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42,300 Transistor Megaprocessor Is Complete | Hackaday

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It turns out that the answer is not 42, but 42.3-thousand. This is how many discrete transistors are distributed within 30 m

The computer room accommodates this large computer. [James Newman's]

, Is a project we have been working on

 Gradually formed in the past few years.

[James] recorded his work in detail, and guided us into the internal working process of the microprocessor. His monumental machine is now complete, and this is the final answer to how processors (and almost everything that contains processors) work.

Each of the ~42,300 transistors is hand-soldered onto a huge PCB, and they look more like interactive circuit diagrams than actual circuit boards. This amazing number of discrete transistors constitute thousands of logic gates, which eventually form the registers of the super processor, its arithmetic logic unit, its sequence control and: 256 bytes of RAM. Each logic gate displays the current IO status through LEDs, which also turns RAM into a huge LED wall on which you can play Tetris.

Despite its complexity, Megaprocessor can almost record itself. [James] installed all the PCBs on a large frame, these frames add up to a 10m long and 2m high "computing display". Detailed diagrams show the flow of information between functional blocks and throughout the room. At full throttle, it runs at a clock frequency of approximately 8 kHz, but to follow the execution of an instruction, you can reduce it to 1 Hz or even stop the processor to study its state.

[James] is not always sure how many transistors are needed in the end, because it is difficult to predict how many 8-byte RAM cells-each consisting of 766 transistors and 64 LEDs-one can solder before the madness begins. it has 

,it has 

-But this idea has troubled [James] for more than ten years, and it is amazing to see it completed. Enjoy the video of [James] showing you around the machine:

Nowadays, building discrete processors seems to be all the rage. Just a few months ago, we were


I don’t know what landfill this will eventually fill.

Unlike a large number of consumer electronic products, do you mean products with a short lifespan?

you idiot

You miss a joke method.

what. So I am. Although not a very good person...

I miss it so much, so I am fine.

In any case, jokes are just like other hackers-this is the most important effort. After you become better, you will be criticized. :-)

It's actually not about how good the joke is... but about the documentation.

Go away...

what are you saying. No one needs more than 256 bytes of ram.

Oh? Although I am 640kB haha

@ Rodney McKay

"It's better to keep silent and make people think you are a fool than to open your mouth and prove yourself."

Things made like this are of great value. Museums and similar places can be inquired at most. you are an idiot.

Efforts are not the only criterion of glory.

Hmm... the character I saw was commenting.


…joke. This left a deep impression. I want to know if he found any actual bugs in the processor-insects.

This is a computer and you can kill these errors with your hands.

Spiders are another matter, there are no bugs, right?

They scared me

Scientifically speaking, no. Spiders are not bugs.

Speaking of fear, I think they qualify for the name.

Spiders are not bugs, but characteristics.

Yes, self-replicating debugging tools.

The best joke of the day


Built-in web server.

If he wants to avoid the spider web, he can add a rule in robot.txt.

I just searched the image in reverse and laughed!

I should pay the electricity bill in the same way. : D

The best seven-legged spider drawing ever!

This thing is beautiful, I hope he can write a book

I hope he gets sponsored to get this thing on the way. People need to see this for themselves. The biggest failure of technology is the abstract nature of smaller and smaller devices. Although still incomprehensible to most people, seeing huge builds and talking through the overall use of each module of the machine will help people relate to computers that run their own.

I think that will be an awesome thing and worth the effort.

At least, this matter should finally be publicly displayed, and nerds like us can go there for a stroll.

I am drooling and I would love to see it for myself. I think I need a full tour for a few days to fully understand.

I think if we can get these in school/university, they will become one of the best teaching aids ever. It’s great to teach the basics and give students an intuitive understanding of what is happening, but with this operation, you can understand exactly how things work.

I like this, hope I can check it out and play a little bit.

Considering his working hours in the past 5 years, I will never see these anymore. It takes a lot of labor to change one person.

Yes, I sadly agree, but even the smaller, more mass-produced version is too dominant and great. The failure is that I hope he can stand out during the journey and show as many people what he is learning.

The selection of hand-soldered through holes is a bit crazy, especially if you want more than one.

If it is redesigned to use ultra-cheap surface mount transistors (such as 2N7002), it can be mass-produced in China at a fairly affordable price. And, at an affordable price, I mean that there are still about $400 in transistors, plus $1,000 in PCB and $1,000 in assembly costs, and...maybe $50,000 to $10,000 instead of this 60,000 dollars spent by people.

@ [W]

I don't think you can make "crazy choices" through such projects.

Even before you start, madness is a prerequisite!

Yes, that's great, maybe it can be constructed as a practical, hands-on exercise for the whole class?

I don't know, as a teaching aid. You don't need to understand every transistor in the CPU. You only need to understand that so many transistors make up a gate or RAM element. Then piece together some gates into a complete adder and other components. Then go up from there. Modularity puts things at different levels of abstraction, which is how we first tried to invent similar things. The single-transistor level is only suitable for those who debugged or optimized 8-bit processors in the 1970s. Even so, I can be sure that most of the design is done at a higher level of abstraction.

Does he need sponsorship? I think it can be easily installed in a modified (and well-cleaned) horse trailer and powered by an off-the-shelf backup generator. Both may be sold cheaply at auctions.

Okay, it’s not entirely at the price level. Most of us just consider showing off a building, but considering how much it has already spent, it’s actually not that much. In any case, parking it in the manufacturer's deflated parking lot and opening the door would be a simple problem.

Since it is a relatively flat shape, it is recommended that you hinge it so that all the panels are folded into a flat rectangle. Some wheels at the bottom of each panel can help with installation, and maybe a caddy can be accessed through the porch and corridor-depending on its size.

I think he should use marble machine tools to make GPUs.

Yeah! ! !

This is a very cool way to show people how a microprocessor works. I hope he finds a way to exhibit in museums around the world.

Spending more than $50,000 on a side project was a bit too much for me, until I realized that the "monthly" apportionment over three years was only around 1,500, which was reasonable. However, if I spend that much money, my wife will still kick my ass...I think this guy is either single or a "very" understanding partner.

I can guarantee that you are single. When all he did was to make money and was tied to a super nerd hobby project, he didn't have time to accompany a woman.

Although very good build.

It obviously also fills the main room of his house...idk If you can call it a hobby project now, I think it will be fascinating.

Well another person commented that he was going to drive on the road. I commented that he should install it permanently in the trailer. I didn't say it there, but this is a dual purpose suggestion.

I won't think of this kind of thing anytime soon. There are many tech-savvy girls (and boys) who like their... Registers are stamped or their bit shifted...


Dude can also be a burden to make others wait patiently. : V

Agree that this burning rate is unusual for people of that age. Most will still pay off student loans or mortgages.

Invest 10 years to get a return of $50K-assuming a return of 6% and an inflation rate of 2%

After adjusting for inflation, a return worth $40K (before inflation) and a total of $73K (investment + return) can be obtained.

These days, can one person get 6% return on 6% of the land? ;-)

This is great, but I think I prefer to read his build log and articles than the finished product!

It's really inspiring! Love the memory wall.

All these LEDs! Excellent visualization of internal operations.

Don't let me approach that room...I won't be able to leave on my own strength. ;)

Wow! What an amazing project!

This is so many levels that I can't do, almost like magic.

I have seen this project before and it is an impressive project, but if he says he is finished, it just means he is tired or his spouse approval ticket has run out. Such a project can never be completed, right? :-)


A second giant processor is needed elsewhere in the building so that he can play Tetris with another person. I think some giant modem panels are needed on the wall. ;)

Is it time to use the math coprocessor?

game. It's always a game. Or the blinking light representing the game.

And I just lost the "game". We are all players.

No, dat b cheated.

Now it's time to get gcc support for this thing: P

That is an amazing project-an honor for the manufacturer!

awesome! Will this appear in the Computer Museum at some point?

I am waiting for the EMSL suite version...

My goodness. Very cool!

Excessive transistors should be used.

That's a hacker. Maybe even the king of hackers!

well done. Recently, I complained that another project uses 6 transistors each... This project uses 11?

"Imagine the Beowulf cluster in it!"

"Without WIFI, space is worse than nomads, La!"

Wow! He was terrible in Tetris and I am glad he now has hardware practice

"But I still managed to invert about twelve transistors in the whole project. And I found them really hard to find. See how you are." –

This is what a hacker means. You spend a lot of time looking for your own simple human errors, confusing and have the ability to gather information, such as "I spent two days circling until I found out that I have [xxxx]', but this is our Learning method, which is why the project is a master of hackers. Excellent work, very suitable for sharing various insights, such as "If I have time again, what will I do? "....

I hope the first message displayed on the screen is a notification that Windows 10 will be installed automatically.

I believe that many of us have already considered doing exactly what he did.

I think this is indeed a good build, and his current insight into CPU design is amazing!

Maybe the London Science Museum will be a good place to preserve it, so that many people can appreciate it and learn from it?

Maybe he can rent it out as a feature to museums and educational institutions from time to time.

Because it *is* unique, it will bring unique opportunities in the education field. Indeed, the way the CPU works has not changed much at the transistor level.

superior! superior! Thanks for sharing! so cool!

Beautiful project. Want to know what his wife thinks :)

How much power will it use?

This is a museum work. It is an ideal initial display in a computer museum. What is a computer? Hope someone can buy it at an appropriate price and place it in the museum. Those of us who understand the inner workings often underestimate how opaque oral descriptions are to most people.

Of course, I prefer the discrete 6502. But this is because it was the first processor I studied in detail. Fortunately, it is much more elegant than most of its contemporaries.

waste time

Reinvent the wheel

The link is dead, Jim.

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