Register renaming is a form of pipelining that deals with data dependences between instructions by renaming their register operands. An assembly language programmer or a compiler specifies these operands using architectural registers - the registers that are explicit in the instruction set architecture. Renaming replaces architectural register names by, in effect, value names, with a new value name for each instruction destination operand. This eliminates the name dependences (output dependences and antidependences) between instructions and automatically recognizes true dependences.

The recognition of true data dependences between instructions permits a more flexible life cycle for instructions. By maintaining a status bit for each value indicating whether or not it has been computed yet, it allows the execution phase of two instruction operations to be performed out of order when there are no true data dependences between them. This is called out-of-order execution.

After looking at the process of renaming operands we will look at the life cycle of an instruction in a register renaming architecture. Then we will look at a generic hardware organization for it and some possible performance enhancements. Finally, we will look at a brief history of the register renaming concept.