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Microprocessor designers have been torn between tight constraints on the amount of on-chip cache memory and the high latency of off-chip memory, such as dynamic random access memory. Accessing off-chip memory generally takes an order of magnitude more time than accessing on-chip cache, and two orders of magnitude more time than executing an instruction. Computer systems and microarchitecture researchers have proposed using hardware data compression units within the memory hierarchies of microprocessors in order to improve performance, energy efficiency, and functionality.
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