If you think you are the craziest person on the earth about computing, then you are wrong because there exists a man who has spent four years of his life to build a processor the size of a room for £40,000 (US $51,590).
A digital electronic engineer, James Newman, was very inquisitive about how a computer works in action. Therefore, he finished a working processor the size of a room successfully after welding thousands of parts and four years of dedicated work.
On his website, Newman explained:
“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 put LEDs on everything so we can actually see the data moving and the logic happening.”
It was never the intent of Newman for the computer to extend to such biblical magnitudes. It started out as a small project of getting more knowledge about transistors and transformed into this super construction. The first project of Newman was simply designing a circuit comprising of a few transistors. But, this project couldn’t hold his devotion for long and hence he moved ahead.
While taking into account how to form a telemetry system, months later, that is capable of working in extreme conditions (in this case just behind the drill bit of an oil well), Newman and his contemporaries found it rather difficult to find a processor that could outdo the heat. However, the team came across a few discrete logic devices before long that seemed to manage the conditions pretty well. Eventually, Newman settled that the logic devices would be remarkable for the sake of simplicity in addition to being easily wired with LEDs to show the path of the information. This is where Newman was motivated to start the project and then completed it after four years of dedication.
This computer is an enormous 33-feet wide and 6-feet high. Essentially, it is a giant microprocessor built large, extremely large. He started the construction in 2012 and completed it in recent times on Jun 22nd, 2016. This unit contains thousands of transistors similar to the regular processors. But, as you can see in the picture below, Newman built his by means of individual transistors unlike the tiny ones integrated within silicon chips most commonly used in the 21st century.
On the whole, the processor includes a miniscule 256 bytes of RAM which is really remarkable since he built his own. Additionally, it contains around 40,000 transistors, 10,000 LEDs, and requires 500W of electricity to operate. In order to make the project a reality, Newman soldered approximately 300,000 joints and wired 10 km (about six miles) of cable meticulously.
Unfortunately, the Megaprocessor won’t be able to play your favourite FPS anytime soon or ever. Nevertheless, the inventor told BBC in an interview, “the machine on your desk may be a million times better than what I have built – but mine is much prettier, mine has 10,000 times more LEDs.”
The educational aspect of the construction could turn out to be pretty beneficial to several engineers alike. The design is exceptionally inspiring regardless of the fact that it cannot compute much. . It is a truly mesmerising machine, for what it lacks in power it makes up in beauty. Moreover, – it can play Tetris, what else could you ask for?
At present, Newman is working to transform his gigantic machine into an educational experience so that everyone can relish it. Indeed, you can ask to play Tetris on his massive computer on the Megaprocessor’s Facebook page. He is also available in case you have any questions about the building process or any other inquiry you may have.
In order to learn more about the mechanics behind the Megaprocessor you can have a look at Newman’s video series uploaded onto YouTube.