Branch Prediction

What Does Branch Prediction Mean?

Branch prediction is an approach to computer architecture that attempts to mitigate the costs of branching. Branch predication speeds up the processing of branch instructions with CPUs using pipelining. The technique involves only executing certain instructions if certain predicates are true. Branch prediction is typically implemented in hardware using a branch predictor.

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Branch prediction is also known as branch predication or simply as predication.

Techopedia Explains Branch Prediction

Branch prediction is a technique used to speed execution of instructions on processors that use pipelining. CPUs initially executed instructions one by one as they came in, but the introduction of pipelining meant that branching instructions could slow the processor down significantly as the processor has to wait for the conditional jump to be executed.

Branch prediction breaks instructions down into predicates, similar to predicate logic. A CPU using branch prediction only executes statements if a predicate is true. One example is using conditional logic. Since unnecessary code is not executed, the processor can work much more efficiently. Branch prediction is implemented in CPU logic with a branch predictor.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.