- Generalities

- Parts of a microprocessor

- The MHz and the index iCOMP

- Brief (?) history of the microproc.

- Ancient Microp.

- Modern Microp.

- Current Microp.

- The Overclocking

- False mikes

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Juan Herrerías Rey

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What is... the microprocessor?


Brief (?) history of the microprocessors

The first "PC" or Personnel Computer was invented by IBM in 1.981 (to tell truth, already personal computers existed earlier, but the IBM model had big success, between other things because it was easy to copy). In his interior there was a so called mike 8088, of not very well-known company (seriously!!) called Intel. The IBM original PC, an affectionate "monster"

The services of the above mentioned chip turn out to be laughable nowadays: a chip of 8 bits working to 4,77 MHz (yes, 4 eats 77), although quite reasonable for an epoch in which the fashionable chip was the Z80 of Zilog, the engine of those affectionate Spectrum that did fury in those times, thank you especially to incredible games, with more grace and art that current many for Pentium MMX.

8088 there was a version of limited services of 8086, which marked the addition "86" for the following chips Intel: 80186 (that were used principally to control peripheral), 80286 (of frightening numbers, 16 bits and up to 20 MHz) and finally, in 1.987, the first mike of 32 bits, 80386 or simply 386.

The being of 32 bits (we already will mention what means this of the bits) was allowing to design more modern software, with functionalities like real multitask, that is to say, to have more than one program working simultaneously. Since then all the compatible chips Intel have been 32 bits, even flaming Pentium II.

Ocupémonos now of that thing about compatible Intel. The world PC is not the whole world of the personal computer science; there exist for example the Atari or the Apple, which from the beginning trusted in another company called Motorola. Nevertheless, the software of these computers is not compatible with the type of instructions of the family 80x86 of Intel; these mikes, despite being sometimes better than the Intel, simply do not understand the orders used in the mikes Intel, therefore it is said that there are no compatible Intel.

Although yes there exist chips compatible Intel of other companies, between which AMD and Cyrix stand out. These companies started by copying flagrantly Intel, up to very hurting him sometimes (with products as 386 of AMD, which was coming to 40 MHz opposite to 33 MHz of that of Intel, or on the market 486). Later they lost the car of Intel, especially the advertizing one, but nowadays they re-arise with new, good and proper ideas, not adopted as earlier.

Returning to the history, one day came 486, which it was 386 with a built-in mathematical co-processor and an integrated cache memory, what it was making more rapid to him; since then all the chips have both in his interior. Announcement Intel of the mikes MMX

Then the Pentium came, a name invented to prevent from arising 586s mark AMD or Cyrix, since it was not possible to patent a number but yes a name, of what they made use to extract strong advertizing campaigns of "Intel Inside" (Intel inside), up to coming to the computer technical staff of colors that there were announcing the Pentium MMX and Pentium II.

On these (the MMX and II, not the ridiculous types of colors) and other recent models, including to the Athlon with which AMD has resuscitated which bird Phoenix, we will speak further on.


Ancient microprocessors

As the world is, we might say that anyone that it should have more than one month on the market. Anyway, here we are going to suppose ancient to any mike that is not a Pentium or similar (K5, K6, 6x86, Celeron...), which are studied on the following page.

8086, 8088, 286

We join them for all are prehistoric ones and of similar yield. The computers with the two first ones were known sometimes like computers XT, while those who had 286 (80286 for the purists) were known as AT. In Spain many computers sold with these mikes for the signature Amstrad, for example.

None was 32 bits, but 8 ó 16, well in the internal bus or the day pupil. This means that the information was going for ways (buses) that were 8 ó 16 bits, good inside the chip or when they were going out on the outside, for example to go to the memory. This limited number of bits (a bit is the minimal information unit in electronics) limits his possibilities to a great extent.

A chip of these characteristics takes TWO as the preferable and almost only environment, although Windows 3.1 can make cover on 286 to 16 ó 20 MHz if the applications that we are going to use are not demanding at all; personally, I have used the processor of texts AmiPro 1.2 in Windows 3.1 in 286 and it was only a question of taking it calmly (great it falls calm when it was ordering him to print, of course).

Nevertheless, if you have a computer like that, do not throw it; it can use it to write texts (with some ancient WordPerfect), to play ancient but addictive games (like the Tetris, Prince of Persia, and other outstanding figures), or even to sail along Internet, especially if the monitor is VGA and has an "old" modem (for example 14.400). If he wants to know something on how recycling this old glory, pulsate here.

386, 386 SX

These chips are already more modern, although still of the Neolithic computer programmer. His advantage is that they are 32 bits; or rather, 386 it is 32 bits; 386 SX it is 32 bits internally, but 16 in the external bus, what it does to him up to 25 % slower than the original, known as DX.

It turns out to be curious that the most powerful is the original, 386. The version SX was extracted to the market by Intel following typical commercial tactics in this company: to leave technological advances in reservation, supporting the high prices, while there are extracted limited versions (the "SX") at lower prices.

The question is that both can use software of 32 bits, although if what he wants to use is Windows 95: it does not even happen to him to think about 386! Supposing that has enough memory RAM, disc, etc., prepare itself to be waited hours to realize any foolery.

His natural ambience is TWO and Windows 3.x, where they can handle quite professional applications as Microsoft Word without too many problems, and even sail along form Internet reasonably rapid. If what he wants is a multitask and software of 32 bits in 386, the operating systems OS/2 or Linux thinks in (the last one is free!).

486, 486 SX, DX, DX2 and DX4

The history recurs, although this time enters in the field of the absurdity of the hand of the marketing "Intel Inside". The original is 486, and his finished name is 80486 DX; it consists in:

  • a heart 386 updated, elaborate and in tune;
  • a mathematical co-processor for floating comma integrated;
  • a cache memory (of 8 Kb in the original DX of Intel).

It is of noticing that the putting on the verge of the nucleus 386 and especially they it do the cache memory much more rapid, almost the double, that 386 at the same speed of clock (the same MHz). So far the original; let's see the variants:

  • 486 SX: a DX without mathematical co-processor. how does that do? Simple: they all like DX are done and the co-processor is burned, after which instead of "DX" "SX" is written on the chip. Dantesque:? But theory he says that if you do it and it sell more bargain sale, you extract money of some form. The saying, amazing.
  • 486 DX2: or "2x1": 486 I "complete" that the double goes internally of rapid that externally (that is to say, to the MHz double). This way, 486 DX2-66 goes to 66 MHz in his interior and to 33 MHz in his communications with the badge (memory, secondary cache memory...). Good idea, Intel.
  • 486 DX4: or how to do that 3x1=4. The same trick that earlier, but multiplying for 3 instead of for 2 (DX4-100 it means 33x3=99 ó, more or less, 100). why is not it called DX3? Marketing, boys, marketing. 4 it is nicer and big...

In this area Cyrix and AMD they did of everything, from mikes "light" that were 386 promoted ones (for example, with only 1 cache memory Kb instead of 8) up to chips very good like the one that I used to begin writing this: an AMD DX4-120 (40 MHz for 3), which gives good results almost (almost) like a Pentium 75, or even one to 133 MHz (33 MHz for 4 and with 16 cache memory Kb!!).

Certainly, so much "for" acaba for generating a bottle neck, since to make to spend 100 ó 133 MHz for a hollow for 33 is complicated, what does that more that "x3" it ends up by being something like "x2,75" (that is not badly either). Also, it generates heat, by what there must be used a spendthrift of copper and a fan on the chip.

In 486 it is possible to do of everything, especially if it overcomes 66 MHz and we have enough RAM; for example, I did big part of these pages, which is not small.


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