I was chatting to a friend about using a small x86 computer and he mentioned that the x86 architecture has communications built in to the chip. Specifically I have been looking at the RoBoard with the Vortex86DX. The block diagram suggests that this is true: processing is not directly handled by the CPU and so will not be blocked from processing other information when carrying out communications.
Is my interpretation of these diagrams right?
I'm not sure how well the drawings reflects how it works, but in general, any system using DMA will do the transfers without bothering the CPU (apart from a tiny setup of source and destination addresses and size).
It's a bit of a stretch to say that x86 "architecture"
has got in-built comms, as all peripheral functions is usually done by an external chipset - A controller with more or less of the chipset in-built is a special case, extending on the naked x86.(Sort of like if eg. a particular brand and model of car is available with AC, it doesn't mean that any of that brand/model has got it).
A microcontroller with a hardware
UART won't bother its CPU much by comms either.
Apart from that, it seems to have plenty of interfacing lines, so if the RoBoard brings them all out, you won't be missing interfacing capabilities the first couple of days