The weekend is a great time to tackle that project you’ve been putting off for a while. Say, building a shelf, painting the bedroom or constructing your own CPU. Allotting time for these… wait, did I just write CPU? Yes, yes I did. And a fellow by the name of James Newman has shown it’s very possible… though it might take longer than a single Sunday.
Photos: James Newman
A few days ago, the Cambridge, UK-based Newman put the finishing touches on his “Megaprocessor” — a functional, £40,000 ($73,210) CPU built from over 42,000 transistor, 2.5kg of lead and almost 10km of cabling.
As you can see in the picture above, the monstrosity requires an entire room and wouldn’t look out of place starring alongside
Wimbledon Tennismatch Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game.
The half-tonne machine doesn’t have the most competitive of statistics, with just 256 bytes of RAM and a clock speed of “about 20kHz”. What it has over the A9 in your iPhone? It can kill a man… given a suitably positioned crane and victim.
Newman’s brief explanation as to why he built the Megaprocessor is straight from the Sir Edmund Hillary School Of Doing Things:
Because I want to.
For those after a more expanded answer:
Computers are quite opaque, looking at them it’s impossible to see how they work. What I would like to do is get inside and see what’s going on. Trouble is we can’t shrink down small enough to walk inside a silicon chip. But we can go the other way; we can build the thing big enough that we can walk inside it. Not only that we can also put LEDs on everything so we can actually SEE the data moving and the logic happening. It’s going to be great.
And see it you can.
I want one. Not sure where I’d put it, but I want one.