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back to article Linux kernel dumps 386 chip support

Linus Torvalds has announced the Linux kernel no longer supports Intel's 80386 processors. Reg readers will doubtless recall that the 386 debuted way back in 1985 and made something of a splash when the chip found its way into PCs made by Compaq before an IBM PC bearing the processor reached the market. 386s screamed along, by …

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Anonymous Coward

386?

Hell, I remember programming the 8080. It was a ceramic DIP chip, too - none of this new fangled plastic or BGA stuff.

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Re: 386?

8080, bloody Hell! Almost forgot, that's where I started with assembler. And I enjoyed it. Guess that makes me kind of a nerd.

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Re: 8080, bloody Hell!

I am from the same time period, as I cut my teeth on a Z-80, and I toyed with assembler.

The fact that I recall systems with free space on a 90k SSSD 5-1/4 floppy, has to "date me".

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Re: 8080, bloody Hell!

Pah.....at least with a proper 8" floppy you could just use a hole-punch (very carefully) to double your capacity

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Coat

Re: 386?

You didn't start on the 4040, like me? To be fair, mine was a plastic DIP package, but the IO chip was ceramic.

I never tried running a *nix on it, and, IIRC, Linux never supported the 286 or earlier.

I only switched off my last 386SX in 2010, though that was running DOS.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 386?

@Allan George Dyer Pretty sure it ran Minix, though.

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Re: 8080, bloody Hell!

@Kevin Johnstone

Umm, you could do that with 5 1/4 inch disks. The day I learned to do that with my apple ][ floppies was a joyous day indeed.

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Happy

Re: 8080, bloody Hell!

Apple ][+ 140k SSSD FD IIRC. Ah, the joys of being able to hook the reset button! :D

Go-go Miner 2049er (but not "lemonade stand" - that's not a proper game.)

My neighbour had a Heathkit Z80 on which we used to play Y-Wing.

You are in a maze of happy memories, all alike. On the wall is an inscription.

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Re: 8080, bloody Hell!

@Fatman - the fact that you know what SSSD means without thinking it is a mistype of a new fangled non-spinning disk thingy dates you (and me).

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Re: Z-80

I'm going to let you finish, but first I'd like to say that the 6502 was the best 8-bit processor of all time

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Re: Z-80

...but 6809 had multiply! Multiply! That made it practically a supercomputer!

I was young.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 386?

You think you had it bad? Ha! When I was a lad I had to program an abacus in binary to factorise on an elliptic curve, while barefoot, sweeping the igloo 's chimney and fending off hungry polar bears.

You don't know how lucky you've got it.

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Re: 8080, bloody Hell!

I suspect that might date quite a few of us...

Whether that is a good thing or a bad one I shall leave to the reader.

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N2

Re: 8080, bloody Hell!

You could also double the capacity in the same way with the smaller 720K floppy as well :D

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Re: 8080, bloody Hell!

Ahh, embedded stepper motor controller software development on a Z80 and PIO chip with NMI's, takes me right back....

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Re: Z-80

"6809 had multiply! Multiply! That made it practically a supercomputer!"

Integer multiply of course, but far, far better it has wonderful addressing modes.

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Re: 386?

"Linux never supported the 286 or earlier."

Well, the linux kernel didn't appear until 1991 and Linus built it for a 386/486 target (he was playing with Minix 386 and was frustrated with its limitations).

However, somewhere in my loft I still have a copy of v2 of Xenix (an MS licensed version of Unix) dating from the mid 80s which ran on a 286. The earlier version ran on 8086 I believe.

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Joke

Re: 386?

But didn't Apple invent both the 386 and the 8080? And all other chips in between, and ever since?

I'm sure I read a patent application just last week about it.

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Unhappy

Re: Z-80

The 6809 seemed to be one of the best of the 8bit breed. Good addressing modes, multiple accumulators, orthogonal instructions. I think it had only 2 real problems

Long execution times.

Late in the field.

Motorola made many microcontrollers with all sorts of on chip jiggery pokery, and whoever they are now (Freescale?) probably still does but only on the 6800 instruction set.

OT I wonder what a Psion II would have been like with the 6809 instruction set available?

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Re: 386?

Luxury. We used to dream of hungry polar bears...

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Re: Z-80

"The 6809 seemed to be one of the best of the 8bit breed"

I think the problem was it WAS rather slow and the complex, elegant addressing modes and position independent code which made it such a great cpu to program in assembler were dying the death as compilers generally only used simpler modes. It was caught at the wrong moment in time really with the 68000 being developed on one hand and the shift over to RISC on the other.

I've often thought that an updated 32 bit with high clock speeds would have been interesting but past is past and I'd much rather have a multi-core modern cpu running at 3GHz even if much of the power seems to disappear somewhere these days.

(I do have a 6809 still running in a home-made Forth system but I guess I've not switched it on in years)

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Re: Z-80

Who knew 8-bit processors would be such a hot button issue!?

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Re: 386?

snap

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Devil

Re: 386?

No, apple invented the rectangle ... ;)

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Re: 8080, bloody Hell!

For me, it was the 6502 on a Commodore 128. Simple as it was, the built-in machine language Monitor actually found some use for me in the latter days as with help from a book explaining all the opcodes, I actually learned how to make my own ML programs. Being able to interpret assembler code is still finding use for me when I stumble upon the occasional snippet. Generally, all I need is a lookup of the appropriate architecture and I can follow along.

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Re: 8080, bloody Hell!

Don't you normally split the term in the middle? Then again, by the time I cut my teeth on a C128, most disks were being labeled DS/DD or 2S/2D. Then by the time I went with 486's you had DS/HDs, in both sizes.

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Re: 386?

Nope. Intel gets all the credit and they have the applications to prove it, dating all the way back to their 4004 (the world's first self-contained CPU chip).

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Re: 8080, bloody Hell!

Me too - then I remembered: Single Sided, Single Density!

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Coat

Re: 386?

You think you had it bad? Ha! When I was a lad I had to program an abacus in binary to factorise on an elliptic curve, while barefoot, sweeping the igloo 's chimney and fending off hungry polar bears.

You don't know how lucky you've got it.

Binary, you had Binary, Ohhhh we used to DREAM of havin' binary, there were 120 of us working in the outflow pipe of local sewage works, we couldn't even afoard ones and zeros, we 'ad to write all our programs using only a zero wher we worked twenty-four hours a day at the mill foxconn for fourpence every six years.

But you try and tell the young people today that... and they won't believe ya'.

Coat, with matching flat cap.

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Re: Z-80

The 6502 was cool, but the Z80 had programmable interrupts for peripheral devices. The best part was that one could both read (and learn) the entire instruction sets and physically carry the documentation!

I gave up after the 486, where the "CPU-book" was something like 600 pages and The Errata's three volumes of equal bloat (AFAIK). Last time I looked, on AMD Athlon, the memory controller was a volume of about 100 pages ... for nostalgia I sometimes hack embedded thingies like MSP430. I can still understand that "scale" of device and it is more fun than soduko and crosswords.

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Happy

Re: 6502 was the best 8-bit processor of all time...

Now, now. Let's be fair. I loved its zero-page addressing mode (bit of a shock coming from Z-80) and yes it was *fast* but I also loved the chunky opcodes in Z-80, like LDIR. Horribly wasteful of clock cycles though it was, my first sprite routine relied rather heavily on it...

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Pint

Re: Z-80

The 6809 was lovely to program (I still have several Dragon 32s somewhere, and I'd written my first OS kernel for a 6809), but it was still hampered by a rather limited register file compared with the Zilog Z80, which had already been on sale for a couple of years by the time the 6809 launched. This compromise was due to maintaining source compatibility with 1974's 6800. Compared to that processor, though, the 6809 was a breath of fresh air!

I don't think there ever was a "perfect" 8-bit processor - large register file, efficient execution, concise code, logical and consistent instruction set, clean memory map, and no significant bugs - from that era, but the Z80 (+variants) and the 6809 probably were the best of breed.

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@Charles 9

Shirley you must be mistaken! Everyone knows there were no computer until St. Jobs descended from the iCloud with the iPad.

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Re: 386?

An abacus? We had to do our calculations with rings of giant stones, and it took the machine 31,557,600 seconds for one clock cycle!

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Re: 386?

Minix and Coherent did both support the 286. I remember them both fondly.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Z-80

6502 was a sort of low cost 6800 which itself was based PDP-11 instruction set. So you can sort of thank DEC as much as MOS for that.

It's good to know that I was actually born when it was released too :)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 8080, bloody Hell!

The C128 had a Z80 inside too for CP/M. Dual processor :)

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Re: 386?

Feh! That's nothing. Back in my day I had to do all my work on an abacus. Even the slightest nudge would shift my entire equation!

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Re: 8080, bloody Hell!

Yeah, but standard mode (and the monitor) used the *8*502 (misread a bit, but it's a superset of the 6502). CP/M never really was that practical on a 128, even if you used fast mode in 80 columns. Plus by the time it came out the transition to DOS was already in progress. In any event, it wasn't really dual processor as only one or the other was on at a time.

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Re: Z-80

Considering that the 6502 went on indirectly to inspire the instruction set of the ARM processor, which is probably the most widely-used processor architecture on the planet (it's found in mobile phones, routers, printers, wireless cards and even the Raspberry Pi), you might just be right with that.

Actually, the 6502 wasn't a bad chip in its own right, if you knew how to deal with zero page mode.

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Re: 8080, bloody Hell!

Actually the C128 had an MOS 8502 and a Zielog Z80. The C64 started out using the MOS 6510 and later used the 8500. Everything except the Z80 were 6502 compatible, but each had its own additional capabilities.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 386?

Uncle Siggy:

> Feh! That's nothing. Back in my day I had to do all my work on an

> abacus. Even the slightest nudge would shift my entire equation!

Shift happens!

(courtesy of Mr Adams)

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Childcatcher

Re: Z-80

Nowhere near as wonderful as the 68K!

//no antique computing icon???

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Re: 386? (@Charles 9)

Surely CTC take a large chunk of the credit via the Datapoint 2200? They largely specified the 8008 instruction set and merely contracted it out to Intel. When Intel couldn't deliver on time they went with a TTL implementation, meaning that the very first commercial sale of a predecessor of the x86 architecture started in 1970 without Intel parts. As part of the contract termination negotiations, Intel got to keep the instruction set though at that point they'd never shipped a microprocessor — the 4004 wasn't available until late '71 and the 8008 itself wasn't completed until '72.

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Happy

Re: Z-80

the 6502 and the 6522 where nice chips that made $$$$ for me, they were always burned

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Re: 386?

"An abacus? We had to do our calculations with rings of giant stones, and it took the machine 31,557,600 seconds for one clock cycle!"

I thought it was 31,556,925 and a half seconds.

Or was that the mark II?

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Re: 386? (@DaiKiwi)

There's no mark II; I've heard rumours some sort of internal disagreement about fjords.

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Re: Z-80

"Nowhere near as wonderful as the 68K!

//no antique computing icon???"

Microprocessors, bah! Antique computing means TTLs, not VLSIs.

Mine's the one with Wang 2200 BASIC-2 manual in the pocket...

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Facepalm

Re: 386?

Why am I reading this in my head with a yorkshire accent?????

e i don't 'no

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Re: Z-80

Re:M6809 - and double indirect address modes with increment/decrement all in one instruction, and despite its lower clock speed, most instructions were less than 3 cycles. It was a beautiful processor, especially compared to the Byzantine horror that was the 8086.

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