The exposed die of an Intel 80486DX2 microprocessor
|Produced||From April 1989 to 2007|
|Max. CPU clock rate||16 MHz to 100 MHz|
|FSB speeds||16 MHz to 50 MHz|
|Min. feature size||1 µm to 0.6 µm|
|Instruction set||x86 including x87 (except for "SX" models)|
|Virtual address width||32 Linear; 46 Logical|
The Intel 80486, also known as the i486 or 486, is a higher performance follow-up to the Intel 80386 microprocessor. The 80486 was introduced in 1989 and was the first tightlypipelined x86 design as well as the first x86 chip to use more than a million transistors, due to a large on-chip cache and an integrated floating-point unit. It represents a fourth generation of binary compatible CPUs since the original 8086 of 1978.
Intel Corporation is an American multinational corporation and technology company headquartered in Santa Clara, California, in the Silicon Valley. It is the world's second largest and second highest valued semiconductor chip maker based on revenue after being overtaken by Samsung, and is the inventor of the x86 series of microprocessors, the processors found in most personal computers (PCs). Intel ranked No. 46 in the 2018 Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.
The Intel 80386, also known as i386 or just 386, 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 80386 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.
A microprocessor is a computer processor that incorporates the functions of a central processing unit on a single integrated circuit (IC), or at most a few integrated circuits. The microprocessor is a multipurpose, clock driven, register based, digital integrated circuit that accepts binary data as input, processes it according to instructions stored in its memory, and provides results as output. Microprocessors contain both combinational logic and sequential digital logic. Microprocessors operate on numbers and symbols represented in the binary number system.
A 50 MHz 80486 executes around 40 million instructions per second on average and is able to reach 50 MIPS peak performance.
Instructions per second (IPS) is a measure of a computer's processor speed. For CISC computers different instructions take different amounts of time, so the value measured depends on the instruction mix; even for comparing processors in the same family the IPS measurement can be problematic. Many reported IPS values have represented "peak" execution rates on artificial instruction sequences with few branches and no cache contention, whereas realistic workloads typically lead to significantly lower IPS values. Memory hierarchy also greatly affects processor performance, an issue barely considered in IPS calculations. Because of these problems, synthetic benchmarks such as Dhrystone are now generally used to estimate computer performance in commonly used applications, and raw IPS has fallen into disuse.
The 80486 was announced at Spring Comdex in April 1989. At the announcement, Intel stated that samples would be available in the third quarter of 1989 and production quantities would ship in the fourth quarter of 1989.The first 80486-based PCs were announced in late 1989, but some advised that people wait until 1990 to purchase an 80486 PC because there were early reports of bugs and software incompatibilities.
COMDEX was a computer expo trade show held at various locations in the Las Vegas Valley of Nevada, USA, each November from 1979 to 2003. It was one of the largest computer trade shows in the world, usually second only to the German CeBIT, and by many accounts one of the largest trade shows in any industry sector, and COMDEX exhibitions have been held in many other countries from 1982 to 2005, altogether 185 shows. The first COMDEX was held in 1979 at the MGM Grand, with 167 exhibitors and 3904 attendees. In 1981, the first COMDEX/Spring was held in New York City.
|Intel 80486 registers|
The instruction set of the i486 is very similar to its predecessor, the Intel 80386, with the addition of only a few extra instructions, such as CMPXCHG which implements a compare-and-swap atomic operation and XADD, a fetch-and-add atomic operation returning the original value (unlike a standard ADD which returns flags only).
In computer science, compare-and-swap (CAS) is an atomic instruction used in multithreading to achieve synchronization. It compares the contents of a memory location with a given value and, only if they are the same, modifies the contents of that memory location to a new given value. This is done as a single atomic operation. The atomicity guarantees that the new value is calculated based on up-to-date information; if the value had been updated by another thread in the meantime, the write would fail. The result of the operation must indicate whether it performed the substitution; this can be done either with a simple boolean response, or by returning the value read from the memory location.
In computer science, the fetch-and-add CPU instruction (FAA) atomically increments the contents of a memory location by a specified value.
From a performance point of view, the architecture of the i486 is a vast improvement over the 80386. It has an on-chip unified instruction and data cache, an on-chip floating-point unit (FPU) and an enhanced bus interface unit. Due to the tight pipelining, sequences of simple instructions (such as ALU reg,reg and ALU reg,im) could sustain a single clock cycle throughput (one instruction completed every clock). These improvements yielded a rough doubling in integer ALU performance over the 386 at the same clock rate. A 16-MHz 80486 therefore had a performance similar to a 33-MHz 386, and the older design had to reach 50 MHz to be comparable with a 25-MHz 80486 part.
A CPU cache is a hardware cache used by the central processing unit (CPU) of a computer to reduce the average cost to access data from the main memory. A cache is a smaller, faster memory, closer to a processor core, which stores copies of the data from frequently used main memory locations. Most CPUs have different independent caches, including instruction and data caches, where the data cache is usually organized as a hierarchy of more cache levels.
A floating-point unit is a part of a computer system specially designed to carry out operations on floating point numbers. Typical operations are addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, square root, and bitshifting. Some systems can also perform various transcendental functions such as exponential or trigonometric calculations, though in most modern processors these are done with software library routines.
The clock rate typically refers to the frequency at which a chip like a central processing unit (CPU), one core of a multi-core processor, is running and is used as an indicator of the processor's speed. It is measured in clock cycles per second or its equivalent, the SI unit hertz (Hz). The clock rate of the first generation of computers was measured in hertz or kilohertz (kHz), but in the 21st century the speed of modern CPUs is commonly advertised in gigahertz (GHz). This metric is most useful when comparing processors within the same family, holding constant other features that may affect performance. Video card and CPU manufacturers commonly select their highest performing units from a manufacturing batch and set their maximum clock rate higher, fetching a higher price.
The kilobyte is a multiple of the unit byte for digital information.
In computer architecture, a local bus is a computer bus that connects directly, or almost directly, from the CPU to one or more slots on the expansion bus. The significance of direct connection to the CPU is avoiding the bottleneck created by the expansion bus, thus providing fast throughput. There are several local buses built into various types of computers to increase the speed of data transfer. Local buses for expanded memory and video boards are the most common.
A memory management unit (MMU), sometimes called paged memory management unit (PMMU), is a computer hardware unit having all memory references passed through itself, primarily performing the translation of virtual memory addresses to physical addresses. It is usually implemented as part of the central processing unit (CPU), but it also can be in the form of a separate integrated circuit.
Just as in the 80386, a simple flat 4 GB memory model could be implemented by setting all "segment selector" registers to a neutral value in protected mode, or setting (the same) "segment registers" to zero in real mode, and using only the 32-bit "offset registers" (x86-terminology for general CPU registers used as address registers) as a linear 32-bit virtual address bypassing the segmentation logic. Virtual addresses were then normally mapped onto physical addresses by the paging system except when it was disabled. (Real mode had no virtual addresses.) Just as with the 80386, circumventing memory segmentation could substantially improve performance in some operating systems and applications.
On a typical PC motherboard, either four matched 30-pin (8-bit) SIMMs or one 72-pin (32-bit) SIMM per bank were required to fit the 80486's 32-bit data bus. The address bus used 30-bits (A31..A2) complemented by four byte-select pins (instead of A0,A1) to allow for any 8/16/32-bit selection. This meant that the limit of directly addressable physical memory was 4 gigabytes as well (23032-bit words = 2328-bit words).
There are several suffixes and variants. (see Table). Other variants include:
The specified maximal internal clock frequency (on Intel's versions) ranged from 16 to 100 MHz. The 16 MHz i486SX model was used by Dell Computers.
One of the few 80486 models specified for a 50 MHz bus (486DX-50) initially had overheating problems and was moved to the 0.8-micrometre fabrication process. However, problems continued when the 486DX-50 was installed in local-bus systems due to the high bus speed, making it rather unpopular with mainstream consumers, as local-bus video was considered a requirement at the time, though it remained popular with users of EISA systems. The 486DX-50 was soon eclipsed by the clock-doubled i486DX2, which although running the internal CPU logic at twice the external bus speed (50 MHz), was nevertheless slower due to the external bus running at only 25 MHz. The 486DX2 at 66 MHz (with standard 33 MHz external bus) was faster than the 486DX-50, overall.
More powerful 80486 iterations such as the OverDrive and DX4 were less popular (the latter available as an OEM part only), as they came out after Intel had released the next-generation P5 Pentium processor family. Certain steppings of the DX4 also officially supported 50 MHz bus operation, but it was a seldom used feature.
|i486DX (P4)||20, 25 MHz|
|5 V||8 KB WT||April 1989|
|The original chip without clock multiplier|
|i486SL||20, 25, 33 MHz||5 V or 3.3 V||8 KB WT||November 1992||Low-power version of the i486DX, reduced VCore, SMM (System Management Mode), stop clock, and power-saving features — mainly for use in portable computers|
|i486SX (P23)||16, 20, 25 MHz|
|5 V||8 KB WT||September 1991|
|An i486DX with the FPU part disabled or missing. Early variants were parts with disabled (defective) FPUs. Later versions had the FPU removed from the die to reduce area and hence cost.|
|i486DX2 (P24)||40/20, 50/25 MHz|
|5 V||8 KB WT||March 1992|
|The internal processor clock runs at twice the clock rate of the external bus clock|
|i486DX-S (P4S)||33 MHz; 50 MHz||5 V or 3.3 V||8 KB WT||June 1993||SL Enhanced 486DX|
|i486DX2-S (P24S)||40/20 MHz,|
|5 V or 3.3 V||8 KB WT||June 1993|
|i486SX-S (P23S)||25, 33 MHz||5 V or 3.3 V||8 KB WT||June 1993||SL Enhanced 486SX|
|i486SX2||50/25, 66/33 MHz||5 V||8 KB WT||March 1994||i486DX2 with the FPU disabled|
|IntelDX4 (P24C)||75/25, 100/33 MHz||3.3 V||16 KB WT||March 1994||Designed to run at triple clock rate (not quadruple, as often believed; the DX3, which was meant to run at 2.5× the clock speed, was never released). DX4 models that featured write-back cache were identified by an "&EW" laser-etched into their top surface, while the write-through models were identified by "&E".|
|i486DX2WB (P24D)||50/25 MHz,|
|5 V||8 KB WB||October 1994|
|IntelDX4WB||100/33 MHz||3.3 V||16 KB WB||October 1994|
|i486DX2 (P24LM)||90/30 MHz,|
|2.5–2.9 V||8 KB WT||1994|
|i486GX||up to 33 MHz||3.3 V||8 KB WT||Embedded ultra-low-power CPU with all features of the i486SX and 16-bit external data bus. This CPU is for embedded battery-operated and hand-held applications.|
*WT = write-through cache strategy, WB = write-back cache strategy
80486 compatible processors have been produced by other companies such as IBM, Texas Instruments, AMD, Cyrix, UMC, and SGS Thomson. Some were clones (identical at the microarchitectural level), others were clean room implementations of the Intel instruction-set. (IBM's multiple source requirement is one of the reasons behind its x86-manufacturing since the 80286.) The 80486 was, however, covered by many of Intel's patents covering new R&D as well as that of the prior 80386. Intel and IBM have broad cross-licenses of these patents, and AMD was granted rights to the relevant patents in the 1995 settlement of a lawsuit between the companies.
AMD produced several clones of the 80486 using a 40 MHz bus (486DX-40, 486DX/2-80, and 486DX/4-120) which had no equivalent available from Intel, as well as a part specified for 90 MHz, using a 30 MHz external clock, that was sold only to OEMs. The fastest running 80486 CPU, the Am5x86, ran at 133 MHz and was released by AMD in 1995. 150 MHz and 160 MHz parts were planned but never officially released.
Cyrix made a variety of 80486-compatible processors, positioned at the cost-sensitive desktop and low-power (laptop) markets. Unlike AMD's 80486 clones, the Cyrix processors were the result of clean-room reverse-engineering. Cyrix's early offerings included the 486DLC and 486SLC, two hybrid chips which plugged into 386DX or SX sockets respectively, and offered 1 KB of cache (versus 8 KB for the then-current Intel/AMD parts). Cyrix also made "real" 80486 processors, which plugged into the i486's socket and offered 2 or 8 KB of cache. Clock-for-clock, the Cyrix-made chips were generally slower than their Intel/AMD equivalents, though later products with 8 KB caches were more competitive, if late to market.
The Motorola 68040, while not compatible with the 80486, was often positioned as the 80486's equivalent in features and performance. Clock-for-clock basis the Motorola 68040 could significantly outperform the Intel 80486 chip. [ citation needed ]However, the 80486 had the ability to be clocked significantly faster without suffering from overheating problems. The Motorola 68040 performance lagged behind the later production 80486 systems.
Early 80486 machines were equipped with several ISA slots (using an emulated PC/AT-bus) and sometimes one or two 8-bit–only slots (compatible with the PC/XT-bus). MHz to perhaps 16.7 or 20 MHz (half the i486 bus clock) in a number of steps, often from within the BIOS setup. Especially older peripheral cards normally worked well at such speeds as they often used standard MSI chips instead of slower (at the time) custom VLSI designs. This could give significant performance gains (such as for old video cards moved from a 386 or 286 computer, for example). However, operation beyond 8 or 10 MHz could sometimes lead to stability problems, at least in systems equipped with SCSI or sound cards.Many motherboards enabled overclocking of these up from the default 6 or 8
Some motherboards came equipped with a 32-bit bus called EISA that was backward compatible with the ISA-standard. EISA offered a number of attractive features such as increased bandwidth, extended addressing, IRQ sharing, and card configuration through software (rather than through jumpers, DIP switches, etc.) However, EISA cards were expensive and therefore mostly employed in servers and workstations. Consumer desktops often used the simpler but faster VESA Local Bus (VLB), unfortunately somewhat prone to electrical and timing-based instability; typical consumer desktops had ISA slots combined with a single VLB slot for a video card. VLB was gradually replaced by PCI during the final years of the 80486 period. Few Pentium class motherboards had VLB support as VLB was based directly on the i486 bus; it was no trivial matter adapting it to the quite different P5 Pentium-bus. ISA persisted through the P5 Pentium generation and was not completely displaced by PCI until the Pentium III era.
Late 80486 boards were normally equipped with both PCI and ISA slots, and sometimes a single VLB slot as well. In this configuration VLB or PCI throughput suffered depending on how buses were bridged. Initially, the VLB slot in these systems was usually fully compatible only with video cards (quite fitting as "VESA" stands for Video Electronics Standards Association ); VLB-IDE, multi I/O, or SCSI cards could have problems on motherboards with PCI slots. The VL-Bus operated at the same clock speed as the i486-bus (basically being a local 80486-bus) while the PCI bus also usually depended on the i486 clock but sometimes had a divider setting available via the BIOS. This could be set to 1/1 or 1/2, sometimes even 2/3 (for 50 MHz CPU clocks). Some motherboards limited the PCI clock to the specified maximum of 33 MHz and certain network cards depended on this frequency for correct bit-rates. The ISA clock was typically generated by a divider of the CPU/VLB/PCI clock (as implied above).
One of the earliest complete systems to use the 80486 chip was the Apricot VX FT, produced by United Kingdom hardware manufacturer Apricot Computers. Even overseas in the United States it was popularised as "The World's First 80486" in the September 1989 issue of Byte magazine (shown right).
Later 80486 boards also supported Plug-And-Play, a specification designed by Microsoft that began as a part of Windows 95 to make component installation easier for consumers.
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The 486DX2 66 MHz processor was popular on home-oriented PCs during the early to mid 1990s, toward the end of the MS-DOS gaming era. It was often coupled with a VESA Local Bus video card.
The introduction of 3D computer graphics spelled the end of the 80486's reign, because 3D graphics make heavy use of floating-point calculations and require a faster CPU cache and more memory bandwidth. Developers began to target the P5 Pentium processor family almost exclusively with x86 assembly language optimizations (e.g., Quake ) which led to the usage of terms like "Pentium-compatible processor" for software requirements. Many of these games required the speed of the P5 Pentium processor family's double-pipelined architecture.
The AMD Am5x86, up to 133 MHz, and Cyrix Cx5x86, up to 120 MHz, were the last 80486 processors that were often used in late generation 80486 motherboards with PCI slots and 72-pin SIMMs that are designed to be able to run Windows 95, and also often used as upgrades for older 80486 motherboards. While the Cyrix Cx5x86 faded quite quickly when the Cyrix 6x86 took over, the AMD Am5x86 was important during the time when the AMD K5 was delayed.
80486-based machines remained popular through the late 1990's, serving as low end processors for entry level PC's. Production for traditional desktop and laptop systems ceased in 1998, when Intel introduced the Celeron brand as an modern replacement for the aging chip, though it continued to be produced for embedded systems through the late 2000's.
In the general-purpose desktop computer role, 80486-based machines remained in use into the early 2000s, especially as Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows NT 4.0 were the latest Microsoft operating systems to officially support installation on an 80486-based system.However, as Windows 95/98 and Windows NT 4.0 were eventually overtaken by newer operating systems, 80486 systems likewise fell out of use. Still, a number of 80486 machines have remained in use today, mostly for backward compatibility with older programs (most notably games), especially since many of them have problems running on newer operating systems. However, DOSBox is also available for current operating systems and provides emulation of the 80486 instruction set, as well as full compatibility with most DOS-based programs.
Although the 80486 was eventually overtaken by the Pentium for personal computer applications, Intel had continued production for use in embedded systems. In May 2006 Intel announced that production of the 80486 would stop at the end of September 2007.
The Cyrix 6x86 is a sixth-generation, 32-bit x86 microprocessor designed by Cyrix and manufactured by IBM and SGS-Thomson. It was originally released in 1996.
The first Pentium microprocessor was introduced by Intel on March 22, 1993. Dubbed P5, its microarchitecture was the fifth generation for Intel, and the first superscalar IA-32 microarchitecture. As a direct extension of the 80486 architecture, it included dual integer pipelines, a faster floating-point unit, wider data bus, separate code and data caches and features for further reduced address calculation latency. In 1996, the Pentium with MMX Technology was introduced with the same basic microarchitecture complemented with an MMX instruction set, larger caches, and some other enhancements.
The VESA Local Bus was a short-lived expansion bus introduced during the i486 generation of x86 IBM compatible personal computers. Created by VESA the VESA Local Bus worked alongside the then dominant ISA bus to provide a standardized high-speed conduit intended primarily to accelerate video (graphics) operations. VLB provided a standardized "fast path" that add-in (video) card makers could tap for greatly accelerated memory-mapped I/O and DMA, while still using the familiar ISA bus to handle basic device duties such as interrupts and port-mapped I/O.
The Intel i486DX2, rumored as 80486DX2 is a CPU produced by Intel that was introduced in 1992. The i486DX2 was nearly identical to the i486DX, but it had additional clock multiplier circuitry. It was the first chip to use clock doubling, whereby the processor runs two internal logic clock cycles per external bus cycle. An i486 DX2 was thus significantly faster than an i486 DX at the same bus speed thanks to the 8K on-chip cache shadowing the slower clocked external bus.
Cyrix Corporation was a microprocessor developer that was founded in 1988 in Richardson, Texas, as a specialist supplier of math coprocessors for 286 and 386 microprocessors. The company was founded by Tom Brightman and Jerry Rogers. Cyrix founder, President and CEO Jerry Rogers, aggressively recruited engineers and pushed them, eventually assembling a small but efficient design team of 30 people.
The Am5x86 processor is an x86-compatible CPU introduced in 1995 by AMD for use in 486-class computer systems. It was one of the fastest, and most universally compatible upgrade paths for users of 486 systems.
The Pentium OverDrive was a microprocessor marketing brand name used by Intel, to cover a variety of consumer upgrade products sold in the mid-1990s. It was originally released for 486 motherboards, and later some Pentium sockets. Intel dropped the brand, as it failed to appeal to corporate buyers, and discouraged new system sales.
The Am486 is a 80486-class family of computer processors that was produced by AMD in the 1990s. Intel beat AMD to market by nearly four years, but AMD priced its 40 MHz 486 at or below Intel's price for a 33 MHz chip, offering about 20% better performance for the same price.
The Am386 CPU is a 100%-compatible clone of the Intel 80386 design released by AMD in 1991. It sold millions of units, positioning AMD as a legitimate competitor to Intel, rather than being merely a second source for x86 CPUs.
NexGen was a private semiconductor company that designed x86 microprocessors until it was purchased by AMD in 1996. NexGen was a fabless design house that designed its chips but relied on other companies for production. NexGen's chips were produced by IBM's Microelectronics division.
Silicon Integrated Systems is a company that manufactures, among other things, motherboard chipsets. The company was founded in 1987 in Hsinchu Science Park, Taiwan.
The Cyrix Cx486SLC was Cyrix's first CPU offering, released after years of selling coprocessors that competed with Intel's units and offered better performance at a comparable or lower price.
The Cyrix Cx486DLC was an early 486 CPU from Cyrix, intended to compete with the Intel 486SX and DX. Texas Instruments, who manufactured the 486DLC for Cyrix, later released its own version of the chip, the TI486SXL, with 8 kB internal cache vs 1 kB of the original Cyrix design. The similarly named IBM 486DLC, 486DLC2, 486DLC3 are often confused with the Cyrix chips, but are not related and are instead based on Intel's i486 design.
RapidCAD is a specially packaged Intel 486DX and a dummy floating point unit (FPU) designed as pin-compatible replacements for an Intel 80386 processor and 80387 FPU. Because the i486DX has a working on-chip FPU, a dummy FPU package is supplied to go in the Intel 387 FPU socket. The dummy FPU is used to provide the FERR signal, necessary for compatibility purposes.
x87 is a floating-point-related subset of the x86 architecture instruction set. It originated as an extension of the 8086 instruction set in the form of optional floating-point coprocessors that worked in tandem with corresponding x86 CPUs. These microchips had names ending in "87". This was also known as the NPX. Like other extensions to the basic instruction set, x87 instructions are not strictly needed to construct working programs, but provide hardware and microcode implementations of common numerical tasks, allowing these tasks to be performed much faster than corresponding machine code routines can. The x87 instruction set includes instructions for basic floating-point operations such as addition, subtraction and comparison, but also for more complex numerical operations, such as the computation of the tangent function and its inverse, for example.
The MediaGX CPU is an x86 compatible processor that was manufactured and designed by Cyrix and later after merger manufactured by National Semiconductor, and was introduced in 1997. The core is based on the integration of the Cyrix Cx5x86 CPU core with hardware to process video and audio output. Following the buyout of Cyrix by National Semiconductor and the sale of the Cyrix name and trademarks to VIA Technologies, the core was developed by National Semiconductor into the Geode line of processors, which was subsequently sold to Advanced Micro Devices.
The 386SLC was an Intel-licensed version of the 386SX, developed and manufactured by IBM in 1991. It included power-management capabilities and an 8KB internal CPU cache, which enabled it to yield comparable performance to 386DX processors of the same clock speed, which were considerably more expensive. Known inside IBM as "Super Little Chip" for its initials, it was used in IBM PS/2 35, 40 56 Series and in the IBM PS/ValuePoint 325T, but never gained much market share. This was mainly due to an agreement with Intel, in which IBM was not allowed to sell their CPUs if they were not part of a system or upgrade board. It was also marketed as an optional upgrade for 8086-equipped IBM PS/2 25 Series computers.
The UMC Green CPU was an x86-compatible microprocessor produced by UMC, a Taiwanese semiconductor company, in the early- to mid-1990s. It was offered as an alternative to the Intel 80486 with which it was pin compatible, enabling it to be installed in most 80486 motherboards. All models had power management features intended to reduce electricity consumption.
The Cyrix Cx486 or Cyrix 486 was an x86-Compatible microprocessor designed by Cyrix to primarily compete with the Intel 486 with which it was software compatible, would operate in the same motherboards provided proper support by the BIOS was available and generally showed comparable performance. The chip also competed with parts from AMD and UMC.
This article is based on material taken from the Free On-line Dictionary of Computing prior to 1 November 2008 and incorporated under the "relicensing" terms of the GFDL, version 1.3 or later.