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Beginning with FGPA

Started by "reu...@bellsouth.net" January 8, 2014
Along these lines, there is another old book (~ 30 years) on the lost art of Bit-Slice development called: "Bit-Slice Microprocessor Design" by John Mick and Jim Brick. ISBN 0-07-041781-4.

Even though its uses bitslice technology , it has a detailed description of the design of a CPU Architecture, similar to the one Richard describes below. It would be a guide toward developing a FPGA based computer.

For those who don't know, BitSlice was used to build many custom CPUs before FPGAs, including real-times graphics processors used in early Military flight simulations. This book was sort of the "bible" of that industry.

A lot of the ideas should translate into FPGA implementations.

-Steve

________________________________________
From: f... [f...] On Behalf Of rtstofer [r...@pacbell.net]
Sent: Thursday, January 09, 2014 3:35 PM
To: f...
Subject: [fpga-cpu] Re: Beginning with FGPA

--- In f..., "reubs@..." wrote:
>
> Hello,
> I am a senior in high school and have been studying ALU and CPU design independently. I have just read "Bebop Bytes Back" and have just purchased a book titled "HDL Chip Design". Starting with FPGA's was recommended to me, but I was overwhelmed after trying to choose a board. Would anyone be able to recommend a board for a beginner, one with a generous amount of tools (switches, 7-segment display etc.) but one that does not take away from the experience by having many of the difficult aspects of building a CPU previously completed. Thank you very much and I appreciate any input.
>

The CPU design is the fun part. If you want to pursue it in a structured manner, consider "Microprocessor Design Using Verilog HDL". The author builds a Z80 microprocessor using Excel spreadsheets. It is a very structured approach. Nice...

There is another book "Computer Architecture" by Caxton C Foster that is available at Alibris.com. The book is 40 years out of date. Except... There is a complete description and logic design for a 16 bit 4k word minicomputer that might have been sold in the late '60s or early '70s. It's a trivial machine but the design is complete. A little rework in the start/stop logic and the thing could be easily ported to a Spartan 3 Starter Board.

So, one of the electronics gurus did just that.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dt4zezZP8w8

There used to be a web site blue.hotsolder.com that had the complete design. It doesn't seem to be available so, if you are interested, contact Al Williams at hotsolder.com and see what's happening. I have a copy of the distribution.

His design adds a BUNCH of new instructions and registers. In addition, and this is a BIG deal, he wrote an assembler for it. In the end, these projects are worthless without a way to program them.

That BeMicro project even has a C compiler:
http://www.altera.com/b/nios-bemicro-evaluation-kit.html
For $50, there is a lot of education in this project. Unfortunately, it all works! There isn't a lot to learn and it's certainly not like rolling your own.

Just get real good at designing finite state machines. This whole FPGA thing is all about FSAs. And some combinatorial logic...

Richard



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On 1/9/2014 2:51 PM, Younger, Arthur Steven wrote:
> Along these lines, there is another old book (~ 30 years) on the lost
> art of Bit-Slice development called: "Bit-Slice Microprocessor
> Design" by John Mick and Jim Brick. ISBN 0-07-041781-4.
>
> Even though its uses bitslice technology , it has a detailed
> description of the design of a CPU Architecture, similar to the one
> Richard describes below. It would be a guide toward developing a FPGA
> based computer.
>
> For those who don't know, BitSlice was used to build many custom CPUs
> before FPGAs, including real-times graphics processors used in early
> Military flight simulations. This book was sort of the "bible" of
> that industry.
>
> A lot of the ideas should translate into FPGA implementations.

But most machines of that era, used a lot of micro-coding for custom
cpu's. All that knowledge is locked up or thrown out, depending on luck.
Ben.

> -Steve



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--- In f..., "Younger, Arthur Steven" wrote:
>
> Along these lines, there is another old book (~ 30 years) on the lost art of Bit-Slice development called: "Bit-Slice Microprocessor Design" by John Mick and Jim Brick. ISBN 0-07-041781-4.
>
> Even though its uses bitslice technology , it has a detailed description of the design of a CPU Architecture, similar to the one Richard describes below. It would be a guide toward developing a FPGA based computer.
>
> For those who don't know, BitSlice was used to build many custom CPUs before FPGAs, including real-times graphics processors used in early Military flight simulations. This book was sort of the "bible" of that industry.
>
> A lot of the ideas should translate into FPGA implementations.
>
> -Steve
>

In fact, I have Mick and Brick on my bookshelf! I took a class in bit-slice design back in the early '80s. I still like the microcode approach to digital systems. The much more weighty volume "Microprogramming - Principles and Practices" by Husson describes microprogramming the IBM 360.

Mick and Brick's work involves using a meta-assembler to create the very wide control words. At the time I didn't have anything workable so hand assembly was the best I could do.

I ran into the 2100 logic series when I was dealing with early hard drive interfaces. There was a barn full of digital involved with reading hard drives and dealing with a SCSI interface.

Richard



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Mick and Brick was an AWESOME book and taught me a lot about
processor design. At one point I even designed an IO board for a
computer using a sequencer which was in essence the instruction fetch
portion of the designs Mick and Brick talked about.

One thing they disclose in that book that is very relevant to FPGA
designs is the critical path in the clock cycle timing. It is in the
path of fetching the next instruction based on the result of the
current ALU operation. Of course this assumes the design can perform
a branch on every instruction. That is often the critical path in a
CPU design even if the ALU ops and branches are in separate
instructions as both parts involve carry chains and can only be
optimized to a limited extent.

Rick
At 04:51 PM 1/9/2014, you wrote:
>Along these lines, there is another old book (~ 30 years) on the
>lost art of Bit-Slice development called: "Bit-Slice Microprocessor
>Design" by John Mick and Jim Brick. ISBN 0-07-041781-4.
>
>Even though its uses bitslice technology , it has a detailed
>description of the design of a CPU Architecture, similar to the one
>Richard describes below. It would be a guide toward developing a
>FPGA based computer.
>
>For those who don't know, BitSlice was used to build many custom
>CPUs before FPGAs, including real-times graphics processors used in
>early Military flight simulations. This book was sort of the "bible"
>of that industry.
>
>A lot of the ideas should translate into FPGA implementations.
>
>-Steve
>
>________________________________________
>From: f... [f...] On Behalf
>Of rtstofer [r...@pacbell.net]
>Sent: Thursday, January 09, 2014 3:35 PM
>To: f...
>Subject: [fpga-cpu] Re: Beginning with FGPA
>
>--- In f..., "reubs@..." wrote:
> >
> > Hello,
> > I am a senior in high school and have been studying ALU and CPU
> design independently. I have just read "Bebop Bytes Back" and have
> just purchased a book titled "HDL Chip Design". Starting with
> FPGA's was recommended to me, but I was overwhelmed after trying to
> choose a board. Would anyone be able to recommend a board for a
> beginner, one with a generous amount of tools (switches, 7-segment
> display etc.) but one that does not take away from the experience
> by having many of the difficult aspects of building a CPU
> previously completed. Thank you very much and I appreciate any input.
> >The CPU design is the fun part. If you want to pursue it in a
>structured manner, consider "Microprocessor Design Using Verilog
>HDL". The author builds a Z80 microprocessor using Excel
>spreadsheets. It is a very structured approach. Nice...
>
>There is another book "Computer Architecture" by Caxton C Foster
>that is available at Alibris.com. The book is 40 years out of date.
>Except... There is a complete description and logic design for a 16
>bit 4k word minicomputer that might have been sold in the late '60s
>or early '70s. It's a trivial machine but the design is complete. A
>little rework in the start/stop logic and the thing could be easily
>ported to a Spartan 3 Starter Board.
>
>So, one of the electronics gurus did just that.
>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dt4zezZP8w8
>
>There used to be a web site blue.hotsolder.com that had the complete
>design. It doesn't seem to be available so, if you are interested,
>contact Al Williams at hotsolder.com and see what's happening. I
>have a copy of the distribution.
>
>His design adds a BUNCH of new instructions and registers. In
>addition, and this is a BIG deal, he wrote an assembler for it. In
>the end, these projects are worthless without a way to program them.
>
>That BeMicro project even has a C compiler:
>http://www.altera.com/b/nios-bemicro-evaluation-kit.html
>For $50, there is a lot of education in this project. Unfortunately,
>it all works! There isn't a lot to learn and it's certainly not like
>rolling your own.
>
>Just get real good at designing finite state machines. This whole
>FPGA thing is all about FSAs. And some combinatorial logic...
>
>Richard



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At 05:42 PM 1/9/2014, you wrote:
>
>--- In f..., "Younger, Arthur Steven"
> wrote:
> >
> > Along these lines, there is another old book (~ 30 years) on the
> lost art of Bit-Slice development called: "Bit-Slice Microprocessor
> Design" by John Mick and Jim Brick. ISBN 0-07-041781-4.
> >
> > Even though its uses bitslice technology , it has a detailed
> description of the design of a CPU Architecture, similar to the one
> Richard describes below. It would be a guide toward developing a
> FPGA based computer.
> >
> > For those who don't know, BitSlice was used to build many custom
> CPUs before FPGAs, including real-times graphics processors used in
> early Military flight simulations. This book was sort of the
> "bible" of that industry.
> >
> > A lot of the ideas should translate into FPGA implementations.
> >
> > -Steve
> >In fact, I have Mick and Brick on my bookshelf! I took a class in
>bit-slice design back in the early '80s. I still like the microcode
>approach to digital systems. The much more weighty volume
>"Microprogramming - Principles and Practices" by Husson describes
>microprogramming the IBM 360.
>
>Mick and Brick's work involves using a meta-assembler to create the
>very wide control words. At the time I didn't have anything workable
>so hand assembly was the best I could do.
>
>I ran into the 2100 logic series when I was dealing with early hard
>drive interfaces. There was a barn full of digital involved with
>reading hard drives and dealing with a SCSI interface.
>
>Richard
That reminds me of the computer that my IO processor board plugged
into. It was an attached array processor, sort of a DSP chip in a
dual rack cabinet performing 100 MFLOPS. The compute head was ECL
gate arrays with ECL control store and was microcoded ala Mick and
Brick style rather than a more conventional assembly language. I
want to say the control word was around 100 bits wide but I can't be
certain since it was some 40 years ago. Although the product didn't
have a long lifetime, it was a very interesting unit to work on.

Rick



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