The days of gigantic mainframe computers are over, with large-scale computing relegated to server rooms. Personal computing has brought things down in size, all the way to our pockets, but that seems like it bummed James Newman out. The British digital electronics engineer wanted to get a really good look at how computers work down at the microprocessor level, but humans can’t really see what goes on at the nanometer level. So, Newman cast off microprocessors and embraced his own creation — the megaprocessor.
PC Mag has the story of Newman’s now-completed quest to build a gigantic, working computer lined with LED lights that tell him exactly how information is being processed. The computer, which took four years to build, fills up an entire living room at 32 feet long and 6.5 feet tall, weighing 1,100 pounds. In practice, it’s a computer no different than any other, just blown up to a totally unreasonable size. Massive ribbon cables, transistors, and memory boards are all connected, spanning multiple wall-sized panels. I guess it’s pretty convenient, in one way — Newman can probably just use the air conditioner for the cooling system.
If you swing over to the website Newman created for the project, you can actually get a development kit to program software for the megaprocessor-powered computer. You can also check out a series of YouTube videos and diary entries chronicling the project from beginning to end. That’s right — if you want a good excuse to end your relationship with your significant other, you can learn how to build your own megaprocessor!
Meanwhile, Newman will be over in Cambridge using the LEDs on his memory board to play giant Tetris.
Via PC Mag