Today, can we still design cool stuff without a FPGA or microcontroller ?


I have been teased by many BMOW like MyCPU80, the #The T-1: A discrete 8-bit Stack Computer, the #Fourbit, the #AYTABTU - Discrete Computer... (to name only a few, the list grew so much I had the create #Hackaday TTLers)

I felt the need to restart this project of a DIP-based minicomputer, like I imagined when I started the YASEP project more than a decade ago. Except that now, power consumption and parts price should be kept low, all the parts should also be available in SMD package because the final version will be on flexible PCB !

This is so ambitious that I must start and spin-off several sub-projects like #PICTIL, #Low-resolution scanner for cheap data input or #DYPLED ...


General architecture

The architecture is adapted from the #microYasep where instructions take two cycles. It has a characteristic "2 reads - 1 write" heterogenous register bank that is accessed once or twice for each instruction depending on its length.

The following picture shows the datapath of the microYASEP and its two phases. The general organisation is preserved but the design will be split in a totally different way.

There are 3 memory banks, each 32K*16 bits and dual ported :

(a 3rd address bus is MUXed for convenient debugging)

A custom, internal bus is being defined, which connects all the boards :

The "bus", accessed along the edge of each double sided board, contains at least those signals :

However it is not meant for I/Os, only for architectural exploration and debug. The ALU has the logic that deals with instruction operands and format so SR and IO are connected there.

Each board's size is "double Europe" (160×200mm) and is paired with a neighbour (hence the A and B suffix). Pairs of boards are connected to the others with through-board pins.

Most buses use "3-state" logic to multiplex data, which is not ideal but saves some complexity.

Power supply

Hopefully the final version can be powered from a USB port so the power envelope would be 5W. An additional power input might be necessary though. The prototype has some DIP chips that need 5V but the whole system will be 3.3V in the final version. DC/DC converters are used and a mix of HC, HCT and LVC parts translate logic levels.


Logs:
1. First page and first roadblock
2. Board 1 : the user interface
3. Board 2 : Register set
4. Board 1 : the user interface (second take)
5. Design of the input FIFO
6. Clock generation circuit
7. The progress so far
8. Keypad musing
9. Emulation
10. Command and control as ASCII bytes
11. Asynchronous serial reception
12. User Interface Board overview
13. "Redneck" disintegrated 7 segments decoder
14. Keyboard proof of concept
15. Pulls!
16. Dear SN74HC688
17. Single stepping and scroll wheels
18. Sunday bug mouse (Sun debug mouse)
19. Parts, parts, parts...
20. Even better hardware debugging
21. Random Available Memories
22. DILosaure rising
23. A better switch scan method
24. More schematics
25. Idea of the day
26. TIL Christmas...
27. Keyboard: OK
28. Registers
29. Keyboard and display
30. Revisiting the serial receive logic
31. A different kind of decoding array
32. Hexadecimal 7 segments display (continued)
33. Programming systems
34. I got FIFOs!
35. The gifts from the past
36. Bashing the multiply tables
37. The new breakpoints system
38. My first diode matrix
39. The registers
40. An old question...
41. Input FIFO (continued)
42. Barrel Shifter
43. Barrel Shifter (2)
44. Flash EEPROM adventures (and a happy end)
45. Memory editor
46. Instruction sequencing
47. The 74HC138/154/238 as a (almost) universal logic gate
48. Barrel Shifter (3)
49. P5A: the ALU/Execution Units board and the operands
50. What chip(s) for the ALU ?
51. P5A: the ALU/Execution Units (2)
52. A reasonable discrete ALU ?
53. Another way to decode 7 segments displays
54. Counters, counters, counters...
55. My first quad-Hex LED module
56. Another subproject
57. Thinking about a framebuffer...
58. What about the sound ?
59. Board-to-board connection
60. And now, the joysticks
61. Clocking: the revenge
62. How to verify actual timings and delays
63. Inspiration
64. Progress, at last !
65. Give that man a cookie
66. Got the backbones too