The history of Intel processors is very rich, not in vain we speak of a giant in the world of semiconductors that launched its first microprocessor there 1971, date on which the Intel 4004. From there the company was creating new designs and new architectures that allowed us to advance exponentially in a very short time.
Perhaps some of our readers believe that we are exaggerating, but nothing is further from reality. Put into perspective the progress we’ve made over the past 15 years and compare it to the progress of the immediately preceding 30 years, the leap has been much more marked and it has occurred in much less time.
In a few years we have gone from using limited-core Intel processors to having models equipped with up to 10 cores and 20 threads. Progress in this regard has been enormous, and as we said has occurred in a very short time, but we must not forget that, in addition, there has been an improvement in terms of the CPI that had four great moments:
In 2006, with the arrival of Core architecture.
In 2011, with the debut of the Sandy Bridge architecture.
In 2013, when Haswell architecture hit the market.
In 2015, with the arrival of Skylake.
In this article we want you to join us in discovering the ten most important Intel processors that have hit the market since the company was founded until today, a journey that will help you better understand the changes that have occurred over the past five decades no need to go into complicated technicalities, and that will allow you to know the evolution of the world of computing through Intel processors.
I know that more than one of our readers will be asking you, and the answer is yes, in a few weeks we will publish a version of this special dedicated only to AMD processors. With that said, let’s get started, get comfortable.
1.-Intel processors that made history: Intel 4004
We have already advanced it to you at the beginning. It was a revolution for a reason as simple as it is important, and that is that we are facing the first microprocessor of the chip giant, and also before the first one that managed to integrate all the transistors necessary for its operation on a single integrated circuit.
This chip served as a spearhead to initiate the arrival of microprocessors to the general consumer market. It was a processor 4 bits with a frequency d 108 KHz, manufactured in 10 µm process and equipped with a total of 2,300 transistors.
2.-Intel processors that made history: Intel 8086
The 8086 was Intel’s first 16-bit processor, and the first with an x86 design. It came in 1978 with a working frequency of 5 MHz, was manufactured in a 3 µm process and had 29,000 transistors. It lacked floating-point instructions, and to compensate for this, libraries with floating-point software routines were used.
He shared the limelight with the 8088, and although it may seem a priori that the numbering should be more powerful, in practice the opposite was true, since the 8088 was an 8 bit processor. A curiosity that I wanted to share with you so that you see that the use of nomenclatures that can generate confusion is not something exclusive to our time.
3.-Intel processors that made history: Intel 386
The Intel 386 was a processor that multiplied by more than 100 times the number of transistors of the first Intel processor, the 4004, since it reached 275,000 transistors, an impressive figure for the time.
This chip used a 32-bit architecture, was manufactured in a 1.5 µm process, and arrived in 1985 with a frequency of 16 MHz. The changes introduced by this processor in the x86 architecture are so great that it deserves to be on this list without a doubt, not only due to the jump to 32 bits, but also due to its flat addressing system and the improvements at the support level and compatibility.
Starting in 386, application compatibility and support between different generations, including the 486, was much easier, and its IA-32 instructions They laid the foundations of the sector for several decades.
4.-Intel processors that made history: Intel Pentium
Definitely one of the most important revolutions from Intel, a generation that allowed the chip giant to become the company that we all know, and that was key for it to comfortably lead the market for x86 processors.
Intel Pentium processors debuted in 1993, they were known to be the first to use the IA-32 superscalar microarchitecture with two 32-bit data pipelines, they had a 64-bit data bus and had caches and an improved floating point drive.
They came with a 66 MHz base frequencyAlthough they reached 200 MHz, they were at a 0.8 µm process and reached a density of 3.1 million transistors. Intel subsequently released a hotfix with the MMX instructions.
5.-Intel processors that made history: Intel Pentium II
It seemed impossible to improve the Pentium, but the giant from Santa Clara did it with the Pentium II, a generation that allowed it to consolidate its position in the market and that marked a major revolution, not only because of the innovations it brought, but also because it came integrated in a curious cartridge type design.
That cartridge-type design was due to the outsourcing of the L2 cache, which was integrated into a printed circuit together with the processor, a format that was maintained in the next generation of Intel processors. It had MMX instructions and a greater amount of cache.
This second generation used the P6 core of the Pentium Pro, although its cache worked at half the frequency, which was a clear cut compared to the Pentium Pro. It arrived on the market in 1997 with a 233 MHz base frequencyAlthough it reached 450 MHz, it was manufactured in a 0.25 µm process and had 7.5 million transistors.
6.-Intel processors that made history: Intel Pentium III
Pentium III processors demonstrated the importance of built-in instructions (they used the SSE instructions) to improve CPU performance in many environments. Its importance is beyond doubt, since this generation also served as the basis for Intel to develop the Core (P8) architecture, on which the Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad are based.
They arrived in 1999 with a minimum speed of 450 MHz, although they managed to operate at more than 1 GHz. They were manufactured in 0.25 µm process and had 9.5 million transistors. Intel released numerous versions of the Pentium III, and with them introduced notable improvements at the level of caches and data bus.
7.-Intel processors that made history: Intel Pentium 4
For many they are part of the worst time of Intel, and yes, it is true that were not exactly the best processors of the chip giantIn fact, the architecture they used was scrapped by the company, which, as we anticipated, went back to designing the Pentium IIIs to develop the Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad.
However, this does not mean that Pentium 4s do not deserve to be on this list. They showed that even a giant of the caliber of Intel can be wrong, and that even in spite of having made a mistake it can achieve important milestones, among which the introduction of HyperThreading technology, which allowed managing a process and a thread at the same time with a single core, the jump to 64 bits and broke the 3 GHz barrier.
They were launched in 2000 with minimum speeds of 1.3 GHz, although as we have said they exceeded 3 GHz without problems. They had a core, but some versions they could handle two threads thanks to HyperThreading technology. They were manufactured in 0.18 µm process and had 42 million transistors.
8.-Intel processors that made history: Intel Core 2 Duo
We can say without fear of being wrong that this has been the biggest jump given by Intel processors after the arrival of the Pentiums. Core architecture, also known as P8, marked a revolution for many reasons.
The first is that it allowed the development of the first Intel dual-core processors with a monolithic design (The Pentium D used two glued encapsulations), and the second is marked a huge jump in terms of CPI. The difference compared to a Pentium 4 was so enormous that a Core 2 Duo was much less capable of giving it deep soups, something similar to what happened with the Athlon 64 and Pentium 4, but even more marked.
These processors debuted in 2006 and had two physical cores in a monolithic design at a minimum frequency of 1.86 GHz. They were manufactured in 65nm process and had 291 million transistors. Intel released 45nm in-process versions with frequencies that were well above 3GHz.
9.-Intel processors that made history: Intel Core 2000 series
Intel Core 2000 series processors sit on the foundations of the Core Core, and use the Sandy Bridge architecture, which marked a big increase in terms of CPI and led us to overcome the barrier of 4 GHz thanks to overclocking.
Intel did not carry out a maximum increase in cores and threads with these processors, but the increase in IPC and maximum working frequencies was so marked that we experienced a huge jump in terms of gross performance. This generation came out so good that they can still move current complex games and applications without problems.
They arrived in 2011 with configurations of up to four cores and eight threads, they have frequencies of 3.1 GHz, although they can exceed 4 GHz without problems, they are manufactured 32nm process and they add 1,160 million transistors.
10.-Intel processors that made history: Intel Core 8000 series
It is a very current generation, but I think it deserves to be on this list because ended a stage of stagnation Important from Intel, as the Core i7 2600K had the same quad-core, eight-wire configuration as the Core i7 7700K, a reality that changed with the Core i7 8700K.
The first quad-core processors for the chip giant’s general consumer market came in 2007, and remained the standard in that market until 2017, date in which Intel launched the Core 8000 processors based on the Coffee Lake architecture, an update that also starts from the Core base.
The Core 8000 processors were released in October 2017. They are manufactured in the 14nm ++ process, total more than 3,000 million transistors, marked the jump to the configurations of 6 cores and 12 threads in the general consumer market and allowed, thanks to overclocking, to reach 5 GHz frequency.