Microprocessor 1992

Ishtlaque Hossain Khan

Ever since IBM chooses the 8088 for the original IBM PC, Intel has enjoyed success unparalleled in the semiconductor industry. By maintaining compatibility with previous models while upgrading the capabilities of the 80x 86 lines, Intel has done a masterful job of moving forward both the technology and the industry.

Through the first half of the 1980s. Intel though dominant, was not only the company supplying chips (8088 and 286s) for the MS DOS computers, through various second sources and cross licensing agreements NEC, AMD and Harries also produced industry standard and a healthy completion prevailed. With the advent of the 386 in 1986, however Intel became sole supplier of the architecture. And since then till the announcement of AMD 386 clone in 1991 became the sole supplier of the architecture.

Because it hasn’t had to compete like most companies, Intel has made a scries of blunders. Early on, for instance, it introduced the 386SX processors as a lower cost version of 386DX until it discovered that real competition was the 286. Even then it merely tried to kill the 286 instead of pricing 386SX competitively – until AMD announced its 386. Then, when Intel introduced the 486DX processor which is a combination of existing 80386, 80387, the memory management chip and 8K of cache ilpriced those chips at a stiff premium to the equivalent 386 models, because it believed customers will automatically migrate to more performance and would pay anything for the chip. But customers decided there wasn’t much speed improvement to recommend the 486, so the 486 is still has a fraction of the total market.

Now the AMD is about to introduce a competition to the 486. Intel suddenly perceives that it should cut prices because of fear instilled by the fact that AMD managed to get more than 20 percent of the 386 business away from Intel by being aggressive in its prices and product design. Intel does not want AMD to get 20 percent of the 486 business, so it suddenly becoming more aggressive. Sure, Intel has done a fabulous job of development on these processors and of investing in the future with the money it has made. And AMD itself was motivated by fear (of going out of business) to reproduce the 386 clone. The result is we will sec very few manufacturers making the original IBM PC compatible, IBM PC/AT compatible will also meet the same fate and by year end minimum configuration will be 80386 based machines. This year will also see introduction of 586. Packing up to 4 million transistors the 586 will ensure that PC users have access to same class of performance as workstation users have.

In the Apple end there is a strong rumour that from April Apple will discontinue every Macintosh that does not have at least 68030 processor. Look for close out prices for Classics and LC. In fact look for pricess on all Macs as of April 1.

In the RISC business IBM announced RS/6000 model 220. The first single chip implementation of IBM’s Power chip which runs at 33 MHz and delivers 26 SPEC marks.

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