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 rj16 - a homebrew 16-bit cpu 
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Joined: Sat Nov 28, 2020 4:18 pm
Posts: 123
In this video I pull out the fetch unit, so we now have something resembling a classic pipeline, though the processor is not yet pipelined. It's also a big clean up / refactoring episode so I mostly just sped through it. I realized in editing perhaps a bit more explanation would have been helpful. Maybe I will make episode 10 a walkthrough episode to fill in any gaps.

So yeah, here's [008] Fetch & Clean Up!: https://youtu.be/8tC27yB67Wk

edit: As an aside, this is the first episode properly implementing the auto-editing. I think I have most of the kinks worked out, but there's still a couple left. If folks are interested I can post a description of my workflow and some of the settings I use in OBS and auto-editor.


Mon Jan 25, 2021 1:45 pm

Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:54 pm
Posts: 1632
(sorry I haven't really had a chance to have a good look at your videos recently.)


Mon Jan 25, 2021 5:56 pm

Joined: Sat Nov 28, 2020 4:18 pm
Posts: 123
That's okay BigEd, I can see there's still some people watching these so I will keep posting them.

Here is the next video where I add the ability to add two registers together with the goal of completing the first milestone: running a Fibonacci sequence program.

[009] Fibonacci! https://youtu.be/oUsSsA2-8T8

The next video will be the walkthrough / review / catch up video. I am also thinking I might try recording an episode 1.5 where I go into more basics and show how to use the program more. Despite asking people to watch the intro videos linked in the description, most people don't, and I lose them in episode 2. I mean I am not expecting crazy viewership on these videos, but I also want to be helpful. They're interested enough to start watching the second episode, so.... I would like to help them get further into the series if I can.

If you happen to have some ideas on what I could cover in an episode 1.5 I would be very interested.


Sat Jan 30, 2021 12:18 pm

Joined: Sat Nov 28, 2020 4:18 pm
Posts: 123
So here's the sync-up episode to hopefully fill in any gaps. I suppose it could be used as a summary too. It's a bit shorter because I cut out a pretty long rant/tangent at the end. But I talk about my development strategy and do a walk-through of what has been built so far.

[010] Sync-Up / Walk-Through https://youtu.be/7m7gBFkVm8U


Sat Feb 06, 2021 10:37 pm

Joined: Sat Nov 28, 2020 4:18 pm
Posts: 123
Next episode is up, implementing the move instruction. There's some background noise in this one which isn't great. Really debating getting a better mic, but well... I am not entirely sure how much that will help.

[011] Move! https://youtu.be/rbOpUv4IdBQ

BTW I have some fun episodes coming up I just need to edit :-)


Tue Feb 09, 2021 1:43 pm

Joined: Sat Nov 28, 2020 4:18 pm
Posts: 123
This is a short video where I just change the bit-widths of most of the components so we now have a 32-bit processor with 16-bit instructions.

This isn't the fun episodes just yet. Hopefully I will get time to edit those and put them up soon. Work has been crazy, pretty much no hobby time this week, and likely not next week either.

[012] 32-bits! https://youtu.be/x8m37QaytCU


Sat Feb 13, 2021 1:14 pm

Joined: Sat Nov 28, 2020 4:18 pm
Posts: 123
Here's the start of the fun videos. In this I build an ASCII display for the name of the currently executing instruction:

[013] Instruction Blinkenlights! https://youtu.be/Ouk9r-wIQ14

So far this weekend I have been hung up trying to convert binary to BCD in logic. My goodness is it ever a lot of logic to do that. I opened a ticket on Digital to see if a less heavy solution could be made.

But anyway, I had no idea how expensive it was to do such a simple thing in a circuit. The algorithm by the way is the Double Dabble Algorithm. It's actually a lot less expensive to just do math in BCD and not convert from binary to BCD, which is probably why old processors have BCD math instructions / modes.


Sun Feb 14, 2021 5:06 pm

Joined: Sat Nov 28, 2020 4:18 pm
Posts: 123
More blinkenlight building, this time with the registers and their contents.

[014] Register Blinkenlights! https://youtu.be/SWK62ufW_iY

One more video coming up on this topic, and then I am on to other things.

I think what I want to do after this is figure out how to add a "test suite" where I can program in a number of programs that test various instructions and can emit a failure or success. Thoughts? I suppose I could also get into building a proper assembler?


Thu Feb 18, 2021 1:56 pm

Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:54 pm
Posts: 1632
Blinkenlights always good - and a milestone!

Yes, I would think an assembler, even a rudimentary one, would be pretty useful at this point.

I've seen various approaches to testsuites: py65 has a collection of trivial sequences, klaus' 6502 tests are self-contained and self-checking. Perhaps see
http://visual6502.org/wiki/index.php?ti ... stPrograms


Thu Feb 18, 2021 4:52 pm

Joined: Sat Nov 28, 2020 4:18 pm
Posts: 123
Here's the next video, I finish up the blinkenlight display with some binary to bcd (decimal) conversion.

[015] Decimal Blinkenlights! https://youtu.be/ifZsbNm-qg8

Next up is the assembler video, and then I try to build a test runner which is going to take a while, it's more complicated than I thought :-)


Mon Feb 22, 2021 1:33 am

Joined: Sat Nov 28, 2020 4:18 pm
Posts: 123
Finally a new video. Work has been crazy!

This is the assembler video I promised. I also got a new microphone! Let me know what you think!

[016] A Proper Assembler! https://youtu.be/i2WE-NaqHvU

I had a false start with the last few videos and I decided to re-record them. But I am regaining some hobby time that work was eating so, hopefully I will get more videos soon.


Thu Mar 04, 2021 1:40 am

Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:54 pm
Posts: 1632
Nice - customasm looks handy, for builders of homebrew CPUs.


Thu Mar 04, 2021 6:01 pm

Joined: Sat Nov 28, 2020 4:18 pm
Posts: 123
The next video on automated testing is up.

This was the third attempt at recording this -- the first attempt took something like 4 episodes and it turned out so complicated that I couldn't figure out how to get it to work. The second was similar but I did manage to get it working. I am not sure why I though that the second attempt would be any simpler... it wasn't.

I was trying to build a custom circuit to run the test cases, and I had kind of dismissed the built-in testing functionality Digital has, but that was silly and when I really dug in and investigated that functionality I figured out how to adapt it to what I wanted to do. In the end, it all fit into one video and I think it's more powerful than the circuit version.

[017] Automated Testing! https://youtu.be/8ImcOexoXvE

So, with automated testing in place, I think it's time to move on to some serious features that really require that automated testing. But I am not really sure what to tackle next.

When do you think I should pipeline this processor? Should I do that now while it's still fairly simple? Or should I implement conditional branches and memory access before I tackle pipelining it? What do you think?

Keep in mind I would like my videos to be understandable, so that's one reason to delay pipelining it -- adding major features will be a lot more complex once it's pipelined. On the other hand, making the processor pipelined will be a lot more complex with those features and it will be hard to do it incrementally -- I would have to have many episodes with a broken processor before I got it working again.


Thu Mar 11, 2021 1:09 pm

Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:54 pm
Posts: 1632
I think it'd be better to build up to a simple but functionally useful micro before pipelining. (For one thing, I suspect the challenges of pipelining become manifest when you have conditional branches.)


Thu Mar 11, 2021 2:47 pm

Joined: Sun Dec 20, 2020 1:54 pm
Posts: 73
rj45 wrote:
When do you think I should pipeline this processor?


Never :o

People seem thinking that "real men" are only those who do pipeline, cache, and all the modern stuff we have today, and as result we are plenty of super-complex and unfriendly processors that nobody wants to program in assembly.

You asked what I think. I think "must be pipelined to be a good challenge" is rather a modern hype.

For me the "pipeline" is evil, the "cache" is bad, and don't want to deal with that for hobby since I already have to deal with that for a living.

The real challenge for me it's making a CPU and an high level compiler friendly, elegant, useful, well written and documented, and rich of useful features to make the development process comfortable.


Thu Mar 11, 2021 3:55 pm
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