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The i8086 was the first generation x86 CPU. The 8086 was a full 16 bit CPU, which means the internal data bus, along with the external data bus.

The 8086 had a 20 bit address bus, allowing for 1 megabyte of accessible memory. However to maintain compatibility with the 8080 CPU that was popular in CP/M circles, the 8086 addressed memory in 64KB segments. This would be seen as a major fault in the x86 architecture.


The 8088 is the 'low cost' version of the 8086. While it retained the same addressing modes, and instructions, the external bus was 8 bit. The 8088 was the primary CPU found in the IBM PC and the IBM XT. This is why the original ISA slots were 8 bit. The 8088 can be thought of sharing the same relationship with the 8086, as the 80386sx had with the 80386. While the data bus was restricted, the address bus was not, and the 8088 could still address a full megabyte of memory (in 64 KB segments).

The next CPU based on the 8086 was the i80186, although it didn't see widespread use, unlike the i80286 cpu.