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Retro-Computing with FPGAs 183

Posted by michael
from the overkill dept.
zoid.com writes "I ran across a couple of really interesting projects using Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) processors. First is the C-ONE project that is a reconfigurable computer. The default mode is a C64 compatible one, but the machine just boots the FPGA from an IDE device at power on, so it could theoretically be pretty much anything. The second one is the FPGA Arcade. This site is about recreating gaming hardware from the past in modern programmable devices. They currently have Pacman, Space Invaders and Galaxian implemented in FPGAs."
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Retro-Computing with FPGAs

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  • by gpinzone (531794) on Sunday February 23, 2003 @02:05AM (#5363597) Homepage Journal
    How is this different from what MAME does?
    • by cuddles (586189) <cuddles&virginia,edu> on Sunday February 23, 2003 @02:14AM (#5363634)
      Quick quiz: What is MAME? Software, right. Second question: What's an FPGA? Field Programmable Gate Array - a chunk of reconfigurable silicon. Now you tell me :--) Gordon
    • by Anonymous Coward
      There are a number of inaccuracies in Mame's mspacman emulation. This has the possibility of being perfect. Also a chip is a lot cheaper than a computer and good pac boards are getting scarce.
    • by dmaxwell (43234) on Sunday February 23, 2003 @02:22AM (#5363653)
      MAME uses software to simulate arcade hardware using general purpose computing hardware.

      FPGA's are a different beast altogether. An FPGA is similar to a ROM in that patterns can be burned into it but they are far more versatile. FPGA's can have logic burned into them which makes them malleble hardware. An FPGA with a 6502 processor and supporting logic burned into it is NOT emulating say Pac-Man. It is a re-implementation of Pac-Man.

      This guy is implementing an Atari 2600 on an FPGA:

      http://www.mindspring.com/~2600onachip/

      If he pulls it off, one could do neat things like make a super battery efficient handheld. The FPGA is for all intents and purposes a 2600 so there isn't the overhead a StrongARM chip running at 200Mhz would have.
      • by whereiswaldo (459052) on Sunday February 23, 2003 @02:38AM (#5363675) Journal

        So far, gaming companies have been pretty generous about letting people copy very obsolete games from the C64 era. I hope that by creating hardware platforms for these obsolete games becomes more widespread, the gaming companies don't start changing their minds. I guess as long as people don't start making a lot of money at it?
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23, 2003 @02:59AM (#5363718)
        An FPGA is similar to a ROM in that patterns can be burned into it but they are far more versatile. FPGA's can have logic burned into them which makes them malleble hardware

        Close. You're actually describing a PAL. An FPGA is more similar to RAM. Think of it as the high speed memory of programmable logic devices. When it loses power, it loses it's programming. An FPGA usually reads it's configuration on power-up from ROM or a PC's parallel port if you're prototyping. There's really no "burning" involved.
        • Not all FPGAs lose their programming on power off. Some have an internal flash rom that backs up the ram (or even dispenses with it completely). Field Programmable Gate Array means exactly that - it CAN be programmed in the field, but doesn't have to be.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23, 2003 @03:23AM (#5363770)
        Who are YOU to assume we don't know what FPGA is?

        How fair do you think the great game of Golf would be if they didn't let females play? Hmm?
        • Correct, for the acroymn - WRONG subject. Get into computers terminologies. Hints: It's not Fantasy Players Gaming Association. It stands for "Field Programmable Gate Array".
          • "Correct, for the acroymn - WRONG subject. Get into computers terminologies. Hints: It's not Fantasy Players Gaming Association. It stands for "Field Programmable Gate Array"."

            Man, Commander Data would have gotten that joke. Heh.
          • Actually, the acronym is wrong. It's actually the LPGA: Ladies Professional Golfing Association. Of course, we're straying off-topic here.
            • Thanks, then I can say he got the acronym WRONG and the WRONG subject. FPGA in terms of computers are Fied Programmable Gate Array. Don't mistake it with something similar sounding, FC-PGA (Flip Chip-Pin Grid Array) which has to do with pins. FPGA has very little to do with that except for the most pins are General Purpose I/O which means it can be used for multiple purposes and is redefinable.
      • Guess what with FPGA - it can even be the SNES in one chip and also include all the cartridges and all the VHDL implementation of every hardware add-on included in the cartridges and added in on the fly on little Flash Cards the size of a PS2 memory card. Now we may call this the Nintendo Advance - No. Its one chip, and may use less power and still equal ther performance. You could even build your own Gameboy Advance like device with one FPGA. Have 1280 x 1024 resolution. All you need is a 300 K gate logic device. You can even use the Nios core that is built in to such FPGAs as the CPU.
  • nice (Score:3, Funny)

    by OwlofCreamCheese (645015) on Sunday February 23, 2003 @02:06AM (#5363600)
    another technology that will likely evolve into robot super monsters that will kill us all.
  • Nice. (Score:3, Funny)

    by cybermace5 (446439) <g.ryan@macetech.com> on Sunday February 23, 2003 @02:06AM (#5363606) Homepage Journal
    All I can say is: this is the best use of FPGA technology ever.

    • Well, if you mean that, I hope you enjoy your $200 C-64. :-)
      IMO, there are lots of _very_ cool FPGA devices about to hit market, and they are going to change how we use computers. Gaming not the least.
      • I'll say...

        Last I heard of FPGAs they were being touted in the same realm of likelyness as FMD or MRAM... I had no idea they are out there and working in reality already...

        Amazing =D
        • When was this?

          The first I heard of FPGAs was in University. We got to play with them for a project course. Fun stuff. I still have a dev board from Altera kicking around. It even has a VGA port.

          Anyway, One guy made a fully functional Arkanoid clone for his project. Someone who graduated a year or two after me had the idea of emulating old arcade systems in an FPGA.
          • Bah! Xilinx rules! Ours had VGA, serial, and PS/2 ports as well. Of course, my opinion on this has nothing to do with the fact that Bernie Vonderschmitt is a graduate of my school: the guy who came up with the idea of the FPGA in the first place, and started Xilinx.
        • Last I heard of FPGAs they were being touted in the same realm of likelyness as FMD or MRAM... I had no idea they are out there and working in reality already...

          This was around 1985, right ? However, the reference to MRAM is interesting, since nobody thought about this in 1985. (GMR was discovered 1989)

  • And I thought a binary calculator on an FPGA was really cool. With classic arcade games running on everything but toasters, no wonder arcades are having trouble staying in business.
  • Game AI (Score:3, Funny)

    by X-rated Ouroboros (526150) on Sunday February 23, 2003 @02:10AM (#5363623) Homepage

    I'm sure they could make a really good version of Pong...

    • Actually, NO. That would be impossible, because pong was analog, and an FPGA is a digital device. Sure, you could implement a A/D converter, but it would not be Pong. You probably wouldn't be any closer to actual pong than one of the many PC clones.
  • This is a dupe [slashdot.org].
    I remember people mentioning that this thing is uneconomical compared to an emulator because of how expensive FPGAs are.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The cost of an altera cyclone fpga is $1.50 per 1000 logic elements and falling. It will become cheaper by the day. Moreover, fpgas offer the flexibility in hardware, which is IMHO revolutionary.

      • If the average gate uses 4 transistors (let's say 8 to be conservative), then the P4 Northwood's 55 million would mean the approx. $300 P4 chip would cost around $10,000 if made out of those fpga elements. I'd hardly call over 30x the cost per gate economical. FPGA prices still have a long way to fall yet before they're more economical than simply getting a fast ASIC and emulating your target enivornment.
        • You're missing the point. You don't try to rewrite a P4 in an FPGA.

          You can (for example) do a 4096 point FFT in a few milliseconds on an el-cheapo FPGA (20$ for 1-off pricing) whereas to get almost 1/10th the performance, you could buy a $400 P4/Athlon. Hmmm $20 vs $4000...

          Horses for courses - the FPGA is a very low-barrier-to-entry solution, but it's not a general-purpose device - the speed tops out around about 400MHz anyway (and that's not a $20 FPGA!)

          Simon.
          • I of course meant microseconds (us) not milliseconds (ms).

            MS strikes again :-)

            Simon.
            • You still have to clock the data into and out of the chip because of limited pincount. In that sense an FPGA is no less serial on FFTs than a CPU, right?
              • Parallelizing FFT (Score:2, Informative)

                by yerricde (125198)

                In that sense an FPGA is no less serial on FFTs than a CPU, right?

                Sure, you have to clock the FFT data into the internal memory of both an FPGA and a CPU. However, on an FPGA, unlike on a CPU, you can make as many multiply-accumulate units as you want up to the size of the FPGA, all operating in parallel. Large n-point FFTs can be parallelized with up to n multipliers.

              • Well, yes, the data has to be presented, but not necessarily sent out of the FPGA - this is the basis of the 'Platform FPGA' architecture. As long as you can realise your processing within the FPGA, your output may be of significantly less bandwidth.

                Pins aren't that limited either - you can get an FPGA with well over 1000 i/o pins, 168 1-clock-cycle 18-bit multipliers in hardware, and as many as will fit in firmware - with 8M "gates", that's a pretty nifty piece of hardware.

                Not that you would, but clocking 512 pins at 200MHz gives you 12.8 GByte/sec both in and out...

                The way you'd more likely use it though is to embed some of the processing subsequent to the FFT onboard as well, to reduce the output overhead - say you're looking for zero-crossing, or correlation, or anything where the output bandwidth is significantly less than the input (most signal processing tasks are...)

                Simon.
  • Jeez! (Score:3, Funny)

    by sakusha (441986) on Sunday February 23, 2003 @02:38AM (#5363678)
    You know, they STILL make 6502s, what's the point of doing it the hard way?
    • Re:Jeez! (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23, 2003 @02:44AM (#5363688)
      Do they make 6502s that can also be 8080s, 6800s, RCA 1802s... just by rebooting? No? Then you're completely missing the point.

      Not that that's anything new for Slashdot.

      • by mekkab (133181)
        WoW! I can make a c-64!! Maybe I'll be uber-cool and use my Xilinx FPGA to re-create an old PONG box!

        (*the above is sarcasm)

        See, this isn't an article about "Wow! FPGA's are KOOL!" (they are! but they were cool 6 years ago when I used them in my digital lab class)- actually, that article would most likely be about evolutionary computing- google it. This is an article about recreating the past. I think you are missing the point.

        I support your right to geek. I support your right to come up with a 40 hour solution to a 10 second problem, simply because the 40 hours solution is you making something from scratch instead of just throwing out the old and buying new. And I believe that such stories do have a place on /.

        I'm just not impressed with this one.
    • Re:Jeez! (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tazan (652775)
      The problems not the cpu, z80's are less than $2. Having a 12" x 18" circuit board made and populated with the other 150 chips on the board gets expensive.
      • Ah.. Well, it was my understanding that they're making new chips with full code compatibility but smaller support systems. IIRC, I saw a full Z80 system with video out that could be done with 5 chips, but that was a long time ago. I haven't worked with that sort of hardware in ages, so my memory could be wrong, of course.
        • by Howie (4244)
          IIRC, I saw a full Z80 system with video out that could be done with 5 chips

          Yes - the Sinclair ZX81 (or Timex-Sinclair 1000 depending on where you live). Built in 1980/81, with 4 chips (5 if you had a wacky 2 512-byte SRAMs version). I think it was a fairly early example of using logic arrays to reduce the chip count too... The chips are Z80A, ROM, RAM and ULA (everything else). Of course, it depends on your definition of 'full'.
      • Re:Jeez! (Score:2, Interesting)

        by SN74S181 (581549)
        Have you priced the FPGA prototyping kits recently?

        They're expensive. For one-off projects, it gets expensive really fast. You can't just grab a big FPGA chip and solder it onto your board. The pin density is high enough that you HAVE to have a custom board built, or dedicate an expensive prototyping kit to each project.

        I've seen a few people on eBay selling FPGA chips that have been tin-snipped out of scrapped assemblies, though. Because most FPGA board layouts include feedthroughs-per-hole around the FPGA chip for hardware probing and verification, that is a somewhat workable solution.
    • Re:Jeez! (Score:3, Informative)

      by Wildstar128 (646634)
      65c02 not 6502. There are some differences. 6502 which is the NMOS fabricated model made by MOS Technology aka Commodore Semicondictors (CSG later used). C64 used 6510. The C-1 uses a 65c816 and the 6510 special features are cored into the FPGA (I think) Yet, the two FPGAs have to "emulate" (if you want to call it that) are the VIC-II and SID chip which are *NOT* made anymore. Jeri Ellsworth made special features known as the Super VIC and Monster SID mode on top of the classic features. These include the full enhanced sound and enhanced video modes like 1280 x 1024 resolution and 65536 colors. (More then your eyes can distinctively tell in an animated motion) Dithered imaging - hehehe lets look at 4 Billion RGB Chroma values. Hope you can tell.
      • C64 used 6510. The C-1 uses a 65c816 and the 6510 special features are cored into the FPGA (I think)

        The problem here is that the C64's 6510 processor had the full set of 6502 instructions, including the undocumented [parodius.com] ones [parodius.com]. Lots of programs, especially games, used the undocumented instructions. The 65C816, on the other hand, doesn't have the 6502's undocumented instructions, and it would be da*n near impossible to put those instructions in an FPGA without putting the whole 6502 core there as well.

        • Perhaps Jeri implements it for that sake. The 65c816 is for the larger addressing. If you wait awhile longer we may be able to implement a project called the 65GZ032 being developed by Gideon Zweijtzer (sp?) which will incorporate some interesting features. 32 Bit and pipelining.
    • But its better to have a processor thats reconfigureable. I am working on an "open computer" [man.ac.uk] which allows you to make your machine into anything you want (once you get bored of your x86 then turn it into a playstation) and run an a totally open system (i.e. the hardware is open as well as the software).
  • 5 -- Your outdated computers will go really well with your outdated hairstyle

    4 -- Reducing costs by purchasing old stuff is an essential part of the 1, 2, 3, Profit! scheme

    3 -- Go back in time and invent the Internet before Al Gore gets around to it

    2 -- 1337 + 666 = 2003, which is a sure sign that now is the time to become a retro geek

    1 -- Being an R.C.G. is a lot like playing an R.P.G., only without the whole play-3-days-straight-get-up-puke-in-bathroom-die-s oon-thereafter routine

    Remember that you can always get free blogging for life at *nix.org [starnix.org]

  • FPGAs are cool... (Score:5, Informative)

    by metlin (258108) on Sunday February 23, 2003 @02:58AM (#5363715) Journal
    ...and cheap. A half decent FPGA can be obtained for about a dollar and odd in most parts of Asia. And that gives you a whole lot more malleability to play around, and you could mess up without really worrying much :-)

    One really cool application is the implementation of various crypto algorithms for realtime simple uses, like this [eleves.ens.fr].

    There is also something called the FPGA Design Contest [sharif.edu] - amazing stuff!

    Games are entertaining I guess, but if we could implement crypto algos and cool AI stuff at home using FPGAs, nothing quite beats that :-)
    • Re:FPGAs are cool... (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Google Cache [216.239.57.100] of the FPGA Design Contest page linked above.

      Damn second-level Slashdot effect =)
    • Putting together an FPGA and a CPU is very very cheap nowdays and the possibilities are huge.
      We made these [man.ac.uk] boards and there very nice to pla around with.
      I got them to drive LCDs [man.ac.uk] (play pong or display images) and once even drive a osiloscope and make something like a TV.(black and white 40 lines)
      But the point was to allow students to maske anything they want with them.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    So, could it be done? A FPGA chip reprogrammed to crunch SETI code via hardware?
    • by swmccracken (106576) on Sunday February 23, 2003 @04:57AM (#5363922) Homepage
      Yep, if SETI@Home cared to release such code.

      Open Core's project list [opencores.org] gives a list of cores you can download *right now* under the *GPL* and do stuff with. Shows you the kind of things you can do. (I believe you can combine multiple cores onto one FPGA as well, if they'll fit, and they can intercommunicate.)

      I have heard of people talking about a PCI card with a few FPGA's on it; so dedicated programs could download their own accellerator programs to them. It's just an idea at the moment, AFAIK, but hey.
      • I have heard of people talking about a PCI card with a few FPGA's on it; so dedicated programs could download their own accellerator programs to them. It's just an idea at the moment, AFAIK, but hey.

        Compaines like Tarari [tarari.com] have already been doing this. Their card does network filtering. I've also seen cryptography as another application.

    • by Space cowboy (13680) on Sunday February 23, 2003 @07:43AM (#5364181) Journal
      I thought about doing this for my own radio telescope [gornall.net]. One day I might just get around to it :-)

      The interesting thing about using an FPGA would be the speed of the FFT. With FFTW (the Fastest Fourier Transform in the West), I get approx 230 us (microseconds) per fft. Using an el-cheapo FFT, best efforts would be on the order of 15us, or approximately 15x faster... Bung several on a few PCBs, and you're talking super-computer speeds :-)

      Say you use 16 FPGA implementations, that'd be the equivalent of 240 Athlon 1800XP's... With those sorts of speeds, you could do realtime chirp analysis for doppler effects on an incoming signal. That *would be cool* :-)

      Simon.
      • Some years ago, while I was working briefly on a radar project, I remember seeing dedicated FFT chips that were damn fast.

        I can't find them now, and I don't remember who made them. They were a specialized niche, obviously.

        Anyone else remember these? Know where I could find them?
  • by udif (32355) on Sunday February 23, 2003 @03:57AM (#5363829)
    The site is currently slashdoted, but as far as I remember, it uses a WDC 65C816 instead of the C64's 6510 CPU. The FPGA is used only for emulating the peripherals such as the IDE interface, 6581 SID sound chip, 2x6526 CIA chips, VIC chip emulation, etc.
    • It seems you're right; note that the CPU is on a seperate board and the system is desinged to allow you to switch it. (And since the main thing the CPU interfaces to is FPGAs, designing a new CPU board is easy because you can reconfigure the FPGAs to match the new CPU.) It also seems the FPGAs do the inteface the CPU to everything else bits as well.

      It is still possible to emulate the Atari 2600 or whatever - but it involves switching the processor.

      http://www.geocities.com/profdredd/commodoreone/ cm drone.html

      It's not entirely clear where the "monster-sid" is located; it seems it's in (one of the two) FPGAs.

      I think. Unless I'm rong. :-)
      • Amulating the Atari 2600 is easy, since it is also 6502 based. Just reprogram the FPGA's.
        • No, you can't use a 65c816 to run Atari 2600 programs natively. Because its graphics system is so dang underpowered, an Atari 2600 program must use the undocumented instructions of the 6502 that were removed to make room for the new instructions of the 65c02 and 65c816.

      • You don't have to use the 65816 or the CPU slot at all, you can implement a CPU core in the FPGA if you want to. In fact, the C1 boots with a 6502 core in the 1k30, and the 65816 isn't started until the 1k100 is configured.
      • I believe that there's one or two sockets for SIDs but I'm too lazy to check out the site.

        I remember seeing a board with four SID sockets once, you could use the original or upgraded chips. I think it's PCI. If all you want is SID, that's where to get it.

        • I recall reading that too.

          I think (but I could be wrong on this) the main reason you would want to use a real sid vs a FPGA emulated one is the real SID chips have analogue components, so for "perfect" emulation you need real SIDs.

          I got the impression that the FPGA's do a generally passable SID emulation, but if you're a pureist. :-) (in other words, either FPGA Monster-SID (I think it is called) or a real SID is an option - up to you.)
        • I remember seeing a board with four SID sockets once, you could use the original or upgraded chips.

          That's the HardSID [hardsid.com]. The standard version has one SID socket, and the HardSID Quattro has four. ISA versions of these exist for some years now, and the PCI cards are promised to be released this month.
    • by kb (43460)
      The SID isn't in the FPGAs. It's quite impossible to do so because the SID consists of a mixture of analog and digital circuitry and can't be built from logic circuits alone. If you look closely at the C-One's mainboard, you can see two empty sockets which are for two original SIDs.

      Though I really hope that one day someone is nuts enough to produce a SID compatible synth chip, the chip was awesome for its time and still has a distinguished sound that can't be really emulated with curent anlog or virtual synths. And maybe with a new, cheap SID chip the SIDstation wouldn't be so terribly expensive... ;)
    • I think that this would break many C64 games. The 65C816 has some
      instruction set differences to give the chip more functionality
      over the original 6502. These new instructions were placed in
      "holes" in the original 6502 instruction set, to preserve
      backwards compatibility with old machine code.

      Unfortunately many C64 games used these instructions, which had
      weird but documentable effects, as an anti-piracy measyre.
      They made it harder to reverse-engineer the anti-piracy code.
  • Why not... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by g4dget (579145) on Sunday February 23, 2003 @04:42AM (#5363902)
    Why not get one of these [mini-itx.com] and run this [t-online.de]? You can get a complete system with power supply and nice case for less than just the C-ONE board alone costs.
    • Why not get one of these [miniITX systems] and run this [VICE emulator]?

      In three words: no cartridge port.

      There's a sublime physical value to plugging in a game cartridge instead of simply loading a ROM image. Then again, there were far more diskette or cassette based games for the C64, so I might as well shut up.

    • Pffft (Score:3, Insightful)

      by freeweed (309734)
      If you're gonna be a complete jackass, why not ask: why not just buy an original c64? You can pick them up for $5 at the local junk shop here. Disk drive, another $2. I'm pretty sure your mini-itx boards cost more than $7.

      Yeesh, why is it that every time someone does something neat/cool/original, we have to moderate up the 'BUT THERE'S ALREADY ANOTHER WAY TO DO IT' trolls?

  • I can't believe it. I've been playing around with the c64 and 2600 idea for ages, but didn't have the means to actually do it. And these people did it. It's so cool.

    It's a great way to keep those old arcade game alive - an emulator is only - well- an emulation. The original PCBs age over time and may get unusuble and unrepearable if any custom circuits die completly and become unavailable. Using FPGAs is a great way to keep exactly the same hardware around.

    (And to all those #@!&-ers who ask "why bother?": BECAUSE THEY CAN !)
    • ehhhhhh, I don't have the same reverence for the hardware. As such, I view emulation in the same way I view audio reproduction; as long as its good enough, I'm happy.

      See, my memory is fuzzy, so for nostalgia, I'll take good enough.

      I don't think the visual/sound effects can stand the test of time, so whatever.

      And as long as you have the same gameplay, I'll take a 90% reproduction.

      But then again- I compress my MP3s to 64kbps MONO to fit more on my portable. YMMV.

      However I do think these "kit" articles to belong on slashdot. I'm just not salivating over the chance to play "Resuce of Fractalus!" on the "real" hardware. I really think emu's are great.
    • Team Play (http://www.teamplayinc.com) put out a combo Missile Command/Centpiede game about a year and a half ago, and recently they just did a combo Robotron/Joust. Both were done with FPGAs emulating the old hardware.
  • Sheesh (Score:1, Funny)

    by MagerValp (246718)
    WTF, the guy just cut'n'pasted my message on rgvac [google.com]...
    • Heh.. I thought that you stated the goal in rgvac much better than I could so I used your words. Guess I should have quoted you so I'll do this now. MagerValp describes the C-1 project: "The default mode is a C64 compat-
      ible one, but the machine just boots the FPGA from an IDE device at power on, so it could theoretically be pretty much anything."

  • Sorry for being such a curmudgeon, but this seems like the equivalent of collecting recordings of the Antique Road Show in lieu of collecting real antiques.

    FPGA technology is cool and all that, and there's a limited supply of vintage hardware that makes it a hobby with limited growth potential for marketers and banner advertising on enthusiast websites, but I can't think of a reason why it's cool to emulate a C64 with an FPGA, at least not for more than a few minutes. Do something new and cool with your new stuff.

    • No, this is the equivelent of making antique radios with modern parts. That is take a tube design, but instead of a tube you use a transister designed to substitute for a tube. Or make a modern super regererative receiver with transisters. It is still an antique and of interest only to collectors because modern radios are not regenerative.

      Sure it is of limited usefulness, but it is a cool hobby. If nothing else is keeps a few people who might otherwise get into a shootout in the local bar or some such outragious and unlikely thing.

  • I wonder if it makes any sense to switch to using FPGA's for computationally intensive processes rather than using a general purpose CPU. If this was the case, you could use a lower speed/power CPU which would be a big win for portable devices. If a FPGA was standard in all PC machines, the price would continue to drop and they would get faster/bigger as more research dollars went into them.
    • Ah, but we're going to have to wait for the push for "bigger, faster, less efficient, home mini-iron" to finally fizzle out so we can start engineering some *real* modern CPU designs (instead of just shrinking and cooling).

      A reconfigurable CPU like that would let computers do all sorts of things amazingly quickly; you can do almost anything in logic and asynchronous calculations run as fast as the signals can move across the chip.
  • FPGA Graphics Card? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BigDish (636009)
    Here's an interesting thought. I see someone mentioning that some cryptography company uses FPGA's on a PCI card in a PC. What about taking that one step further, and making the GPU on video card a FPGA? Imagine if, when you launched a game, it would be able to reconfigure the card optimally for that game. Rather than leaving parts of the GPU unused, it could convert them into something it can use.

    This would also allow graphics cards to be upgraded, for instance, if today's graphics cards were FPGA based, DirectX 9 support could be added to existing cards.

    Are we going to see this technology this year? I doubt it. But 5 years down the road, I bet your graphics card will be based on an FPGA.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    This [xilinx.com] prototype media appliance runs completely on FPGAs and downloads new hardware configurations from a webserver. Applications include VoIP phone (w/ TCP I/P stack), MP3 player and, yes, Space Invaders... complete with sound and a touch screen.

    Part of Xilinx's whole Internet Reconfigurable Logic initiative... update hardware over the network.
  • I wonder how good could a specifically designed RSA codebreaker be...

    Another idea is putting one of these in every motherboard to emulate other systems more efficiently in a multiprocessing environment, or Java VM by hardware... Perl / PHP hardware interpreters...

    Mutable computers are a geek dream come true!!
  • ...wastes an awful lot of space. Looks like half the client area of the window is navigation and the logo. You are confined to scrolling in a tiny little table. I hate when websites do that.

  • They currently have Pacman, Space Invaders and Galaxian implemented in FPGAs.

    This'll be useless until they can get Centipede working. Good thing that Mame already has that covered, right now I just use my old IMac as a mini-Mame arcade ;-)

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