"In an industry known for its planned obsolescence, few
technologies have lasted three decades and continue to grow more
powerful with each passing year. The few that are out there, like
DRAM and Motorola's 68000 processor, are chip-based.
"Add to that list the x86 architecture, which stands alone in
the broader computer market now that Sun Microsystems' Sparc
processor is on life support. There have been many attempts to
knock off the x86, from Sparc to HP's PA-RISC to SGI's MIPS to
DEC's Alpha. But resistance proved futile; many PA-RISC and Alpha
engineers now work for Intel on the Itanium, which was also
supposed to retire x86.
"Meanwhile, the x86 keeps humming along; it now powers
everything from the fastest supercomputers on Earth down to
handheld music and Internet devices and PCs and servers in between.
Soon it will be in phones. Name another architecture that spans
eight-core processors to smart phones."