The Intel 80286 is an x86-family 16-bit microprocessor that was introduced by Intel on February 1, 1982. Initially released in 6 and 8 MHz editions, it subsequently scaled up to 20 MHz, and was widely used in IBM PC compatible computers during the mid 1980s to early 1990s.
The 80286 performs at twice the speed of its predecessor (the Intel 8086) per clock cycle, and is able to address up to 16 megabytes of RAM, in contrast to the 1MB the 8086 can work with. On DOS machines this additional RAM capability can only be utilised via extended memory emulation, however few 286-based computers ever saw more than a megabyte of RAM.
The 286 was designed to run multitasking applications, including Communications (such as automated PBXs), real-time process control, and multi-user systems.
Despite their market popularity, few desktop computers with a 80286 CPU still remain in use today.
The 286's successor was the 32-bit Intel 80386.
An interesting feature of this processor is that it was the first x86 processor capable of switching from real mode to protected mode, enabling the use of all system memory as a single block, and allowing certain degree of protection of the memory zones used by applications. However, the 286 couldn't revert to real mode, so protected mode wasn't widely used until the appearance of the 386, which could go back and forth between modes.
- Linux on 286 laptops and notebooks (http://tuxmobil.org/286_mobile.html)
- Intel 80286 images and descriptions at cpu-collection.de (http://www.cpu-collection.de/?tn=1&l0=cl&l1=80286)