Risc-V video comments--trip down memory lane

Enjoyed the recent video (9/26/21) on the Risc-V ITX developer’s kit because it brought back my memories of x86 “state of the art” 35 or more years ago. In the early 90’s–sort of pre-Win3.1-to mid 3.1 timeframes. At that time, the Amiga MC68000 family of CPUs was clobbering Intel’s 8086/88, etc. in many areas we consider important today–but that weren’t important then. The brief 2d scenes in the video looked like state of the art EGA gaming on PC’s in those days…:wink: Watching the video was like stepping backwards through time!

In the latter 90s, RISC was projected to remove x86 from the scheme of things, and in a sense, it did. x86 hasn’t actually been “x86” for many years, and it all began with Intel’s original Pentiums–and a couple of others now lost to time and my memory…:wink: But what happened is the same thing that’s happening today in regards to x86–x86 has indeed evolved far beyond the original x86 ASICs. Indeed, neither Intel nor AMD currently manufacture “x86” CPUs–but what they are manufacturing are CISC-RISC hybrid CPUs that are convincingly backwards compatible with the x86 instruction set but without the limits that afflicted actual x86 CPUs when they were being manufactured. Apple today still talks about “x86” as if the 80286 was still being manufactured and sold…:wink:

What happened, of course, was that RISC was overestimated whereas Intel and AMD were uniformly underestimated. Same old, same old. Fortunately, neither AMD or Intel feel compelled to limit themselves to the views held by other companies making and designing drastically different, incompatible CPU hardware. RISC for me is imbalanced in the sense of how much it depends on software versus the RISC-CISC hybrid designs sold by AMD and Intel. That I always believed was the architecture weakness that even way back in the 90’s gimped RISC.

For simple, embedded stuff, of course, ARM has been chugging along there for years. The RISC CPU strategy is ideal for low-powered, relatively low-performance embedded CPU applications–comparatively speaking against the much higher-performance RISC-CISC AMD designs today. In those areas, the software-heavy dependence of the RISC architectures are ideal, imo. I can’t imagine what will happen to ARM, though, should nVidia be allowed to purchase the company–I sincerely hope not!

Anyway–the video took me back to much earlier days–so thanks…:wink:


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