top left Image    The Megaprocessor ...

  • What ?    The Megaprocessor is a micro-processor built large. Very large.

  • How ?   Like all modern processors the Megaprocessor is built from transistors. It's just that instead of using teeny-weeny ones integrated on a silicon chip it uses discrete individual ones like those below. Thousands of them. And loads of LEDs.
  • Why ? - short answer : Because I want to.

  • Why ? - long answer : Computers are quite opaque, looking at them it's impossible to see how they work. What I would like to do is get inside and see what's going on.  Trouble is we can't shrink down small enough to walk inside a silicon chip. But we can go the other way; we can build the thing big enough that we can walk inside it. Not only that we can also put LEDs on everything so we can actually SEE the data moving and the logic happening. It's going to be great.

  • Where ? Here. Cambridge.

  • Who ? Me. James

  • When ? I was shooting for the end of 2014. But that was fantasy. It's turned out to be quite a project, things seem to have got a tad out of hand. Easter 2015. Summer 2015. Christmas 2015 (and this time I mean it) Easter 2016 (and now I really really mean it). If you want an update on where I'm up to there's a diary of sorts here. (Last update 23 May 2016)

  • So how big will it be ? Well an 8-bit adder is about a foot long (I use five of these):
8 bit adder/subtractor
  • And the whole thing ? Well according to my current plans, if I ever finish the soldering, and if I can ever find a room big enough for the Megaprocessor to properly unfurl its wings, then it will look roughly like this:
Artist Impression
Artist's Impression

As of 30th January 2016 we have seven frames (which is enough to build a working system !) and we're into test and integration.

living room full of megaprocessor.

The Megaprocessor has featured in a couple of articles so far: The Register and the BBC News web site.

Picture of ALU and state machine frames
picture of special register frame.
picture of memory frame
Picture of controller frame

© 2014-2016 James Newman.