Project Oberon - the next step of the N2T Journey?

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Project Oberon - the next step of the N2T Journey?


This is a project to create a powerful workstation on a FPGA - based on a 32 bit RISC processor called RISC 5.

Oberon is the successor to the Pascal and Modula-2 languages created by Professor Niklaus Wirth.

Wirth has studied at Berkeley, Stanford and at PARC - where he worked on the early user interfaces - on the Alto machine.  Wirth won a Turing Award in 1984 for his work creating a series of innovative computer languages.

Project Oberon has a lot in common with Nand to Tetris.  Wirth devised the Oberon language, compiler and the workstation platform to have a high teaching content.

Recently the project has been ported to a low cost (<$100) FPGA board - available from a number of sources. It uses the Xilinx Spartan 6 FPGA - a recent article in the Xilinx Journal describes the project.

Oberon reduces the complexity of modern computing systems - it creates a language, a compiler on a RISC workstation in just 110K bytes of code - running on a 50MHz FPGA.

I think that Oberon could offer a follow-on course to Nand to Tetris - and the <$100 platform could provide real hardware on which to run N2T.

Wirth has also created a HDL (hardware description language)  called Lola-2, which runs on the OberonStation.  It compiles the logical description and then outputs the design as a verilog file.  This can then be further processed using the FPGA manufacturer's proprietary tool chain software and ultimately produce  bitfile to program the FPGA.

Other developments have seen open source tools use to develop and program small Altera FPGAs  in Projet Icestorm.

There are a tremendous new opportunities created almost daily with FPGAs and digital system design - and the Universities and Colleges are crying out for good quality, hands on teaching materials.

Could Project Oberon run in conjunction with Nand to Tetris  to give the student an even more clear vision of the design and development processes.

It would be great if Shimon Schocken and Niklaus Wirth could find a way to bring this about.

regards from London,