Alternative (SVPrefix) format

This VBLOCK mode effectively extends sv prefix proposal to cover multiple registers. The basic principle: the "prefix" specifies which of source and destination registers are to be considered "vectors" (or scalars), however where in SVPrefix that applies to only one instruction, the "vector" tag designations continue a limited cascade into subsequent instructions within the VBLOCK.

Its advantage over the main format is that the main format requires explicit naming of the registers to be tagged (taking up 5 bits each time).

15 14:12 11:10 9 8:7 6:0
rsvd 16xil rsvd rsvd SVPMode 1111111
SVPMode 1:0
non-SVP 0b00
P48 Mode 0b01
P64 Mode 0b10
Twin-SVP 0b11

non-SVP mode uses the extended format (see main VBLOCK spec vblock format)

When P48 Mode is enabled (0b01), the P48 prefix follows the VBLOCK header, and an additional itype may be applied to the src operand(s).

15:11 10:0
ioffs P48-Prefix

When P64 Mode is enabled (0b10), the P64 prefix also follows:

31:16 15:11 10:0
P64-prefix ioffs P48-Prefix

When Twin-SVP Mode is enabled (0b11), a second P48 prefix follows after a P48-P64 pair, in the VBLOCK (another 16 bits after the 32 bit P48/P64 block), which applies vector-context from the second instruction's registers. The reason why Twin-SVP's prefix is only P48 is because P64 can change VL and MVL. It makes no srnse to try to reset VL/MVL twice in succession.

VL/MVL from a P64 prefix is applied as if a sv.setvl instruction had been executed as a hidden (first, implicit) instruction in the VBLOCK. This includes modification of SV CSR STATE.

ioffs is the instruction counter in multiples of 16 bits (matching PCVBLK) at which the prefix "activates". When PCVBLK matches ioffs, the Prefix applies. It is ignored on all instructions in the VBBLOCK prior to that point. This allows a degree of fine-grain control over which registers are to be "vectorised".

itype is described in sv prefix proposal. The additional itype on the src operand(s) allows, for example, a LD of 8 bit vectors to be auto-converted to 16 bit signed in a single instruction. More examples on elwidth polymorphism is in the appendix.


  • SVP-VBLOCK is read (48/64), and indicates that certain registers are to be "tagged". Element widths and predication are also specified
  • The very first instruction (RVC, OP32) within the VBLOCk says which registers those tags are to be associated with
  • Those registers remain tagged with that context for the entire duration of the VBLOCK.
  • At the end of the VBLOCK the context terminates and the tags are discarded.
  • There is rule in SVP about vs#/vd# fields, if they are not present in a given P48/P64 prefix, an "implicit" field is created for that src or dest register in the form of a bitwise "OR" of all present vs#/vd# fields. This rule continues to apply to the instructions following the first (and second, if applicable) in the VBLOCK, however the ORing rule stops i.e does not cascade via rd in the following instructions.
  • If an instruction is used where registers are implicitly determined to be scalars, they remain scalars when used in subsequent instructions.

Example (contrived):

* VBLOCK, P48 prefix only (SVPMode=0b01), vs1=1, vs2=0
* 1st instruction in VBLOCK: ADD x3, x5, x12
* 2nd instruction in VBLOCK: ADD x7, x5, x3
* 3rd instruction in VBLOCK: ADD x9, x4, x4
* 4th instruction in VBLOCK: ADD x7, x5, x4
  • vs1=1 indicates that the source register rs1 is to be considered a vector, whilst rs2 is to be a "scalar".
  • The first instruction has "x5" as rs1. It is therefore "marked" as a vector
  • However with there being no "specifier" for vd in the P48 prefix, vd is calculated as "vd = vs1 | vs2" and is therefore set to "1".
  • The "full" specification for the 1st add is therefore "ADD vector-x3, vector-x5, scalar-x12".
  • The second instruction also uses x5, and x3 was determined by the OR rule as a "vector". A second apication of the "OR" rule, as it is not listed as an operand in the first instruction, gives x7 also as a vector.
  • The "full" specification for the 2nd add is therefore "ADD vector-x7, vector-x5, vector-x3".
  • The 3rd instruction has no context applied to any of its registers, therefore x9 and x4 are determined to be "scalar"
  • The specification for the 3rd add is therefore "ADD scalar-x9, scalar-x4, scalar-x4"
  • The 4th instruction. despite determining x7 as vector in instruction 2, x7 is not listed in the 1st instruction's operands. Likewise for x4. Therefore the "OR" rule applies to them.
  • x5 on the other hand is in the 1st instruction's operands, and, given that x4 and x7 have the "OR" rule applied, are also marked as "vector" despite x4 being formerly scalar in the 3rd instruction.
  • Therefore, the "full" specification for the 4th add is: "ADD vector-x7, vector-x5, vector-x4"

Writing those out separately, for clarity:

ADD vector-x3, vector-x5, scalar-x12 # from vs1=1, vs2=0, vd=vs1|vs2  
ADD vector-x7, vector-x5, vector-x3  # x7: v-x5 | v-x3  
ADD scalar-x9, scalar-x4, scalar-x4  # x9, x4 not prefixed, therefore scalar  
ADD vector-x7, vector-x5, vector-x4  # x4, x7, x5 vector  

This kind of counterintuitive weirdness (for x4) is important for reducing the amount of state for context switching.

Twin-SVP mode allows even more registers to be explicitly marked, including some specifically as "scalar", where the rules might otherwise start to cascade through and cause registers to be come undesirably marked as "vectors", but also to give more opportunity to mark registers that would otherwise flip between scalar and vector.

If ultimately a compiler determines that the rules cannot be applied to get the desired cascading, another VBLOCK can always be started. They are a lot more compact than use of CSR setup and teardown (VBLOCKs end and the context is revoked automatically), requiring only between 32 and 80 bytes to establish, where CSRs, due to the OP32 overhead of the CSR instruction(s) themselves, the teardown cost, and the lack of a long immediate instruction in RISC-V could easily require 80 to 160 bytes to achieve the same task.

The reason why the OR rule cannot cascade onwards is because if a trap occurs and the context has to be reestablished on return, it may be reestablished purely with the VBLOCK header and by decoding the first (and second) instruction.

If the cascade of what was marked "vector" was allowed to continue, it would require re-reading of every opcode up to the point where execution of the VBLOCK left off, in order to reestablish the full cascade context.