Monday, December 22, 2008

486, Pentium, and Itanium

Intel introduced the 486 microprocessor in 1989, and in 1990 formally established a second design team, designing the processors code-named "P5" and "P6" in parallel and committing to a major new processor every two years, versus the four or more years such designs had previously taken. The P5 was earlier known as "Operation Bicycle" referring to the cycles of the processor. The P5 was introduced in 1993 as the Intel Pentium, substituting a trademarked name for the former part number (numbers, like 486, cannot be trademarked). The P6 followed in 1995 as the Pentium Pro and improved into the Pentium II in 1997. New architectures were developed alternately in Santa Clara, California and Hillsboro, Oregon.

The Santa Clara design team embarked in 1993 on a successor to the x86 architecture, codenamed "P7". The first attempt was dropped a year later, but quickly revived in a cooperative program with Hewlett-Packard engineers, though Intel soon took over primary design responsibility. The resulting implementation of the IA-64 64-bit architecture was the Itanium, finally introduced in June 2001. The Itanium's performance running legacy x86 code did not achieve expectations, and it failed to effectively compete with 64-bit extensions to the original x86 architecture, first from AMD (the AMD64), then from Intel itself (the Intel 64 architecture, formerly known as EM64T). As of November 2007, Intel continues to develop and deploy the Itanium.

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