• Guest, The rules for the P & N subforum have been updated to prohibit "ad hominem" or personal attacks against other posters. See the full details in the post "Politics and News Rules & Guidelines."

Has anyone ever produced a PC that used another architecture besides von Neumann / Intel?

chrstrbrts

Senior member
Aug 12, 2014
522
3
81
Hello,

The standard for PCs has become Intel architecture based on the more general von Neumann concept.

Though, has anyone ever produced a viable PC that was based on MIPS or SPARC or used the Harvard concept?

Thanks.

Moved to General Hardware -- Programming Moderator Ken g6
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Gryz

Golden Member
Aug 28, 2010
1,551
203
106
What makes you think that a computer with a MIPS or Sparc cpu, in stead of an Intel cpu, does not adhere to the Von Neumann concept ?

The letters PC stand for: Personal Computer. Personal Computer is short for "IBM-compatible Personal Computer". And "IBM-compatible Personal Computer" means a small/affordable computer with an Intel CPU of the x86 cpu-family, running an Operating System made by Microsoft. Just because of that definition, it is impossible to make a PC that does not have an Intel cpu inside.

Now if you wanna know, have there ever been small/afforable computers with a CPU that is not an Intel cpu, that is a completely different question ? Sure. Early on (in the eighties and nineties) there were a lot of small/afforable machines you could buy from different vendors. But they were called "workstations". And they were a lot more expensive than PC-hardware. During the first decade of my career, I've always had a SparcStation on my desk. At first with a Motorola 68000-family cpu, later with Sparc cpus. But around 2000, when I moved from a huge company to a small startup, I switched to using Linux on PC-hardware. That's very very similar to using Solaris on a SparcStation. But at a fraction of the cost. With current low prices for PC-hardware, there's very little reason to have something on your desk that is not basically PC-hardware. The market is just too big. And compatibility and standards are so awesome that you can make any combination of hardware and software work.

Last remark. About the Von Neumann architecture. Yes, people can make computers that do not sure the Von Neuman architecture. But that would make their use a lot more awkward or complex. If someone would make devices, or chips, that do not use Von Neumann, you wouldn't call them PCs. You would not call those chips CPUs. You would just call them ICs. Or dedicated-function chips.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: some_guy

Merad

Platinum Member
May 31, 2010
2,586
19
81
Modern x86 CPUs are actually what you'd call a modified Harvard architecture, rather than strictly Von Neumann machines. A pure Von Neumann machine uses the same bus to read instructions and data, so it can't do both simultaneously. Modern x86 CPUs treat data and instructions (sort-of) interchangeably at a high level (in RAM), but inside the CPU you have a L1 data cache and a separate L1 instruction cache, and in any given cycle the processor can access both.

Some microcontrollers use a Harvard architecture, because typically they have "normal" RAM, but have a separate storage area (a form of flash) on chip for their program. It's cheaper and more efficient to let the CPU execute programs directly from the flash than to add more RAM and worry about moving instructions from flash to RAM.
 

TheELF

Diamond Member
Dec 22, 2012
3,427
445
126
The letters PC stand for: Personal Computer. Personal Computer is short for "IBM-compatible Personal Computer". And "IBM-compatible Personal Computer" means a small/affordable computer with an Intel CPU of the x86 cpu-family, running an Operating System made by Microsoft. Just because of that definition, it is impossible to make a PC that does not have an Intel cpu inside.
Whoa no,although software used to state compatibility with IBM-PC and compatibles it has nothing to do with the definition of PC,the AMIGA,ATARI ST,ACORN ARCHIMEDES,C64,SINCLAIR,AMSTRAD CPC,and many more,all where personal computers.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ken g6

MongGrel

Lifer
Dec 3, 2013
38,751
3,065
121
Might be a bit amazing to see what happens down the road if the quantum computers come up to speed.

Some things jump radically now and then.
 

Gryz

Golden Member
Aug 28, 2010
1,551
203
106
Whoa no,although software used to state compatibility with IBM-PC and compatibles it has nothing to do with the definition of PC,the AMIGA,ATARI ST,ACORN ARCHIMEDES,C64,SINCLAIR,AMSTRAD CPC,and many more,all where personal computers.
I'm old enough to remember the introduction of the IBM PC.
The machines you refer to were called Hobby Computers, or Micro Computers. Or whatever name. (Note, the term Mini Computer had a very specific meaning back then too. I bet hardly anyone these days knows what a Mini Computer is/was). At first the name Personal Computer was clearly linked to the IBM PC.

I agree, nowadays the term "Personal Computer" has a much wider meaning. And that change has happened slowly over the eighties. But back in the eighties, a PC refered to a very specific type of computer.
 

TheELF

Diamond Member
Dec 22, 2012
3,427
445
126
Amstrad CPC = Colour Personal Computer
Any computer you could buy as a normal person,meaning that it was cheap enough to do so,was a personal computer,no matter that there where other names to describe them as well.
 

vailr

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 1999
5,364
54
91

chrstrbrts

Senior member
Aug 12, 2014
522
3
81
What about ARM?

I know that ARM platforms are used all over the place for smartphones, but has anyone built a full sized desktop or laptop using ARM processors?
 
Last edited:

Gryz

Golden Member
Aug 28, 2010
1,551
203
106
What about ARM?

I know that ARM platforms are used all over the place for smartphones, but has anyone built a full sized desktop or laptop using ARM processors?
Raspberry Pi's use ARM cpus.

A Raspberry Pi is not much different from your average desktop PC less than a decade ago. If you do the usual stuff that non-power-users do (surfing, email, watching a movie), a Raspberry Pi is just as good as a current PC.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY