Matt Evans tells all about Acorn’s Archimedes, the surprisingly powerful and almost affordable 32 bit microcomputer from 1987. The talk deals with the four-chip hardware design, some considerable detail on the ARM CPU, and then on the OSes: Arthur, then RISC OS, and also RISC iX.
Slides are here in mp4 format (would be nice to have a PDF!) with high-res die photos of ARM, MEMC, IOC, and VIDC.
We learn that ARM1 was used in-house to help design ARM2. A little more here:
The first model of the ARM (ARM1) instruction set was written in BASIC. The subsequent model of the ARM hardware was written in BASIC as well. The actual physical design of the chip was achieved using VLSI Technology’s custom design tools. In addition, an event-driven simulator was designed, also in BASIC, which allowed the support chips, the video controller VIDC and memory controller MEMC, and the I/O controller IOC, to be designed and tested. A development of the simulator, since rewritten in Modula-2 and then in C and known as ASIM, is still used by both Acorn and ARM LTD for design and testing today.
The world’s first commercial RISC processor and first ARM processor, ARM1, yield working silicon the first time it was fabricated, in April 1985 at VLSI Technology. It bettered the stated design goals while using fewer than 25,000 transistors. These samples were fabricated using 3μm process.
Here are some previous ‘Ultimate’ talks from past CCC events: