The Intel 80286 was a 16-bit microprocessor used in very old IBM computers. Originally unveiled in 1984, the now completely obsolete chip offered clock speeds of roughly 20Mhz – highly competitive for its time, but orders of magnitude slower than current generations of processors. The 80286 chip was an improvement on previous generations of Intel chips.
Technipages Explains Intel 80286
Prior to the 80682 chip generation, Intel processors suffered from serious memory limitations. The chip was limited the usage of 1MB of RAM, which even at the time was quite low. Intel built in the capability for the chips to switch from the previously existing real mode to a new mode – protected mode. While that allowed the chips to work with up to 16MB of RAM, it still wasn’t a perfect solution, as the machine had to power down every time a user needed or wanted to switch.
Switching modes also required some BIOS knowledge, which meant that casual users struggled to perform the switch at all. The need to reboot every time, in particular, was a serious flaw of this generation of Intel chip, and one that was addressed in the successor generation of this chip. The 80386 maintained relatively competitive speeds, while also being able to switch modes much more easily. Future generations of Intel chips would continue using the real/protected mode distinction, with some additionally functions and capabilities in later generations.
Common Uses of Intel 80286
- The Intel 80286 chip pioneered protected mode but also suffered from some serious flaws.
- Succeeded by the 80386 chip, generations after the Intel 80289 kept the new protected mode.
- The Intel 80286 chip brought with it the possibility of severely increasing the RAM available to the CPU.
Common Misuses of Intel 80286
- The Intel 80286 chip allowed for the use of 80.286KB of RAM.