Happy birthday: Intel's Pentium processor turns 20 years old today

By on March 22, 2013, 2:30 PM

Intel’s infamous Pentium processor got its start 20 years ago today with the release of the Pentium 60 CPU. That chip utilized Intel’s 5-volt Socket 4, was build on an 800-nanometer process and carried 3.1 million transistors. For comparison, today’s third generation Ivy Bridge processors use a 22-nanometer process and contain 1.4 billion transistors.

As ExtremeTech notes, early Pentium processors weren’t anything special. In fact, the first generation was barely faster than the 486DX chips they replaced. It wasn’t until the Pentium 3 came along that Intel really started to find traction with the platform, outpacing competing chips from AMD and Cyrix with ease.

Pentium 4, however, was regarded as a step back in the eyes of many. The architecture was designed to run at very high clock speeds (which it did) but at the expense of real-world performance. These chips also ran extremely hot, meaning they required a large heatsink and noisy cooling fan to keep under control. The misstep ultimately allowed AMD to take the performance crown with their highly successful Athlon line for several years.

Intel eventually found their way again with the Core architecture that debuted near the end of 2007. Interestingly enough, this platform was based on the same P6 architecture used in the first Pentium Pro back in 1995. The rest is pretty much history as Intel has had tremendous success with more recent platforms like Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge. With Haswell in sight and AMD hardly visible in the rear-view mirror, Intel appears set to carry on without much major competition for the foreseeable future.




User Comments: 27

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Guest said:

Happy birthday :)

JC713 JC713 said:

Aw yeah! Happy birthday.

Chazz said:

Intel eventually found their way again with the Core architecture that debuted near the end of 2007 and shady business practices prior as a stop gap solution. Interestingly enough, this platform was based on the same P6 architecture used in the first Pentium Pro back in 1995. The rest is pretty much history as Intel has had tremendous success with more recent platforms like Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge. With Haswell in sight and AMD hardly visible in the rear-view mirror, Intel appears set to carry on without much major competition for the foreseeable future.

fixed.

HPB

Staff
Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

What a ride... makes me feel old having owned a few different Pentiums over the years (and AMD replacements as well, maybe even a Cyrix at some point).

amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

One of my best upgrades was from a Celeron 533MHz to a Pentium 3 866Mhz. Really got the most out of my GPU after that... (although embarrassingly enough I can't remember what it was, might have been a Voodoo3 3000 AGP).

ikesmasher said:

I remember when Pentium 4 started aging. That was when I first got into PCs, and Pentium 4s were my godsend from the previous PCs I used.

Guest said:

My first build was with one of the early Pentiums. Can't believe it's been that long. I must have converted over 1.21 gigawatts of electric energy into gaming heat by-product over the years with the Pentium line.

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I started out with a Cyrix 500mhz (which I've still got), moved to a Sempron 2.2ghz which I thought was fast until my Celeron 2.4ghz dual core came along. It was that processor that made me side with Intel when (just 2 weeks ago) I upgraded to the Core i7 3770K...and I couldn't be happier with it.

Happy Birthday Intel

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Instead of owning the first Pentium, I think it was the Cyrix 6x86-P150+ CPU that I had after the 486 generation.

TechGamer TechGamer said:

Guess what I still am using a pentium 4 well atm it is currently with a faulty windows viruses :S but when il feel like using that pc again il format it. :P waiting for that pc im getting in 20th may

misor misor said:

Got a pentium 166mhz (1998?)

tipstir tipstir, TS Ambassador, said:

Cyrix was something else back then. Still got my 88x86 4MHz, VIA 386SX 16MHz still works today not Intel though. PI 100MHz even have that chip still. PII 266MHz, PIII 500MHz and 900MHz, P4, Atoms, Dual Atoms and Dual i3 some celeron (means no Release by intel engineers inside joke). AMD Sempron, AMD Phenom Quad, AMD Fusion A8 latest.

Guest said:

Heck.. I can't believe I started with a Pentium 75MHz processor as a kid! When I say it now most people ask 'was that your motherboards FSB speed?' (Today even my smartphone has a quad core processor running at 1.5GHz)

Happy B'day Pentium. You have grown up sooo much and today I can't imagine the life without you.

veLa veLa said:

Man I remember my first Pentium I and Pentium MMX machines.

Guest said:

Can't believe I started with a 8086 processor running at 4mhz! at an early age playing commander keen and Duke Nukem :)

Railman said:

Pentium 75 was my last Intel processor. I currently have an ancient AMD CPU but wish to upgrade. I am tempted to go back to a Pentium as the price is so attractive.

blackshadow2007 said:

My first Pentium was a P2 300MHz, it was a huge upgrade from the 486 x2 I had at the time. Shortly after I went to a P2 450MHz to get a little better performance in the game Descent 2. Later I switched to AMD with a Athlon 700MHz, and stuck with AMD for years. It wasn't until my Core 2 Duo E8400 that I went back to Intel, which my mom is still using now. Currently I am using a i7 980x which I am only going to upgrade from cause I need PCI Express 3.0 aside from that it is still faster then most CPU's.

killeriii said:

Can't believe I started with a 8086 processor running at 4mhz! at an early age playing commander keen and Duke Nukem

I remember playing commander keen on a Tandy 286 in 16 color CGA. Good times!

My first computer was a 386/25mhz compaq when I was a child. Played Doom and Ultima Underworld on it after a memory upgrade to 4MB. My folks bought the computer at discount from a company incentive program through work. Still cost over $3000. The 2MB memory upgrade was $250.

I couldn't afford a pentium when they came out. I ended up buying a used pentium 2 266 slot style when I was a teenager. As soon as I saw the performance of the Pentium 3's, I had to have one. I bought a dual socket MB, and slapped in 2 PIII 1Ghz coppermine chips. Outperformed P4's for years.

Next was the obvious upgrade away from P4's to AMD and their Athlon 64 (cheap!), then back to intel with a core2, and finally an i7 2600k (best chip ever).

I don't know what it will take to upgrade now as the i7 handles everything with ease. And I haven't even overclocked it yet!!!

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

Intel needed those high clocks to compensate for the cache misses in their big azz [31-stage] pipelines... those were the days.

I have a Pentium w/MMX in my box of "goodies".

Ranger1st Ranger1st said:

I played tank wars on my CDC 8600 in 1974.. I was barely old enough to dial up the tele and push it into the modem receiver.. I'm pretty sure I played tank wars against Seymour Cray, my uncle was VP of Control Data USA at the time and said as much, didn't have a clue who the guy was until WELL into the 80's..

I held on to my 486 DX66 until well into the P133 range.. last intel chip until my slot 1 Asus dual CPU board..(my first ghz+system in 99' , P4 came out and haven't gone back to Intel since.

Littleczr Littleczr said:

My first computer was a 486 with only 75 of HD space. It had windows 3.11 and I managed to delete everything, and I mean everything, notepad and all, in order to install warcraft 2.

Don't even let me tell you about my sleepless nights with civilization.

highlander84 said:

I think I still have an Pentium 60 CPU with Mobo and everything in storage lol maybe one day it will be worth something?! lol

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

I think I still have an Pentium 60 CPU with Mobo and everything in storage lol maybe one day it will be worth something?! lol

Me too but somehow I doubt it will become valuable in our lifetime.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

My first computer was a 486 with only 75 of HD space. It had windows 3.11 and I managed to delete everything, and I mean everything, notepad and all, in order to install warcraft 2.

Don't even let me tell you about my sleepless nights with civilization.

I used to have a 286 with 20 meg hdd & 32 bits of ram running Windows 3.00 which was upgraded from dos 3.3. Before that I had a Spectrum ZX & an Apple 2e which I still have. After the Apple I've only owned Intel machines including the hot & awful Pentium Prescott 3.6 Ghz. My PIII 600 was a great machine (for the time)

Guest said:

I still remembered it back then when I was an Electronics Engineering student and we were studying the 8080 assembly language instruction set along with the Zilog Z80 processor. Several years later the Athlon XP left it in the dust (the best single-core processor ever), but come the dawn of the multi-core processors it was all Intel.

Andre Fontaine Andre Fontaine said:

My first PC was a Pentium 133Mhz, 32MB Ram, and a 3GB Maxtor HDD. I deleted windows 95 and installed os/2 warp on it :)

Phr3d said:

Pentium-smentium, it was Intel's answer to the easy oc-ability of the 486 and brought little to the party at its introduction. Our little corporation saved a million buying 486-25's and moving the jumper to make them into 33's with real-world performance results (on par with the short-lived, outrageously expensive 486-50). Good ol' days indeed. The first Pentium worthy of examination was the 100MHz.

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