Generations of x86 CPUs

Because most people run Linux on x86 hardware, that's what I focus on in this book. That's not to say that this book is useless to people who use Linux on non-x86 hardware, however; much of the information applies across architectures. x86 hardware is, however, both more popular and more varied than that of most other CPU architectures. Because of the importance of the x86 in the Linux community, I spend some time here to describe the development of the x86 CPU over the years.


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When deciding on an x86 CPU, be sure your motherboard and CPU are matched. Most motherboards are designed to work with a narrow range of CPUs. You can't use a Pentium motherboard with a Pentium II CPU, for instance. Even within the realm of one CPU sub-class, there's substantial variability in compatibility. Some Pentium boards, for instance, only work with Pentium CPUs up to a certain clock speed, or might work with some clone CPUs but not others. Check the motherboard manufacturer's Web site for compatibility information.

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