20 Facts About Intel x86


X86 is a family of complex instruction set computer instruction set architectures initially developed by Intel based on the Intel 8086 microprocessor and its 8088 variant.

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At the high end, Intel x86 continues to dominate computation-intensive workstation and cloud computing segments.

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Today Intel x86 usually implies a binary compatibility with the 32-bit instruction set of the 80386.

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Today, Intel x86 is ubiquitous in both stationary and portable personal computers, and is used in midrange computers, workstations, servers, and most new supercomputer clusters of the TOP500 list.

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Simple 8- and 16-bit based architectures are common here, although the x86-compatible VIA C7, VIA Nano, AMD's Geode, Athlon Neo and Intel Atom are examples of 32- and 64-bit designs used in some relatively low-power and low-cost segments.

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Such Intel x86 implementations were seldom simple copies but often employed different internal microarchitectures and different solutions at the electronic and physical levels.

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The 6Intel x86 was affected by a few minor compatibility problems, the Nx586 lacked a floating-point unit and pin-compatibility, while the K5 had somewhat disappointing performance when it was introduced.

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Customer ignorance of alternatives to the Pentium series further contributed to these designs being comparatively unsuccessful, despite the fact that the K5 had very good Pentium compatibility and the 6Intel x86 was significantly faster than the Pentium on integer code.

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Many additions and extensions have been added to the original Intel x86 instruction set over the years, almost consistently with full backward compatibility.

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In 1985, Intel x86 released the 32-bit 80386 which gradually replaced the earlier 16-bit chips in computers during the following years; this extended programming model was originally referred to as the i386 architecture but Intel x86 later dubbed it IA-32 when introducing its IA-64 architecture.

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Intel x86 soon adopted AMD's architectural extensions under the name IA-32e, later using the name EM64T and finally using Intel x86 64.

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Intel x86 followed this approach with the Execution Trace Cache feature in their NetBurst microarchitecture and later in the Decoded Stream Buffer .

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Intel x86 80386 extended offsets and the segment limit field in each segment descriptor to 32 bits, enabling a segment to span the entire memory space.

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Intel x86 had previously implemented support for AMD64 but opted not to enable it in hopes that AMD would not bring AMD64 to market before Itanium's new IA-64 instruction set was widely adopted.

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MMX is a SIMD instruction set designed by Intel x86 and introduced in 1997 for the Pentium MMX microprocessor.

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In 1999, Intel x86 introduced the Streaming SIMD Extensions instruction set, following in 2000 with SSE2.

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The aged 32-bit Intel x86 was competing with much more advanced 64-bit RISC architectures which could address much more memory.

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Intel and the whole x86 ecosystem needed 64-bit memory addressing if x86 was to survive the 64-bit computing era, as workstation and desktop software applications were soon to start hitting the limits of 32-bit memory addressing.

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However, Intel felt that it was the right time to make a bold step and use the transition to 64-bit desktop computers for a transition away from the x86 architecture in general, an experiment which ultimately failed.

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In 2001, Intel attempted to introduce a non-x86 64-bit architecture named IA-64 in its Itanium processor, initially aiming for the high-performance computing market, hoping that it would eventually replace the 32-bit x86.

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