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Evolution of Microprocessor July 10, 2018

An Overview of the History of the Microprocessor

Founded in 1957, Fairchild Semiconductors takes the credit for inventing the first Integrated Circuit in 1959 as it marks the microprocessor history. Andrew Grove, Gordan Moore, and Robert Noyce resigned from this company in 1968 and started their own firm named Integrated Electronics (Intel). In 1971, they created the first microprocessor, Intel 4004. Also known as a central processing unit, a microprocessor has a number of peripherals which are integrated and fabricated on a single silicon semiconductor chip. The architecture of the microprocessor consists of registers, a central processing unit, a system bus, ALU (arithmetic and logic unit), memory modules, an input/output unit, a clock that can efficiently perform computational tasks. Being a computer science or IT student, you must have read a lot about it. It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that it has a long history to study about, perhaps longer than any other modern computer component.

But for your convenience, our writers have briefly explained the evolution of microprocessors over the time. Take a read:

First Generation

It was in 1971 that microprocessors were introduced as the first generation systems. Intel created 4004 microprocessors that originally ran at the clock speed of 108 KHz. It was a 4-bit processor on a single chip which could perform basic arithmetic calculations and logic operations, such as subtraction, addition, boolean OR and boolean AND. The control unit was capable of carrying out functions which include serially fetching instruction, decoding it, and then executing it by generating control pulses. The 4004 was built on a 10-micron process and consisted 2,300 transistors which imply that every line, transistor, or trace had a space of about 10 microns. Although it was designed for calculators, it gained immense success and popularity in other industries too. For example, it was used in blood analyzers, traffic light controllers, etc. As a result, soon after this, enhanced version of 4004, 4040 was created.

Second Generation

The second generation microprocessors were again introduced by Intel in 1973 which remained till the late 1970s. The 8-bit efficient processors were implemented which included popular ones, such as INTEL-8085, Motorola 6800, and Zilog-Z80. They were highly priced as they were based on NMOS technology fabrication and had super fast speed. This phase of the microprocessor included overlapped fetch, decode and execute the steps. The primary difference between the first and second generation microprocessor was the use of new semiconductor technologies in the latter one to manufacture the chips. This resulted in five times increase in execution, speed, and higher chip densities. This 8008 was followed by Intel 8088.

Third Generation

The 8-bit microprocessors were followed by 16-bit processors using HMOS technology. Online microprocessor assignment help experts state that during the period from 1979 to 1980, Motorola 68000, 68010 and Intel 8086/80186/80286 were developed. The 8086 chip brought the original x86 instruction set which is still found in current x86-compatible chips, such as AMD Athlon, and Pentium 4. It contained 29,000 transistors and originally ran at the speed of up to 5MHz. The third generation microprocessors worked like mini-computers with speed four times better than the second generation ones.

Fourth Generation

With the industries converting from commercial microprocessors and adopting more of in-house designs, fourth generation processors entered the IT market with brilliant design and a million transistors. From 1981 to 1995, this phase witnessed the development of 32-bit microprocessors that used HCMOS fabrication. They used VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration) technology which had about 5000 transistors along with other circuits which were integrated on a small silicon chip. Now, the semiconductor memory was replaced by magnetic core memory which made it possible to have a fast random access to memory. They became more compact, affordable, powerful, and reliable hence, the revolution of personal computers started. The computer instructions were given in a high-level language which included DBASE, C, C++, etc., rather than assembly or machine language. The operating systems MS-DOS and MS windows were developed at this period.

Fifth Generation

Starting from 1995 until now, the fifth generation has seen many advancements including high-performance and high-speed that use 64-bit microprocessors. They employed decoupled superscalar processing with transistors soon exceeding ten million. The single processor conquered a number of businesses, and personal computers became low-margin. Few of the examples are Celeron, Pentium, Dual and Quad-core processor.

Hopefully, this blog helped you increase your knowledge regarding microprocessors and their history. For more such interesting write-ups, stay tuned!

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