1.4. The Microprocessor: A Universal System Building Block

Over the next 30 years, microprocessor-based design has become the nearly universal approach to systems design. Once microprocessors had achieved the requisite processing and I/O bandwidth needed to handle a large number of system tasks, they began to permeate system design. The reason for this development is simply engineering economics. Standard microprocessors offered as individual integrated circuits (ICs) provide a very economical way to package thousands of logic transistors in standard, testable configurations. The resulting mass-produced microprocessor ICs have become cheap, often costing less than $1 per chip, and they deliver abilities that belie their modest cost.

Microprocessors ...

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