[vcf-midatlantic] Working on a historical microprocessor exhibt
fraveydank at gmail.com
Tue Feb 11 11:11:39 EST 2020
On Feb 9, 2020, at 3:08 PM, Dave McGuire via vcf-midatlantic <vcf-midatlantic at lists.vcfed.org> wrote:
> On 2/9/20 2:58 PM, Adam Michlin wrote:
>> That fills a huge hole in my understanding of architecture history. It
>> certainly makes sense that there would be separate ICs that eventually
>> merged into one discrete CPU. I just assumed it was done by the
>> minicomputer manufacturers themselves. I had no idea it was AMD! Thanks!
> Well bit-slice chips were made by many manufacturers. Keep in mind
> the minicomputer manufacturers were the chip companies' bread & butter
> for a long time. Even Intel; they made the 3000 series of bit-slice parts.
> But it wasn't really separate ICs that eventually merged to form
> microprocessors. The Am2901 was introduced in 1975, well after there
> were a few microprocessors on the market. These chips, and their
> applications, coexisted with monolithic VLSI microprocessors for a long
> time. Bit-slice design was commonplace clear up until at least 1990.
> It was just a different way of doing things that was more scalable and
> And at the time of introduction of the VAX-11/730, for example,
> designing a single VLSI chip that implemented an architecture as complex
> as VAX wasn't really practical. The first single-chip VLSI
> implementation of the VAX architecture (the 78032, used in the
> MicroVAX-II and others) wouldn't tape out for another three years after
And it was sloooow by comparison to its contemporary VAXen. Its primary benefits were board space, component cost and power savings, at the expense of a fair amount of speed. Fully integrated microprocessors didn't outperform their multi-chip or discrete-part brethren until the era of the NVAX (which was concurrent with the big-ass ECL-based VAX 9000, which it outperformed, much to DEC's chagrin). That was 1989 or so.
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