Microprocessor Standards Committee

Learn more about the Microprocessor Standards Committee, it's mission, chair, and more.
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The IEEE Microprocessor Standards Committee (MSC) is chartered by the IEEE Computer Society Standards Activities Board to create, maintain, and encourage the use of IEEE standards for the engineering of computer systems involving microprocessor and floating-point architectures, buses, interconnects, sensors, microprocessor operating system interfaces, real-time operating systems, programming and object languages, data interchange, cryptographic hardware, and computer environmental specifications.

MSC’s current needs:

  • The floating point arithmetic standard, implemented partially or fully in virtually all desktop computers, some supercomputers, and some other computing equipment, is necessary to enable predictability, reliability, and portability of scientific computing, numerical simulation and models, as well as commercial software systems.
  • The arithmetic formats for machine learning standard, under initial development, has similar overall needs to the floating point arithmetic standard. However, a different standard is needed for machine learning, since machine learning applications require less accuracy than scientific and commercial applications, but have a bigger emphasis on efficiency, both in terms of execution time and computer memory requirements.
  • Quantum computing applications are in their infancy, although there are already a couple of commercial applications in use. Standards and recommended practice documents are needed for the interfaces between conventional computing circuitry and quantum computing apparati, as well as standardized metrics for the efficiency of quantum computers. These standards and recommended practices should enable transparency in the developing industry, as well as enable an orderly development and adoption of the technology.
  • The POSIX (Portable Operating System Interface) standards are needed to ensure operability between different Unix-like (Linux-like) operating systems. Such operating systems underlie much open-source software such as that in certain desktop computers and in many, if not most, mobile phones. Standardized interfaces are needed to permit efficient software development, to avoid having to custom-design application software for every system on the market.

The following people and entities will use these standards, and hence, will have an interest in developing them:

  • Chip designers and manufacturers
  • Scientific software developers and users: Developers will have an interest in developing and using Floating Point Arithmetic (P754) and in following development in quantum computing (P3120), while users of scientific software will use such standards. These developers include people involved in modeling and simulation, such as in weather and climate forecasting. Some informed users will also be interested in participating in development.
  • Artificial intelligence software developers: These will be interested in developing and using the products of the arithmetic for machine learning (P3109) working group.
  • Commercial and operations research software and systems developers
  • Government laboratories and defense entities such as the national laboratories within the United States.


Current, Most Active Standards

  • P754, Standard for Floating Point Arithmetic, with an active 2019 standard, and currently meeting weekly via teleconference to update the working group membership and PAR for work on a 2029 revision.
  • P3109, Arithmetic Formats for Machine Learning, PAR approved in September 2021, with a large diverse membership and actively meeting.
  • P3120, Quantum Computing Architectures: The PAR was approved in February, 2023, and there is active discussion. Part of the process is possible consolidation of various associated working groups under more than one standards committee, possibly under P3120, with a modified PAR. This includes P3120.1, also under the MSC.
  • The Standards Activities Board (SAB) recently voted to transfer P1003.1 (POSIX, Austin Joint Working Group) to the MSC, due to deactivation of its current standards committee.

All Active Standards are listed at: https://sagroups.ieee.org/msc/home/currently-active-working-groups-and-projects/

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