden to a 16-bit width
  • RS2 is over-ridden to an 8-bit width
  • RD is over-ridden to a 64-bit width
  • the maximum bitwidth is thus determined to be 16-bit - max(8,16)
  • RS2 is truncated to a range of values from 0 to 15: RS2 & (16-1)

Pseudocode (in spike) for this example would therefore be:

WRITE_RD(sext_xlen(zext_16bit(RS1) << (RS2 & (16-1))));

This example illustrates that considerable care therefore needs to be taken to ensure that left and right shift operations are implemented correctly. The key is that

  • The operation bitwidth is determined by the maximum bitwidth of the source registers, not the destination register bitwidth
  • The result is then sign-extend (or truncated) as appropriate.


MULH is designed to take the top half MSBs of a multiply that does not fit within the range of the source operands, such that smaller width operations may produce a full double-width multiply in two cycles. The issue is: SV allows the source operands to have variable bitwidth.

Here again special attention has to be paid to the rules regarding bitwidth, which, again, are that the operation is performed at the maximum bitwidth of the source registers. Therefore:

  • An 8-bit x 8-bit multiply will create a 16-bit result that must be shifted down by 8 bits
  • A 16-bit x 8-bit multiply will create a 24-bit result that must be shifted down by 16 bits (top 8 bits being zero)
  • A 16-bit x 16-bit multiply will create a 32-bit result that must be shifted down by 16 bits
  • A 32-bit x 16-bit multiply will create a 48-bit result that must be shifted down by 32 bits
  • A 32-bit x 8-bit multiply will create a 40-bit result that must be shifted down by 32 bits

So again, just as with shift-left and shift-right, the result is shifted down by the maximum of the two source register bitwidths. And, exactly again, truncation or sign-extension is performed on the result. If sign-extension is to be carried out, it is performed from the same maximum of the two source register bitwidths out to the result element's bitwidth.

If truncation occurs, i.e. the top MSBs of the result are lost, this is "Officially Not Our Problem", i.e. it is assumed that the programmer actually desires the result to be truncated. i.e. if the programmer wanted all of the bits, they would have set the destination elwidth to accommodate them.

Polymorphic elwidth on LOAD/STORE

Polymorphic element widths in vectorised form means that the data being loaded (or stored) across multiple registers needs to be treated (reinterpreted) as a contiguous stream of elwidth-wide items, where the source register's element width is independent from the destination's.

This makes for a slightly more complex algorithm when using indirection on the "addressed" register (source for LOAD and destination for STORE), particularly given that the LOAD/STORE instruction provides important information about the width of the data to be reinterpreted.

Let's illustrate the "load" part, where the pseudo-code for elwidth=default was as follows, and i is the loop from 0 to VL-1:

srcbase = ireg[rs+i];
return mem[srcbase + imm]; // returns XLEN bits

Instead, when elwidth != default, for a LW (32-bit LOAD), elwidth-wide chunks are taken from the source memory location addressed by the current indexed source address register, and only when a full 32-bits-worth are taken will the index be moved on to the next contiguous source address register:

bitwidth = bw(elwidth);             // source elwidth from CSR reg entry
elsperblock = 32 / bitwidth         // 1 if bw=32, 2 if bw=16, 4 if bw=8
srcbase = ireg[rs+i/(elsperblock)]; // integer divide
offs = i % elsperblock;             // modulo
return &mem[srcbase + imm + offs];  // re-cast to uint8_t*, uint16_t* etc.

Note that the constant "32" above is replaced by 8 for LB, 16 for LH, 64 for LD and 128 for LQ.

The principle is basically exactly the same as if the srcbase were pointing at the memory of the register file: memory is re-interpreted as containing groups of elwidth-wide discrete elements.

When storing the result from a load, it's important to respect the fact that the destination register has its own separate element width. Thus, when each element is loaded (at the source element width), any sign-extension or zero-extension (or truncation) needs to be done to the destination bitwidth. Also, the storing has the exact same analogous algorithm as above, where in fact it is just the set_polymorphed_reg pseudocode (completely unchanged) used above.

One issue remains: when the source element width is greater than the width of the operation, it is obvious that a single LB for example cannot possibly obtain 16-bit-wide data. This condition may be detected where, when using integer divide, elsperblock (the width of the LOAD divided by the bitwidth of the element) is zero.

The issue is "fixed" by ensuring that elsperblock is a minimum of 1:

elsperblock = min(1, LD_OP_BITWIDTH / element_bitwidth)

The elements, if the element bitwidth is larger than the LD operation's size, will then be sign/zero-extended to the full LD operation size, as specified by the LOAD (LDU instead of LD, LBU instead of LB), before being passed on to the second phase.

As LOAD/STORE may be twin-predicated, it is important to note that the rules on twin predication still apply, except where in previous pseudo-code (elwidth=default for both source and target) it was the registers that the predication was applied to, it is now the elements that the predication is applied to.

Thus the full pseudocode for all LD operations may be written out as follows:

function LBU(rd, rs):
    load_elwidthed(rd, rs, 8, true)
function LB(rd, rs):
    load_elwidthed(rd, rs, 8, false)
function LH(rd, rs):
    load_elwidthed(rd, rs, 16, false)
function LQ(rd, rs):
    load_elwidthed(rd, rs, 128, false)

# returns 1 byte of data when opwidth=8, 2 bytes when opwidth=16..
function load_memory(rs, imm, i, opwidth):
    elwidth = int_csr[rs].elwidth
    bitwidth = bw(elwidth);
    elsperblock = min(1, opwidth / bitwidth)
    srcbase = ireg[rs+i/(elsperblock)];
    offs = i % elsperblock;
    return mem[srcbase + imm + offs]; # 1/2/4/8/16 bytes

function load_elwidthed(rd, rs, opwidth, unsigned):
  destwid = int_csr[rd].elwidth # destination element width
  rd = int_csr[rd].active ? int_csr[rd].regidx : rd;
  rs = int_csr[rs].active ? int_csr[rs].regidx : rs;
  ps = get_pred_val(FALSE, rs); # predication on src
  pd = get_pred_val(FALSE, rd); # ... AND on dest
  for (int i = 0, int j = 0; i < VL && j < VL;):
    if (int_csr[rs].isvec) while (!(ps & 1<<i)) i++;
    if (int_csr[rd].isvec) while (!(pd & 1<<j)) j++;
    val = load_memory(rs, imm, i, opwidth)
    if unsigned:
        val = zero_extend(val, min(opwidth, bitwidth))
        val = sign_extend(val, min(opwidth, bitwidth))
    set_polymorphed_reg(rd, bitwidth, j, val)
    if (int_csr[rs].isvec) i++;
    if (int_csr[rd].isvec) j++; else break;


  • when comparing against for example the twin-predicated c.mv pseudo-code, the pattern of independent incrementing of rd and rs is preserved unchanged.
  • just as with the c.mv pseudocode, zeroing is not included and must be taken into account (TODO).
  • that due to the use of a twin-predication algorithm, LOAD/STORE also take on the same VSPLAT, VINSERT, VREDUCE, VEXTRACT, VGATHER and VSCATTER characteristics.
  • that due to the use of the same set_polymorphed_reg pseudocode, a destination that is not vectorised (marked as scalar) will result in the element being fully sign-extended or zero-extended out to the full register file bitwidth (XLEN). When the source is also marked as scalar, this is how the compatibility with standard RV LOAD/STORE is preserved by this algorithm.

Example Tables showing LOAD elements

This section contains examples of vectorised LOAD operations, showing how the two stage process works (three if zero/sign-extension is included).

Example: LD x8, x5(0), x8 CSR-elwidth=32, x5 CSR-elwidth=16, VL=7

This is:

  • a 64-bit load, with an offset of zero
  • with a source-address elwidth of 16-bit
  • into a destination-register with an elwidth of 32-bit
  • where VL=7
  • from register x5 (actually x5-x6) to x8 (actually x8 to half of x11)
  • RV64, where XLEN=64 is assumed.

First, the memory table, which, due to the element width being 16 and the operation being LD (64), the 64-bits loaded from memory are subdivided into groups of four elements. And, with VL being 7 (deliberately to illustrate that this is reasonable and possible), the first four are sourced from the offset addresses pointed to by x5, and the next three from the ofset addresses pointed to by the next contiguous register, x6:

addr byte 0 byte 1 byte 2 byte 3 byte 4 byte 5 byte 6 byte 7
@x5 elem 0 elem 1 elem 2 elem 3
@x6 elem 4 elem 5 elem 6 not loaded

Next, the elements are zero-extended from 16-bit to 32-bit, as whilst the elwidth CSR entry for x5 is 16-bit, the destination elwidth on x8 is 32.

byte 3 byte 2 byte 1 byte 0
0x0 0x0 elem0
0x0 0x0 elem1
0x0 0x0 elem2
0x0 0x0 elem3
0x0 0x0 elem4
0x0 0x0 elem5
0x0 0x0 elem6
0x0 0x0 elem7

Lastly, the elements are stored in contiguous blocks, as if x8 was also byte-addressable "memory". That "memory" happens to cover registers x8, x9, x10 and x11, with the last 32 "bits" of x11 being UNMODIFIED:

reg# byte 7 byte 6 byte 5 byte 4 byte 3 byte 2 byte 1 byte 0
x8 0x0 0x0 elem 1 0x0 0x0 elem 0
x9 0x0 0x0 elem 3 0x0 0x0 elem 2
x10 0x0 0x0 elem 5 0x0 0x0 elem 4
x11 UNMODIFIED 0x0 0x0 elem 6

Thus we have data that is loaded from the addresses pointed to by x5 and x6, zero-extended from 16-bit to 32-bit, stored in the registers x8 through to half of x11. The end result is that elements 0 and 1 end up in x8, with element 8 being shifted up 32 bits, and so on, until finally element 6 is in the LSBs of x11.

Note that whilst the memory addressing table is shown left-to-right byte order, the registers are shown in right-to-left (MSB) order. This does not imply that bit or byte-reversal is carried out: it's just easier to visualise memory as being contiguous bytes, and emphasises that registers are not really actually "memory" as such.

Why SV bitwidth specification is restricted to 4 entries

The four entries for SV element bitwidths only allows three over-rides:

  • 8 bit
  • 16 hit
  • 32 bit

This would seem inadequate, surely it would be better to have 3 bits or more and allow 64, 128 and some other options besides. The answer here is, it gets too complex, no RV128 implementation yet exists, and so RV64's default is 64 bit, so the 4 major element widths are covered anyway.

There is an absolutely crucial aspect oF SV here that explicitly needs spelling out, and it's whether the "vectorised" bit is set in the Register's CSR entry.

If "vectorised" is clear (not set), this indicates that the operation is "scalar". Under these circumstances, when set on a destination (RD), then sign-extension and zero-extension, whilst changed to match the override bitwidth (if set), will erase the full register entry (64-bit if RV64).

When vectorised is set, this indicates that the operation now treats elements as if they were independent registers, so regardless of the length, any parts of a given actual register that are not involved in the operation are NOT modified, but are PRESERVED.

For example:

  • when the vector bit is clear and elwidth set to 16 on the destination register, operations are truncated to 16 bit and then sign or zero extended to the FULL XLEN register width.
  • when the vector bit is set, elwidth is 16 and VL=1 (or other value where groups of elwidth sized elements do not fill an entire XLEN register), the "top" bits of the destination register do NOT get modified, zero'd or otherwise overwritten.

SIMD micro-architectures may implement this by using predication on any elements in a given actual register that are beyond the end of multi-element operation.

Other microarchitectures may choose to provide byte-level write-enable lines on the register file, such that each 64 bit register in an RV64 system requires 8 WE lines. Scalar RV64 operations would require activation of all 8 lines, where SV elwidth based operations would activate the required subset of those byte-level write lines.


  • rs1, rs2 and rd are all set to 8-bit
  • VL is set to 3
  • RV64 architecture is set (UXL=64)
  • add operation is carried out
  • bits 0-23 of RD are modified to be rs1[23..16] + rs2[23..16] concatenated with similar add operations on bits 15..8 and 7..0
  • bits 24 through 63 remain as they originally were.

Example SIMD micro-architectural implementation:

  • SIMD architecture works out the nearest round number of elements that would fit into a full RV64 register (in this case: 8)
  • SIMD architecture creates a hidden predicate, binary 0b00000111 i.e. the bottom 3 bits set (VL=3) and the top 5 bits clear
  • SIMD architecture goes ahead with the add operation as if it was a full 8-wide batch of 8 adds
  • SIMD architecture passes top 5 elements through the adders (which are "disabled" due to zero-bit predication)
  • SIMD architecture gets the 5 unmodified top 8-bits back unmodified and stores them in rd.

This requires a read on rd, however this is required anyway in order to support non-zeroing mode.

Polymorphic floating-point

Standard scalar RV integer operations base the register width on XLEN, which may be changed (UXL in USTATUS, and the corresponding MXL and SXL in MSTATUS and SSTATUS respectively). Integer LOAD, STORE and arithmetic operations are therefore restricted to an active XLEN bits, with sign or zero extension to pad out the upper bits when XLEN has been dynamically set to less than the actual register size.

For scalar floating-point, the active (used / changed) bits are specified exclusively by the operation: ADD.S specifies an active 32-bits, with the upper bits of the source registers needing to be all 1s ("NaN-boxed"), and the destination upper bits being set to all 1s (including on LOAD/STOREs).

Where elwidth is set to default (on any source or the destination) it is obvious that this NaN-boxing behaviour can and should be preserved. When elwidth is non-default things are less obvious, so need to be thought through. Here is a normal (scalar) sequence, assuming an RV64 which supports Quad (128-bit) FLEN:

  • FLD loads 64-bit wide from memory. Top 64 MSBs are set to all 1s
  • ADD.D performs a 64-bit-wide add. Top 64 MSBs of destination set to 1s.
  • FSD stores lowest 64-bits from the 128-bit-wide register to memory: top 64 MSBs ignored.

Therefore it makes sense to mirror this behaviour when, for example, elwidth is set to 32. Assume elwidth set to 32 on all source and destination registers:

  • FLD loads 64-bit wide from memory as two 32-bit single-precision floating-point numbers.
  • ADD.D performs two 32-bit-wide adds, storing one of the adds in bits 0-31 and the second in bits 32-63.
  • FSD stores lowest 64-bits from the 128-bit-wide register to memory

Here's the thing: it does not make sense to overwrite the top 64 MSBs of the registers either during the FLD or the ADD.D. The reason is that, effectively, the top 64 MSBs actually represent a completely independent 64-bit register, so overwriting it is not only gratuitous but may actually be harmful for a future extension to SV which may have a way to directly access those top 64 bits.

The decision is therefore not to touch the upper parts of floating-point registers whereever elwidth is set to non-default values, including when "isvec" is false in a given register's CSR entry. Only when the elwidth is set to default and isvec is false will the standard RV behaviour be followed, namely that the upper bits be modified.

Ultimately if elwidth is default and isvec false on all source and destination registers, a SimpleV instruction defaults completely to standard RV scalar behaviour (this holds true for all operations, right across the board).

The nice thing here is that ADD.S, ADD.D and ADD.Q when elwidth are non-default values are effectively all the same: they all still perform multiple ADD operations, just at different widths. A future extension to SimpleV may actually allow ADD.S to access the upper bits of the register, effectively breaking down a 128-bit register into a bank of 4 independently-accesible 32-bit registers.

In the meantime, although when e.g. setting VL to 8 it would technically make no difference to the ALU whether ADD.S, ADD.D or ADD.Q is used, using ADD.Q may be an easy way to signal to the microarchitecture that it is to receive a higher VL value. On a superscalar OoO architecture there may be absolutely no difference, however on simpler SIMD-style microarchitectures they may not necessarily have the infrastructure in place to know the difference, such that when VL=8 and an ADD.D instruction is issued, it completes in 2 cycles (or more) rather than one, where if an ADD.Q had been issued instead on such simpler microarchitectures it would complete in one.

Specific instruction walk-throughs

This section covers walk-throughs of the above-outlined procedure for converting standard RISC-V scalar arithmetic operations to polymorphic widths, to ensure that it is correct.


Standard Scalar RV32/RV64 (xlen):

  • RS1 @ xlen bits
  • RS2 @ xlen bits
  • add @ xlen bits
  • RD @ xlen bits

Polymorphic variant:

  • RS1 @ rs1 bits, zero-extended to max(rs1, rs2) bits
  • RS2 @ rs2 bits, zero-extended to max(rs1, rs2) bits
  • add @ max(rs1, rs2) bits
  • RD @ rd bits. zero-extend to rd if rd > max(rs1, rs2) otherwise truncate

Note here that polymorphic add zero-extends its source operands, where addw sign-extends.


The RV Specification specifically states that "W" variants of arithmetic operations always produce 32-bit signed values. In a polymorphic environment it is reasonable to assume that the signed aspect is preserved, where it is the length of the operands and the result that may be changed.

Standard Scalar RV64 (xlen):

  • RS1 @ xlen bits
  • RS2 @ xlen bits
  • add @ xlen bits
  • RD @ xlen bits, truncate add to 32-bit and sign-extend to xlen.

Polymorphic variant:

  • RS1 @ rs1 bits, sign-extended to max(rs1, rs2) bits
  • RS2 @ rs2 bits, sign-extended to max(rs1, rs2) bits
  • add @ max(rs1, rs2) bits
  • RD @ rd bits. sign-extend to rd if rd > max(rs1, rs2) otherwise truncate

Note here that polymorphic addw sign-extends its source operands, where add zero-extends.

This requires a little more in-depth analysis. Where the bitwidth of rs1 equals the bitwidth of rs2, no sign-extending will occur. It is only where the bitwidth of either rs1 or rs2 are different, will the lesser-width operand be sign-extended.

Effectively however, both rs1 and rs2 are being sign-extended (or truncated), where for add they are both zero-extended. This holds true for all arithmetic operations ending with "W".


Standard Scalar RV64I:

  • RS1 @ xlen bits, truncated to 32-bit
  • immed @ 12 bits, sign-extended to 32-bit
  • add @ 32 bits
  • RD @ rd bits. sign-extend to rd if rd > 32, otherwise truncate.

Polymorphic variant:

  • RS1 @ rs1 bits
  • immed @ 12 bits, sign-extend to max(rs1, 12) bits
  • add @ max(rs1, 12) bits
  • RD @ rd bits. sign-extend to rd if rd > max(rs1, 12) otherwise truncate

Predication Element Zeroing

The introduction of zeroing on traditional vector predication is usually intended as an optimisation for lane-based microarchitectures with register renaming to be able to save power by avoiding a register read on elements that are passed through en-masse through the ALU. Simpler microarchitectures do not have this issue: they simply do not pass the element through to the ALU at all, and therefore do not store it back in the destination. More complex non-lane-based micro-architectures can, when zeroing is not set, use the predication bits to simply avoid sending element-based operations to the ALUs, entirely: thus, over the long term, potentially keeping all ALUs 100% occupied even when elements are predicated out.

SimpleV's design principle is not based on or influenced by microarchitectural design factors: it is a hardware-level API. Therefore, looking purely at whether zeroing is useful or not, (whether less instructions are needed for certain scenarios), given that a case can be made for zeroing and non-zeroing, the decision was taken to add support for both.

Single-predication (based on destination register)

Zeroing on predication for arithmetic operations is taken from the destination register's predicate. i.e. the predication and zeroing settings to be applied to the whole operation come from the CSR Predication table entry for the destination register. Thus when zeroing is set on predication of a destination element, if the predication bit is clear, then the destination element is set to zero (twin-predication is slightly different, and will be covered next).

Thus the pseudo-code loop for a predicated arithmetic operation is modified to as follows:

  for (i = 0; i < VL; i++)
    if not zeroing: # an optimisation
       while (!(predval & 1<<i) && i < VL)
         if (int_vec[rd ].isvector)  { id += 1; }
         if (int_vec[rs1].isvector)  { irs1 += 1; }
         if (int_vec[rs2].isvector)  { irs2 += 1; }
       if i == VL:
    if (predval & 1<<i)
       src1 = ....
       src2 = ...
           result = src1 + src2 # actual add (or other op) here
       set_polymorphed_reg(rd, destwid, ird, result)
       if int_vec[rd].ffirst and result == 0:
          VL = i # result was zero, end loop early, return VL
       if (!int_vec[rd].isvector) return
    else if zeroing:
       result = 0
       set_polymorphed_reg(rd, destwid, ird, result)
    if (int_vec[rd ].isvector)  { id += 1; }
    else if (predval & 1<<i) return
    if (int_vec[rs1].isvector)  { irs1 += 1; }
    if (int_vec[rs2].isvector)  { irs2 += 1; }
    if (rd == VL or rs1 == VL or rs2 == VL): return

The optimisation to skip elements entirely is only possible for certain micro-architectures when zeroing is not set. However for lane-based micro-architectures this optimisation may not be practical, as it implies that elements end up in different "lanes". Under these circumstances it is perfectly fine to simply have the lanes "inactive" for predicated elements, even though it results in less than 100% ALU utilisation.

Twin-predication (based on source and destination register)

Twin-predication is not that much different, except that that the source is independently zero-predicated from the destination. This means that the source may be zero-predicated or the destination zero-predicated or both, or neither.

When with twin-predication, zeroing is set on the source and not the destination, if a predicate bit is set it indicates that a zero data element is passed through the operation (the exception being: if the source data element is to be treated as an address - a LOAD - then the data returned from the LOAD is zero, rather than looking up an address of zero.

When zeroing is set on the destination and not the source, then just as with single-predicated operations, a zero is stored into the destination element (or target memory address for a STORE).

Zeroing on both source and destination effectively result in a bitwise NOR operation of the source and destination predicate: the result is that where either source predicate OR destination predicate is set to 0, a zero element will ultimately end up in the destination register.

However: this may not necessarily be the case for all operations; implementors, particularly of custom instructions, clearly need to think through the implications in each and every case.

Here is pseudo-code for a twin zero-predicated operation:

function op_mv(rd, rs) # MV not VMV!
  rd = int_csr[rd].active ? int_csr[rd].regidx : rd;
  rs = int_csr[rs].active ? int_csr[rs].regidx : rs;
  ps, zerosrc = get_pred_val(FALSE, rs); # predication on src
  pd, zerodst = get_pred_val(FALSE, rd); # ... AND on dest
  for (int i = 0, int j = 0; i < VL && j < VL):
    if (int_csr[rs].isvec && !zerosrc) while (!(ps & 1<<i)) i++;
    if (int_csr[rd].isvec && !zerodst) while (!(pd & 1<<j)) j++;
    if ((pd & 1<<j))
        if ((pd & 1<<j))
            sourcedata = ireg[rs+i];
            sourcedata = 0
        ireg[rd+j] <= sourcedata
    else if (zerodst)
        ireg[rd+j] <= 0
    if (int_csr[rs].isvec)
    if (int_csr[rd].isvec)
        if ((pd & 1<<j))

Note that in the instance where the destination is a scalar, the hardware loop is ended the moment a value or a zero is placed into the destination register/element. Also note that, for clarity, variable element widths have been left out of the above.

Subsets of RV functionality

This section describes the differences when SV is implemented on top of different subsets of RV.

Common options

It is permitted to only implement SVprefix and not the VBLOCK instruction format option, and vice-versa. UNIX Platforms MUST raise illegal instruction on seeing an unsupported VBLOCK or SVprefix opcode, so that traps may emulate the format.

It is permitted in SVprefix to either not implement VL or not implement SUBVL (see sv prefix proposal for full details. Again, UNIX Platforms MUST raise illegal instruction on implementations that do not support VL or SUBVL.

It is permitted to limit the size of either (or both) the register files down to the original size of the standard RV architecture. However, below the mandatory limits set in the RV standard will result in non-compliance with the SV Specification.

RV32 / RV32F

When RV32 or RV32F is implemented, XLEN is set to 32, and thus the maximum limit for predication is also restricted to 32 bits. Whilst not actually specifically an "option" it is worth noting.


Normally in standard RV32 it does not make much sense to have RV32G, The critical instructions that are missing in standard RV32 are those for moving data to and from the double-width floating-point registers into the integer ones, as well as the FCVT routines.

In an earlier draft of SV, it was possible to specify an elwidth of double the standard register size: this had to be dropped, and may be reintroduced in future revisions.

RV32 (not RV32F / RV32G) and RV64 (not RV64F / RV64G)

When floating-point is not implemented, the size of the User Register and Predication CSR tables may be halved, to only 4 2x16-bit CSRs (8 entries per table).


In embedded scenarios the User Register and Predication CSRs may be dropped entirely, or optionally limited to 1 CSR, such that the combined number of entries from the M-Mode CSR Register table plus U-Mode CSR Register table is either 4 16-bit entries or (if the U-Mode is zero) only 2 16-bit entries (M-Mode CSR table only). Likewise for the Predication CSR tables.

RV32E is the most likely candidate for simply detecting that registers are marked as "vectorised", and generating an appropriate exception for the VL loop to be implemented in software.


RV128 has not been especially considered, here, however it has some extremely large possibilities: double the element width implies 256-bit operands, spanning 2 128-bit registers each, and predication of total length 128 bit given that XLEN is now 128.

Example usage

TODO evaluate strncpy and strlen https://groups.google.com/forum/m/#!msg/comp.arch/bGBeaNjAKvc/_vbqyxTUAQAJ


RVV version:

    c.mv a3, a0               # Copy dst
    setvli x0, a2, vint8    # Vectors of bytes.
    vlbff.v v1, (a1)        # Get src bytes
    vseq.vi v0, v1, 0       # Flag zero bytes
    vmfirst a4, v0          # Zero found?
    vmsif.v v0, v0          # Set mask up to and including zero byte.
    vsb.v v1, (a3), v0.t    # Write out bytes
    c.bgez a4, exit           # Done
    csrr t1, vl             # Get number of bytes fetched
    c.add a1, a1, t1          # Bump src pointer
    c.sub a2, a2, t1          # Decrement count.
    c.add a3, a3, t1          # Bump dst pointer
    c.bnez a2, loop           # Anymore?


SV version (WIP):

    c.mv a3, a0
    VBLK.RegCSR[t0] = 8bit, t0, vector
    VBLK.PredTb[t0] = ffirst, x0, inv
    VBLK.SETVLI a2, t4, 8 # t4 and VL now 1..8 (MVL=8)
    c.ldb t0, (a1) # t0 fail first mode
    c.bne t0, x0, allnonzero # still ff
    # VL (t4) points to last nonzero
    c.addi t4, t4, 1 # include zero
    c.stb t0, (a3)   # store incl zero
    c.ret            # end subroutine
    c.stb t0, (a3)    # VL legal range
    c.add a1, a1, t4  # Bump src pointer
    c.sub a2, a2, t4  # Decrement count.
    c.add a3, a3, t4  # Bump dst pointer
    c.bnez a2, loop   # Anymore?


  • Setting MVL to 8 is just an example. If enough registers are spare it may be set to XLEN which will require a bank of 8 scalar registers for a1, a3 and t0.
  • obviously if that is done, t0 is not separated by 8 full registers, and would overwrite t1 thru t7. x80 would work well, as an example, instead.
  • with the exception of the GETVL (a pseudo code alias for csrr), every single instruction above may use RVC.
  • RVC C.BNEZ can be used because rs1' may be extended to the full 128 registers through redirection
  • RVC C.LW and C.SW may be used because the W format may be overridden by the 8 bit format. All of t0, a3 and a1 are overridden to make that work.
  • with the exception of the GETVL, all Vector Context may be done in VBLOCK form.
  • setting predication to x0 (zero) and invert on t0 is a trick to enable just ffirst on t0
  • ldb and bne are both using t0, both in ffirst mode
  • t0 vectorised, a1 scalar, both elwidth 8 bit: ldb enters "unit stride, vectorised, no (un)sign-extension or truncation" mode.
  • ldb will end on illegal mem, reduce VL, but copied all sorts of stuff into t0 (could contain zeros).
  • bne t0 x0 tests up to the NEW VL for nonzero, vector t0 against scalar x0
  • however as t0 is in ffirst mode, the first fail will ALSO stop the compares, and reduce VL as well
  • the branch only goes to allnonzero if all tests succeed
  • if it did not, we can safely increment VL by 1 (using a4) to include the zero.
  • SETVL sets exactly the requested amount into VL.
  • the SETVL just after allnonzero label is needed in case the ldb ffirst activates but the bne allzeros does not.
  • this would cause the stb to copy up to the end of the legal memory
  • of course, on the next loop the ldb would throw a trap, as a1 now points to the first illegal mem location.


RVV version:

    mv a3, a0             # Save start
    setvli a1, x0, vint8  # byte vec, x0 (Zero reg) => use max hardware len
    vldbff.v v1, (a3)     # Get bytes
    csrr a1, vl           # Get bytes actually read e.g. if fault
    vseq.vi v0, v1, 0     # Set v0[i] where v1[i] = 0
    add a3, a3, a1        # Bump pointer
    vmfirst a2, v0        # Find first set bit in mask, returns -1 if none
    bltz a2, loop         # Not found?
    add a0, a0, a1        # Sum start + bump
    add a3, a3, a2        # Add index of zero byte
    sub a0, a3, a0        # Subtract start address+bump



  • Setting MVL to 4 is just an example. With enough space between the FP regs, MVL may be set to larger values
  • VBLOCK header takes 16 bits, 8-bit mode may be used on the registers, taking only another 16 bits, VBLOCK.SETVL requires 16 bits. Total overhead for use of VBLOCK: 48 bits (3 16-bit words).
  • All instructions except fmadd may use Compressed variants. Total number of 16-bit instruction words: 11.
  • Total: 14 16-bit words. By contrast, RVV requires around 18 16-bit words.

BigInt add