Feeds

Happy 40th birthday, Intel 4004!

The first of the bricks that built the IT world

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Playing catch-up with Motorola

The Pentium's superscalar nature was playing catch-up with Motorola, which had offered superscalar chips for some time. According to Pawloski, the reason that Intel hadn't moved to a superscalar architecture earlier was that the jump from 16-bit to 32-bit mode, while making sure that all existing 16-bit code ran swimmingly, was enough to keep Intel's engineering team occupied.

"At some point in time you don't want to bite off too much," he told us, "otherwise you're going to run into so many problems."

Intel 80286

Intel 80286: 6MHz, 10MHz, or 12MHz; 1.5-micron process (click to enlarge)

And problems did dog the P5, at least at first. There was, for example, an FPU bug that was the butt of many a joke, and the early 0.8-micron parts were roundly criticised for their toastiness – a problem that dissipated as the P5 architecture was moved to smaller processes and lower voltages.

Although the P5 had introduced superscalar architecture to the Intel line, Pawlowski contends that it was P6 design effort, begun in the early 1990s, that was the greatest achievement of that period.

"I contend that the success of that part," he said, "was because it brought in people that hadn't built the traditional lineage of x86 components" – architects such as Bob Colwell, Dave Papworth, and Mike Fetterman. "Those guys really made that machine," Pawlowski told us.

"There was a big argument between the Pentium and the P6 group, because the Pentium group felt that, 'Hey, that's probably not going to work, that's a huge step, x86 compatibility is going to really be tough'," he recalls.

Intel 80386

Intel 386DX: 20MHz, 25MHz, or 33MHz; 1.5-micron and 1-micron processes (click to enlarge)

"One of the reasons that I was brought into the program," he said, "was because I built PCs. In a lot of cases the individuals that were working in that program – because they were non-Intel or they hadn't been exposed to the PC side of the market – well, their feeling was 'We don't have to worry about being compatible, we're doing something new and different'."

That argument didn't cut it. "At the end of the day we said, 'You're going to be a PC, so you better get used to it'," he told us. "So what we did, in the group I was in, was we brought PC compatibility to the part." And x86 compatibility has remained a core tenet of Intel's chip development since.

Well, there is that little thing called the Itanium, but we digress.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Xperia Z3: Crikey, Sony – ANOTHER flagship phondleslab?
The Fourth Amendment... and it IS better
Don't wait for that big iPad, order a NEXUS 9 instead, industry little bird says
Google said to debut next big slab, Android L ahead of Apple event
Microsoft to enter the STRUGGLE of the HUMAN WRIST
It's not just a thumb war, it's total digit war
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
A drone of one's own: Reg buyers' guide for UAV fanciers
Hardware: Check. Software: Huh? Licence: Licence...?
The Apple launch AS IT HAPPENED: Totally SERIOUS coverage, not for haters
Fandroids, Windows Phone fringe-oids – you wouldn't understand
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.