Intel released its original Pentium Processor, also known as the Pentium 1, on March 22, 1993. The Pentium 1 replaced the Intel486 as Intel's mainstream microprocessor for personal computing applications. While the Pentium 1 processors were specifically designed for use in desktop computers, later members of the Pentium family could accommodate laptops and other mobile devices. Reviewing some of the Pentium 1's specifications can help you better understand the microprocessor's capabilities.
The original Intel Pentium 1 Processor could operate with a clock speed of either 66 MHz or 60 MHz. In comparison, the upgraded version of the microprocessor, which Intel released on March 7, 1994, could operate with a clock speed of between 200 MHz and 75 MHz. Clock speed refers to the rate at which a microprocessor can generate an electronic pulse, with each pulse triggering the performance of a computing instruction. The higher a microprocessor's clock speed, the faster that microprocessor can complete tasks.
Bus speed refers to the speed at which a microprocessor's front-side bus or FSB can transmit data simultaneously. An FSB is the digital pathway that connects a microprocessor to the other components comprising a computer's motherboard. The higher a microprocessor's bus speed, the faster it can communicate with the rest of a computer system. The original, 1993 Intel Pentium 1 Processor could provide bus speeds of 66 MHz and 60 MHz, while the 1994 Pentium 1 could provide bus speeds of 66 MHz, 60 MHz and 50 MHz.
Intel manufactured the original Intel Pentium 1 Processor using an 0.8-micron, bipolar complementary metal oxide semiconductor or BiCMOS circuit. This circuit integrates bipolar and CMOS transistors, allowing the Pentium 1 to perform faster and with more processing power than it could if using one type of transistor over the other. The later, 1994 version of the Pentium 1 also used BiCMOS technology. However, the size of this microprocessor's BiCMOS circuit was smaller, at either 0.6 or 0.35 microns depending on the specific model.
The original Intel Pentium 1 Processor has a transistor count of 3.1 million, while the 1994 version had a transistor count of 3.3 million. The number of transistors a microprocessor has correlates positively to how complex that microprocessor's integrated circuit is. A higher degree of circuit complexity translates to a higher processing performance.
Both the original and 1994 Pentium 1 processors had Level 1 cache storage capacities of 8kB and addressable memory storage capacities of 4GB. Also known as the primary cache, the L1 cache is a small, integrated storage location that a microprocessor can use to store -- and rapidly-access -- commonly-accessed data. Storing data in an L1 cache increases processing time by eliminating the need for the microprocessor to communicate directly with a computer's primary memory. Addressable memory, instead of making copies of actual data like an L1 cache, searches for data in a computer's primary memory and then makes copies of that data's location.