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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

1993: The Pentium is coming!

At the beginning of 1993, Intel came onto the market with its fifth generation of processors and surprised its competitors from AMD, by naming their newest processor, not 80586, but Pentium. For Intel, this had the advantage that they could have the “Pentium” trademark protected and thus the “clone competition” could no longer offer their products under the same name. With the previous processors, this was always possible because Intel could not protect a number like '80386'.

As was unusual up until then, a first-level cache (L1 cache) was built into the Pentium processor. At the beginning, the CPU was made using the 0.8 micrometer technologyproduced, but later dropped to 0.35 µm. The Pentium was initially operated with 5 volts. As before, the new Pentium was software-compatible to its predecessors and thus made the switch much easier. Due to the small structure width, Intel was able to accommodate over 3.1 million transistors on the CPU. The Pentium started with 60 and 66 MHz and offered the new possibility of executing two commands with one clock cycle. Furthermore, it now has two 8 KB cache memories: the instructions were stored in one, the data currently required in the other. But that's not all of the innovations. The width of the data bus to the main memory has also been increased from 32 to 64 bits, so that the data transfer rate has practically been doubled. In terms of floating point calculation, the Pentium outperformed its 486 predecessor by three times.

Intel Pentium
Intel Pentium 133
Intel Pentium 60

AMD was still able to do this at this point did not catch up with Intel and only released its Intel486 counterpart with the AM486 in March. But the Pentium counterpart, the AMD K5, should follow by the end of the year.

Exactly one year after the introduction of the Pentium, Intel brought the 100MHz version and thus reached the three-digit MHz range for the first time. Another year later, in March 1995, Intel presented the 120 MHz variant and increased the processor clock to 133 MHz in June of the same year. In January 1996 the family was complete and a 150 and 166 MHz version was added, before the 200 MHz version in Junefollowed.

On the next page: 1995: Intel Pentium Pro