I've seen a few questions posted regarding the upsides/downsides of floating point formats that have explicit integrals vs. formats that have implicit integrals, but have not seen an answer that really handles my question about it. By integral, I mean the single digit to the left of the radix point.
Let's assume that the hypothetical formats in question both have adequate precision for every possible use they will be put to (so that we can avoid the obvious point that the implicit integral adds more precision in most circumstances).
In one format we have an implicit integral and the requirement that all operation results must be normalized. In the other format we have an explicit integral and do not have the requirement that operation results be normalized. What are the upsides/downsides to this second format in comparison to the first format?
My first observations are that: 1) The format with the explicit integral will have multiple valid representations for a large subset of representable numbers. The format with the implicit integral will have only one valid representation for any given representable number. I don't immediately see a reason why this would be a downside, but I feel like it could be.
2) The format with the explicit integral seems like it would have a marginally simpler hardware or software implementation. This doesn't look like much of an upside unless you are going for really intense performance optimizations, but it ought to be mentioned.
3) The big upside for the explicit integral is that it makes a special arrangement for subnormal numbers unnecessary. Every number that would have fallen into the not-quite-zero gap would just be another representable result with the same gap as between any other pair of results for a given exponent. It seems like this would also slightly simplify design implementations, but I don't take that as a certainty.
Is there anything obvious I'm missing? Anything non-obvious? I'm just trying to really understand this concept better from a purely theoretical CS perspective.