1. 28
  1. 4

    Hopefully the vaxorcist is still around.

    1. 4

      Lol. Ragge still at it. I remember him add ludd (the computer club at luleå university) deep in porting NetBSD to VAX back in the 90s.

      1. 4

        Amazing, especially given that the clock speed on a cheap FPGA is close to the fasted microVAX ICs.

        VAX is probably quite a good target to run in an FPGA. Generally, you get the best performance out of FPGAs by doing as much work per instruction as possible: very long pipelines let you chain together a load of logic elements. Expanding some of the instructions that were microcoded in later VAXen to long pipelines would probably give quite an efficient implementation. You probably have a lot more transistors to play with than the microVAX designers did.

        1. 3

          Has anyone alerted Theo de Raadt yet? ;)

          This is a really impressive project for someone who was learning Verilog while doing it.

          1. 8

            learning Verilog while doing it.

            My experience has consistently been that learning while doing beats other approaches, if done in a conscious, considered, fashion.

          2. 2

            Some day I need to figure out this FPGA stuff, there’s a bunch of things I would like to do. I tried once, but didn’t get too far. It’s so different from what I’m familiar with, and the near-total lack of open-source tooling leaves me even more adrift than I would be otherwise.

            1. 3

              The icestorm/yosys/nextpnr open source tool chain for the lattice ice40 platform were what finally got me into fpga.

              1. 2

                Now there’s also Lattice ECP5 and Xilinx Series 7 support, plus a new vendor – QuickLogic – going with the open toolchain from the beginning. Quite far from a “near-total lack of open-source tooling” by now!

                1. 1

                  Hmm interesting. I think the ice40 is too small for what I want to do, but I might be able to try one of the others. Thanks to both of you for mentioning it.

                  1. 1

                    Yes, but the ice40 support is really mature now. I’ve been meaning to play with the xilinx series 7 stuff and pick up some QuickLogic gear. But I have so many underused FPGA dev boards and not a lot of project ideas that need an FPGA right now.

              2. 1

                Some years ago, a hardware engineer at Apple showed off to me their pet (personal, home) project, which was VAX on an FPGA, booting and running the Incompatible Time-Sharing System and viewing some parts of the source code. It was eye-opening at many levels.

                I still blink at learning about the richness of the instruction set.