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Building a Squeak Machine
Last updated at 3:25 am UTC on 14 March 2012
Added by bkv on 3/19/2003


Somebody needs to build a Squeak Machine. Let a thousand Squeak Machines bloom!
This is really outdated!


The Squeak Mailing Lists had a fascinating discussion in the "Squeak History /TinyMachines" thread. In that thread, Ned Konz asked "why so few garage processors?":

"It used to be that you had to work for a big company to be able to design high-performance processors and systems.

But today, with the average $1000 computer having considerably more power than the CAD workstations of just a few years ago, we can do these designs ourselves.

I wonder why we don't see more innovative processor/system solutions coming from individuals now that the (financial) cost of = entry for making fast, capable systems is almost $0."


[ These are the steps Ned listed in his email .. basically. More details are needed. Somebody who knows what they're doing should review this list.. 3/19/2003 bkv ]

(1) Download free FPGA/CPLD design tools capable of dealing with large devices
(2) Buy the devices themselves (which are pretty cheap).
(3) Get free PC board design software.
(4) Get some prototype PC boards made for around $33 each.
(5) Design the processor
(6) Assemble and program the processor
(7) Attach some fast DRAM and I/O


 For instance, using the free ISE Webpack from Xilinx (Altera and Lattice also have free software like this) 
 you can program a device like the Virtex XCV300E, which has:
 - 32x48 CLB array
 - 6912 logic cells
 - 411944 system gates
 - 131072 max. block RAM bits
 - 98304 max. distributed RAM bits
 and is available in non-BGA forms (i.e. ones that can be 
 hand-soldered). You can buy them in single quanties for less than 
[2012 note: I've bought Spartan xc3s1000 chips (3 times bigger) for under $10 each...]




If you're looking to do this yourself, email the Squeak Mailing Lists when you need help! Also check in with the Hardware-Savvy Squeakers. And please, update this page with your results!

If I remember correctly, Transmeta's chips have some sort of necromancy they call "code morphing". If I'm not mistaken, they allow one to run x86 instructions on their chips, as well as (theoretically) 68xxx, Alpha, and Z80 instructions. Could this not be helpful to building a Squeak Machine?

But I'm no expert, so if I'm way off base here, just edit this comment out.