Dont you just love provocative headlines like that? The
first thing that pops to mind might have been Ah, hes talking about the new
dual core CPUs that Intel is shipping. or Oh, thats probably a somethinghaving to do with lower power CPUs for laptops".
Nope. In this case, Im talking about Intel following AMDs
lead in abandoning 386 and 486 CPUs. AMD abandoned their 486 and 586 line back in 2002.
Intel recently announced that they would no longer be producing 386, 486, and
some other RISC processors afterSeptember 2007.
Although not an earth-shattering announcement nor one that
will probably shock the computer industry, but its interesting from a couple
of angles. First, theres the whole history and End-Of-An-Era thing that the
production end means. Secondly, theres the Wow factor that Intel has stillbeen able to sell these CPU classes 15 years after their peak popularity.
From the historical perspective, the 386-class CPUs changed
the entire PC industry. Back before the first George Bush was in office, the
386 CPU ushered in the era of 32-bit computing that were only now starting to
see the end of. By adopting the 386 before IBM, Compaq put itself on the map
and lead to the overthrow of the entire IBM PC empire. Mated with Windows 3.1
and then Windows 95, the 386/486 entrenched Microsoft at the top of thesoftware industry.
People long forgot about those CPUs. Before the turn of the
century the Pentium line and its successors had made the 386 and 486 CPUs
essentially obsolete. The CPUs have lived on as embedded processors, still
crunching data bits inside of devices such as network controllers and dataacquisition devices.
So, even though Intel will still be cranking out the creaky
silicon for another year, the end is on the horizon. While were pounding away on dual core
processors and looking forward to 64-bit and quad-core processors for every dayuse, all we can say is The King is Dead! Long live the King!