Microprocessor History and Its Generations

Fairchild semiconductors (founded in 1957) invented the first Integrated Circuit in 1959 that marked the microprocessor history. In 1968, Gordan Moore, Robert Noyce, and Andrew Grove resigned from the Fair child semiconductors and started their own company: Integrated Electronics (Intel). In 1971, the first microprocessor Intel 4004 was invented. A microprocessor is also known as a central processing unit in which numbers of peripherals’ are fabricated on a single chip. It has ALU (arithmetic and logic unit), a control unit, registers, bus systems, and a clock to perform computational tasks. This article discusses an overview of microprocessor history and its generations.


What is a Microprocessor?

In modern computers or devices, the microprocessor is an essential part. It uses the functions of a CPU which is known as a central processing unit. In a computer, the part is responsible to carry out instructions that are programmed onto an only integrated circuit (IC) that connects the machine devices through the electrical infrastructure required to hold them. The microprocessor design uses a huge processing power in less space.

The main function of a microprocessor is to perform different operations of arithmetic as well as logic like adding numbers, subtracting, numbers transferring from one region to another & evaluating two numbers. An alternative name of a microprocessor is a processor, a CPU, or a logic chip. In a computer, it works like a brain by incorporating the functions of a single integrated circuit or a central processing unit. It is a programmable device, used for multipurpose.


The input of a microprocessor is binary data; process this data to provide an output depending on the stored instructions within the memory. The data processing in the processor can be done with the ALU, control unit & register array.

The array of register processes the data through a number of registers that execute like momentary quick access memory positions. The flow of data and instructions in the system can be handled through the control unit. Generally, a basic microprocessor needs specific elements to execute some operations like registers, ALU (Arithmetic and Logic Unit), control unit, instruction register, program counter, and bus.

Microprocessor History
Microprocessor History

Architecture of Microprocessor

The microprocessor is a single IC package in which several useful functions are integrated and fabricated on a single silicon semiconductor chip. Its architecture consists of a central processing unit, memory modules, a system bus, and an input/output unit.


Architecture of Microprocessor
Architecture of Microprocessor

The system bus connects the various units to facilitate the exchange of information. It further consists of data, address, and control buses to perform data exchanging properly.

The Central processing unit consists of one or more arithmetic logic units (ALU), registers, and a control unit. Based on the registers also the generations of the microprocessor can be classified. A microprocessor consists of general-purpose and a special type of registers to execute instructions and to store the address or data while running the program. The ALU computes all arithmetic as well as logic operations on data and specifies the size of microprocessors like 16 bit or 32 bit.

The Memory unit holds the program as well as data and is divided into a processor, primary and secondary memory. The Input and output unit interfaces the I/O peripheral devices to the microprocessor for accepting and sending information.

Microprocessor Special Purpose Designs

Microprocessors are available in different special-purpose designs which include the following.

  • A DSP (digital signal processor) is one kind of specialized processor, used for signal processing.
  • GPUs (Graphics processing units) are mainly designed for image rendering in real-time. Other types of specialized processors are used for machine vision as well as processing the video.
  • In embedded systems, microcontrollers incorporate a microprocessor using peripheral devices
  • SOCs (Systems on-chip) frequently incorporate one or more microcontroller/microprocessor cores using additional components like radio modems. These modems are applicable in tablets, smartphones, etc.

Considerations of Speed & Power

The microprocessor selection is mainly done for differing applications depending upon the size of a word. If the word size is long, then it allows every clock cycle of a microprocessor to perform more computation, however, to communicate with physically larger IC dies through higher standby as well as operating power utilization, 4-bit, 8-bit, or 12-bit processors are extensively used into microcontrollers embedded systems.

Once a system expects to handle high-volumes of data otherwise need a more supple user interface, then 16-bit 32-bit/64-bit processors are utilized. For SoC or microcontroller applications that need very low power electrons, 8-bit/16-bit microprocessors may be selected instead of 32-bit

When 32-bit arithmetic runs on an 8-bit processor could finish up with huge power, because the processor must perform software through several instructions.

Early Microprocessor History

The first microprocessor developed by Intel is Intel 4004. After some years, an Electronics Magazine has published an article in the year 1975 on the Altair which was used the new processor namely Intel 8080. This is a second-generation processor. In the year 1980, IBM decided to utilize an Intel microprocessor known as 8088.

This processor was the first mass-generated PC, which was aptly known as the PC.
When people started to utilize personal computers for different purposes like creating graphics, processing words, the number of processors within the box grew bigger, however, the processor remains the center of attention even nowadays.

Generation and Microprocessor History

1st Generation: This was the period from 1971 to 1973 of microprocessor history. In 1971, INTEL created the first microprocessor 4004 that would run at a clock speed of 740 kHz. During this period, the other microprocessors in the market including Rockwell international PPS-4, INTEL-8008, and National semiconductors IMP-16 were in use. But, all these were not TTL compatible processors.

2nd Generation:  This was the period from 1973 to 1978 in which very efficient 8-bit microprocessors were implemented like Motorola 6800 and 6801, INTEL-8085, and Zilog’s-Z80, which were among the most popular ones. Owing to their super fast speed, they were costly as they were based on NMOS technology fabrication.

3rd Generation: During this period 16-bit processors were created and designed using HMOS technology. From 1979 to 1980, INTEL 8086/80186/80286 and Motorola 68000 and 68010 were developed. The speeds of those processors were four times better than the 2nd generation processors.

4th Generation: From 1981 to 1995 this generation developed 32-bit microprocessors by using HCMOS fabrication. INTEL-80386 and Motorola’s 68020/68030 were the popular processors.

5th Generation: From 1995 until now this generation has been bringing out high-performance and high-speed processors that make use of 64-bit processors. Such processors include Pentium, Celeron, Dual and Quad-core processors.

Thus, the microprocessor has evolved through all these generations, and the fifth-generation microprocessors represent an advancement in specifications. Therefore, some of the processors from the fifth generation of processors with their specifications are briefly explained below.

Intel Celeron

Intel Celeron is introduced in April 1998. It refers to a range of Intel’s X86 CPUs for value personal computers. It is based on Pentium 2 and can run on all IA-32 computer programs.

Intel Celeron
Intel Celeron

From the year 2000 up to now, here is a brief microprocessor history for Intel Celeron processors.

The year 2000 marked the introduction of the following processors:

  • Jan 4-Intel Celeron Processor (533MHz)
  • Feb14-Mobile Intel Celeron Processor (450, 500 MHz)
  • June19-Low Voltage Mobile Intel Celeron Processor (500 MHz)

The year 2001 marked the introduction of the following processors:

  • Jan 3-Intel Celeron Processor (800 MHz)
  • Oct 2-Intel Celeron processor (1.2 GHz)

The year 2002 marked the introduction of the following processors:

  • Jan 3-Intel Celeron Processor (1.30 GHz)
  • Nov 20-Intel Celeron Processor (2.10, 2.20 GHz)

The year 2002 marked the introduction of the following processors:

  • Jan 14: Mobile Intel Celeron processor (2 GHz)
  • Low Voltage Mobile Intel Celeron Processor (866 MHz)
  • Nov 12: Mobile Intel Celeron Processor (2.50GHz)
  • Ultra-Low Voltage Mobile Intel Celeron Processor (800 MHz)

The year 2004-2007 marked the introduction of the following processors:

  • Jan4, 2004: Intel Celeron M processor 320 and 310 (1.3, 1.2 GHz)
  • July 20, 2004: Intel Celeron M processor Ultra Low voltage 353 (900 MHz)
  • March- Intel Celeron M processor 430-450 (1.73-2.0 GHz)
  • Nov 23: Intel Celeron D Processor 345 (3.06 GHz)

The year 2008 marked the introduction of the following processor:

  • Jan 2008 Celeron Core 2 DUO (Allendale)
  • In March 2008, the Core 2 Quad processor like Q9300 & the Core 2 Quad processor like Q9450 was released by Intel
  • On 2nd March 2008, the Core 2 Duo processor like E4700 was released by Intel
  • In April 2008, the first Atom Series processor was released by Intel like the Z5xx series. These are single-core processors through a 200 MHz GPU.
  • The Core 2 Duo processor like E7200 was released on April 20 in 2008 by Intel.
  • The Core 2 Duo processor like E7300 was released on April 10 in 2008 by Intel.
  • Several Core 2 Quad processors like the Q8200, Q9400 & Q9650 were released by Intel in August 2008.
  • The Core 2 Duo processor like E7400 was released by Intel on 19th October 2008
  • The desktop processors of the first Core i7 like the i7-920, 7-940 & i7-965 were released in November 2008 by Intel
  • The Core 2 Duo processor like E7500 was released by Intel on Jan 18, 2009. The Core 2 Quad processor like Q8400 was released by Intel in April 2009.
  • The Core 2 Duo processor like E7600 was released on 31st May 2009 by Intel
  • The first Core i7 mobile processor like i7-720QM was released in Sep 2009 by Intel
  • The first Core i5 desktop processor including four cores like the i5-750 on Sept 8, 2009, was released by Intel.
  • The Core 2 Quad processor like Q9500 was released by Intel in Jan 2010.
  • The 1st Core i5 mobile processors like the i5-430M & the i5-520E were released in the year 2010 by Intel
  • The first Core i5 desktop processor like the i5-650 was released by Intel in Jan 2010
  • The first Core i3 desktop processors like the i3-530 were released by Intel on Jan 7, 2010
  • The first Core i3 desktop processors like the i3-530 & i3-540 were released by Intel on Jan 7, 2010.
  • The first Core i3 mobile processors like the i3-330M & the i3-350M were released by Intel on Jan 7, 2010.
  • The first Core i7 desktop processor including 6 cores like the i3-970 was released in July 2010.
  • The seven new Core i5 processors including four cores like the i5-2xxx series were released in Jan 2011.
  • The first desktop Core i9 processor like the i9-7900X was released in June 2017.
  • The first desktop processor including 14 cores like the Core i9-7940X was released in Sep 2017.
  • The first desktop processor including 16 cores like the Core i9-7960X was released in Sept 2017.
  • The first desktop processor including 18 cores like the Core i9-7980X was released in Sep 2017
  • The first Core i9 mobile processor like the i9-8950HK was released in April 2018 by Intel

Motorola Microprocessor History

The leading manufacturer of microprocessors is Motorola Inc. These processors are used in all types of Apple Macintosh Computers till the year 1990 in different workstations. The 8-bit microprocessor like 6800 was released by Motorola after the Intel 8080 in the year 1974. This Motorola processor includes 78-instructions. This is the first processor including an index register. Usually, it was packed in a 40-pin dual inline package.

The different families of Motorola processors with invented years are listed below.

  • The Motorola 6800 microprocessor was released in the year 1974.
  • The Motorola 68000 microprocessor was released in the year 1979.
  • The Motorola 68020 microprocessor was released in the year 1984.
  • The Motorola 68030 microprocessor was released in the year 1987.
  • The Motorola 68040 microprocessor was released in the year 1991.
  • The Motorola 68020 microprocessor was released in the year 1993.
  • The Motorola power PC 603 microprocessor was released in the year 1994.
  • The Motorola power PC 604 microprocessor was released in the year 1994.
  • The Motorola power PC 620 microprocessor was released in the year 1996.

Pentium

Pentium was introduced on March 2, 1993. Pentium succeeded the Intel 486; The 4 indicates the fourth generation microarchitecture in the history of microprocessor. Pentium refers to Intel’s single-core x 86 microprocessor, which is based on the fifth-generation micro-architecture. This processor’s name was derived from the Greek word Penta, which means five.

The original Pentium processor was succeeded by the Pentium MMX in 1996. This processor has a data bus of 64 bits. A standard single transfer cycle can read or write up to 64 bits at a time. The Burst read and writes back cycles are supported by the Pentium processors. These cycles are used for cache operations and transfer 32 bytes (size of the Pentium cache line) in 4 clocks. All cache operations are burst cycles for the Pentium.

Pentium
Pentium Processor

The year 2000 marked the introduction of the following processors:

  • March 20: Intel Pentium III processor (866, 850MHz)
  • March 8: Intel Pentium III processor (1GHz)
  • Nov 20: Intel Pentium 4 Processor (1.50, 1.40GHz)

The year 2001 marked the introduction of the following processors:

  • April 23: Pentium 4 Processor 1.7
  • July 2: Pentium 4 Processor (1.80, 1.60GHz)
  • Aug 27: Intel Pentium 4 Processor (2, 1.90 GHz)

The year 2002 marked the introduction of the following processors:

  • Jan 7: Intel Pentium 4 processor (2.20, 2GHz)
  • Jan 8: Intel Pentium III processor for servers (1.40 GHz)
  • April 2, 2002: Intel Pentium 4 Processor (2.40, 2.20 GHz)
  • Jan 21: Ultra Low Voltage Mobile Pentium III processor-M
  • Low Voltage Mobile Pentium III processor (866, 850MHz)
  • Nov 14, 2002: Intel Pentium 4 processor (3.06 GHz with HT technology)

The year 2003 marked the introduction of the following processors:

  • Mobile Intel Pentium 4 Processor-M (2. 40 GHz)
  • May 21: Intel Pentium 4 Processor with Hyper-Threading (2.80 C GHz, 2.60 C GHz, 2.40 C GHz)
  • Nov 3: Intel Pentium 4 Processor Extreme Edition (3.20 GHz)

The year 20004 marked the introduction of the following processors:

  • Feb 2, 2004: Intel Pentium 4 Processor (90nm) (3.40 GHz, 3.20 GHz, 3.0 GHz, 2.80 GHz)
  • Intel Pentium 4 Processor Extreme Edition (0.13 micron) (3.40 GHz)
  • April 7, 2004: Ultra Low Voltage Intel Pentium M Processor (1.10, 1.30 GHz)
  • Nov 15, 2004: Intel Pentium 4 Processor Extreme Edition supporting HT Technology (3.46GHz)

The year 2005-06 marked the introduction of the following processors:

  • Intel Pentium 4 Processor Extreme Edition supporting HT Technology (3.80GHz)
  • April 2005: Intel Pentium Processor Extreme Edition 840 (3.20 GHz)
  • The year 2007&08 marked the introduction of the following processors:
  • Intel Pentium Processor Extreme Edition 955 (3.46 GHz)
  • Intel Pentium Processor Extreme Edition 965 (3.73 GHz)

In 2007, Intel v Pro was released by Intel. The major technologies used in Intel v Pro are TXT – Intel Trusted Execution Technology, VT – Intel Virtualization Technology

In 2008, Core i-Series was released and these series processors are Core i3, i5 & i7. These processors include Nehalem micro-architecture as well as Intel’s 45 nm production process.

In the same year, an Atom was released and it was designed like a processor to power nettopsas well as mobile internet devices.

In the year 2010, Intel released HD Graphics, and its West mere architecture used on-die graphics.

In the year 2010, Intel launched several Integrated Core Architecture & Xeon Phi

In the year 2010, Intel SoCs was released

In the year 2013, the Core i-Series processor was released by Intel and it has the 22 nm Haswell micro-architecture. This architecture was replaced by the 2011 Sandy Bridge architecture.

Xeon

Xeon processor is a 400 MHz Pentium processor from Intel for use in workstations and enterprise servers. This processor is designed for multimedia applications, engineering graphics, the Internet, and large database servers. The microprocessor history like Xeon includes the following.

Xeon
Xeon Processor

The year 2000-2001 marked the introduction of the following processors:

  • Jan 12: Intel Pentium III Xeon Processor (800 MegaHertz)
  • Sep 25, 2001: Intel Xeon Processor (2 Giga Hertz)
  • May 24: Intel Pentium III Xeon Processor (933 MegaHertz)

The year 2002-2004 marked the introduction of the following processors:

  • Jan 09, 2002: Intel Xeon Processor (2.20 Giga Hertz)
  • March 12, 2002: Intel Xeon Processor M (1.60 Giga Hertz)
  • March 10, 2003: Intel Xeon Processor 3 GHz (400 MHz system bus)
  • Nov 18: Intel Xeon Processor (2.80 Giga Hertz)
  • Oct 6, 2003: Intel Xeon Processor (3.20 Giga Hertz)
  • March 2, 2004: Intel Xeon Processor MP 3 GHz (4 MB L3 CACHE)

The year 2005-2008 marked the introduction of the following processors:

  • March 2005: Intel Xeon Processor MP (2.666 -3.666 Giga Hertz)
  • October 2005: Dual-Core Intel Xeon Processor (2.8 Giga Hertz)
  • August 2006: Dual-Core Intel Xeon-7140M (3.33-3.40 Giga Hertz)

This is all about the microprocessor history and the year-based processors’ production from INTEL. To avoid making this article too complex for the readers to understand, some intricate information about the various processors from different vendors has been exempted. Based on the information given here in this article, the readers are encouraged to post their suggestions and comments regarding the projects in the comment section given below.

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3 Comments

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