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GIM/Honeywell joint microprocessor

New Electronics archive: March 18 1975

Whether the CP1600 microprocessor did in fact initiate a new generation of electronic applications like Dr Sack predicted is questionable, but the 16bit device certainly had a good run in the early 1980s, with a reported 3million units shipped for use in the popular Intellivision game console.

The CP1600's design was closely based on the PDP-11 series of 16bit minicomputers sold by Digital Equipment Corp, although its instruction code was only 10bits with the remaining 6 marked 'Reserved for future expansion'. Nevertheless, like the PDP-11, it used 16bit 'general purpose' processor registers and made use of memory mapped I/O as well as a 3.3MHz clock.

Production of the CP1600 ended in 1985, however, when General Instruments spun off its microelectronics division to create Microchip Technology. By this point a number of 32bit designs such as the MC68000 were available that limited interest in a 16bit device like the CP1600 and its main existing customer, the Intellivision, was no longer in production.

Laura Hopperton

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