terça-feira, 7 de novembro de 2017

Evolution of the Intel x86 Microprocessor (1978-2008)

ARM and MIPS were the vision of single small groups in 1985; the pieces of these architectures fit nicely together, and the whole architecture can be described succinctly. Such is not the case for the x86; it is the product of several independent groups who evolved the architecture over 30 years, adding new features to the original instruction set as someone might add clothing to a packed bag. Here are important x86 milestones.

  • 1978: The Intel 8086 architecture was announced as an assembly languagecompatible extension of the then successful Intel 8080, an 8-bit microprocessor. The 8086 is a 16-bit architecture, with all internal registers 16 bits wide. Unlike MIPS, the registers have dedicated uses, and hence the 8086 is not considered a general-purpose register architecture.
  • 1980: The Intel 8087 floating-point coprocessor is announced. This architecture extends the 8086 with about 60 floating-point instructions. Instead of using registers, it relies on a stack.
  • 1982: The 80286 extended the 8086 architecture by increasing the address space to 24 bits, by creating an elaborate memory-mapping and protection model, and by adding a few instructions to round out the instruction set and to manipulate the protection model.
  • 1985: The 80386 extended the 80286 architecture to 32 bits. In addition to a 32-bit architecture with 32-bit registers and a 32-bit address space, the 80386 added new addressing modes and additional operations. The added instructions make the 80386 nearly a general-purpose register machine. The 80386 also added paging support in addition to segmented addressing. Like the 80286, the 80386 has a mode to execute 8086 programs without change.
  • 1989-95: The subsequent 80486 in 1989, Pentium in 1992, and Pentium Pro in 1995 were aimed at higher performance, with only four instructions added to the user-visible instruction set: three to help with multiprocessing and a conditional move instruction.
  • 1997: After the Pentium and Pentium Pro were shipping, Intel announced that it would expand the Pentium and the Pentium Pro architectures with MMX (Multi Media Extensions). This new set of 57 instructions uses the floating-point stack to accelerate multimedia and communication applications. MMX instructions typically operate on multiple short data elements at a time, in the tradition of single instruction, multiple data (SIMD) architectures. Pentium II did not introduce any new instructions.
  • 1999: Intel added another 70 instructions, labeled SSE (Streaming SIMD Extensions) as part of Pentium III. The primary changes were to add eight separate registers, double their width to 128 bits, and add a single precision floating-point data type. Hence, four 32-bit floating-point operations can be performed in parallel. To improve memory performance, SSE includes cache prefetch instructions plus streaming store instructions that bypass the caches and write directly to memory.
  • 2001: Intel added yet another 144 instructions, this time labeled SSE2. The new data type is double precision arithmetic, which allows pairs of 64-bit floating-point operations in parallel. Almost all of these 144 instructions are versions of existing MMX and SSE instructions that operate on 64 bits of data in parallel. Not only does this change enable more multimedia operations, it gives the compiler a different target for floating-point operations than the unique stack architecture. Compilers can choose to use the eight SSE registers as floating-point registers like those found in other computers. This change boosted the floating-point performance of the Pentium 4, the first microprocessor to include SSE2 instructions.
  • 2003: A company other than Intel enhanced the x86 architecture this time. AMD announced a set of architectural extensions to increase the address space from 32 to 64 bits. Similar to the transition from a 16- to 32-bit address space in 1985 with the 80386, AMD64 widens all registers to 64 bits. It also increases the number of registers to 16 and increases the number of 128-bit SSE registers to 16. The primary ISA change comes from adding a new mode called long mode that redefines the execution of all x86 instructions with 64-bit addresses and data. To address the larger number of registers, it adds a new prefix to instructions. Depending how you count, long mode also adds four to ten new instructions and drops 27 old ones. PC-relative data addressing is another extension. AMD64 still has a mode that is identical to x86 (legacy mode) plus a mode that restricts user programs to x86 but allows operating systems to use AMD64 (compatibility mode). These modes allow a more graceful transition to 64-bit addressing than the HP/Intel IA-64 architecture.
  • 2004: Intel capitulates and embraces AMD64, relabeling it Extended Memory 64 Technology (EM64T). The major difference is that Intel added a 128-bit atomic compare and swap instruction, which probably should have been included in AMD64. At the same time, Intel announced another generation of media extensions. SSE3 adds 13 instructions to support complex arithmetic, graphics operations on arrays of structures, video encoding, floating-point conversion, and thread synchronization. AMD will offer SSE3 in subsequent chips and it will almost certainly add the missing atomic swap instruction to AMD64 to maintain binary compatibility with Intel.
  • 2006: Intel announces 54 new instructions as part of the SSE4 instruction set extensions. These extensions perform tweaks like sum of absolute differences, dot products for arrays of structures, sign or zero extension of narrow data to wider sizes, population count, and so on. They also added support for virtual machines.
  • 2007: AMD announces 170 instructions as part of SSE5, including 46 instructions of the base instruction set that adds three operand instructions like MIPS.
  • 2008: Intel announces the Advanced Vector Extension that expands the SSE register width from 128 to 256 bits, thereby redefining about 250 instructions and adding 128 new instructions.

Source: Computer Organization and Design, David A. Patterson, John L. Hennessy

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