I used to have an Intel data book from 1981. I gave it away to a friend, and he probably also lost it along the way.

In this book there was a data sheet for a component called "OS Kernel" or something like that. I always wondered (because it was not clear from the information) what kind of component that was, or should have been. I don't really remember anything else much about it. Looking on the internet for old Intel data sheets also seems like a lost cause, as it only brings up things from less than 10 years old.

Can anyone help finding pointers?

(I suppose that in that data book a whole lot of obscure Intel technology was described, like the iAPX 432).


1 Answer 1


I guess what you're looking for was one the

Operating System Processors (OSP)

While advertised as one item, called Operating System Firmware (OSF), it was rather a two chip system, consisting of one of the basic x86 real mode processors (8086/88 or 80186/188), and one of the OSP. They themself are composed of a Multibus compatible Control Unit (CU), holding

  • Data Buffers,
  • Address Latches,
  • Bus Interface and
  • Control/Status Logic

and a secondary part called Operating System Unit (OSU), containing

  • a 16 KiB ROM with OS (kernel) code
  • an 8259 compatible Interrupt Controller (PIC)
  • three 8254 compatible Timer used as
    • System Timer
    • Delay Timer
    • Baudrate Generator

enter image description here

An instant system, just add

  • RAM
  • I/O
  • Application Program

stir and run :)

There were two versions:

  • iRMX OS Processor 80130
  • CP/M-86 OS Processor 80150

A Datasheet for the 80130 can be found at various sites, for example datasheetspdf.com. An overview of the iRMX OS can be found here-

  • 4
    Ah, for the days when the OS was so obviously correct you could bake it into chip to be soldered into your system (not a ROM/PROM/EPROM in a socket ...)
    – davidbak
    Feb 25, 2023 at 16:42
  • 3
    I presume these were mainly used for embedded systems? The iRMX one obviously, but also the CP/M one?
    – davidbak
    Feb 25, 2023 at 16:53
  • 3
    @davidbak would say so. after all, desktop systems (or servers) do not gain much hard coded OS - in fact, they are all about maxing out free RAM, so any ROM taking up address space is a liability. Like BIOS once boot is done.
    – Raffzahn
    Feb 25, 2023 at 17:04
  • 1
    @davidbak That era lasted till the mid-2000's if you knew where to look. The Japanese would very commonly mask their firmware in. Even today, they do much the same. Check out this 2021 Honda recall where they need, essentially a probe station, to reflash the instrument cluster.
    – user71659
    Feb 28, 2023 at 1:37
  • 1
    @user71659 sorry, but that's simply not anything like mask - not even like (E)PROM programmes, as either does mean that the physical chip has to be removed and exchanged or reprogrammed. Just because a wire is needed doesn't make it even remotely similar - if at all it makes it was more secure :)
    – Raffzahn
    Feb 28, 2023 at 17:04

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