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Al Williams

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Friday Time Waster

March 12, 2010

In Texas, spring break is approaching so I expect this won't be a very productive Friday. I'm not much into computer games as a rule. However, I recently saw a site that has "games for engineers."

The one I enjoyed was KOHCTPYKTOP: Engineer of the People -- you are cast as a Soviet-era IC designer in an alternate future. There are a slate of ICs you have to design ranging from a simple inverter to counters, SRAM, and an ALU. The design environment lets you place silicon diffusion areas, metal, and vias. When you think you have a design complete, the game verifies it. If it sounds geeky, well, it is!

If you've ever really designed chips it will seem familiar. As far as I can tell, the game's model uses a simple delay model so transistor size doesn't do much -- but hey, its just a game, right?

What amazed me? Well, first that someone was as geeky as I am to think this was a game. And second, that apparently a lot of people were playing it (and judging by the comments, many people who don't really design hardware for a living).

I will warn you though. This is one of those things you think you'll check out for a minute and then 3 hours later you are still wrestling with the power up reset generator design. Very addictive.

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