If you need a computer, you could go to a store and buy one from anywhere between $500 and $3,000. Or you could spend around $53,000 in parts and invest a couple of years into building a gigantic, 1,100 pound, monster-computer that can only perform relatively simple tasks.
Your call, totally.
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A fellow named James Newman from Cambridge, UK, started building the “Megaprocessor,” in 2012, the BBC reported Wednesday. The process is documented on Newman’s website; in a nutshell, the idea was not to build any sort of powerful supercomputer, but to fully grasp how a computer works by building it with normal-sized transistors, instead of the extremely tiny ones seen in today’s modern microprocessors.
The result is pretty stunning; a 32.8 by 6.6 feet-sized behemoth that takes up the larger part of a room. It consists of 40,000 transistors and 10,000 LED lights, all of which consume some 500W of power.
Compared to a modern computer, however, the Megaprocessor is pretty weak. It’s a 16-bit machine that only has 256 Bytes of RAM (which, however small that number seems, takes up around 10 square feet of space) and a 20kHz-clocked processor.
Still, it’s enough to play Tetris, and that’s exactly what Newman did, among other things. Check out an overview of what the Megaprocessor consists of and what it can do in the video, below.
As for his plans for the Megaprocessor, Newman mainly envisions it as a learning tool.
“My dream is that it goes to a museum or educational institute so that people can learn from it,” he told the BBC.
By Stan Schoroeder