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Stack architecture

Fri, 09/07/2012 - 9:11am
M. Simon

I have been interested in computers with stack architectures for a long time. I wrote a bit about one of the latest versions at ECN a while back: Testing The GA144 Eval Board. For those of you not familiar with the subject I thought it might be a good idea to present some resource material.

The place to start for an overview is Phil Koopman's book Stack Computers which is available as a free e-book. You can read it online or down load an html version for local reading. You can also buy the book or download a free pdf version from Lulu. Links at the above link.

Harris at one time made chips in the RTX series called the RTX2000. I still have the RTX bags from a trade show. Plastic bags. Which just goes to show you how dedicated I am. Intersil took over making a rad hard version for space - the RTX2010RH. You can still get the data sheets but they are no longer selling the chip.

Phil Koopman also wrote up a computer science type paper comparing RISC, CISC, and STACK architectures. He says stack architectures have advantages. I agree with him.

Jeff Fox who was a good friend of mine but is sadly no longer with us has a good page on Stack Machine Architectures. I believe the boys at Green Arrays are maintaining his site.

As you can see from this scan of Patent #4,980,821, the patent on machines of RTX version of the architecture have run out. I wonder if any chip maker who wants to differentiate themselves in the market will pick up on the idea and run with it. A machine with a lot of RAM, FLASH and a number of different types of I/O might go over big. Especially when you consider that using FORTH cuts development time in half compared to C. An then there are PLCs wich run a version of FORTH called Structured Text. The PLC market uses a lot of chips. When you make your hardware conform to your high level language there are speed gains to be made. Or price reductions from using less silicon.

M. Simon's e-mail can be found on the sidebar at Space-Time Productions.

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