Saturday, August 22

Geek

Daily News Stuff 21 August 2020

10 Bit Edition

Tech News

  • The Intel 80186 arrived in 1982, with 55,000 transistors running at 6MHz in a 68-pin PLCC package.  (Wikipedia)

    Why does this matter?  Well, it doesn't, not really.

    Just that since I'm unlikely to make any progress on my hardware retrocomputer any time soon, I've been looking at making an emulator for an imaginary computer from the early 80s.  And since it's something that didn't exist, it needs to make sense.  It's intended to be something that would logically have come after the Commodore 64 and Sinclair ZX Spectrum, but before the new era of powerful 16-bit systems like the Mindset, Amiga, and Atari ST.  That puts it in 1983, or at the latest early 1984.

    One thing I figured out is that the imaginary video controller chip I envision would need more than 40 pins, which means either a huge 64-pin DIP or a 68-pin PLCC.  Since 68-pin PLCCs obviously existed in that timeframe, I can use an imaginary one with a clear conscience.  (The Amiga, by comparison, divided video control into two 48-pin DIPs.)

    My imaginary system is going to have a 10-bit CPU, because (a) that's better than 8 bits without throwing everything wide open, and (b) as far as I can tell no-one has ever done that.  Plenty of 12-bit systems, zero 10-bit.  The closest I could find are John von Neumann's IAS machine (40 bit) and the F14 flight computer (20 bit).

    I'll post more details once I get some code that works.


  • The Zotac Zbox QCM7T3000 is an almost perfect mini workstation.  (Tom's Hardware)

    It has an 8-core 45w i7 10750H processor and a 6GB Nvidia Quadro RTX 3000 packed into a case that measures just 8" x 8" x 2.5".  And it's almost perfectly symmetrical, with the I/O ports all lovingly paired up EXCEPT THAT THE BACKING PLATES FOR THE TWO ETHERNET PORTS ARE SUBTLY DIFFERENT.

    Well, one is 1Gbit and the other is 2.5Gbit, but still.

    Two SO-DIMMs, so up to 64GB RAM, one M.2 slot, and one 2.5" drive bay.


  • If I suddenly say something has 64K of RAM rather than 64GB, sorry, my mind has been in the early 80s the last few hours.


  • Lightroom for iOS considered harmful.  (PetaPixel)

    The latest update deleted everyone's photos.

    It's not supposed to do that.


  • Buried in Intel's recent Xe graphics announcements is the unspoken admission that no-one is going to use this for playing games.  (AnandTech)

    Intel is talking up the SG1, a new video streaming accelerator for datacenters.  It will contain four of the Xe chips that will be used in the desktop DG1 card.  The DG1 itself is viewed as a developer platform and not a consumer card.

    But Intel have at least announced that the Linux Xe driver code will be open source, like AMD and very unlike Nvidia.


  • The upcoming antitrust battles may spell the end for iOS as we know it.  (ZDNet)

    And I feel fine.


  • The Synology DS1520+ is still gigabit.  (BetaNews)

    You're better off in most cases just having someone dump four used DS1812 units on your doorstep.  That happens to everyone, right?


Disclaimer: In other news, TikTok announced it is acquiring Arm.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 01:47 AM | Comments (9) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
Post contains 538 words, total size 5 kb.

1 "My imaginary system is going to have a 10-bit CPU, because (a) that's better than 8 bits without throwing everything wide open, and (b) as far as I can tell no-one has ever done that."

If you're going to do that, why not use a prime number or something?


Posted by: Rick C at Saturday, August 22 2020 03:32 AM (Iwkd4)

2 Are you suggesting that 11 is one louder?

You know, since the easy part will be writing the VM and assembler, and the hard part will be writing a a Basic compiler that targets that assembler, I might just do an 11-bit variant.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Saturday, August 22 2020 04:41 AM (PiXy!)

3 If you really want to catch the spirit of that era, then you should create your 10 (or 11) -bit system, then in 18 months build a 13-bit system which is binary-compatible with the original 10/11-bit system.

Possibly by including one of each virtual CPU, and a hardware instruction to toggle between them.

Posted by: Kurt Duncan at Saturday, August 22 2020 04:54 AM (7AkDP)

4 "Are you suggesting that 11 is one louder?"

I wasn't (11 is the next prime number after cool , but now I am.

Posted by: Rick C at Saturday, August 22 2020 09:59 AM (Iwkd4)

5 Kurt, have a (virtual) upvote!

Posted by: Rick C at Saturday, August 22 2020 10:09 AM (Iwkd4)

6 Rick C, I dunno what the sunglasses thing is, but is it really a prime number?  Anyway, 51 isn't a prime number, but 12211 is.  Ponder that.

Posted by: normal at Saturday, August 22 2020 01:36 PM (obo9H)

7 Normal, sunglasses are what you get when you put a ) after an 8 and forget that the blog software turns that into an emoji.  I was just saying "11 is the next prime number after 8."

Posted by: Rick C at Saturday, August 22 2020 02:44 PM (Iwkd4)

8 Update: The Python interpreter is far too slow to emulate even an eight-bit-era computer.  PyPy on the other hand can do about 200 MIPS under WSL on my Ryzen 1700 on the same code.

So I'll code up a version in Python, and then translate it to something a bit more sensible once it works.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Saturday, August 22 2020 03:31 PM (PiXy!)

9 Hey, if you natively implement base-11 arithmetic, you could handle the faster-than-light technology from Battlefield Earth!

-j

Posted by: J Greely at Saturday, August 22 2020 09:19 PM (ZlYZd)

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Apple pies are delicious. But never mind apple pies. What colour is a green orange?




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