Zilog stops production of the original Z80 processor after 48 years

Zilog has stopped producing the original Z80 processor after 48 years. This 8-bit CPU was used in countless electronics, such as the Game Boy, ZX Spectrum, ZX80 computer, and Texas Instruments graphing calculators. The eZ80 processors will still remain in production.

Zilog lets customers know that it will stop production of the Z80 processor and that the last orders can be placed on June 14, 2024. The microchips are currently mainly used by hobbyists who want to replace components of old computers or build a new system with a retro Z80 CPU. Successors such as the Z180 and eZ80 remain in production for the time being, although they are not compatible with the original.

The Z80 was designed in 1976 by Federico Faggin, who previously worked at Intel on CPUs such as the 4004 and 8080 The Z80 was intended to be a more advanced version of the latter microchip. That was a success, because the Zilog processor eventually became one of the most popular and widely used CPUs of the 8-bit era.

Numerous computers from the 1970s and 1980s are equipped with this chip. This includes gaming devices such as the Nintendo Game Boy, Sega Master System and arcade machines such as Pac-Man, but the CPU can also be found in home computers such as the ZX80, ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC and graphing calculators from Texas Instruments. In addition, the Z80 has been used for various military applications.

Although the Z80 initially used NMOS technology, the current version includes a CMOS design. This makes clock speeds of up to 20MHz possible, while the NMOS version manages to reach a frequency of up to 10MHz. A ‘modern’ CMOS Z80 processor can simply be installed in a computer from 1976.

One of the closest competitors to the Z80 is the 6502 from MOS Technology, which is used in, among other things, the Nintendo Entertainment System, Commodore 64 and the Apple II computer. This processor dates from 1975 and is still in production. This makes the 6502 probably the microprocessor that has been in production for the longest time.