“The best computer is a man, and it’s the only one that can be mass-produced by unskilled labor.” ― Wernher von Braun




Which is better: better performance for specialized tasks, or worse performance for a wide range of tasks? This is the question that RISC and CISC aim to answer. RISC stands for reduced instruction set computing. During the 1980s, a group of researchers discovered that many of the instructions in an instruction set were simply not being used by the computer. Since computer scientists are notoriously hateful of cruft, they reduced the instruction set to those elements that were being used actively by the computer. RISC based computing is many times faster than CISC based computing for optimized tasks. However the reduction of instructions confines RISC systems to such niches as embedded devices. A popular implementation of RISC is the ARM processor architecture.


CISC stands for complex instruction set computing. In a blunt sense the classical idea of the computer as a machine that can perform many different tasks is CISC based. The computer can perform many different tasks, but each individual task is slowed down by the necessary cruft in the instruction set. To this time, no solution combining the advantages of both systems have been devised.