30 Years of Intel’s x86
On June 8, 1978, Intel released the 8086, the world’s first 16-bit microprocessor. This CPU was vastly superior to the existing 8-bit processors used on computers at the time. The family of x86 refers to the instruction set of microprocessors used from the 8086 to today’s modern Pentium 4 processors.
Intel has effectively won the war for microprocessors. I remember the intense competition in the 80′s and 90′s between Intel and Motorola. PC’s used the Intel chip, and Apple, Commodore, and Atari used Motorola’s 68000 series CPU’s. Eventually, Commodore’s Amiga and Atari’s ST computers were discontinued, and Apple recently switched to Intel to drive their new Macs.
In 1965, Gordon Moore predicted that the number of transistors in a semiconductor chip will double every two years. This has been accurate over the last 30 years with Intel’s CPU’s. There is concern that we’re approaching a physical limit to Moore’s Law, but a new technology may emerge which could continue it.
Intel will likely dominate the next decade with its microprocessors. Its only real competition is with AMD, a company that creates x86 architecture CPU’s.