What is Pipelining?

Computers today have to deal with millions of commands every second. The conventional approach is to process one instruction at a time and after that the next one is waiting for its turn. It is an extremely time consuming process. This conventional method is replaced by the concept of “Pipelining”. In “Pipeline” approach several instructions are processed in parallel (may be undergoing different stages at the same time).

In pipeline approach, a complex process is divided into smaller processes. These processes are generally interdependent as the output of one is the input of the successor. So generally, pipelining is explained as an arrangement of processing elements linked in succession, so that the output of one element is the input of the successive element.

A very simple example could be baking a cake. The whole process can be divided into smaller steps as mixing batter, baking and icing. When the mixture of first cake is ready, it moves to the second step that is baking. Meanwhile work is started on the batter of second cake. After baking the first cake, it is moved to the final process that is icing and the second cake whose batter was ready undergoes the process of baking. After icing, the first cake is ready to be served while the second cake is in the process of icing. In this way several cakes can be baked in parallel.

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