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Jack Woehr

Dr. Dobb's Bloggers


November 11, 2008

SEAforth-24A Chip

Looking at the Intellasys / Chuck Moore multicore parallel Forth(s) engines SEAforth-24 and SEAforth-40C18

Pictured here (courtesy Intellasys) is the 40C18, 40 very fast dual-stack cores with tiny RAM connected Up-Down-Left-Right in a grid to their neighbor cores. Only the edge nodes, certain of the edge nodes, can do I/O. Program bits travel in a bucket brigade to interior and I/O-less nodes across the 4x10 chessboard.

The only one-word description that fits Chuck Moore's microprocessor creation is trippy. Left is right and right is left. A core sending to the "right" is received by the neighbor core listening to the "right". The words "left" and "right" are merely conventional, like "up" and "down" in quantum theory.

35 years ago, Radio Shack was selling integrated circuits with four transistors on them. As familiar albeit increasingly complex circuits vanish downwards in size towards the quantum scale, folding inward into themselves in boolean reduction, one begins to grok in a way textbooks and equations can't convey.

Chuck is so into this stuff: he has spent the last twenty years or more designing Forth chips, designing the tools to create Forth chips, designing the operating systems to run the tools to create Forth chips. He has proved over and over again he can get good fab yields of lower-power, higher-performance microcontrollers than the Smart Boys and Girls with the Million Dollar CAD Tools. They hold meetings to tell him that what he has designed cannot be designed, that what he has fabbed cannot be fabbed. Trippy.

The Ideal is that one programmer can be as productive as a team. In Chuck's case, this Ideal has swollen to something precariously close to the Ideal of (Chuck + A Few Friends) == (Intel | Moto | Hitachi | Siemens) or maybe all of them together.

No, they would not really claim this. But Chuck has said many times that programs are bloated, systems are bloated, and that with the aid of simplicity (wo)men can move mountains. This chip illustrates what human ingenuity coupled to 40 years of obsession can achieve.

Next: a look at 24 vs 40 .

BTW, this Saturday 11/15 is Forth Day and the 40th Anniversary of Forth. If you're anywhere near Silicon Valley, contact SVFIG and tell Chuck hello for me.


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