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Triming the fat off x86

post #1 of 5
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So I'm not going to claim to be an expert here so feel free to tell me why I'm stupid.

Why doesn't intel trim some of the old stuff out of x86, at least on the consumer side? They come out with newer and better instructions that for the most part entirely replace old ones yet they continue to support the old stuff from way back in the day. Is there any reason they need to continue to have support for instructions and such as far as 25+yrs back? More specifically in the consumer space.
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post #2 of 5
I think the important thing is that x86 is a standard... a versatile one. I'm no expert either, but I'd imagine fragmenting compatibility on an established standard would be nothing but a headache, even for the consumer.
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by WebNutz View Post

I think the important thing is that x86 is a standard... a versatile one. I'm no expert either, but I'd imagine fragmenting compatibility on an established standard would be nothing but a headache, even for the consumer.

Well that is definitely a good argument, but the way I see it is why not have very old instructions executed in software vs maintaining hardware support for them so as to reduce die size? The old instructions when in software should execute more than fast enough to maintain compatibility with the small number that may still use them vs the new and faster methods. You get extra die space for gpu, cache, etc.

My understanding on this may be very flawed though, perhaps old instructions are still heavily used?
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post #4 of 5
The flaw in your reasoning is the presumed cost of x86. The number of transistors needed to support x86 is a minuscule fraction of a modern CPU; so the cost is near zero.

Sure Intel could try to push a new ISA, but it would offer them little advantage in native programs and ruin the biggest attraction of x86(-64), which is that backwards compatibility at full native performance.

Intel has tried to push other ISA's before and both major cases (which were undertaken when the benefits were much higher than today) were failures, and the second such failure was an especially costly one as it allowed a competitor (AMD) to set the future standard of x86 (AMD64/x86-64).
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post #5 of 5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blameless View Post

The flaw in your reasoning is the presumed cost of x86. The number of transistors needed to support x86 is a minuscule fraction of a modern CPU; so the cost is near zero.

Sure Intel could try to push a new ISA, but it would offer them little advantage in native programs and ruin the biggest attraction of x86(-64), which is that backwards compatibility at full native performance.

Intel has tried to push other ISA's before and both major cases (which were undertaken when the benefits were much higher than today) were failures, and the second such failure was an especially costly one as it allowed a competitor (AMD) to set the future standard of x86 (AMD64/x86-64).

So what I gather is that the die cost of maintaining that hardware level compatibility is so miniscule as to be relatively pointless to not keep it?
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