I would like to build a computer. It is a child's dream that I had and now that I am at college, I finally gain the knowledge I need.
I want it to be simple. I admire the early designs of 1990's notebooks and I imagine building something like that myself. I think it could be interesting to build a device with limited computational power, yet gain the advantage of using highly-integrated components available today (instead of hundreds of single purpose ICs).
I would write a very simple operating system myself, firmly tied to the actual design to run efficiently, as well as few other programs I cannot live without (vi clone for start).
When I wanted to buy a new notebook eight months ago, I did not find anything that would make me happy. Here's what I want from a notebook to have fun:
- 60 MHz CPU
- 8 MB RAM
- 256 MB non-volatile storage space
- monochrome VGA resolution display
- 10 hr battery life
Only high-end notebooks or simple netbooks have the required battery life. Small netbooks kill ergonomy (I really love large keyboard), high-end models are expensive (Lenovo is close to what I need). I decided to keep my old SONY VAIO VGN-FW21Z and gave up on buying a new notebook.
(Note: The moment I start xorg, the fan gets a little loud. I always think: why do I feed the CPU with so much energy and keep it cool all the time, if I only need a fraction of its actual power? It is my strong belief that a vast amount of the power of today's PCs is totally wasted for nothing while having super-fancy logos and trademarks all over the damn shiny chassis.)
Designing my own computer from beginning to end would be partially a great exercise, partially I would like to build something that fits my precise needs. It would be great fun of course.
Recently, I have been through discussions on the topic of CPU selection.
- ARM processors seem to be way more powerful than I need
- Texas Instruments offer MCUs that seem to be designated for real-time control and floating-point performance
- Atmel MCUs (AT32UC3C0512C in particular) seem to be the best fit
What confuses me is this. The AT32UC3C0512C is SoC device that itself incorporates main memory (68 KB SRAM), A/D converters etc. I would really like to wire my own RAM modules and drive them myself rather than having them on the chip already. The same applies to most of the other peripherals already contained in the package.
It seems I would need the sole UC32 CPU. My question is - is there a simple CPU operating around 60 MHz with solid architecture that I would use in this project? I am not looking for legacy components.
By the way, if you have any experience you can share, I kindly ask you to post a link to it.