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User Journal

Journal: Intel's processor curse

Journal by saccade.com
I think Intel under a processor architecture curse. Perhaps it was cast by Federico Faggin (one of the designers) when he left Intel in the 70s. The curse goes like this: Any processor design that is not a descendant of the original 4004 will fail.

Look at the evolution of the Pentia:

4004 > 8008 > 8080 > 8086 > 80186 > '286 > '386 > '486
> Pentium > PPro > PMMX > PII > PIII > PIV (etc.)

Intel did try to make a few other mainstream CPUs along the way. In the 1980's, the i432 - Flop. In the 1990's, the i860 - Thud. And now the Itanium (nicknamed the "Itanic") looks like another silicon smoking crater. Design partner HP recently announced they're pulling out. In order to get a marketable 64 bit design, Intel had to copy, yes, copy, AMD's x86-64 design. And it's yet another remote descendant of the 4004.

This isn't to say the art of processor architecture is dead. IBM/Apple's Power, ARM, MIPS, etc. all seem to be doing well in their various markets. It's just Intel seems like it will forever bound to that first design.

Assembly language experience is [important] for the maturity and understanding of how computers work that it provides. -- D. Gries

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