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Evolution of Microprocessor

Date: 5 Jan 2013

4-bit Microprocessors

The first microprocessor was introduced in 1971 by Intel Corp. It was named Intel 4004 as it was a 4 bit processor. It was a processor on a single chip. It could perform simple arithmetic and logic operations such as addition, subtraction, boolean AND and boolean OR. It had a control unit capable of performing control functions like fetching an instruction from memory, decoding it, and generating control pulses to execute it. It was able to operate on 4 bits of data at a time.This first microprocessor was quite a success in industry. Soon other microprocessors were also introduced. Intel introduced the enhanced version of 4004, the 4040. Some other 4 bit processors are International’s PPS4 and Thoshiba’s T3472.

8-bit Microprocessors

The first 8 bit microprocessor which could perform arithmetic and logic operations on 8 bit words was introduced in 1973 again by Intel. This was Intel 8008 and was later followed by an improved version, Intel 8088. Some other 8 bit processors are Zilog-80 and Motorola M6800.

16-bit Microprocessors

The 8-bit processors were followed by 16 bit processors. They are Intel 8086 and 80286.

32-bit Microprocessors

The 32 bit microprocessors were introduced by several companies but the most popular one is Intel 80386.

Pentium Series

Instead of 80586, Intel came out with a new processor namely Pentium processor. Its performance is closer to RISC performance. Pentium was followed by Pentium Pro CPU. Pentium Pro allows allow multiple CPUs in a single system in order to achive multiprocessing. The MMX extension was added to Pentium Pro and the result was Pentiuum II. The low cost version of Pentium II is celeron.

The Pentium III provided high performance floating point operations for certain types of computations by using the SIMD extensions to the instruction set. These new instructions makes the Pentium III faster than high-end RISC CPUs.

Interestingly Pentium IV could not execute code faster than the Pentium III when running at the same clock frequency. So Pentium IV had to speed up by executing at a much higher clock frequency.

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