A detailed history of the processor

Intel Core 2 (2006)

The Intel Core 2 is a brand that houses a variety of different 64-bit X86-64 CPUs. This includes single-core, dual-core and quad-core processor based on Intel’s Core microarchitecture. The Core 2 brand encompassed a lot of different CPUs, but to give you an idea, you had the Solo (a single-core CPU), the Duo (a dual-core CPU), Quad (a quad-core CPU) and then later on, they had Extreme (a dual- or quad-core processor aimed at hardware enthusiasts).

The Intel Core 2 line was really the first multi-core processors. This was a necessary route for Intel to go, as true multi-core processors are essentially a single component, but with two or more independent processing units. They’re often referred to as cores. With multiple cores like this, Intel is able to increase overall speed for programs, and therefore, opening the path to more demanding programs as we could see today. That’s not to say Intel or AMD are responsible for demanding programs today, but without high-end processors and breakthroughs in technology by them, we really wouldn’t have the hardware that can run those programs.

Core 2 branded processors came with a lot of neat technology. For instance, you had Intel’s own virtualization technology, 64-bit architecture, low power, and SSE4 (Streaming SIMD Extensions 4, a processor instruction set).

AMD Phenom & Phenom II (2007)

AMD began the Phenom family of processors in 2007. It was a 64-bit desktop processor based off of AMD’s K10 microarchitecture. The Phenom family is an interesting. AMD actually considered the quad-core Phenoms (AMD made dual-core and triple-cores versions of the Phenom as well) to be the first processor with a true quad-core design. This is because all of the Phenom’s cores are on the same die. If you like at Intel’s Core 2 Quad processor, it features a multi-chip module design instead.

There were some issues with early Phenom processors where the system would lock-up in extremely rare instances. This is because of a flaw discovered in the translation lookaside buffer (TLB). Pretty much all early versions of the Phenom processor were affected, as it wasn’t fixed until version B3 of the Phenom processor in 2008. The processors without the bug also had a “xx50” model number (so, there would be the number “50” at the end of every model number, indicating that this was a processor without the bug).

After these issues, AMD eventually went ahead and launched a successor at the end of 2008, the Phenom II. The Phenom II comes in a lot of versions. They made dual-core, triple-core and quad-core variants in early 2009, but an improved quad-core model and a hex-core model came in around early to mid 2010. Again, it’s based off of the K10 microarchitecture, but it’s also built off of the 45nm semiconductor manufacturing process. The Phenom II initially launched on the Socket AM2+, but Socket AM3 versions launched in early 2009 with with DDR3 support.

The Phenom II is a really neat processor. Just a year before, the Phenom launched with a meager L3 Cache Size of 2MB. The Phenom II tripled that, bringing it up to 6MB. It also has the SSE4a instruction set. Black Edition’s of AMD’s Phantom II CPUs also offered some crazy overclocking potential. At CES 2009 in Las Vegas, in a public demonstration, it was able to achieve an overclock of a whopping 6.5GHz. In a separate instance, a group called LimitTeam was able to achieve 7.127GHz

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  1. Your Notes are very clear and Excelent. If you can update to current, it is very good.

    Thank you

  2. Your notes have helped me a lot about something i’ve been looking for in the past week.your Your notes are excelent thanx

  3. Just to point out that you state the 80186 never made it into a personal computer, however i owned a 186 system around 1992 that was made my Research Machines.
    Just thought you would like to know.

    • There was also a Tandy / Radio Shack PC that used an 80186. Just one model that didn’t last for more than a year. Their usual black and silver case. I can’t swear that it was 100% compatible with the usual instruction sets that software depended on.

      • Hugh Wyn Griffith says:

        That Tandy 186 was the Tandy 2000 and its graphics were not 100% compatible with Windows much to the distress of users (I was one when I bought my first “almost-PC” in the UK back in the ’90’s). This caused a lot of ill feeling between users and Tandy. The Users Group launched a monthly called “Orphans” and hated Ed Juge (who died recently) the then CEO of Tandy for not providing any support.

        I was amused a few years ago when Googling on Tandy 2000 to pull up a full page advert for it from one of the well known magazines at that time in which Bill Gates lauded it saying how much his programmers depended on it for its performance! Might explain some of Windows problems if they were using a non-conforming PC !

    • u probably have the one that was made in 1990 then that was the 1 that did make it in2 the personal computer as is later stated in there

  4. The 5×86 was not AMD’s answer to the Pentium, the P5 was. The 5×86 was made to offer a greater performance boost to the millions of 486 PC’s out there, as it would work in (almost) any 486 motherboard with a socketed CPU or overdrive socket.

  5. Chris, It doesn’t say it was AMD’s answer. It was their “competitive response to Intel’s Pentium-class processor”
    on a 486 motherboard.

    Also, not mentioned is why Intel went from a number designation to a name title, the number, was actually the stock number. As I was told by a Intel Rep. at a Comdex show (Vegas) ’94-’95. As Intel tried to sue AMD for copy right infringement. Like a fragrance, you can’t CR. the recipe only the name. They lost on the grounds, you can’t copy right a stock number (80486)! So they, Intel started using name designation (Pentium). As well as AMD did the same.

  6. This is great, im supposed to be at work, but im reading this, just spent quite a while reading it. Its very interesting, Thank You

  7. Bill Buchanan says:

    Correction to information provided on the Intel 80186 (1980).
    This Processor was used in one desk top system but the system did not sell well. The company was Tandy and the model was Tandy 2000. There is a very good page at: http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?c=1219 covering the processor.

  8. Mick Russom says:

    Acorn’s Master 512 PC had a 10MHz 80186 CPU which ran MS-DOS and GEM. I would say this qualifies it as a “PC” running a 80186 running MS-DOS.

  9. Sandy Jelusic says:

    I have at home an pc desktop powered by an 8088 at 3.5 mhz with turbo mode, black-yellow monitor, 20mb disk and only 5.25” floppy. As for dos I think it’s ibm-dos. Not really certain.

  10. Very knowledgeful. Please update with latest changes.

  11. Really your services are good we like it please keep it up.

  12. chelle-marie says:

    that is great i loved the little joke:

    “The following chips are considered the dinosaurs of the computer world. PC’s based on these processors are the kind that usually sit around in the garage or warehouse collecting dust. They are not of much use anymore, but us geeks don’t like throwing them out because they still work. You know who you are.”

    sounds just like my tech teacher becouse he is always complaining about how things have changed and shows us pictures from back when computers still used tapes and how he used to get paid to change the tapes every two hours for a hospitle

  13. Mary Alice Thauvette says:

    This article was posted 23-Mar-01. That was nine years ago. It is time to update the article. Or, at least change the title of the last section from :1999 – Present” to “1999 – March 2001”

  14. what is the significances of the number like 8086 in the processor

  15. thanks for the notess

  16. amandu benard says:

    i love the notes they are precise and straight to key needed aspects thank you very much

  17. roger crouch says:

    This article lacks credibility. The first chip of the series was the 8080, then the 8085 was made (the 5 indicating it only needed +5v and ground instead of +-5 and +12) https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-difference-between-8085-and-8086 So the only true thing that can be said about the 8086 was that it was 16bit 8080 processor with improved IC features and more command set.

    • Mike Spooner says:

      From certain perspectives, the “first chip of the series” was the 4004 (1971), or pehaps the 8008 (1972), the 4040 (1974), 8080 (1974), or…

      In fact, the 8080 external interface was distinctly different from the 8086, in idea, not just width – for example, 8080 pin 21 (DMA acknowledge).

      The 8086 was (almost) binary compatible with the 8080 for “regular programs” ie: not ones that twiddled ports nor relied on specific interrupt/trap behaviour.

      So where do you draw the line? Where does Bob draw it? WHere does Fiona draw it? All in different places, I suspect.

      The author obviously chose to draw their line at the 8086, probably because delving back beyond the original IBM PC machines might not be worthwhile given a presumed intended audience…

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