Thirty-five years ago, Intel introduced the 8086 processor. It's a point of some importance that the latest Intel design, the Haswell architecture, will run code that's older than some of the younger engineers responsible for the new processor. Because, for all the traditional razzmatazz that accompanies each new processor generation, the overriding theme remains as it has been for decades now: incremental changes that squeeze some performance increases without threatening Intel's one massive advantage — compatibility.

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Image: Intel

Thus, although Haswell ...

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