Feeds

Happy 40th birthday, Intel 4004!

The first of the bricks that built the IT world

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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.

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Ford's B-Max: Fiesta-based runaround that goes THUNK
... when you close the slidey doors, that is ...
All aboard the Poo Bus! Ding ding, route Number Two departing
Only another three days of pooing and I can have a ride!
Official: European members prefer to fondle Apple iPads
Only 7 of 50 parliamentarians plump for Samsung Galaxy S
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Space Commanders rebel as Elite:Dangerous kills offline mode
Frontier cops an epic kicking in its own forums ahead of December revival
Nexus 7 fandroids tell of salty taste after sucking on Google's Lollipop
Web giant looking into why version 5.0 of Android is crippling older slabs
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
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.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.