The Microprocessors Family Tree thumbnail

The Microprocessors Family Tree

ARM, MIPS, SPARC, POWER/PowerPC, RISC-V, Itanium, x86…​ All of them are popular microprocessors in use today. But where did they come from? And how are they related to other legacy technologies?

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Initially, I just wanted to draw a quick sketch to show the relationship between different modern processors architectures. But after few preliminary attempt, it turned out to be a much more complex project that I initially thought.

And here it is, after tons of research and verifications, I came up with a poster-sized infographic showing the history of modern processors back until the 1970s.

I used a bottom-up approach here, starting from the general purpose microprocessor architectures still in use today. So there will be some notable chips missing, like the TRIPS processor, because they were unable to make their way up until today. Another arbitrary choice was to keep the focus on architectures able to support a full-fledged operating system. So you won’t see here mention of the PIC or AVR microcontrollers—​even if modern implementations are far more powerful than the original Intel 4004…​

Given the size of the document, I encourage you to download the PDF so you’ll be able to zoom on the different parts using the PDF-viewer application on your favorite device.