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The microprocessor today

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1 Author(s)
Slater, M. ; MicroDesign Resources, Sebastopol, CA, USA

Outlines technology and business issues in today's microprocessor industry. From their humble beginnings 25 years ago, microprocessors have proliferated into an astounding range of chips, powering devices ranging from telephones to supercomputers. Today, microprocessors for personal computers get widespread attention-and have enabled Intel to become the world's largest semiconductor maker. In addition, embedded microprocessors are at the heart of a diverse range of devices that have become staples of consumers worldwide. Microprocessors have become specialized in many ways. Those for desktop computers fall into classes based on their instruction set architectures: either x86, the primary surviving complex instruction set computing (CISC) architecture, or one of the five major reduced instruction set computing (RISC) architectures-PA-RISC, Mips, Spare, Alpha, and PowerPC. Such chips typically integrate few functions other than cache memory and bus interfaces with the processor but usually include a floating-point unit and memory management unit. Embedded microprocessors, on the other hand, typically do not have floating-point or memory management units but often integrate various peripheral functions with the processor to reduce system cost.

Published in:

Micro, IEEE  (Volume:16 ,  Issue: 6 )