Intel 80386

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The Intel 80386, also known as the i386, or just 386, was a 32-bit microprocessor introduced by Intel in 1985. The first versions had 275,000 transistors and were used as the central processing unit (CPU) of many workstations and high end personal computers of the time. As the original implementation of the 32-bit extension of the 8086 architecture, the 80386 instruction set, programming model, and binary encodings are still the common denominator for all 32-bit x86 processors. This is termed x86, IA-32, or the i386-architecture, depending on context.

The 80386 could correctly execute most code intended for earlier 16-bit x86 processors such as the 8088 and 80286 that were ubiquitous in early PCs. Following the same tradition, modern 64-bit x86 processors are able to run most programs written for older chips, all the way back to the original 16-bit 8086 of 1978. Over the years, successively newer implementations of the same architecture have become several hundreds of times faster than the original 80386 (and thousands of times faster than the 8086).[1] A 33 MHz 80386 was reportedly measured to operate at about 11.4 MIPS.[2]

The 80386 was launched in October 1985, but full-function chips were first delivered in the third quarter of 1986.[3][4] Mainboards for 80386-based computer systems were cumbersome and expensive at first, but manufacturing was rationalized upon the 80386's mainstream adoption. The first personal computer to make use of the 80386 was designed and manufactured by Compaq[5] and marked the first time a fundamental component in the IBM PC compatible de facto-standard was updated by another company than IBM.

In May 2006, Intel announced that 80386 production would stop at the end of September 2007.[6] Although it had long been obsolete as a personal computer CPU, Intel and others had continued making the chip for embedded systems. Such systems using an 80386 or one of many derivatives are common in aerospace technology, among others.


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