iAPX432: Gordon Moore, risk and Intel’s super-CISC failure

With the benefit of hindsight, [iAPX432] seems misconceived on just about every level. Six years in development, it was repeatedly delayed and when it was finally launched it was too slow and hardly sold at all. It was officially cancelled in 19861, just five years after it first went on sale. It’s not an exaggeration to call it a commercial disaster.


So whilst it’s interesting to look at the reasons why the iAPX432 failed, it’s also useful to consider why Intel’s senior management thought it would work and why they got it wrong. If they could make these mistakes, then anyone could.

We’ll look at the story of the iAPX432, examine some of its technical innovations and failures, and then try to understand why Intel got it wrong.

An excellent deep dive into iAPX432, an architecture most of us will have zero experience with. Considering the recent passing of Gordon Moore, take some time to understand one of his company’s major bets that didn’t work out.


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