Actual hardware?

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Actual hardware?

Jim Mahoney

I'm considering using these materials in a course at the college
where I teach. It all looks very cool.

But I do have one question: has anyone tried to build the system in
actual hardware rather than within a software simulator?

The title "Building a Modern Computer" suggests a physical device,
while this appears to be "Simulating a Modern Computer."  Yes?
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Re: Actual hardware?

ybakos
Real hardware sounds great... but it would quickly become unwieldy. Other than the "tangible" aspect of real hardware... what's the benefit? Creating the machine in HDL is really the "same" as hacking it together physically... but without the mess.

Keep in mind that hardware is only 1/2 of the class/book.
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Re: Actual hardware?

cadet1620
Administrator
In reply to this post by Jim Mahoney
The other problem I see with a physical hardware implementation is I/O.  It wouldn't be very hard to do the CPU and RAM, but the ROM, Screen and Keyboard are problematic.  

What's the tool path to get code into the ROM?  Screen will need to be dual port RAM with some fairly sophisticated circuitry generating a video signal that can be displayed on a standard monitor.  Keyboard's even worse.

The brilliant thing about this course is that the authors came up with a very simple design that can be understood by people just starting out on the computer program/engineering path.  Using the simulators keeps everything in the theoretical domain so there are no real world gotchas to distract from the direct sequence to the hack computer.

(When the student proudly shows us his two term and-or mux implementation, let's tell him that it's bad because it has a hazard.  Then explain how adding another and gate fixes the problem even though it doesn't change the truth table.  Didn't we just teach him about Boolean algebra and how it let's us prove that the two circuits are equivalent?)

--Mark
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Re: Actual hardware?

yfm1202
In reply to this post by Jim Mahoney
hello! I had made the Actual hardware use FPGA, but how to show this to easy understand.
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Re: Actual hardware?

eterps
Hi,

yfm1202 wrote
hello! I had made the Actual hardware use FPGA, but how to show this to easy understand.
Anything you have to say about this would be interesting, just give us some tips and hints. Even a photograph of your actual hardware would be fun to see.

Cheers,

Erik
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Re: Actual hardware?

eterps
Does anyone have experience with this FPGA tool? http://papilio.cc/
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Re: Actual hardware?

yfm1202
In reply to this post by eterps
HI, see the 《The Elements of Computing System》's hardware used FPGA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHty1KKjaZw

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Re: Actual hardware?

jmsfruitison
In reply to this post by Jim Mahoney
I am creating a system based on the architecture out of mostly 7400 series ICs.  It isn't a perfect clone, but it comes pretty close.  The Blog is at http://hackminimax.blogspot.com/.