Microprocessors based on the x86 ISA (Instruction Set Architecture) may have achieved fame in the PC role, but also excel in embedded applications ranging from handheld portable systems to set-top boxes to communications gear. Indeed the volume PC market affords embedded designers access to high-performance yet extremely-affordable processors and support chips at leading edge process nodes. Moreover, the x86 architecture enjoys broad software support that embedded system designers can leverage to accelerate design cycles. The breadth of offerings spans the range from power-miserly designs to the high-end Xeon architecture originally developed for servers. Moreover vendors committed to the embedded market guarantee extended availability of five or more years for select products.

Despite the ubiquity of the x86 ISA, the micro architecture that supports the ISA varies widely in different processor families. Moreover, some implementations offer instruction set extensions that serve specific applications especially well. In this course, you will learn about:

  • The history of the x86 ISA
  • Why the x86 is a good match for many embedded applications
  • The range of available processors for embedded applications
  • Details of several difference Intel cores or microarchitectures
  • Explanation of instruction set extensions and targeted applications
  • Memory- and power-management techniques for embedded applications
  • Software and hardware development platforms
  • An Internet-accessible hands-on evaluation and development tool