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DIY CPU Demo'd Running Minix

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the homebrew-is-darn-tasty dept.

Unix 313

DeviceGuru writes "Bill Buzbee offered the first public demonstration of the open-source Minix OS — a cousin of Linux — running on his homebrew minicomputer, the Magic-1, at the Vintage Computer Festival in Mountain View, Calif. The Magic-1 minicomputer is built with 74-series TTL ICs using wire-wrap construction, and implements a homebrew, 8086-like ISA. Rather than using a commercial microprocessor, Buzbee created his own microcoded CPU that runs at 4.09 MHz, and is in the same ballpark as an old 8086 in performance and capabilities. The CPU has a 22-bit physical address bus and an 8-bit data bus."

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But does it run.... ? (5, Funny)

iogan (943605) | more than 6 years ago | (#21233937)

Does it run Linux... I mean minix.. I mean... Oh forget it!

Re:But does it run.... ? (2, Funny)

kc2keo (694222) | more than 6 years ago | (#21233955)

Does it run Windows Vista? Did M$ appove of this? If not then its ILLEGAL! 0-| >:-(

Re:But does it run.... ? (1, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234079)

Does it run Windows Vista? Did M$ appove of this? If not then its ILLEGAL! 0-| >:-(

      More importantly, can you watch porn with it?

Re:But does it run.... ? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21234421)

Even more importantly, can't you guys realise that none of these jokes are funny?

Re:But does it run.... ? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21234813)

They are the unwashed slashdotters, they cannot comprehend what you just asked.

Re:But does it run.... ? (5, Funny)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234857)

Even more importantly, can't you guys realise that none of these jokes are funny?
Sorry, the fun flag has not yet been implemented on this processor. Therefore it's not yet possible to determine which jokes are funny. While there already exists a jnf instruction (jump if not funny), it currently does nothing. We do have code like the following, though:

; post joke if funny
    test joke
    jnf .nopost
    call post_joke
.nopost:
; continue reading slashdot

Re:But does it run.... ? (3, Funny)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 6 years ago | (#21235171)

Even more importantly, can't you guys realise that none of these jokes are funny?

Hmm. If you understand that humor is subjective, you will realize that what you've just posted is stupid. Alternately, if you think humor is objective, well, then you're just plain stupid.

Your post could be made in a way that doesn't make you look stupid. You could say, "Don't you people realize that I don't find any of these jokes funny?" Of course, posted that way, it makes it rather clear what a self-centered individual you are. Why would they refrain from posting things some people do find funny, just because you don't? And why can't you just skip over content that doesn't interest you, rather than complain anytime anything is posted that you didn't care to see? Does it really bother you that much that you're not the center of the universe?

DIY PC... (1)

Brian Lewis (1011579) | more than 6 years ago | (#21233941)

I wonder if he got his ideas from watching DIY TV.

They teach you how to do ANYTHING :P

Re:DIY PC... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21234537)

That write up was taken nearly word-for-word from an OSNews posting earlier today:
http://osnews.com/story.php/18874/Do-It-Yourself-CPU-Demod-Running-Minix [osnews.com]

Re:DIY PC... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21234939)

You must be new here.

Minix was Sire of Linux (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21233959)


Linus copied Minix. Well known fact !!

Re:Minix was Sire of Linux (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234045)

Someone doesn't know their history, parent is correct.

Re:Minix was Sire of Linux (2, Funny)

Goldberg's Pants (139800) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234785)

It's the Homebrew Computer Club all over again. Back to the 80's.

Wonder if he'll warrant a Slashdot story in about 15 years when he homebrews a 3D graphics card?

Re:Minix was Sire of Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21235031)

It's the Homebrew Computer Club all over again. Back to the 80's.
Early-to-mid 1970s, more like...

Re:Minix was Sire of Linux (4, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234057)

OBVIOUSLY the guy stole the code for Minix from SCO. Lawsuit at 11.

Re:Minix was Sire of Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21234295)

http://www.educ.umu.se/~bjorn/mhonarc-files/obsolete/msg00000.html [educ.umu.se]

MINIX was designed to be reasonably portable, and has been ported from the
      Intel line to the 680x0 (Atari, Amiga, Macintosh), SPARC, and NS32016.
      LINUX is tied fairly closely to the 80x86. Not the way to go.

Re:Minix was Sire of Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21234149)

Parent is right. While Linus did not stealed anything, he did copied Minix to start... why is then parent mod as troll? this is a know fact. Come on, guys!

Next step (4, Funny)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 6 years ago | (#21233981)

Beowulf Cluster

Re:Next step (1)

What the Frag (951841) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234237)

Next 2 steps:

3. ???
4. Profit!

yawn (-1)

Bassman59 (519820) | more than 6 years ago | (#21233983)

Wirewrap? That's crazy talk. It's a senior design project to implement a CPU and such in an FPGA. Do the whole thing in a Xilinx Spartan 3A. Don't cheat and use a Virtex-4 with the PowerPC core!

Re:yawn (4, Insightful)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234495)

If you're just gonna use an FPGA, why not just design a virtual PC purely in software.

This thing is cool. Most current 'seniors' would hold a wire-wrap gun wrong and injure themselves.

Re:yawn (2, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234713)

Most current 'seniors' would hold a wire-wrap gun wrong and injure themselves.

Or even worse, they'd wire the multihop nets in a daisy chain pattern.

Re:yawn (4, Insightful)

Detritus (11846) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234539)

It's more educational to do it with MSI TTL and wire-wrap. You learn something about power distribution/filtering, race conditions, fan-in and fan-out, etc. All of the analog things that you need to know in the real world.

Re:yawn (3, Insightful)

Bassman59 (519820) | more than 6 years ago | (#21235049)

It's more educational to do it with MSI TTL and wire-wrap. You learn something about power distribution/filtering, race conditions, fan-in and fan-out, etc. All of the analog things that you need to know in the real world.
Of course you need to understand power distribution and filtering for an FPGA board. And FPGA design is NOT software design (as much as people seem to think that "Verilog is like C"), so to do a proper FPGA design, you really DO need to understand things such as race conditions, fan-in, fan-out (yes, loading is important in an FPGA), as well as synchronous logic design.

Re:yawn (4, Insightful)

bitrex (859228) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234673)

I bet you'd also tell the team who built a replica Wright flyer a few years back that they were wasting their time, and would be better off building a Zodiac sport plane kit.

Why not PCBs? (1)

Ford Prefect (8777) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234931)

I imagine there's some advantage of wire-wrap stuff for one-off, complex circuitry - but what's wrong with printed circuit boards?

Before anyone says they're far too difficult to make, I designed and built my own at secondary school, for a GCSE project where I built a robot. First stage - creating a computer interface! Okay, placing all the tracks and things on a computer, then laser-printing to a bit of acetate and using that as a mask for the UV lightbox prior to developing and etching might rely a bit much on pre-existing computer hardware, but it worked, and was remarkably easy.

Is wire-wrap better for multi-layered circuits, or something?

Re:Why not PCBs? (2, Informative)

Bassman59 (519820) | more than 6 years ago | (#21235017)

I imagine there's some advantage of wire-wrap stuff for one-off, complex circuitry - but what's wrong with printed circuit boards?

In small quantities, they're more expensive than wire-wrap, although it depends on what your time is worth. Of course you can spend your time laying out a PCB or spend it doing wire wrap. I'd do the PCB. Especially if I needed more than one.

Is wire-wrap better for multi-layered circuits, or something?
No, PCBs are superior. Of course there are little details that are quite important, and if you don't know what you're doing, you can easily design a PCB that doesn't work.
I think the guy did it with wire wrap because it's retro. Hey, whatever floats yer boat.

Self flagellation (3, Informative)

John Jorsett (171560) | more than 6 years ago | (#21233997)

I wirewrapped a computer together back when building your own hardware was about the only option, and it wasn't a fun experience. I can't imagine actually wanting to do it, but to each his own.

Re:Self flagellation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21234413)

If you have to ask why, you likely won't understand the answer... Just like you wouldn't understand why I use a reel to reel deck to listen to music at home. I don't have to but it pleases me.

Re:Self flagellation (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234589)

As Captain Kirk said to Commissioner Baris in the Trouble with Tribbles episode: "Well, there's no accounting for taste."

Re:Self flagellation (3, Interesting)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 6 years ago | (#21235095)

In the early 80's I spent part of my Electronic Engineering apprenticeship in the wiring shop of a company that made flight simulators. One day my supervisor gave me this dirty great wirewrap backplane to complete - it was sheer hell to do and took me the best part of a week. When it was finished I had to submit it to the mechanical inspection team who not only unwrapped some joints to check them out, but also tested various functions using special diagnostic boards. After some remedial work and final checking the work was done. My supervisor came over and said "Good news, your work has passed inspection", closely followed by: "The bad news is those panels come in pairs!". Aaargh!!

Pimp my Magic-1 (4, Interesting)

ddrichardson (869910) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234017)

I'm quite impressed that he went to the trouble of the cutaway side panel and the illumination [linuxdevices.com] . With all those switches and lights on the front we truly are one step closer to Star Trek technology.

cousin? (4, Funny)

m2943 (1140797) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234025)

the open-source Minix OS [CC] -- a cousin of Linux

That must be the same sense in which Dick Cheney is "a cousin of" Barak Obama.

Re:cousin? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21234099)

If you're implying that Barack Obama was originally conceived and developed as a freer alternative to Dick Cheney, then yes, that's right.

Re:cousin? (5, Informative)

kwerle (39371) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234119)

Linux was originally host compiled on Minix. It's original filesystem was Minix compatible. Linus originally announced Linux on the Minix newsgroups. They're both *nixen. I think that cousin is a pretty good description. Though maybe Linux as a bastard child would be more accurate.

Re:cousin? (2, Informative)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234525)

Also, many early linux boot floppies contained a minix filesystem. I recently had to put a Slackware box online specifically so I could read some old minix filesystem floppies I made back in the mid 90's.

Minix back then was open source (non-TM version) but you had to buy the textbook to legally use a copy. Now it's open source and the latest version is quite respectable.

Re:cousin? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21235091)

Barak Osama is a muslim nigga. Compared to that, Dick Cheney is relatively normal.

Is there a kit version? (2, Funny)

erroneus (253617) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234041)

I would really want to do this! I'm sure that the thing doesn't have an ethernet device, but I wonder if a terminal server device would do? Then I'd run some sort of web services on it. :) That'd be some true geek value.

Imagine... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21234203)

a bewolf cluster of those!

uh...wait..

The schematics are online, and yes, it networks (3, Informative)

Bananenrepublik (49759) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234217)

I'm not going to link to it, because I don't want this hobby project to go up in flames, but if you follow the links to the website of the guy who built it, you would find that he's actually running a webserver on it.

Re:Is there a kit version? (4, Funny)

RattFink (93631) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234291)

Here is your kit:
Part 1 [jameco.com]
Part 2 [jameco.com]

Good Luck :)

Re:Is there a kit version? (3, Funny)

RattFink (93631) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234301)

Of course, Almost forgot...

Debugging Tool [gunbroker.com]

Re:Is there a kit version? (2, Interesting)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234547)

You also need a good TTL manual. I recommend the old orange hardcover Texas Instrument TTL Data book. The blue softcover cover National Semiconductor one will do in a pinch.

If you're just starting out, get Don Lancaster's TTL Cookbook first.

Re:Is there a kit version? (2, Informative)

ampathee (682788) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234369)

Too late!

Except when I'm working on it, Magic-1 is connected to the net. It serves web pages at [censored], and by clicking here you can telnet in and play Original Adventure or run a few other old classics such as Eliza, Conway's Life or Hunt the Wumpus. To log in, use the id "guest" and the password "magic". Before the Minix port was completed, Magic-1 was running a very simple homebrew operating system. It also had a simple guestbook program. Many thousands of people have telnetted into Magic-1 from around the world, and between 2004 and the summer of 2007 they left 1388 guestbook messages.
I removed the URL because I'd hate to be responsible for the Magic-1's untimely death by fire (although the site is down at the moment anyway). Anyway, that is some seriously impressive stuff.

It does have an ethernet device! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21234579)

It has an open guest telnet and a webserver running (when he's not working).

It is, apparently, slashdotted right now just through people following the chain of links and finding it.

How much slashdotting does it take to take a 4 MHz machine to it's knees?

And more importantly, did it stay UP during the slashdotting, but just get as slow as Unreal on a 100 MHZ machine w/o 3D-hardware acceleration?

Memory chips? (2, Funny)

jhines (82154) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234053)

Did he use appropriate era memory, you know the ol' 1k chips, meaning 1024 by 1?

Core memory? Hey kids, instead of stringing popcorn this holiday, we are gonna do memory cores!

Cool none the less.

Re:Memory chips? (1)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234997)

If he's being righteous, he should be using 7489 chips for memory.

FPGAs == No Challenge (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21234081)

"Wirewrap? That's crazy talk. It's a senior design project to implement a CPU and such in an FPGA. Do the whole thing in a Xilinx Spartan 3A. Don't cheat and use a Virtex-4 with the PowerPC core!"

With most FPGAs any idiot, hell, even a simple Java programmer can cobble toegether a basic CPU without having to understand such fundamentals such as clocking requirements, wire delays, boolean optimization , and other fundamental skills.

I have seen the results of Java programmers trying to experiment with FPGAs. Instead of steaming mounds of code, I see steaming mounds of unnecessary gates.

Kudos to this fellow. Even designing his own boards. Using a Spartan 'Educational Kit' just doesn't cut it to become an EE nowadays if you ask me. Anyone can do that.

Re:FPGAs == No Challenge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21234161)

Well, yours is one way to post a reply. The wrong way, but still.

Truly news for nerds!! (5, Insightful)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234137)

This is the ultimate nerd project... The only way it could be more of a do-it-yourself project would be building it with all analog parts. I'm very impressed. The guy appears to have been really meticulous. Everything appears to be pretty well documented... I've only gone through about 1/4 of the stuff he has available. It's a lot of material. I definitely wouldn't have the patience to do a project like this...

Re:Truly news for nerds!! (1)

sw155kn1f3 (600118) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234363)

Good luck carrying it to lan party ;)

Re:Truly news for nerds!! (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234947)

This is the ultimate nerd project... The only way it could be more of a do-it-yourself project would be building it with all analog parts.


You shouldn't take "from scratch" too far, otherwise you'll have to start making your own transistors ... from home-grown silicon crystals!

Heh heh heh... (5, Funny)

Pollux (102520) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234167)

From the site about the homemade processor:

Except when I'm working on it, Magic-1 is connected to the net. It serves web pages at http://www.magic-1.org [magic-1.org]

Not any more!

(I know, I know, some of you might be thinking..."How could you be so cruel as to post a link on /. to a server that's only running at 4 MHz? Have you no mercy?" My response: Nope.)

Re:Heh heh heh... (5, Funny)

Joebert (946227) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234317)

Hey when that guy signed up for the ass-kicking contest he knew damn well he only had one leg !

Re:Heh heh heh... (2, Interesting)

phaunt (1079975) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234423)

That reminds me of the Commodore 64 web server [c64.org] that slashdot reported about [slashdot.org] 5 1/2 years ago. That site went down within no time too, but ink's [slashdot.org] mirror is still online [islug.org] .

Re: not online because on display (4, Informative)

DeviceGuru (1136715) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234465)

The reason the Magic-1 isn't in service as a webserver is that, at the moment, Bill's showing it off at the Vintage Computer Festival.

Wow. (0, Flamebait)

NerveGas (168686) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234187)

All that to get a fraction of the performance of, say, a $10 embedded CPU that can already run Linux. Nice.

Re:Wow. (4, Insightful)

RattFink (93631) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234233)

Somehow I don't think the goal of this project was to build a processor to compete with commercially available processors. A small hint might be the fact that there isn't likely a huge market for a processor pushing 5lbs.

Re:Wow. (5, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234409)

All that to get a fraction of the performance of, say, a $10 embedded CPU that can already run Linux. Nice.

I guess you don't program computers, since you'll never be as good as, say, Donald Knuth, so you may as well give up. You don't do any sports, since you'll never by Olympic standard. No music for you either, since you're not up to the standard of Nigel Kennedy. I'm sure you have no hobbies, since someone else could do it better too. If fact, you may as well sit in a hole your entire life since whatever you do, someone will probably do it better. Come to think of it, there's probably someone out there better at sitting in a hole than you.

Now, please hand in your geek card at the door as you leave.

To evade whitelists (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234515)

All that to get a fraction of the performance of, say, a $10 embedded CPU that can already run Linux.
The $10 embedded CPU won't be all that helpful once the major processor vendors stop selling processors to makers of computers that run anything but programs that the computer maker or the government has whitelisted.

Re:To evade whitelists (2, Funny)

RattFink (93631) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234685)

Where is the "+1 Deliciously Paraniod" moderation option when you need it.

Re:To evade whitelists (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234869)

It's not paranoid. It's already happening, and it's called Tivoization. As home PCs lose ground to video game consoles and other appliances [slashdot.org] , which run only software on the manufacturer's digitally signed whitelist, there won't be much of a market for the home PC anymore.

Re:To evade whitelists (2, Insightful)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234929)

I prefer iphoneization. It annoys the mac zealots and makes for more amusing slashdot threads :p

Re:To evade whitelists (0, Flamebait)

NerveGas (168686) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234913)

Talk to me when that happens. In the mean time, I'm sure you'll be quite busy keeping those gubmint jack-boots from coming around your compound.

Re:Wow. (1)

wlad (1171323) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234627)

You don't get it do you? Of course you can't make a product like Intel, AMD, ARM in less time with only 1 person and a normal electronics toolset. It's an interesting pastime, and an incredible learning process, if he had expected to make a P4 clone he'd be quite crazy :)

Re:Wow. (-1, Offtopic)

FlyingGuy (989135) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234889)

Here I am with Mod Points and I can't mod you as.... just a fucking jerk .

This is SO frustrating!

Family Analogy (2, Insightful)

vga_init (589198) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234205)

As long as we are using the family analogy, wouldn't Minix be more like an uncle to Linux?

Re:Family Analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21234641)

Cousin, child, uncle, does he live in Arkansas?

Altair-a-like (3, Interesting)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234207)

I cant help but notice that the Magic-1 looks a lot like the original Altair 8800 [wikipedia.org] , star of the Homebrew Computer Club in the 70's. At least this can have a console hooked up to it, from the look of it, the Altair originally had to have all the programming done via the switches on the front alone!

Re:Altair-a-like (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21234633)

Some important differences...
The Altair used an Intel 8080.
This guy has designed his own CPU in TTL that's more powerful, more like an 8086.

The Altair had the famous s100 bus, and could be expanded to have a console. disks etc. As it came it was a fairly empty box.

Coolest, dude ... ever... (5, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234219)

The guy went and built his own cpu from scratch, then ported his own o/s to it.

Really, just don't get more hardcore than that....

I salute him!

Re:Coolest, dude ... ever... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21234285)

And he even wrote his own compiler.

meh (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21234691)

He's just a fucking script kiddie as far as I'm concerned. Real men mine and smelt their own metal. Consumer metal bought over the counter just doesn't offer enough customisability if you really want to do a project like this right.

Re:meh (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 6 years ago | (#21235003)

He's just a fucking script kiddie as far as I'm concerned. Real men mine and smelt their own metal. Consumer metal bought over the counter just doesn't offer enough customisability if you really want to do a project like this right.
Kids these days ... real men wouldn't just mine ready-to-smelt metals, they would fuse them from protons in their own home-built stars!

Re:Coolest, dude ... ever... (1)

renoX (11677) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234747)

If I understood correctly (the article was a bit fuzzy), the CPU he created is x86 compatible which is quite ironic as it's a really bad ISA, I wonder why he didn't choose say a MIPS ISA? (maybe it's because he chose Minix..)

He would have probably saved quite a few gates in the control part..

Re:Coolest, dude ... ever... (2, Informative)

Cecil (37810) | more than 6 years ago | (#21235131)

From my understanding, MIPS would be a lot more complex on the processor side of things than basic 8086. Remember we're not talking about Pentium-4 x86 or AMD64 here, we're not even talking about the venerable old 386. we're talking about the real 8086 which was pretty basic. I don't think it had any pipelined instructions, which is something you'd have to deal with in MIPS.

Doomsday paranoia (5, Interesting)

Dan East (318230) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234305)

I find projects like this very comforting. Maybe I'm mildly paranoid, but every now and then I wonder what life would be like if society collapses. Most of the technology we enjoy today can only be produced via huge infrastructures made possible by large, advanced, stable societies. This project shows that fundamental computing technology can be reproduced with relative ease on a very small scale with limited resources. That's a great thing. Time to make some hard copies of this computer design!

Dan East

Re:Doomsday paranoia (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21234567)

Sorry, but you're fucking stupid. Do you think it takes so much less to build 74-series gates? Cobble them together from sand between cleaning the horse stable and milking the cows? Somehow, in your deluded, retarded mind, society collapses but there's still electricity and UPS delivery of parts? Not to mention refined silicon and fabbing?
Retard.

Re:Doomsday paranoia (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21234605)

You are right, but that doesn't help when you're such a rude asshole.

Re:Doomsday paranoia (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21234659)

People so fucking dim don't deserve my politeness. And the people who modded him insightful? Jesus wept.

Re:Doomsday paranoia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21234981)

You are right and you should get his insight points instead. especially when you realized that there would be no electricity when society collapses.

ROLLEYES IN YOUR GENERAL DIRECTION.

Re:Doomsday paranoia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21235059)

Hey jerkbucket, how can I get "insight points" (sic) if I'm AC? I keep hoping civilization does collapse so it cleans people like you out of the gene pool.

Re:Doomsday paranoia (1)

Dan East (318230) | more than 6 years ago | (#21235207)

Most 7400 series ICs can be replaced with a relatively small number of transistors. Obtaining or even manufacturing the basic transistor is orders of magnitude easier than producing even the simplest CPU. If you can create the fundamental logic gates, even mechanically, then you can produce a computer.

Dan East

Re:Doomsday paranoia (1)

weirdcrashingnoises (1151951) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234769)

your comment makes me think of The Brotherhood of Steel. want fallout 3...

Re:Doomsday paranoia (2, Insightful)

DAharon (937864) | more than 6 years ago | (#21235105)

You might think so, but it seems to me that the sheer amount of energy required just to make those IC's available to him (growing the silicon crystals, shipping them, cutting them, etching them, shipping them again, packaging them, shipping them again, etc) would make it impossible to reproduce this with "limited resources".

But then again, if you cracked open all the electronics sitting in the garages of your average town you might come across a small mountain of TTL chips.

Maybe.

you really wouldn't want to make him mad... (1)

nih (411096) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234307)

you really wouldn't want to make him mad...
Bill Buz wha?

fs

he's running a website on it (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234309)

according to his other site [homebrewcpu.com]

way to burst his computer into flames...

The blinky lights... (2, Funny)

horati0 (249977) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234315)

...in this [linuxdevices.com] picture translate to "I WILL NEVER GET LAID" in binary.

Flat out cool! (1)

Jezz (267249) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234329)

For some reason even I don't understand I'd really like one of these. Maybe I miss the DEC PDP-11 from my youth too much.

Whats amazing is if he did it just for fun (5, Interesting)

Caltheos (573406) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234425)

At college, I took a Digital Electronics course where the course project was to design and build your own microprocessor from scratch. From paper RTN descriptions to the full working prototype on a PLC. Our group started out with 6 people, 3 of whom dropped the class and the other two couldn't program their way out of a paper bag. I wrote the entire process in VHDL in under 2 months, the other two barely pulled of just the documentation (not that I envied them). I was pretty pissed at my professor since I used a design flaw in the PLC board to double the speed of one word instructions and he took of points for it even though it ran fine... What you get when the prof is more interested in procedure and forcing people to work in groups then the actual science.

Re:Whats amazing is if he did it just for fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21234655)

I was pretty pissed at my professor since I used a design flaw in the PLC board to double the speed of one word instructions and he took of points for it even though it ran fine... What you get when the prof is more interested in procedure and forcing people to work in groups then the actual science.

Unlike you, he most likely has worked in industry. He knows how blatantly stupid it is to rely on third-party hardware design flaws in your own designs.

Although it may not have been serious in this case, there could have potentially been major problems if the third-party fixed the design flaw in a future generation of the hardware, but your work still expected the flawed version. Suppose your hardware were being used in an aircraft. The result of a failure over such a petty matter could lead to hundreds of deaths.

You even stated that the documentation was quite poor. So now engineers in the future who had to maintain, or even fix, your hardware's poor design might have no idea that you're exploiting such a flaw. That could have serious repercussions on their work.

What you did may have been sneaky and clever. But doing so brought about many risks. These risks would have been completely unacceptable in any situation other than a silly college-level course.

I thought this kind of work was dead. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21234487)

I can just picture Woz now saying "The force is strong in this one. "

i salute this guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21234625)


I've toyed with the idea of doing this for years now, but it always seemed like it'd consume most of my free time for months or possibly years. In fact, i even briefly considered using discrete transistors, but that thought dragged me back to "just buy the damn CPU off the shelf". The fact that this guy *actually did it* is really impressive.

He gets da mad nerd props!

This was on slashdot over 2 years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21234665)

This was on slashdot wayback.

It was running minix back then. And you've been able to see it running a web server since then too.

http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/06/06/1118242 [slashdot.org]

What? STATIC RAM? (1)

pedro (1613) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234833)

Hey!
And the low power stuff that can go months on 2 aa cells, as well!
(I've done it :)
That's cheating!

I can imagine this guy's pleasure (5, Interesting)

wtarreau (324106) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234891)

I can imagine the pleasure he got doing this.

When I still was a teen, I used to spend full week-ends doing such nerd stuff.
I wrote a PC-compatible BIOS for my Sanyo-MBC550 (eg: here: http://www.seasip.info/VintagePC/sanyo.html/ [seasip.info] ),
and was the happiest person of the world when I first got MS-DOS 5.0 to boot on it !

I also designed a simple microcontroller-based robot from printer parts
just for fun, and I was really impressed when I saw it turn around the
whole room for the first time (it could detect obstacles by sending
ultrasonic pulses).

Also, modding a 8088 motherboard to accept a second 8088 on the 8087 socket
was definitely fun. There was no cache coherency problems at that time. You
just had to invert A19 to make the second one boot at 512 kB and the bus arbiter
let them work in parallel. It was really cool to have an 8088-SMP :-)

Those were project during which the time did not exist. I can imagine that this
guy spends his whole spare time on his project without noticing the night come,
then the day... Sometimes I wish I still had that much spare time!

Sincere kudos to him and great respect for his work!
Willy

mini is a relative term. (0, Offtopic)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21234977)

From the size of the thing I wonder where the beer goes? It'd take a lot of ice given how toasty I'm guessing it gets.

How many concurrent users? (5, Funny)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21235019)

2Gb RAM, 3GHz CPU, 20Gb of disk - Windows Vista: 1
4Mb RAM, 4MHz CPU, 500Kb ram disk - Minix: ?

 

We do the same thing at my university... sort of (2, Interesting)

RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) | more than 6 years ago | (#21235137)

We do the same thing at my university in a course called "Computer Architecture". Well, not quite the same thing. We use FPGAs and Verilog to implement the CPU, and instead of a microcoded CISC CPU we implement a RISC architecture.

Since our design lacks cache, the CISC architecture that this guy implemented may be faster (it does more per instruction which is critical when instruction fetch time dominates.

However, our RISC design is fully 32-bit (registers, ALU, address and data buses) and is pipelined (classic 5-stage fetch/decode/execute/memory access/register write). We also have to deal with hazards (resolved by forwarding or pipeline bubbles). We're even working on a VLIW version now.

Of course, all of this is vastly easier when you can use a high-level hardware description language. Hats off to this tinkerer.

Old Story (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21235167)

But still impressive.

Most peope these days dont even know what a CPU really is, other then 'quad bla bla bla superduper socket bla bla' from intel or amd.

Once upon a time, this is how it was done. Stuff like this should be mandatory for all CS students ( might be still for the few of us EE's out there, but ive not been in school for a LONG time so things could be different )
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