Project Oberon and OberonStation (resend)
wmaddox at pacbell.net
Mon Nov 23 20:47:09 CST 2015
[Yahoo's webmail client garbled the last link -- resending]
The revived 2013 re-issue of Niklaus Wirth's Oberon system is a joy to behold. If you've never heard of Oberon before, it is a minimalistic education-oriented language and operating system designed after Wirth had taken a (second) sabattical at PARC in the 80's.
The new version runs on a custom RISC processor, implemented in an FPGA, instead of the NS3032 in the orginal Ceres workstations. Originally, it required a Digilent "Spartan 3 Starter Kit" with a custom-built daughterboard providing a few additional connectors. This board is no longer made, however, and no other FPGA development board appears to provide the 32-bit wide fast SRAM the Oberon CPU required.
Recently, a new board, the OberonStation, has come onto the market that was designed specifically for Oberon, and will boot up Oberon 2013 out of the box. It also looks like an excellent platform for other retro-style FPGA CPU designs that want to stay away from complex SDRAM controllers and the caches they like to feed.
My OberonStation arrived a couple of days ago, and it's really amazing to see what can be done with a hardware and software stack that is small enough to actually read and understand.
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