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There is a 64 KB 1-word cache, and a word is 32 bits. From that I can derive that the length of the tag field is 16 bits, the length of index field is 14 bits, and, as my professor taught me, there is always 2 bits left behind for a byte offset.

Why the offset field is 2 bits, other than it fills in the remaining 2 bits of the word, and what its contents is was never covered in the course.

But when I looked around on Google, I read, and correct me if I am wrong, that the length of the offset field can vary. Although I have found answers on how to determine the length, I could not find anything about determining its contents when a read hit/miss is performed. My professor merely said "the byte offset is not used to select the word in the cache".

Just looking for clarification.

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    $\begingroup$ I think you may need to provide more background and context and details before this question can be reasonably answered. $\endgroup$ – D.W. Dec 3 '13 at 8:02
  • $\begingroup$ The byte offset is used to address the specific byte(s) within the chunk accessed, the chunk size is often one word. With a 4-byte access chunk, 2 bits are needed to index a specific byte. (Typically, a cache block is larger than one access chunk, so there will also be a block offset that indexes the specific chunk within a cache block. E.g., for a 128-byte cache block and 8-byte accesses the block offset would be 4 bits and the byte offset 3 bits.) $\endgroup$ – Paul A. Clayton Dec 3 '13 at 14:59
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Paul A. Clayton gives the answer in a comment.

You say a word has 32 bits. An implicit assumption is that we want to be able access every of the four bytes, so we need two bits to make this distinction.

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