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The term Intel® architecture encompasses a combination of microprocessors and
supporting hardware that creates the building blocks for a variety of computing systems.
Although the architecture is straightforward and remarkably well-supported, the
workings of these components may not be obvious to engineers, programmers, or
product developers with no previous Intel architecture experience. This paper
describes the basic operations and functions of the relevant components, using three
example systems. Specifically, the paper will focus on the Intel® Core™ i7 processor
(high-performance) and the Intel® Atom™ processor (low-power) implementations. In
each case, the paper will walk the reader through the operation of the microprocessor’s
communication with memory and peripheral I/O devices, the interaction between
different types of components, and related design criteria.
The various system components are described along with the services they provide.
This paper will also define common terms used when describing Intel architecture
designs and their operation. The final section highlights design aids, support, and
collateral provided by Intel and its partner provides to help create successful products.