Intel's processor history: the path from the Intel 4004 to the Pentium 4

Intel's processor history: the path from the Intel 4004 to the Pentium 4

1989: Intel slimmed down again: The Intel386 SX

Intel had to react again with a step backwards on the market because the 80386 only slowly found buyers. In order to lower the prices, Intel took a well-known route: They reduced the bandwidth from 32 to 16 bits. The 80386 SX was created. Otherwise, the SX did not differ in any way from its stronger predecessor. In order not to lose market shares to AMD and other clone manufacturers, and nothing else was AMD at that time, Intel declares the 80286 dead and starts an advertising campaign with the motto: '3 is more than 2'. The idea behind this strategy was of course the fact that Intel still had the 386 market to itself and not yet anyHad to fear competition. Around the same time, Intel introduced the 'Intel inside' logo, which is still not obsolete today. Intel's strategy seemed to be working. More and more customers jumped on the 32-bit train and Intel slowly but surely became world-famous.

1989: The Intel486 appears

Also in 1989, Intel brought out the 80486 and this introduced some innovations. It had more than four times as many transistors as its predecessor, namely 1.2 million. In addition, the math coprocessor was integrated on the CPU for the first time. The same applies to the cache controller. The cache, which holds instructions and data, was already 8 KB back then. Until 1991, Intel gradually increased the clock frequency from 25 to 33 to 50 MHz. But even with the 80486, Intel relies on a tried and tested low-cost variant and in 1991 released the Intel486 SX, which, unlike its big brother, did not have a math coprocessor and was only clocked from 20 to 25 to 33 MHz. In 1992, Intel released the Intel486 DX2, clocked at 66 MHz, before the Intel486 peaked in 1994 with the DX4, which was clocked at 75 and 100 MHz and equipped with 1.6 million transistors. But back to the innovations of the 486DX2: In order to further increase the performance, Intel clocked the CPU internally higher than externally using a multiplier. Initially, Intel operated the 80486 with 5 volts, but in order to avoid excessive heat generation, they later switched to 3 volts. These changes were reflected again and again on the base, so that new bases were introduced again and again with the 486.

Intel 486

On the next page: 1993: The Pentium is coming!