Unified prefetching into instruction cache and branch target buffer

A system and method of coupling a Branch Target Buffer (BTB) content of a BTB with an instruction cache content of an instruction cache. The method includes: tagging a plurality of target buffer entries that belong to branches within a same instruction block with a corresponding instruction block address and a branch bitmap to indicate individual branches in the block; coupling an overflow buffer with the BTB to accommodate further target buffer entries of instruction blocks, distinct from the plurality of target buffer entries, which have more branches than the bundle is configured to accommodate in the corresponding instruction's bundle in the BTB; and predicting the instructions or the instruction blocks that are likely to be fetched by the core in the future and fetch those instructions from the lower levels of the memory hierarchy proactively by means of a prefetcher.


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