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What is the Z80?

The Zilog Z80 is a microprocessor that was first introduced in 1976 and became a popular processor for arcade games and home computers of the 1980s. Today, the Z80 is considered a legacy processor, and while it may have limitations compared to modern processors, it remains an important part of computer history.

One of the main differences between the Z80 CPU and modern processors is the clock speed. The Z80 has a clock speed of up to 4 MHz, which is significantly slower than modern processors that can reach speeds of up to several gigahertz. The slower clock speed of the Z80 meant that it was limited in its processing power, and could not handle complex tasks as quickly or efficiently as modern processors.

Another key difference between the Z80 and modern processors is the amount of memory it can address. The Z80 is a 8-bit processor, which means it can only address 64 KB of memory. This is in stark contrast to modern processors that can address several gigabytes of memory. The limited memory addressing capabilities of the Z80 meant that it was only able to handle relatively simple tasks, and was not suitable for more complex applications or operating systems.

The Z80 also differs from modern processors in its instruction set architecture. The Z80 has a relatively simple instruction set, with a limited number of instructions compared to modern processors. The Z80’s instruction set was designed to be simple and efficient, allowing it to execute instructions quickly and reliably. However, the limited number of instructions made it difficult to perform more complex tasks, such as those required by modern operating systems and applications.

Despite these limitations, the Z80 remains an important part of computer history, particularly in the world of gaming and home computing. The Z80 was used in popular arcade games such as Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and Galaga, as well as home computers like the Sinclair ZX Spectrum and the Commodore 64. The Z80’s simplicity, low cost, and ease of use made it an attractive option for developers and hobbyists alike, and helped to democratize computing and gaming in the 1980s.

In conclusion, the Z80 CPU differs from today’s processors in several key ways, including clock speed, memory addressing capabilities, and instruction set architecture. While the Z80 may be limited compared to modern processors, it remains an important part of computer history and a reminder of the humble beginnings of computing and gaming.


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