[ risk ]
/ rɪsk /
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reduced instruction set computer: a computer whose central processing unit recognizes a relatively small number of instructions, which it can execute very rapidly.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does RISC mean?

RISC is an acronym that stands for reduced instruction set computer, a kind of computer that only recognizes a very small set of instructions, allowing it to process data and execute tasks very rapidly.

A RISC is a type of microprocessor, a computer circuit that executes all the functions of a central processing unit (CPU)—the component in a computer system that makes the device able to understand instructions.

Different versions of RISCs have been created over time to be used in different kinds of devices. Initially, RISCs were mostly used in bigger computers, but versions of RISCs are used in modern laptops, smartphones, and tablets.

Why is RISC important?

David Patterson, a professor of computer science at the University of California in Berkeley, coined the term RISC in 1980, but IBM computer scientist John Cocke had begun conducting the projects based on RISC technology in the 1970s. The RISC was one of the first microprocessors to be invented, helping lead to the creation of microprocessors with many more features.

A RISC ultimately uses less hardware and has less tasks to do at one time than more complex computers. For this reason, it can work at faster speeds. The related term CISC stands for complex instruction set computer, another kind of microprocessor. A CISC has many more instructions to follow compared to a RISC and thus its processing speed is slower.

Today, RISCs are commonly incorporated into portable devices like smartphones and tablets. These devices use RISCs due to their ability to perform tasks almost instantly.

Did you know ... ?

Since the creation of the RISC in the 1970s by IBM’s John Cocke, the technology has been used in car engines, jet control systems, and, during the late 1990s, in the NASA computer on the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft.

What are real-life examples of RISC?

Though RISCs have many different applications and are used in many common devices, the term RISC is not well known and is mostly used by computer engineers.



What other words are related to RISC?

Quiz yourself!

True or False?

RISCs are able to process data rapidly because they function with a limited set of instructions.

British Dictionary definitions for RISC

/ (rɪsk) /

n acronym for
reduced instruction set computer: a computer in which the set of instructions which it can perform has been reduced to the minimum, resulting in very fast data processing
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012