by Dylan Dennen
The first “cpu”( Central Processing Unit ) were in early prototype designs in the early 1950’s, there was no architecture for the cpu’s, and every cpu design was different and not compatible with the other designs, so if a program was written for one computer it would only work for that specific computer.There was also no widely accepted computer language( most people were still testing other ideas ) like binary, but most computers of the time were running on a decimal based system( they worked in base-10 instead of base-2 like today ).
The first set of “family computers”(computers that can all run the same programs) was being designed by IBM in 1962, their idea was that their customer base would be more loyal and likely to say with their company if they offered computers at different price points(performance varying) that could all run the same programs.The main instruction set that they would eventually tweak to run on all of their computers was called System/360( S/360 ), This was the first popular instruction set to use binary as the language.IBM also invented RISC( Reduced Instruction Set Computing Lated know as CISC( Complex Instruction Set Computing )).This was also the time period where the concept of ram ( nothing like the ram we know today, just a concept that the main storage would be accompanied by a much smaller and much faster storage device ) was making its way into systems.
In the 1970s what we recognize as a computer today started to become remotely possible, integrated circuits became economical and practical, one of the first commercially available microprocessors was the binary based Intel 4004, a little more than a year later Intel released their new microprocessor( the Intel 8008 ) that had a 8-bit based architecture with an integrated pMOS logic a re-implementation of the Transistor-Transistor Logic( TTL )based Datapoint 2200 cpu. Later Intel created the Intel 8080 which became the first widespread micro processor.IBM was striving to make large, fast computers with 1 megabyte of ram, clock speeds near 1 megahertz and 10s of megabytes of disk drives( very underwhelming today but in their time this was a very high end computer ).
In the 1980s the RISC( Reduced Instruction Set Computing ) came to dominate, but not for what you would think.The RISC instruction set was becoming increasingly popular among non-desktop/notebook applications such as Printers.
In 1996 a great stride in CPU technology was invented, the IBM Power 4 was the first Multi-Core Processor, it only had two cores but that was a big step in 1996 since all processors had been only a single core before it. Multi-Core CPUs can handle more information at a time. Think of it this way a Single-Core CPU has one pipeline which data is processed through, and a Dual-Core CPU has two pipelines which data is processed through Parallelization( the workload of a cpu is split evenly between all cores ( in this case 2 )) which in turn improved the performance of the CPU greatly. Hyper-Threading was Introduced by our favorite computer company Intel in 2002, Hyper-Threading doubles the number of threads each CPU core can have,a thread from the perspective of the CPU is just an ordered sequence of instructions that tells the computer what to do.Hyper-Threading increases each CPU cores throughput by allowing the core to work on two things at once(only one thread can send information out at a time but Hyper-Threading stops the CPU core from being bottlenecked( slowed down ) by too much information).The first CPU to have hyperthreading was released in february of 2002 by Intel and was from their server line of processors( the Xeon line to be specific ) and later that year in November they released the Pentium 4 processor from their desktop line which included Hyper-Threading. Below are pictures from the 1950s era CPU from IBM 700( left ) and the Intel i7-6700k( right ) which is Intel's newest desktop processor, just with these two pictures have show have far we have come in technology, from before where a CPU would be the size of a desk to today where we can fit one infinitely more powerful inside of a smartphone.