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Intel Hardware

Happy Birthday! X86 Turns 30 Years Old 362

javipas writes "On June 8th, 1978 Intel introduced its first 16-bit microprocessor, the 8086. Intel used then "the dawn of a new era" slogan, and they probably didn't know how certain they were. Thirty years later we've seen the evolution of PC architectures based on the x86 instruction set that has been the core of Intel, AMD or VIA processors. Legendary chips such as Intel 80386, 80486, Pentium and AMD Athlon have a great debt to that original processor, and as recently was pointed out on Slashdot, x86 evolution still leads the revolution. Happy birthday and long live x86."
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Happy Birthday! X86 Turns 30 Years Old

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  • Please (Score:1, Informative)

    by oldhack ( 1037484 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @09:07AM (#23667639)
    Kudos to Intel for their bus/marketing/eng savvy, but the x86 instruction set? Please.
  • Re:1978?? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Rhapsody Scarlet ( 1139063 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @09:29AM (#23667899) Homepage

    1988? Where the hell do you live? In 1988, the 8086/8088, 80186, and 80286 had already been on the market for years. The 80386 was the CPU to have and the 80486 was only a year away.

  • Re:1978?? (Score:4, Informative)

    by kabdib ( 81955 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @09:35AM (#23667969) Homepage
    8088 (an 8086 with an 8-bit bus) at 8Mhz, and a graphics card architecture that was absolutely miserable, like stuffing pixels through a straw.

    Oh, we suffered back then, believe me... :-)
  • Re:1978?? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Vectronic ( 1221470 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @09:36AM (#23667975)
    My first assumption, was tha it was too expensive for average use... but, after some investigating, I foudn that wrong (In my opinion)

    June 1979, Intel introduces the 4.77-MHz 8086 microprocessor. It uses 16-bit registers, a 16-bit data bus, and 29,000 transistors, using 3-micron technology. Price is US$360. It can access 1 MB of memory. Speed is 0.33 MIPS.
    Not from '78, but the first price I could find... so maybe you are thinking of the 80386, released in '87, not just the 8086...
  • Re:1978?? (Score:5, Informative)

    by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @09:40AM (#23668013) Homepage Journal

    The 8086 predates the 8088, which was more popular and eclipsed it largely because IBM picked the latter for the original IBM PC. The 8088 is a modified 8086 that talks to the outside world using bytes rather than 16 bit words. It's otherwise completely identical.

    PC manufacturers started switching over to the 8086 from around 1986 onwards (the Amstrad PC1512 was one example, dating to 1986) because of the slight performance improvement it offered without being as expensive as the 80286. For real-mode applications, and 8086s running at the same speed as the 80286, there was barely any performance difference between the two chips.

    The old joke at the time was that the 8088 was being phased out in 1986-1988 because the '88 in 8088 was the expiry date...

  • Intel, 1978 (Score:2, Informative)

    by conureman ( 748753 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @09:52AM (#23668167)
    Rejected my application for employment.
  • Re:Die already ! (Score:3, Informative)

    by gardyloo ( 512791 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @10:31AM (#23668761)
    Ha. That's what "you" is for. We just need to bring back "thou" for the singular.
  • Re:How Long? (Score:5, Informative)

    by bcrowell ( 177657 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @10:33AM (#23668807) Homepage

    IIRC 1.5 bits per year address space bloat is from Hennessy and Patterson. [...] At this point we have 30 unused bits of address space, assuming current apps need 32GB tops. That gives 64 bit x64 another 20 years lifetime!
    Empirically, it hasn't been growing at anywhere near that rate. Ca. 1980 my TRS-80 had a 16-bit address space, and had enough memory to exhaust all of the addresses. Today, I'm using computers that have 1 Gb of memory, which is 30 bits worth of address space. That's less than 0.5 bits per year.

    Also, in order to keep the actual used address space growing at a constant number of bits per year, Moore's law would have to continue indefinitely. But most experts are saying it will probably stop in 10 to 30 years. If we keep growing at 0.5 bits per year, starting now at 30 bits, and stop growing at the Moore's law rate in 2038, then we'll only be using 45 bits worth of actual address space.

    It's hard to grok how big a 64-bit address space would really be. As a reality check, let's say that I want to own every movie that's ever been listed on IMDB, and store every single one of those in my computer's RAM simultaneously. If each one takes as much storage as a 5 Gb DVD, and IMDB has 400,000 movies listed [], then that's a total of 2x10^15 bytes, which is 50 bits. That's 16,000 times smaller than a 64-bit address space.

    As another example, the human brain has about 10^11 neurons. Each of those may be connected to 10^4 other neurons, so the total number of connections is about 10^15. That suggests that the total amount of RAM needed for direct, brute-force modeling of a human brain (assuming we knew enough to program such a model, which we don't, and had parallel processors that could run such a simulation, which we don't) might be about 10^15 bytes, which is a 50-bit address space. A 64-bit address space is 16,000 times bigger than that.

    I think we're likely to see flying cars, Turing-level AI, and vacations on the moon before we need 128-bit pointers.

  • math fail (Score:5, Informative)

    by SendBot ( 29932 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @11:21AM (#23669531) Homepage Journal
    pardon me for being such a math nerd, but I enjoy it so:

    Each of those may be connected to 10^4 other neurons, so the total number of connections is about 10^15.

    You're counting a lot of connections more than once (see permutations), not to mention your perilous assumption that a neural connection would only consume one byte in the hypothetical model.

    If each one takes as much storage as a 5 Gb DVD, and IMDB has 400,000 movies listed [], then that's a total of 2x10^15 bytes, which is 50 bits. That's 16,000 times smaller than a 64-bit address space.

    Firstly, what you mean is GB(bytes) not Gb(bits). 2e15 bytes would need a 51-bit address space, and 16 exabytes is a little over 9223 times 2e15 bytes.

    I like the direction of your ideas though.
  • Re:8086 computers? (Score:3, Informative)

    by IvyKing ( 732111 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @11:35AM (#23669777)
    "or even 8008 computers"

    Perhaps you meant 8088?

    I mentioned the 486 specifically because low cost 486 machines were available only a few months after the expensive models from the big boys - the first low cost clone of the 8088 came out several years after the PC.

  • Re:1978?? (Score:2, Informative)

    by pezezin ( 1200013 ) <pezezin64 AT yahoo DOT es> on Thursday June 05, 2008 @06:14PM (#23676005)
    14.31818 MHz was used as the master frequency of NTSC sets, so those crystals were fairly common and cheap. Dividing it by 3 gives 4.77 MHz; other common dividers were 2, giving 7.15 MHz (as used in the Amiga and Atari ST), and 4, giving 3.58 MHz (used in lots of 8 bits computers).

Slowly and surely the unix crept up on the Nintendo user ...