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The first chip used in PCs was Intel's 8088. This was not, at the time it was chosen, the best available CPU, in fact Intel's own 8086 was more powerful and had been released earlier. The 8088 was chosen for reasons of economics: its 8-bit data bus required less costly motherboards than the 16-bit 8086. Also, at the time that the original PC was designed, most of the interface chips available were intended for use in 8-bit designs. It's ironic, isn't it, that Intel's first production chip was in a way, the "8086SX"? :^) It originally shipped at 4.77 MHz and a "turbo" version was later produced that ran at 8 MHz (Woo.. :^) )
This original chip used what would be considered today to be archaic technology. The 8088 offers performance less than one-thousandth that of a modern processor, showing just how far we have come in 15 years.
Note: The NEC V20 is an
8088-compatible but actually delivers slightly better performance due to a slightly more
efficient internal design.
Note: The original design of
this chip was in NMOS, with newer ones in CMOS (80C88) for lower power consumption.
Look here for an explanation of the categories in the processor summary table below, including links to more detailed explanations.
Next: Intel 8086