IA-32 is a set of instructions for Intel Corporation’s 32-bit microprocessors that range from the 80386 to the later versions of the Pentium processor. They maintained downward compatibility, that is to say, they still worked with architecture from previous generations by keeping some inefficient design elements in order to still work with older generations, of, say Windows programs.
Technipages Explains IA-32
Intel made a lot of progress in their processor development – despite this, they had to keep some flaws in their work. These flaws include the continued use of varying bit lengths for instructions, which complicates the processing of instructions a little. Another issue was the imposed maximum of eight general-purpose registers, which made for an inefficient design aspect when it came to the floating units in the processor. These units are elements specifically in charge of dealing with floating-point numbers, a relatively common element.
Eventually, after a fair number of issues arose, Intel ended up abandoning downward compatibility as soon as they introduced their first 64-bit microprocessor. That was the Itanium, and it featured its own set of instructions – IA-64. As of that generation, a significant portion of design flaws was finally eliminated, representing a pretty big leap forward in terms of processor design and construction. Of course, there were still flaws and improvements to be made, but sacrifices for backward compatibility were no longer a concern.
Common Uses of IA-32
- The primary defining characteristic of IA-32 is the presence of 32-bit general-purpose processor registers like EAX or EBX.
- IA-32 represented the last backward compatible generation of microprocessors.
- Intel still produces IA-32 processors under the Intel Quark microcontroller platform, but these are not commonly found now.
Common Misuses of IA-32
- IA-32 is a name for a generation of Intel processors.