Intel 80286

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Intel 80286
KL Intel i286.jpg
An Intel A80286-8 processor with a gray ceramic heat spreader
General information
Discontinued1991 [1]
Common manufacturer(s)
Max. CPU clock rate 5 MHz to 25 MHz
FSB speeds5 MHz to 25 MHz
Data width16 bits
Address width24 bits
Architecture and classification
Min. feature size 1.5 µm [2]
Instruction set x86-16 (with MMU)
Physical specifications
  • 134,000
Co-processor Intel 80287
  • 68-pin PLCC
    68-pin LCC
    100-pin PQFP (Engineering Sample Only)
    68-pin PGA
Predecessor 8086, 8088 (while 80186 was contemporary)
Successor Intel 80386

The Intel 80286 [3] (also marketed as the iAPX 286 [4] and often called Intel 286) is a 16-bit microprocessor that was introduced on February 1, 1982. It was the first 8086-based CPU with separate, non-multiplexed address and data buses and also the first with memory management and wide protection abilities. The 80286 used approximately 134,000 transistors in its original nMOS (HMOS) incarnation and, just like the contemporary 80186, [5] it could correctly execute most software written for the earlier Intel 8086 and 8088 processors. [6]


The 80286 was employed for the IBM PC/AT, introduced in 1984, and then widely used in most PC/AT compatible computers until the early 1990s.

History and performance

AMD 80286 (16 MHz version) KL AMD 80286 CLCC Bottom.jpg
AMD 80286 (16 MHz version)

Intel's first 80286 chips were specified for a maximum clockrate of 5, 6 or 8  MHz and later releases for 12.5 MHz. AMD and Harris later produced 16 MHz, 20 MHz and 25 MHz parts, respectively. Intersil and Fujitsu also designed fully static CMOS versions of Intel's original depletion-load nMOS implementation, largely aimed at battery-powered devices.

On average, the 80286 was reportedly measured to have a speed of about 0.21 instructions per clock on "typical" programs, [7] although it could be significantly faster on optimized code and in tight loops, as many instructions could execute in 2 clock cycles each. The 6 MHz, 10 MHz, and 12 MHz models were reportedly measured to operate at 0.9 MIPS, 1.5 MIPS, and 2.66 MIPS respectively. [8]

The later E-stepping level of the 80286 was free of the several significant errata that caused problems for programmers and operating-system writers in the earlier B-step and C-step CPUs (common in the AT and AT clones). This E-2 stepping part may have been available in later 1986. [9]


Simplified 80286 microarchitecture Intel i80286 arch.svg
Simplified 80286 microarchitecture
Intel 80286 die shot Intel 80286 die.JPG
Intel 80286 die shot

Intel did not expect personal computers to use the 286. [10] The CPU was designed for multi-user systems with multitasking applications, including communications (such as automated PBXs) and real-time process control. It had 134,000 transistors and consisted of four independent units: the address unit, bus unit, instruction unit, and execution unit, organized into a loosely coupled (buffered) pipeline, just as in the 8086. It was produced in a 68-pin package, including PLCC (plastic leaded chip carrier), LCC (leadless chip carrier) and PGA (pin grid array) packages. [11]

The performance increase of the 80286 over the 8086 (or 8088) could be more than 100% per clock cycle in many programs (i.e., a doubled performance at the same clock speed). This was a large increase, fully comparable to the speed improvements seven years later when the i486 (1989) or the original Pentium (1993) were introduced. This was partly due to the non-multiplexed address and data buses, but mainly to the fact that address calculations (such as base+index) were less expensive. They were performed by a dedicated unit in the 80286, while the older 8086 had to do effective address computation using its general ALU, consuming several extra clock cycles in many cases. Also, the 80286 was more efficient in the prefetch of instructions, buffering, execution of jumps, and in complex microcoded numerical operations such as MUL/DIV than its predecessor. [12]

The 80286 included, in addition to all of the 8086 instructions, all of the new instructions of the 80186: ENTER, LEAVE, BOUND, INS, OUTS, PUSHA, POPA, PUSH immediate, IMUL immediate, and immediate shifts and rotates. The 80286 also added new instructions for protected mode: ARPL, CLTS, LAR, LGDT, LIDT, LLDT, LMSW, LSL, LTR, SGDT, SIDT, SLDT, SMSW, STR, VERR, and VERW. Some of the instructions for protected mode can (or must) be used in real mode to set up and switch to protected mode, and a few (such as SMSW and LMSW) are useful for real mode itself.

The Intel 80286 had a 24-bit address bus and was able to address up to 16  MB of RAM, compared to the 1 MB addressability of its predecessor. However, memory cost and the initial rarity of software using the memory above 1 MB meant that 80286 computers were rarely shipped with more than one megabyte of RAM. [12] Additionally, there was a performance penalty involved in accessing extended memory from real mode (in which DOS, the dominant PC operating system until the mid-1990s, ran), as noted below.


Siemens 80286 (10 MHz version) 80286-processor-made-in-austria.jpg
Siemens 80286 (10 MHz version)
IBM 80286 (8 MHz version) KL IBM 80286.jpg
IBM 80286 (8 MHz version)

Protected mode

The 286 was the first of the x86 CPU family to support protected virtual-address mode, commonly called "protected mode". In addition, it was the first commercially available microprocessor with on-chip MMU capabilities (systems using the contemporaneous Motorola 68010 and NS320xx could be equipped with an optional MMU controller). This would allow IBM compatibles to have advanced multitasking OSes for the first time and compete in the Unix-dominated[ citation needed ] server/workstation market.

Several additional instructions were introduced in the protected mode of 80286, which are helpful for multitasking operating systems.

Another important feature of 80286 is the prevention of unauthorized access. This is achieved by:

In 80286 (and in its co-processor Intel 80287), arithmetic operations can be performed on the following different types of numbers:

By design, the 286 could not revert from protected mode to the basic 8086-compatible real address mode ("real mode") without a hardware-initiated reset. In the PC/AT introduced in 1984, IBM added external circuitry, as well as specialized code in the ROM BIOS and the 8042 peripheral microcontroller to enable software to cause the reset, allowing real-mode reentry while retaining active memory and returning control to the program that initiated the reset. (The BIOS is necessarily involved because it obtains control directly whenever the CPU resets.) Though it worked correctly, the method imposed a huge performance penalty.

In theory, real-mode applications could be directly executed in 16-bit protected mode if certain rules (newly proposed with the introduction of the 80286) were followed; however, as many DOS programs did not conform to those rules, protected mode was not widely used until the appearance of its successor, the 32-bit Intel 80386, which was designed to go back and forth between modes easily and to provide an emulation of real mode within protected mode. When Intel designed the 286, it was not designed to be able to multitask real-mode applications; real mode was intended to be a simple way for a bootstrap loader to prepare the system and then switch to protected mode; essentially, in protected mode the 80286 was designed to be a new processor with many similarities to its predecessors, while real mode on the 80286 was offered for smaller-scale systems that could benefit from a more advanced version of the 80186 CPU core, with advantages such as higher clock rates, faster instruction execution (measured in clock cycles), and unmultiplexed buses, but not the 24-bit (16 MB) memory space.

To support protected mode, new instructions have been added: ARPL, VERR, VERW, LAR, LSL, SMSW, SGDT, SIDT, SLDT, STR, LMSW, LGDT, LIDT, LLDT, LTR, CLTS. There are also new exceptions (internal interrupts): invalid opcode, coprocessor not available, double fault, coprocessor segment overrun, stack fault, segment overrun/general protection fault, and others only for protected mode.

OS support

The protected mode of the 80286 was not routinely utilized in PC applications until many years after its release, in part because of the high cost of adding extended memory to a PC, but also because of the need for software to support the large user base of 8086 PCs. For example, in 1986 the only program that made use of it was VDISK, a RAM disk driver included with PC DOS 3.0 and 3.1. A DOS could utilize the additional RAM available in protected mode (extended memory) either via a BIOS call (INT 15h, AH=87h), as a RAM disk, or as emulation of expanded memory. [12] The difficulty lay in the incompatibility of older real-mode DOS programs with protected mode. They simply could not natively run in this new mode without significant modification. In protected mode, memory management and interrupt handling were done differently than in real mode. In addition, DOS programs typically would directly access data and code segments that did not belong to them, as real mode allowed them to do without restriction; in contrast, the design intent of protected mode was to prevent programs from accessing any segments other than their own unless special access was explicitly allowed. While it was possible to set up a protected-mode environment that allowed all programs access to all segments (by putting all segment descriptors into the GDT and assigning them all the same privilege level), this undermined nearly all of the advantages of protected mode except the extended (24-bit) address space. The choice that OS developers faced was either to start from scratch and create an OS that would not run the vast majority of the old programs, or to come up with a version of DOS that was slow and ugly (i.e., ugly from an internal technical viewpoint) but would still run a majority of the old programs. Protected mode also did not provide a significant enough performance advantage over the 8086-compatible real mode to justify supporting its capabilities; actually, except for task switches when multitasking, it actually yielded only a performance disadvantage, by slowing down many instructions through a litany of added privilege checks. In protected mode, registers were still 16-bit, and the programmer was still forced to use a memory map composed of 64 kB segments, just like in real mode. [13]

In January 1985, Digital Research previewed the Concurrent DOS 286 1.0 operating system developed in cooperation with Intel. The product would function strictly as an 80286 native-mode (i.e. protected-mode) operating system, allowing users to take full advantage of the protected mode to perform multi-user, multitasking operations while running 8086 emulation. [14] [15] [16] This worked on the B-1 prototype step of the chip, but Digital Research discovered problems with the emulation on the production level C-1 step in May, which would not allow Concurrent DOS 286 to run 8086 software in protected mode. The release of Concurrent DOS 286 was delayed until Intel would develop a new version of the chip. [14] In August, after extensive testing on E-1 step samples of the 80286, Digital Research acknowledged that Intel corrected all documented 286 errata, but said that there were still undocumented chip performance problems with the prerelease version of Concurrent DOS 286 running on the E-1 step. Intel said that the approach Digital Research wished to take in emulating 8086 software in protected mode differed from the original specifications. Nevertheless, in the E-2 step, they implemented minor changes in the microcode that would allow Digital Research to run emulation mode much faster. [9] Named IBM 4680 OS, IBM originally chose DR Concurrent DOS 286 as the basis of their IBM 4680 computer for IBM Plant System products and point-of-sale terminals in 1986. [17] Digital Research's FlexOS 286 version 1.3, a derivation of Concurrent DOS 286, was developed in 1986, introduced in January 1987, and later adopted by IBM for their IBM 4690 OS, but the same limitations affected it.

The problems led to Bill Gates famously referring to the 80286 as a "brain-dead chip", [18] [ when? ] since it was clear that the new Microsoft Windows environment would not be able to run multiple MS-DOS applications with the 286. It was arguably responsible for the split between Microsoft and IBM, since IBM insisted that OS/2, originally a joint venture between IBM and Microsoft, would run on a 286 (and in text mode).

Other operating systems that used the protected mode of the 286 were Microsoft Xenix (around 1984), [19] Coherent, [20] and Minix. [21] These were less hindered by the limitations of the 80286 protected mode because they did not aim to run MS-DOS applications or other real-mode programs. In its successor 80386 chip, Intel enhanced the protected mode to address more memory and also added the separate virtual 8086 mode, a mode within protected mode with much better MS-DOS compatibility, in order to satisfy the diverging needs of the market. [22]

Support components

This list of bus interface components that connects to Intel 80286 microprocessor.

See also

Related Research Articles

Intel 8086 16-bit microprocessor

The 8086 is a 16-bit microprocessor chip designed by Intel between early 1976 and June 8, 1978, when it was released. The Intel 8088, released July 1, 1979, is a slightly modified chip with an external 8-bit data bus, and is notable as the processor used in the original IBM PC design.

Intel 8088

The Intel 8088 microprocessor is a variant of the Intel 8086. Introduced on June 1, 1979, the 8088 has an eight-bit external data bus instead of the 16-bit bus of the 8086. The 16-bit registers and the one megabyte address range are unchanged, however. In fact, according to the Intel documentation, the 8086 and 8088 have the same execution unit (EU)—only the bus interface unit (BIU) is different. The original IBM PC is based on the 8088, as are its clones.

i386 32-bit microprocessor by Intel

The Intel 386, originally released as 80386 and later renamed i386, is a 32-bit microprocessor introduced in 1985. The first versions had 275,000 transistors and were the CPU of many workstations and high-end personal computers of the time. As the original implementation of the 32-bit extension of the 80286 architecture, the i386 instruction set, programming model, and binary encodings are still the common denominator for all 32-bit x86 processors, which is termed the i386-architecture, x86, or IA-32, depending on context.

Intel 80186

The Intel 80186, also known as the iAPX 186, or just 186, is a microprocessor and microcontroller introduced in 1982. It was based on the Intel 8086 and, like it, had a 16-bit external data bus multiplexed with a 20-bit address bus. The 80188 variant, with an 8-bit external data bus was also available.

x86 Family of instruction set architectures

x86 is a family of instruction set architectures initially developed by Intel based on the Intel 8086 microprocessor and its 8088 variant. The 8086 was introduced in 1978 as a fully 16-bit extension of Intel's 8-bit 8080 microprocessor, with memory segmentation as a solution for addressing more memory than can be covered by a plain 16-bit address. The term "x86" came into being because the names of several successors to Intel's 8086 processor end in "86", including the 80186, 80286, 80386 and 80486 processors.

Real mode, also called real address mode, is an operating mode of all x86-compatible CPUs. The mode gets its name from the fact that addresses in real mode always correspond to real locations in memory. Real mode is characterized by a 20-bit segmented memory address space and unlimited direct software access to all addressable memory, I/O addresses and peripheral hardware. Real mode provides no support for memory protection, multitasking, or code privilege levels.

x86 memory segmentation refers to the implementation of memory segmentation in the Intel x86 computer instruction set architecture. Segmentation was introduced on the Intel 8086 in 1978 as a way to allow programs to address more than 64 KB (65,536 bytes) of memory. The Intel 80286 introduced a second version of segmentation in 1982 that added support for virtual memory and memory protection. At this point the original model was renamed real mode, and the new version was named protected mode. The x86-64 architecture, introduced in 2003, has largely dropped support for segmentation in 64-bit mode.

In computing, protected mode, also called protected virtual address mode, is an operational mode of x86-compatible central processing units (CPUs). It allows system software to use features such as virtual memory, paging and safe multi-tasking designed to increase an operating system's control over application software.


The Am386 CPU is a 100%-compatible clone of the Intel 80386 design released by AMD in March 1991. It sold millions of units, positioning AMD as a legitimate competitor to Intel, rather than being merely a second source for x86 CPUs.

Flat memory model or linear memory model refers to a memory addressing paradigm in which "memory appears to the program as a single contiguous address space." The CPU can directly address all of the available memory locations without having to resort to any sort of memory segmentation or paging schemes.

Intel iAPX 432

The iAPX 432 is a discontinued computer architecture introduced in 1981. It was Intel's first 32-bit processor design. The main processor of the architecture, the general data processor, is implemented as a set of two separate integrated circuits, due to technical limitations at the time. Although some early 8086, 80186 and 80286-based systems and manuals also used the iAPX prefix for marketing reasons, the iAPX 432 and the 8086 processor lines are completely separate designs with completely different instruction sets.


The NEC V20 was a microprocessor made by NEC. It was both pin and object-code compatible with the Intel 8088, with an instruction set similar to that of the Intel 80188 with some extensions. The V20 was introduced in March 1984.

IBM TopView Former front-end to DOS

TopView is the first object-oriented, multitasking, and windowing, personal computer operating environment for PC DOS developed by IBM, announced in August 1984 and shipped in March 1985. TopView provided a text-mode operating environment that allowed users to run more than one application at the same time on a PC. IBM demonstrated an early version of the product to key customers before making it generally available, around the time they shipped their new PC AT computer.

In the 80386 microprocessor and later, virtual 8086 mode allows the execution of real mode applications that are incapable of running directly in protected mode while the processor is running a protected mode operating system. It is a hardware virtualization technique that allowed multiple 8086 processors to be emulated by the 386 chip; it emerged from the painful experiences with the 80286 protected mode, which by itself was not suitable to run concurrent real mode applications well.

Virtual DOS machines (VDM) refer to a technology that allows running 16-bit/32-bit DOS and 16-bit Windows programs when there is already another operating system running and controlling the hardware.

Multiuser DOS Family of CP/M- and DOS-compatible multi-user multi-tasking operating systems

Multiuser DOS is a real-time multi-user multi-tasking operating system for IBM PC-compatible microcomputers.

LOADALL is the common name for two different, undocumented machine instructions of Intel 80286 and Intel 80386 processors, which allow access to areas of the internal processor state that are normally outside of the IA-32 API scope, like descriptor cache registers. The LOADALL for 286 processors is encoded 0Fh 05h, while the LOADALL for 386 processors is 0Fh 07h.

In computing, the reset vector is the default location a central processing unit will go to find the first instruction it will execute after a reset. The reset vector is a pointer or address, where the CPU should always begin as soon as it is able to execute instructions. The address is in a section of non-volatile memory initialized to contain instructions to start the operation of the CPU, as the first step in the process of booting the system containing the CPU.

The maximum random access memory (RAM) installed in any computer system is limited by hardware, software and economic factors. The hardware may have a limited number of address bus bits, limited by the processor package or design of the system. Some of the address space may be shared between RAM, peripherals, and read-only memory. In the case of a microcontroller with no external RAM, the size of the RAM array is limited by the size of the integrated circuit die. In a packaged system, only enough RAM may be provided for the system's required functions, with no provision for addition of memory after manufacture.

In computer architecture, 16-bit integers, memory addresses, or other data units are those that are 16 bits wide. Also, 16-bit CPU and ALU architectures are those that are based on registers, address buses, or data buses of that size. 16-bit microcomputers are computers in which 16-bit microprocessors were the norm.


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