x86

8086

core i7

x86 refers to a family of instruction sets based on the 8086 CPU, which was launched by Intel in 1978. The architecture has been implemented in processors from Intel, Cyrix, AMD, VIA, and many others, and is still dominant in the microprocessor market. An instruction set is a list of all the instructions that a processor can execute (e.g. add, subtract, move, load, store, etc.). Many additions and extensions have been added to the x86 instruction set over the years, almost consistently with full backward compatibility.

There have been several attempts, also within Intel itself, to break the market dominance of the inelegant x86 architecture that descended directly from the first simple 8-bit microprocessors. But, continuous refinement of x86 microarchitectures, circuitry, and semiconductor manufacturing have made x86 hard to replace. The scalability of x86 chips such as the eight-core Intel Xeon and 12-core AMD Opteron is underlining x86 as an example of how continuous refinement of established industry standards can resist the competition from completely new architectures.

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