Intel Videos Explain the Basics of Modern CPU Architectures, Sans Marketing Fluff


Intel took to YouTube on Thursday with a deceptively simple goal—help people understand how a CPU works. The company uploaded two videos as part of those efforts: a Key Concepts video covering the most basic aspects of CPU design and a Microarchitecture Deep Dive offering more information about those concepts. Surprisingly, the videos come without the usual bit of marketing we would expect from the company, so they’re incredibly informative without pushing Intel’s products.

Both videos were hosted by Intel CVP of Client Engineering Boyd Phelps, who “has worked on some of the most well-known chip designs in Intel’s history, from Nehalem to Haswell to Tiger Lake and more.” Here’s the first of the two videos:

Phelps offers a high-level overview of what a CPU is, how CPUs have changed over time, and how they rely on the Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) in that video. That’s more than most people might think, but the video is a little under 19 minutes long, and Intel included chapter markers for each section of the video.

Here’s the second video:

That one’s a bit longer; it clocks in at about 25 minutes. But it also has a lot more to cover—Phelps offered high-level overviews of everything from pipeline depth and superscalar execution to the microprocessor front-end and the CPU back end. This is probably the easiest way to learn more about processors that we’ve seen to date.

It doesn’t seem like Intel will stop here, either. As it said in the video’s description:

“Architecture All Access is a master class technology series featuring Senior Intel Technical Leaders taking an educational approach to the historical impact and future innovations of key architectures that will continue to be at the center of ‘world-changing technology that enriches the lives of every person on earth.’”

The company also encouraged people “interested in CPUs, FPGAs, Quantum Computing and beyond” to “subscribe and hit the bell to get new episode notifications.” If the videos on those subjects are this high-quality, well, that might make this the first time that deciding to “hit the bell” was a good idea.

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