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Full text of "A History of the Personal Computer"

Part IV 



1990's — Current Technology. 



14/2 Part IV 1990's - Current Technology 



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A graphical history of personal compute 
(1990' s) . 



Chapter 14 Hardware in the 1990's 
14.1 ... Microprocessors 

IBM 

IBM introduced a new RISC central processing unit 
(CPU) for the RISC System/6000 workstation in February 
1990. The 32-bit superscalar CPU contained seven to nine 
VLSI CMOS chips using 1-micron technology with operating 
speeds of 20, 25 or 30 MHz. The architecture was called 
a "second generation RISC" by IBM. The CPU contained an 
instruction/branch unit, fixed point unit, floating 
point unit, data cache and storage input/output control 

Depending on the speed and configuration, the CPU could 
execute between 28 to over 40 million instructions per 
second (MIPS) . 

In October 1991, IBM participated in the 
formation of the PowerPC Alliance with Apple Computer 
and Motorola (See Section 19.6). IBM wanted to extend 
its workstation RISC microprocessor technology to a 
broader base of personal computers and reduce its 
dependence on Intel. Production of the PowerPC 601 by 
IBM began in late 1993. The PowerPC 603 for portable 
applications was announced in October 1993. 

Intel 

The 80386SL microprocessor was designed for low 
power, small size portable PC systems and was introduced 
in 1990. The chip has a 32-bit internal data path and a 
memory addressability :■ f _ ■: mi a abyie s . ~:~.i 

microprocessor is available at clock frequencies of 20 
and 2 5 MHz. 

The 80486SX microprocessor is similar to the 
80486DX except it does not have an integrated floating- 
point unit. It was introduced in April 1991. The chip 
has a 32-bit internal data path and a memory 
addressability of 4 gigabytes . The microprocessor is 
available at clock frequencies of 16, 20, 25 and 33 MHz. 



14/4 Part IV 1990's - Current Technology 

The 80486DX2 uses a speed doubling technology and 

was introduced in March 1992. With this technology the 
microprocessor runs at 66 MHz while interfacing to a low 
cost 33 MHz system. This boosted computer performance by 
up to 70 percent without a system redesign. The chip has 
a 32-bit internal data path and a memory addressability 
of 4 gigabytes. The microprocessor is available at clock 
frequencies of 50/66 MHz. 

The OverDrive processors were introduced in 1992, 
as an upgrade strategy for Intel 486 systems. The 
OverDrive processor is based on the "speed doubling" 
technology of the 80486DX2 . It doubles the internal 
speed of the CPU while still "talking" to the rest of 
the system at the same frequency. This boosts overall 
performance by 70 percent. 

March 1993. The name was selected in an employee 
c snipe" it i-:-n and was registered ~c prevent similar 
product designations by competitors. The word Pentium 
contains the syllable pent, which is the Latin root for 
five and is also Intel 's fifth-generation 

microprocessor. It has 3.1 million transistors, nearly 
three times as many as the Intel 486 microprocessor. It 
uses 0.8 micron BiCMOS technology that combines bipolar 
(speed) and CMOS (low power consumption! 

applications five to ten times faster than a 33-MHz 486 
unit. It has a 64-bit data bus and at 66-MHz it has a 
performance of 112 MIPS (Million Instructions Per 
Second) . It utilizes superscalar RISC architecture and 

instructions in a single clock cycle. It also features 
two Level 1 (LI) 8 KB on-chip caches, one for data and 
the other for instructions which improves performance. 
The original Pentium was available at speeds of 60 and 
66 MHz. The price at launch was S878 . This 
microprocessor is now available at speeds from 75 to 200 
MHz. 

Intel introduced the Pentium "P54C" that operated 
at 3.3 volts in 1994. Then Intel introduced the clock- 
tripled 80486DX4 with a larger cache in March. A joint 
venture with Hewlett-Packard to develop a new 64-bit 



Hardware in the 1990's 14/5 

the IA-64 microprocessor. 

In the fall of 1994, the public became aware of a 
minor design error in the Pentium microprocessor. The 
design flaw which was in the floating point unit, caused 
a mathematical rounding error in a division once every 
nine billion times. Intel had encountered the problem 
several months earlier and had established a policy of 
replacing the chip for those users who were doing a lot 
of mathematical calculations. Then in December it was 
reported that IBM was stopping shipment of all computers 
using ~:".e Pentium. The a::iveu=je publicity resulting from 
this and other reports caused Intel to change its 
replacement policy in late December to include all 
customers, who wanted the Pentium changed. Intel 
scrapped all Pentiums that had not been sold. This and 
the replacement program resulted in a financial loss to 
Intel of $475 million. 

Intel announced the Pentium Pro (initially known 
as the P6| microprocessor in November 19 95 . The Pentium 
Pro contains two chips, a CPU and two sizes of cache in 
a single package. The CPU has 5.5 million transistors. 
The chip incorporated a 16 KB Level 1 (LI) cache. The 
Level 2 (L2) 256K cache has 15.5 million transistors and 
the 512K version has 31 million transistors. The CPU and 

speed bus. The register size is 32 bits, the data bus 64 

bits and the address bus is 32 bits. The microprocessor 

cycle and 300 million instructions per second. Clock 
speeds were 150, 166, ISO and 200 MHz. 

Intel introduced the Pentium processor with MMX 
technology in January 1597. The MMX processor provided 

performance. It also included a 32 KB Level 1 (LI) 
cache. The Pentium II processor was introduced in May 
1997. It extended the power of the Pentium Pro by adding 
MMX technology, dual independent bus architecture and 
was introduced at processing speeds of 233, 266 and 300 
MHz. The chip has 7.5 million transistors. It also 
featured a new single edge contact cartridge physical 



14/6 Part IV 1990's - Current Technology 

In October 1997, Intel announced the new IA-64 

introduction planned for 1999 (subsequently changed to 
2000) . Principals in the joint development with Hewlett- 
Packard were John Crawford of Intel ad Jerry Huck of HP. 

concept of Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing 
(EPIC) . It would also be able to run Windows software 
and HP's version of UNIX. 

The Celeron processor with a clock speed of 266 
MHz was introduced in April 1998. The Celeron is the 
same as the Pentium II, but is mounted in a lower-cost 
module and has no L2 cache. The processor is targeted at 
the low-cost personal computer market. In August Intel 
announced two new versions of the Celeron, the 300A and 
the 333. Both chips had 128 KB of integrated L2 cache 
and the 333 operated at 333 MHz. 

The Pentium II Xeon microprocessor was introduced 
in August 1998. It was designed for mid- and high-range 

operating at 550 MHz in early 1999. A 600 MHz version 
was introduced in August. In October, Intel announced it 
had selected Itanium as the new brand name for the first 
product in its IA-64 family of processors, formerly 
cude-r. ameo Me reed . 

Motorola 

The MC68060 is a 32-bit superscalar 

microprocessor introduced in 1991 . It executes 

instructions at 100 MIPS, has a SK byte instruction 
cache, 8K byte data cache and a floating-point unit. 
Clock speeds are 50-66 MHz. 

Motorola announced the PowerPC 601 mic roproces sor 
in 1992. The new microprocessor was developed through 
the PowerPC Alliance with Apple Computer and IBM (See 
Section 19.6). This is the first implementation of the 
PowerPC family of reduced instruction set computing 
(RISC) microprocessors and is designated MPC601 by 
Motorola. 

The MPC601 is a 32-bit implementation of the 64- 
bit PowerPC architecture. The microprocessor contains 



Hardware in the 1990's 14/7 

2.8 million transistors. It is a superscalar processor 
with the ability to execute three instructions per clock 
cycle. The MPC601 integrates three instruction units: an 
integer unit (IU) , a branch processing unit (BPU) and a 
floating point unit (FPU) . The microprocessor has a 32K 
byte cache and is available in 50 and 66 MHz clock 
speeds. The 50 MHz MPC601 is priced at $380 each and the 
66 MHz version lists at $374 for production volumes of 
20, 000 units. 

In 1994, production began of the PowerPC 603 for 
portable applications, the PowerPC 604 for high 
performance personal computers and the 64-bit PowerPC 

Miscellau eons 

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) successfully 

completed the independent cloned design of the Intel 
80386 microprocessor in August 1990. The new processor 
was named Am386 and was followed by the Am4S6 clone. AMD 
then started development of its own microprocessor 
design using RISC technology that resulted in the 
release of the K5 microprocessor in 1996, to compete 
with the Intel Pentium. The K6 microprocessor followed 
in April 1979 using technology it received after 
acquiring the NexGen company in 1996. AMD announced the 
K6-2 with additional features in May 1998. 

Sun Microsystems released the SuperSPARC 
microprocessor that had 3.1 million transistors in 1991. 
However, the performance was below expectations. It was 
replaced by the successful UltraSPARC microprocessor in 
late 1995. 

Cyrix is a company that got its start by 
producing the 80486SLC chip for notebook computers. 
Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) developed the 64-bit 
Alpha 21064 microprocessor in 19 92, that had 1 . 68 
million transistors and operated at 200 MHz. 

MIPS (purchased by Silicon Graphics) introduced 
the R8000 microprocessor in June 1994. It was reported 
to be the world' s fastest microprocessor, a 
supercomputer on a chip. This was followed by the R10000 
chip in 1995. 



14/8 Part IV 1990's - Current Technology 



June 1996, the U.S. Patent and Tr, 
erturned a patent awarded to Gilbert Hyi 



14.2 ... IBM Computers 



Andy Heller managed the RIOS project that began 

in 1986 to develop a new advanced workstation using RISC 
(Reduced Instruction Set Computing) microprocessor 
technology. John Cocke who created the RISC concept at 
IBM was a principal in the new project. The new computer 
became the RISC System/6000 family of six advanced 
workstations that IBM introduced in February 1990. 

The entry-level systems were called POWERstation 
and POWERserver, and used a POWER architecture. POWER is 
an acronym for Performance Optimization With Enhanced 
RISC. The 32-bit RISC central processing unit (CPU) was 
mounted on a card that plugged into the system 
motherboard. The CPU was available with operating speeds 
between 2 and 3 MHz that enabled 2 8 to 4 million 
instructions per second (MIPS) . the six models varied 
depending on the physical construction, CPU speed, 

version of the IBM Micro Channel (MCA) bus. IBM also 
released an enhanced version of the AIX operating system 
and OSF/Motif software for the workstation. An entry- 
level system with a 20 MHz CPU, 8 MB of RAM, one 1.4 MB 
3.5 inch floppy disk, 120 MB hard disk, a 19 inch 1,280 
by 1,024 pixel monochrome display and other accessories 
had a price of 512, 99 5. The workstations were well 

with other workstation suppliers. 

The PS/1 computer was announced in mid 1990. 

IBM introduced the PS/2 Model P75 portable 
computer in November 1990. The portable computer 
measured 18 by 12 by 6 inches and weighed 22 pounds. A 
standard unit utilized an Intel 486 microprocessor 
operating at 33 MHz, 8 MB of RAM (expandable to 16 MB), 
3.5 inch high-density floppy disk drive and a 160 MB 



Hardware in the 1990's 14/9 

hard disk drive. The unit had four MCA expansion slots, 
a 10 inch diagonal gas-plasma display and a 101 key 
detachable keyboard. The orange-on-black display 

supported CGA, EGA, and VGA graphics with up to 16 
shades of orange with a resolution of 640 by 480 pixels. 
The unit also supported XGA graphics with 256 colors 
with a resolution of 1,024 by 768 pixels on an external 

$15, 990. The portable was not successful due to price 
and a market change to smaller laptop computers. 

Bob Lawten headed a project that started 
cievelspino a laptop compute : in Ja-uary 1990. The 

at the IBM Yamato laboratory in Japan. IBM announced the 
battery operated PS/2 Model L40 SX laptop computer in 
March 1991. The portable unit measured 12.8 by 2.1 by 
10.7 inches and weighed 7 . 7 pounds. The unit used an 
Intel 80386SX microprocessor operating at 20 MHz and 

2 MB of RAM, expandable to 6 MB. A 3.5 inch 1.44 MB 
floppy disk drive and a 60 MB hard disk drive were 
incorporated into the unit. The display was a 10 inch 
sidelit supertwist VGA LCD that supported 32 gray 
scales. The laptop had an 84 key keyboard and a 17 key 

provided. The base system cost 55,995. 

Ted Selker, who was director of IBM's ergonomics 

California, created the TrackPoint pointing device 
around 1991. It was developed as a means of controlling 
the cursor on the screen without taking the hands off 
the keyboard. The TrackPoint is a small pole mounted on 
the keyboard that converts side pressure to a 
corresponding movement of the cursor. It was one of the 
innovative features of IBM's ThinkPad notebook computer. 

Between 1990 and 1991, IBM started developing a 
pen computing type of computer. The project was headed 
by Kathy Vieth. IBM had done research on handwriting 
recognition and a pen based operating system. However it 
chose a pen based operating system from Go Corporation 



14/10 Part IV 1990's - Current Technology 

that had been founded by Jerry Kaplan . A pel 
computer named ThinkPad was announced in April 19 

In 1992, IBM introduced two low cost se 
computers. The Ambra series was marketed in E 
Canada and France in June, and the Value Point se 
the USA in October. 



14.3 ... Apple Computers 



Sakoman who had headed the Newton project since 1987, 
resigned from Apple in March 1990. Larry Tesler took 
over the project in May. In February 1991, Michael 
Tchao, the product marketing manager, convinced John 
Sculley to concentrate the project on a less-expensive 
handheld version of Newton targeted at the consumer 
market. Sculley envisioned it as a consumer product 
version of the Knowledge Navigator concept he had 
described in his 1987 autobiography Odyssey. Shortly 
after, production of the mini Newton with the code name 
of Junior was approved. Two principals in the product 
development were Steve Capps and Michael Culbert. It 
became a new type of consumer oriented handheld computer 
called a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) . Apple named 
z'-e new pi:sduo- Xe:; sage Pad and launched it in August 
1993. It had a capability to recognize writing by 
writing on its 240 by 336 pixel LCD screen with a 
stylus. It also had an infrared beaming capability for 
intercommunication between computers. The computer used 
an ARM 610 microprocessor designed by Advanced RISC 
Machines (ARM) Ltd. of Cambridge, England. Memory was 4 
MB of ROM and 640 K bytes of RAM. The unit measured 7.25 
inches long by 4.5 inches wide and 0.7 5 inches thick, 
weighed 0.9 pounds and was priced at $699. A number of 
improved models were released later. However, sales were 
significantly below expectations. The Newton product 
line was terminated by Steve Jobs in February 1998. 

The Mac LC was released in 1990. Apple 
discontinued the Apple lie in November 1990. 

In October 1991, Apple participated in the 
formation of the PowerPC Alliance with IBM and Motorola 



Hardware in the 1990's 14/11 

(See Section 19.6). Apple wanted a more powerful 
microprocessor for a new line of Macintosh computers. 

Apple discontinued the Apple II product line in 
November 1993 . 

In 1994, Apple introduced the Power Macintosh 
series of computers in March and the PowerBook 500 
series of notebook computers in May. 

Apple introduced the iMac computer in August 
1998. The computer featured a one-piece blue translucent 

and 15- inch monitor. The system included a translucent 
keyboard and a new round translucent mouse. The unit 
incorporated a 233 MHz PowerPC 750 G3 microprocessor, 32 
MB of SDRAM, 4 GB hard disk drive, 24X CD-ROM drive and 
a 56k modem. A significant omission was that the unit 
did not include a 3.5 inch floppy disk drive. Apple 
priced the computer at $1,299. A completely redesigned 
iMac was introduced in October 1999. 

The iBook is a new portable computer introduced 
in July 1999. It was to be the "iMac to Go' and featured 
a stylish case, large active-matrix display, long 
battery life and a PowerPC G3 microprocessor. 

14.4... Other Computers 

Compaq 

In response to intense competition from clone 
manufacturers, Compaq launched a project with the code 
name of Ruby to develop a low cost personal computer. 
The project was headed by Richard Swingle . This project 
resulted in the ProLinea and Contura models being 
introduced in June 1992 and the ProSignia server 
computer in October 1992. 

The Deskpro/M family of modular computers were 
introduced in September 1992. 

Silicon Graphics (SGI) 

SGI introduced the Indigo workstation for the 
technical market in July 1995. The 02 workstation was 
introduced to compete with high performance personal 
computers in October 1996. 



14/12 Part IV 1990's - Current Technology 

U.S. Robotics 

U.S. Robotics released a new Personal Digital 
Assistant (PDA) computer called the PalmPilot in 1996. 
Principals in the development of the PalmPilot were Jeff 
Hawkins and Donna Dubinsky. It is a mobile organizer 
~-,it can interface wit:", a desktop computer. It -as 
become a very successful product.