I noticed those terms x86, i386, i686, amd64, i5, i7, archtecture, processor from the web, from my own notebook, from book readings.

But I am really confused by those terminologies. I try my best to elaborate my confusion, though you might understand it. The main obstacle ahead is I cannot organize my mind on the mainline behind those terms.

  1. Is there any difference between term architecture and processor?
  2. x86 and i5 are architecture or processor?
  3. What is the relation between OS bit (32-bit Windows or 64-bit Windows) and x86 bit (32-bit processor, not sure yet)?
  4. The architecture (or processor) mentioned above are all designed by Intel? Is it just a open standard that manufacturers (AMD & Intel) follows?

I have searched the Internet, especially the wikipedia, but the more I read the articles there, the more I'm confused.

  1. Yes. A processor is a physical object, which uses an architecture to do the processing work

  2. x86 is an Intel architecture. i5 is a line (actually several lines in the core microarchitecture since Nehalem to currently Haswell) of processors in the x86 architecture

  3. There's nothing called "OS bit" or "x86 bit". The "bitness" is of the underlying architecture with the corresponding instruction set, which generally refers to the size of the registers. Registers are the fastest memory in the processor which stores the maximum number size the processor can process at a time. The OS that uses that n-bit instruction set will be also call n-bit operating system. The reason that most 32-bit OSes can work on 64-bit processors is because of backward compatibility. x86-64 is an extension from the old 32-bit x86, and x86 also is also an extension from the 16-bit x86 instruction set. Hence it can run any older instruction set.

  4. x86 is a proprietary architecture of Intel and it's not an open architecture. So you need Intel's permission to produce an x86 CPU. But the x86_64 extension is designed by AMD and Intel needs AMD's permission to produce x86_64 CPUs

  • For 4th question, it is wired. Could you give me some reference? Previously, I thought x86 as an open architecture. AMD and Intel only differs in their implementation details. AMD and Intel are competitors. I don't think Intel permit AMD produce x86 if this is possible. At most, AMD can produce CPUs compatible with Intel. – Zack Jul 5 '14 at 11:51
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X86-64 it's partly open source. Of course the implementation depends on the manufacturer but the basic instruction set must be the same, otherwise how programs written for AMD can run on Intel CPUs? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X86 – phuclv Jul 5 '14 at 11:51
  • There are several companies that have x86 license from Intel beside AMD such as VIA. Since Intel depends on AMD for the x86_64 license so it must continue providing AMD x86 license – phuclv Jul 5 '14 at 11:55

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