Reverse-engineering the 8086 processor’s address and data pin circuits

We really enjoyed this detailed and thorough post from Ken Shirriff that discusses the Intel’s 8086 processor, specifically its address and data pin circuits.

The Intel 8086 microprocessor (1978) started the x86 architecture that continues to this day. In this blog post, I’m focusing on a small part of the chip: the address and data pins that connect the chip to external memory and I/O devices. In many processors, this circuitry is straightforward, but it is complicated in the 8086 for two reasons. First, Intel decided to package the 8086 as a 40-pin DIP, which didn’t provide enough pins for all the functionality. Instead, the 8086 multiplexes address, data, and status. In other words, a pin can have multiple roles, providing an address bit at one time and a data bit at another time.


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