|Type of paper:||Research paper|
|Categories:||Computer science Software Electronics|
A microprocessor can be described as the most central portion of any computer because it integrates the functionalities of the central processing unit and merges them into a single functioning circuit. This forms the 'brain' of the computer, and it combines the hardware, software and the electrical system of any computer. Processors are very tiny circuits, and it's a marvel to many how such a small chip can hold so much power and form the central unit of all computer. However, the processors were not as evolved as they are in the times we are living in right now. The following essay, therefore, seeks to provide a review of the evolution of microprocessors from 8-bit to 32-bit processors.
Before the development of these processors, there were some technologies used in the world war two that simulated logic functions in computers. However, most of these technologies were expensive, slow and required very high and constant maintenance. Moreover, this technology only allowed large scale use of computers; hence people could not use these computers in the comfort of their homes. The first integrated circuit was found in a calculator before Intel begun the work of designing microprocessors.
Intel was founded in 1968 and came in to overtake IBM to pioneer the work associated with microprocessors by designing a 4-bit processor. In 1972, the engineers who were involved in the development of the 4-bit processor came together and contributed designs and technologies to release the first 8-bit microprocessor named the 8008. This meant that this new processor could move data 8-bits faster than the previously developed model. In addition to that, the 8008 had more memory up to 16KB. This processor was mainly used in calculators and also dumb terminals (Danowitz 10).
In 1974 another 8-bit processor was developed called the 8080, and this microprocessor could store memory up to 64KB, which is expressively more than the 8008 could save. The 8080 processor was used to make the first personalised computer that was referred to as Altair 8800. An operating system named the CP/M was written specifically for the 8080 processor, and concurrently Microsoft was founded, and it introduced its first product, the Microsoft BASIC for Altair. This program established the biggest revolution in software because as a result of it so many programs were written to run on this platform.
In 1976, Intel released the 8085 which was a slight improvement of the 8080 even though they both ran on the 8-bit processing bus. In 1978, Intel introduced their first 16-bit processor which was named 8086, that presented significant improvements from the 8-bit processor, because it could work on 16-bit data and also numbers and at the same time transfer 16-bits in and out of the microcircuit. Furthermore, the 16-bit could store memory up to 1 MB which was a significant improvement from memory stored by the 8-bit chip. Also, the disk came in cooperated with the first ever x86 instruction set, which up to date is still present in the Pentium 4 and even the AMD Athlon (Hinton 56).
The instructions and language developed for the 8086 were very similar to those designed for the 8080. This meant that many programs could be ported over from the 8080 with very slight modifications and run. However, the 8086 processor was costly at the time because it required 16-bit board designs and in addition to that unique infrastructure to support it. This is why in 1970, Intel released a somewhat downgraded version of the 8086 called the 8088 because it could perform all the functions that the 8086 could but it had an 8-bits external data bus. This, therefore, meant that some support chips from the 8085 could be used which translated to less expensive boards being made. After this move, Intel was forced to sustain backward compatibility with the 8088/8086 with most of the processors that it had releasing and it was released to maintain the momentum (Rau 20).
The 80286 was introduced in 1970 and had better performance because it had an extended bus of 24-bits which enabled the processor to be able to access up to 16MB of memory. Intel, however, tried to diverge from the x86 by developing the iAPX 432 and expected it to run faster. However, this new design failed due to design flaws even though it contained new levels of complexity. Therefore, due to these flaws, the plan was entirely abandoned by Intel, and newer upgraded versions of the x86 replaced it.
At the beginning of the 1980s, there was the development of the 32-bit processor which ran on the 32-bit bus and could 32-bits of data simultaneously. This was the primary processor that was used in all computers until the early 1990s. Intel Pentium processors and AMD all work with a 32-bit processor. The operating system that works with a 32-bit processor is not the same operating system that works with a 64-bit processor. Up to date, 95, 98 and XP windows all operate with a 32-bit operating system.
Danowitz, Andrew, et al. "CPU DB: recording microprocessor history." Queue 10.4 (2012): 10.
Hinton, Glenn, et al. "The microarchitecture of the Pentium four processors." Intel Technology Journal. 2001.
Rau, B. Ramakrishna, and Joseph A. Fisher. "Instruction-level parallel processing: history, overview, and perspective." Instruction-Level Parallelism. Springer, Boston, MA, 1993. 9-50.
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