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Table Of Contents  CertiGuide to A+ (Core Hardware)
 9  Chapter 0010:  CPUs
      9  IV  Older CPUs (80386 and 80486 Class)

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80486
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Math Co-Processors

The challenge with the CPU is that the design is a bit of a generalist. A good analogy may be that of the family doctor. The family doctor is certainly a specialist in medicine, however probably not somebody you would want to see if you need open heart surgery. For that type of an operation, you'd see a surgeon specializing with heart surgery. A math co processor is a specialized processor designed especially to work with numbers where the decimal point is shifting left and right.

Through the 80386, if you wanted a math co processor, you purchased one. For the 8088, you bought an 8087. For the 80286 the 80287’s were just the ticket. And if you had an 80386, you would need (what else?) an 80387.

And Intel was happy to sell you one. Only one small challenge existed for Intel. A feisty little company down in Texas by the name of Cyrix was making a math co processor that plugged right into the math co processor socket, and outperformed the '87 series from Intel, while costing less. These number crunching competitors from Texas were known as FastMath chips. How could Intel stop this competition? How about building the floating-point math co processor right inside the CPU?


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80386-SX
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80486
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