atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,
atomic_fungus
atomic_fungus

#5090: The pins on this chip will MELT

Remember math coprocessors? I do.

'Way back in the Mesozoic Era, real estate on ICs was a lot more expensive than it is now. Microprocessors had limited floating point instructions; they could do it but took a long time, compared to integer operations. There simply wasn't room for an elaborate instruction set, and the typical microprocessor had to be optimized for integer operations.

The solution was to include, in each computer, a coprocessor socket. In the old 8086 machines you'd get an 8087 and plug it into that socket. 80286 got an 80287; 80386 got an 80387, and the 80486sx got an 80487. (The 80486 was the first mainstream Intel processor that had an integrated floating point processor in it, but the 80486sx was a low-cost alternative, and if you got the 80487 it disabled the 486sx and ran everything itself, as it was a full-blown 486DX processor.) They were optional because they were of limited utility for anyone who wasn't crunching serious numbers.

In 1991, then, I had occasion to install an 8087--but it was a CMOS implementation, a low-power version meant for a laptop, and it was incompatible with desktop voltages. So much so that the packaging had a bright red label on it:
WARNING:
The pins on this chip will MELT if it is plugged into a desktop computer!
That would have been interesting to see, but at $200-odd for the chip it would also have been fairly expensive. And not good for the motherboard it got plugged into, either.

That's a bygone era. Real estate is cheap now; we can fit a thousand features into the space occupied by one in 1991, and I'm not even slightly exaggerating that number. We're not only putting math coprocessors on the microprocessor die, but in many cases we're including a graphics coprocessor as well.

* * *

Twitter is cutting its own throat. It wasn't possible for me to care less about Twitter than I do, but whatever residual potential interest I had in starting a twitter account has been eradicated by the establishment of their "Trust and Safety Council", which might as well be called "Ministry of Truth" and get it over with.

This decision is the death knell for Twitter.

* * *

If Workforce had cut hours yesterday or today I would have gone to Fry's for some electronic components, but we've been f-ing busy all weekend. I'm completely wiped out now, of course.

That's how it goes, though.
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