x86 Architecture

What Does x86 Architecture Mean?

The x86 architecture is an instruction set architecture (ISA) series for computer processors. Developed by Intel Corporation, x86 architecture defines how a processor handles and executes different instructions passed from the operating system (OS) and software programs.


The “x” in x86 denotes ISA version.

Techopedia Explains x86 Architecture

Designed in 1978, x86 architecture was one of the first ISAs for microprocessor-based computing. Key features include:

  • Provides a logical framework for executing instructions through a processor
  • Allows software programs and instructions to run on any processor in the Intel 8086 family
  • Provides procedures for utilizing and managing the hardware components of a central processing unit (CPU)

The x86 architecture primarily handles programmatic functions and provides services, such as memory addressing, software and hardware interrupt handling, data type, registers and input/output (I/O) management.

Classified by bit amount, the x86 architecture is implemented in multiple microprocessors, including 8086, 80286, 80386, Core 2, Atom and the Pentium series. Additionally, other microprocessor manufacturers, like AMD and VIA Technologies, have adopted the x86 architecture.


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Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.