• [LINK] A History of ARM

    From not@not@telling.you.invalid (Computer Nerd Kev) to comp.misc on Mon Nov 28 07:50:15 2022
    From Newsgroup: comp.misc

    A history of ARM
    By Jeremy Reimer, Sep 23, 2022
    - https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2022/09/a-history-of-arm-part-1-building-the-first-chip/
    Part 2
    - https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2022/11/a-history-of-arm-part-2-everything-starts-to-come-together/

    "It was 1983, and Acorn Computers was on top of the world.
    Unfortunately, trouble was just around the corner.

    The small UK company was famous for winning a contract with the
    British Broadcasting Corporation to produce a computer for a
    national television show. Sales of its BBC Micro were skyrocketing
    and on pace to exceed 1.2 million units.

    But the world of personal computers was changing. The market for
    cheap 8-bit micros that parents would buy to help kids with their
    homework was becoming saturated. And new machines from across the
    pond, like the IBM PC and the upcoming Apple Macintosh, promised
    significantly more power and ease of use. Acorn needed a way to
    compete, but it didn't have much money for research and
    development.

    A seed of an idea

    Sophie Wilson, one of the designers of the BBC Micro, had
    anticipated this problem. She had added a slot called the "Tube"
    that could connect to a more powerful central processing unit. A
    slotted CPU could take over the computer, leaving its original 6502
    chip free for other tasks.

    But what processor should she choose? Wilson and co-designer Steve
    Furber considered various 16-bit options, such as Intel's 80286,
    National Semiconductor's 32016, and Motorola's 68000. But none were
    completely satisfactory.

    In a later interview with the Computing History Museum, Wilson
    explained, "We could see what all these processors did and what
    they didn't do. So the first thing they didn't do was they didn't
    make good use of the memory system. The second thing they didn't do
    was that they weren't fast; they weren't easy to use. We were used
    to programming the 6502 in the machine code, and we rather hoped
    that we could get to a power level such that if you wrote in a
    higher level language you could achieve the same types of results."

    But what was the alternative? Was it even thinkable for tiny Acorn
    to make its own CPU from scratch? To find out, Wilson and Furber
    took a trip to National Semiconductor's factory in Israel. They saw
    hundreds of engineers and a massive amount of expensive equipment.
    This confirmed their suspicions that such a task might be beyond
    them.

    Then they visited the Western Design Center in Mesa, Arizona. This
    company was making the beloved 6502 and designing a 16-bit
    successor, the 65C618. Wilson and Furber found little more than a
    "bungalow in a suburb" with a few engineers and some students
    making diagrams using old Apple II computers and bits of sticky
    tape." ...
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