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Encyclopedia > Intel i860

The Intel i860 (also 80860, and code named N10) was a RISC microprocessor from Intel, first released in 1989. The i860 was (along with the i960) one of Intel's first attempts at an entirely new, high-end ISA since the failed Intel i432 from the 1980s. It was released with considerable fanfare, and obscured the release of the Intel i960 which many considered to be a better design. The i860 never achieved commercial success and the project was terminated in the late 1980s. No known applications of the chip survive and it is no longer manufactured. Reduced Instruction Set Computing (RISC), is a microprocessor CPU design philosophy that favors a smaller and simpler set of instructions that all take about the same amount of time to execute. ... Microprocessors, including an Intel 80486DX2 and an Intel 80386 A microprocessor (abbreviated as µP or uP) is an electronic computer central processing unit (CPU) made from miniaturized transistors and other circuit elements on a single semiconductor integrated circuit (IC) (aka microchip or just chip). ... Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC) (founded 1968) is a US-based multinational corporation that is best known for designing and manufacturing microprocessors and specialized integrated circuits. ... 1989 is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Intels i960 (or 80960) was a RISC-based microprocessor design that became quite popular during the early 1990s as an embedded microcontroller, for some time likely the best-selling CPU in that field, pushing the AMD 29000 from that spot. ... An instruction set, or instruction set architecture (ISA), describes the aspects of a computer architecture visible to a programmer, including the native datatypes, instructions, registers, addressing modes, memory architecture, interrupt and exception handling, and external I/O (if any). ... The Intel iAPX 432 was Intels first 32-bit microprocessor design, introduced in 1981 as a set of three integrated circuits. ... Intel i960 Microprocessor Intels i960 (or 80960) was a RISC-based microprocessor design that became quite popular during the early 1990s as an embedded microcontroller, for some time likely the best-selling CPU in that field, pushing the AMD 29000 from that spot. ...

Contents


Technical features

Intel i860 Microprocessor
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Intel i860 Microprocessor

The i860 combined a number of features that were unique at the time, most notably its VLIW (Very Long Instruction Word) architecture and powerful support for high-speed floating point operations. The design mounted a 32-bit ALU along with a 64-bit FPU that was itself built in three parts, an adder, a multiplier, and a graphics processor. The system had separate pipelines for the ALU, adder and multiplier, and could hand off up to three instructions per clock. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (738x738, 53 KB) Description: Intel i860 Microprocessor Source: http://www. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (738x738, 53 KB) Description: Intel i860 Microprocessor Source: http://www. ... A very long instruction word or VLIW CPU architectures implement a form of instruction level parallelism. ... 32-bit is a term applied to processors, and computer architectures which manipulate the address and data in 32-bit chunks. ... ALU redirects here. ... In computing, a 64-bit component is one in which data are processed or stored in 64-bit units (words). ... A floating point unit (FPU) is a part of a CPU specially designed to carry out operations on floating point numbers. ...


One fairly unique feature of the i860 was that the pipelines into the functional units were program-accessible, requiring the compilers to carefully order instructions in the object code to keep the pipelines filled. This achieves some of the same goals as RISC microprocessor architectures, where complex microcode, a sort of on-the-fly compiler, was removed from the core of the CPU and placed in the compiler. This led to a simpler core, with more space available for other duties, but resulted in much larger code, with negative impact on cache hits, memory bandwidth, and overall system cost. As a result of its architecture, the i860 could run certain graphics and floating point algorithms with exceptionally high speed, but its performance in general-purpose applications suffered and it was difficult to program efficiently (see below). A diagram of the operation of an ideal compiler. ... In computer science, object file or object code is an intermediate representation of code generated by a compiler after it processes a source code file. ... A microprogram is a program consisting of microcode that controls the different parts of a computers central processing unit (CPU). ...


All of the buses were 64-bits wide, or wider. The internal memory bus to the cache, for instance, was 128-bits wide. Both units had thirty-two 32-bit registers, but the FPU used its set as sixteen 64-bit registers. Instructions for the ALU were fetched two at a time to use the full external bus. Intel always referred to the design as the "i860 64-Bit Microprocessor".


The graphics unit was unique for the era. It was essentially a 64-bit integer unit using the FPU registers. It supported a number of commands for SIMD-like instructions in addition to basic 64-bit integer math. Experience with the i860 influenced the MMX functionality later added to Intel's Pentium processors. A floating point unit (FPU) is a part of a CPU specially designed to carry out operations on floating point numbers. ... In computing, SIMD (Single Instruction, Multiple Data) is a set of operations for efficiently handling large quantities of data in parallel, as in a vector processor or array processor. ... MMX is a SIMD instruction set designed by Intel, introduced in their Pentium MMX microprocessors. ... Pentium logo, w/ MMX enhancement The Pentium is a fifth-generation x86 architecture microprocessor by Intel which first shipped on March 22, 1993. ...


Performance (problems)

Paper performance was impressive for a single-chip solution; however, real-world performance was anything but. One problem, perhaps unrecognized at the time, was that runtime code paths are difficult to predict, meaning that it becomes exceedingly difficult to properly order instructions at compile time. For instance, an instruction to add two numbers will take considerably longer if the data is not in the cache, yet there is no way for the programmer to know if it is or not. If you guess wrong the entire pipeline will stall, waiting for the data. The entire i860 design was based on the compiler efficiently handling this task, which proved almost impossible in practice. While theoretically capable of peaking at about 60MFLOPS for the XP versions, hand-coded assemblers managed to get only about up to 40MFLOPS, and most compilers had difficultly getting even 10. In computer science, compile time, as opposed to runtime, is the time when a compiler compiles code written in a programming language into an executable form. ... An assembler is a computer program for translating assembly language — essentially, a mnemonic representation of machine language — into object code. ...


Another serious problem was the lack of any solution to quickly handle context switching. The i860 had several pipelines (for the ALU and FPU parts) and an interrupt could spill them and need them all to be re-loaded. This took 62 cycles in the best case, and almost 2000 cycles in the worst. The latter is 1/20000th of a second, an eternity for a CPU. This largely eliminated the i860 as a general purpose CPU. A context switch is the computing process of storing and restoring the state of a CPU (the context) such that multiple processes can share a single CPU resource. ...


Versions, Applications

The chip was released in two versions, the basic XR, and the XP (code name N11). The XP added larger on-chip caches, a second level cache, faster buses, and hardware support for bus snooping, for cache consistency in parallel computing systems. The XR ran at 25 or 40MHz, and a process shrink for the XP (from 1 micrometre to 0.8) bumped the XR to 40 and 50MHz. Both ran the same instruction set. Parallel computing is the simultaneous execution of the same task (split up and specially adapted) on multiple processors in order to obtain faster results. ...


At first the i860 was only used in a small number of very large machines like the iPSC/860 at Los Alamos National Laboratory. As the compilers improved, the general performance of the i860 did likewise, but by then most other RISC designs had already passed the i860 in performance. Los Alamos National Laboratory, aerial view from 1995. ...


The i860 did see some use in the workstation world as a graphics accelerator. It was used, for instance, in the NeXTDimension, where it ran a cut-down version of the Mach kernel running a complete PostScript. In this role the i860 design worked considerably better, as the core program could be loaded into the cache and made entirely "predictable", allowing the compilers to get the ordering right. This sort of use slowly disappeared as well, as more general-purpose CPUs started to match the i860's performance, and Intel lost interest. A computer workstation, often colloquially referred to as workstation, is a high-end general-purpose microcomputer designed to be used by one person at a time and which offers higher performance than normally found in a personal computer, especially with respect to graphics, processing power and the ability to carry... The NeXT logo, designed by Paul Rand. ... Mach is an operating system kernel developed at Carnegie-Mellon University to support operating system research, primarily distributed and parallel computation. ... PostScript (PS) is a page description language used primarily in the electronic and desktop publishing areas. ...


In the late 1990s Intel replaced their entire RISC line with ARM-based designs, known as the XScale. Confusingly, the i860 name has now been re-used for a motherboard control chipset for Intel Xeon (high-end Pentium) systems. ARMs headquarters in Cambridge The ARM architecture (originally the Acorn RISC Machine) is a 32-bit RISC processor architecture that is widely used in a number of applications. ... XScale is Intels name for their line of StrongARM-based RISC microprocessors and microcontrollers, which they aquired from DECs Digital Semiconductor division as the side-effect of a lawsuit between the two companies. ... Pentium logo, w/ MMX enhancement The Pentium is a fifth-generation x86 architecture microprocessor by Intel which first shipped on March 22, 1993. ...


External links

  • Intel i860 64-Bit Microprocessor (Data Sheet) – From www.dvo.ru
  • i860 images and description – From www.cpu-collection.de


List of Intel microprocessors | List of Intel CPU slots, sockets

4004 | 4040 | 8008 | 8080 | 8085 | 8086 | 8088 | iAPX 432 | 80186 | 80188 | 80286 | 80386 | 80486 | i860 | i960 | Pentium | Pentium Pro | Pentium II | Celeron | Pentium III | Pentium 4 | Pentium M | Pentium D | Pentium Extreme Edition | Xeon | Itanium | Itanium 2   (italics indicate non-x86 processors) Intel logo, claiming fair use This is a copyrighted and/or trademarked logo. ... This list of Intel microprocessors attempts to present all of Intels processors (µPs) from the pioneering 4-bit 4004 (1971) to the present high-end offerings, the 64-bit Itanium 2 (2002) and Pentium 4F with EM64T (2004). ... Here is a list of sockets and slots used by Intel central processing units: 80486: 486 Socket Socket 1 Socket 2 Socket 3 Socket 6 Pentium: Socket 4 Socket 5 Socket 7 Pentium Pro: Socket 8 Pentium II: Slot 1 Pentium III: Slot 1 Socket 370 Pentium 4: Socket 423... The Intel 4004, a 4-bit CPU, was the worlds first single-chip microprocessor, as well as the first commercial one. ... Intel D4040 Microprocessor The Intel 4040 was the successor to the Intel 4004. ... Intel 8008 The Intel 8008 was an early microprocessor designed and manufactured by Intel, and introduced in April, 1972. ... The Intel 8080 was an early microprocessor designed and manufactured by Intel. ... The Intel 8085 is an 8-bit microprocessor made by Intel in the mid-1970s. ... The 8086 is a 16-bit microprocessor chip designed by Intel in 1978, which gave rise to the x86 architecture. ... The Intel 8088 is an Intel microprocessor based on the 8086, with 16-bit registers and an 8-bit external data bus. ... The Intel iAPX 432 was Intels first 32-bit microprocessor design, introduced in 1981 as a set of three integrated circuits. ... An Intel 80186 Microprocessor The 80186 is a microprocessor that was developed by Intel circa 1982. ... The Intel 80188 is a version of the Intel 80186 microprocessor with an 8 bit external data bus, instead of 16 bit. ... The Intel 80286 is an x86-family 16-bit microprocessor that was introduced by Intel on February 1, 1982. ... An Intel 80386 Microprocessor The Intel 80386 is a microprocessor which was used as the central processing unit (CPU) of many personal computers from 1986 until 1994 and later. ... An Intel i486 Microprocessor The Intel i486 (also called 486 or 80486) is a range of Intel CISC microprocessors which is part of the Intel x86 family of processors. ... Intel i960 Microprocessor Intels i960 (or 80960) was a RISC-based microprocessor design that became quite popular during the early 1990s as an embedded microcontroller, for some time likely the best-selling CPU in that field, pushing the AMD 29000 from that spot. ... Pentium logo, w/ MMX enhancement The Pentium is a fifth-generation x86 architecture microprocessor by Intel which first shipped on March 22, 1993. ... The Pentium Pro is a sixth-generation x86 architecture microprocessor by Intel originally intended to replace the original Pentium in a full range of applications, but later reduced to a more narrow role as a server and high-end desktop chip. ... Pentium II – front view The Pentium II is an x86 architecture microprocessor by Intel, introduced on May 7, 1997. ... 633MHz Celeron A Celeron is any of a large number of different budget x86 microprocessors produced by Intel and marketed as a budget/value CPU line. ... Pentium III logo The Pentium III is an x86 (more precisely, an i686) architecture microprocessor by Intel, introduced on February 26, 1999. ... Pentium 4 (with hyper-threading) brand logo The Pentium 4 is a seventh-generation x86 architecture microprocessor produced by Intel and is their first all-new CPU design since the Pentium Pro of 1995. ... Introduced in March 2003, the Pentium M is an x86 architecture microprocessor designed and manufactured by Intel. ... Pentium D is a series of microprocessors introduced by Intel at the Spring 2005 Intel Developer Forum. ... Pentium Extreme Edition is the brand name given to a series of Intel microprocessors introduced during the Spring 2005 Intel Developers Forum. ... Xeon logo The Xeon is Intels current generation of server-class microprocessors for PCs. ... In computing, the Itanium is an IA-64 microprocessor developed jointly by Hewlett-Packard and Intel. ... The Itanium 2 is an IA-64 architecture microprocessor developed jointly by Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Intel, introduced on July 8, 2002. ... x86 or 80x86 is the generic name of a microprocessor architecture first developed and manufactured by Intel. ...


 
 

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