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Questions tagged [chip]

For general questions about computer chips and chipsets in retrocomputing hardware. Do not use for questions regarding a specific chip. Use that chip's tag instead.

13
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2answers
1k views

Did the transmeta processor architecture work by binary translation?

Transmeta Corporation produced the Transmeta Crusoe Processor architecture. (Transmeta was also famous for having Linus Torvalds work there at the time.) We can see from the wikipedia article that ...
5
votes
2answers
313 views

Why are the internals of NES Gamepaks so small compared to the case?

As you probably know, in the technology world, smaller is generally considered to be better. Companies compete to make the most portable phone, or the smallest laptop, but apparently Nintendo didn't ...
4
votes
2answers
407 views

What's with the empty space on this die?

Here is the Valvo 2650. (Also known by other names, in the UK as Signetics 2650). What struck me about this image is the amount of empty space! If you look at a modern-day chip, say a Skylake or ...
3
votes
1answer
208 views

List of Intel microchips

Where could I find a list of all of the microchips released by Intel, including microprocessors, Rams, roms, storage devices. Etc. I have checked Wikipedia, and they have the processors, but not any ...
17
votes
2answers
3k views

Reason for gold lines on old ICs?

A lot of older (ceramic) ICs have a gold-plated line extending from the die cover to the edge of the package. Did this serve a practical purpose or was it just bling? I suspect that it might be what'...
1
vote
2answers
208 views

NES PPU die photo

I found a die photo of the NES video chip: http://visual6502.org/images/RP2C02/NES_RP2C02_G_8F1_1B_20x_1600w.jpg I think the big block of fairly regular circuitry at the bottom left is the sprites? ...
43
votes
8answers
11k views

Why were chips socketed in early computers?

In many early computers, many of the chips were in sockets rather than soldered directly to boards, e.g. this series of pictures of the Tandy CoCo 1 has a note to the effect that all the chips are ...
6
votes
3answers
579 views

Part-bad chips other than RAM

In the early eighties, you could buy half-bad 64k RAM chips at a discount. Some cost-conscious manufacturers such as Sinclair and Tandy took advantage of this, buying eight such chips to make a 32K ...
1
vote
1answer
335 views

Were 64k RAM chips $5 in 1981?

According to http://smithsonianchips.si.edu/augarten/p64.htm "In 1981, they slashed the cost of 64K RAMs from some $25 each to about $5, and the price hovered at that level throughout the following ...
6
votes
1answer
169 views

When did MOS Technology upgrade to 5µm?

I'm trying to understand exactly why various chips were designed the way they were at different times, in the service of which I have a rather specific question: When did MOS Technology upgrade to ...
18
votes
2answers
2k views

Who made the Atari 2600 TIA video chip?

At the heart of the Atari 2600 was the TIA video chip, designed by Jay Miner, well known for his later work on the chips for the Atari 400/800 and the Amiga. Who manufactured the TIA? As an in-house ...
9
votes
1answer
247 views

VIC-II transistor count

I'm curious about the transistor count of the VIC-II, the video chip in the Commodore 64. According to http://visual6502.org/wiki/index.php?title=Chips_in_our_collection the Atari 2600 TIA chip has ...
11
votes
3answers
2k views

Were video chips specific to the CPU?

Modern graphics cards are essentially miniature supercomputers in their own right, with their own memory and instruction sets, but in the eighties and late seventies, a very common kind of personal ...
56
votes
13answers
19k views

Why did some early CPUs use external math chips?

While enjoying the response to "Why did CPU designers in the 70s prioritize reducing pin count?" In 1979 IEEE was hard at work at coming up with a standard for handling floating point numbers, and ...
5
votes
3answers
631 views

A different kind of sprite system

Early consoles and home computers that were optimized for games, often provided sprites. From the viewpoint of a game developer, these were good to have, though one always wanted bigger sprites, to ...
4
votes
3answers
841 views

Amiga memory bandwidth

Looking at a timing diagram for the various kinds of memory access occurring on the Amiga http://amigadev.elowar.com/read/ADCD_2.1/Hardware_Manual_guide/node02D4.html it seems to be saying that video ...
4
votes
2answers
133 views

Can fast page mode depend on the first data retrieved?

As early as the seventies, some computers used RAM in page mode, in which you can read two or more words from sequential locations in rapid succession by only supplying the column address once, and ...
5
votes
2answers
665 views

When did CPUs start using page mode DRAM?

According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamic_random-access_memory#Page_mode_DRAM Page mode DRAM is a minor modification to the first-generation DRAM IC interface which improved the ...
14
votes
4answers
773 views

Limiting factor on sprite sizes

Early consoles and home computers that were optimized for games, tended to provide sprites. From a game programmer's viewpoint, these were good to have. Of course, one always wanted more and larger ...
6
votes
4answers
554 views

Video chip for hypothetical 1988 arcade game

I have a project where I aim to create a retro arcade game cabinet, the technology would be ~1988. For now I am planning to only simulate the system on my PC in order to develop the game. The ...
12
votes
1answer
414 views

Where are the blueprints of MOS chips?

Atari historians have been able to find documents and tapes of chips and hardware developed at Atari. E.g. http://atariage.com/forums/topic/154479-new-gtia-chips/ . Nothing like this is happening ...
9
votes
5answers
2k views

Sound chips in 1977

By the early eighties, there were a variety of off-the-shelf sound chips suitable for use in home computers and arcade games. What about 1977? That seems to have been just a little early; I'm not ...
6
votes
4answers
434 views

Reading the program on an EPROM chip

Is it possible to build a breadboard device to simply view the code burned into a 28 pin or 40 pin DIP chip? I do not intend to do any erasing/programming on the chips, just wanted to view what is on ...
10
votes
6answers
2k views

Were there any “off the shelf” graphics chips that supported 2D sprites in the 70's and 80's?

I'm looking for "off the shelf" graphic IC's that supported hardware sprites. By "off the shelf" I mean chips that were designed to be used in various machines and not designed specifically for one ...
23
votes
9answers
5k views

Graphics chips in 1980

Suppose you were trying to build a computer with a color graphics display in 1980, you have limited engineering resources and time to market is critical, so you want to get as many of the parts off ...
1
vote
0answers
110 views

Historical cost of semiconductor fab [closed]

How much did a state-of-the-art semiconductor foundry cost in or around 1980? Ideally I'd like to get data on how it changed over time from the seventies to present day, but even a single data point ...
6
votes
1answer
394 views

Transistor count of early video chips

There are a number of sources that give transistor counts for different CPUs over the decades. I'm looking for transistor counts for early video chips. in particular, I'd be interested in transistor ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

Speed of early ROM versus RAM chips

In the late seventies, up through around 1981, the maximum access speed of off-the-shelf RAM chips was around 2.6 MHz. Did the same speed limit apply to ROM chips of the same era? If not, what would ...
24
votes
3answers
2k views

Is there any advantage of a ceramic microprocessor over a plastic one?

Looking at this page which refers to the initial release of the Z80 microprocessor, it prices the ceramic one at $65 versus the plastic version at $59. I know that at least with the 6502, the ...
14
votes
3answers
2k views

How much did the 6502 and Z80 cost?

It is said that the 6502 was cheaper than the Z80. As of 1978, what were the actual prices of the two chips, in wholesale quantity?
11
votes
1answer
528 views

What kind of EPROM was used for the Apple //e character generator, and how do I write a new one?

I have an old Apple //e clone, bought in Brazil (but assembled who-knows-where-on-Earth) that has not been touched for over 15 years. At least, from what I could see, it is a //e -- but not enhanced, ...
14
votes
1answer
523 views

What is the Kelly chip?

The Amiga 3000+ DevCon 1991 notes says: On the A3000+, these resources include the Amiga "Pandora" chip set (Alice, Lisa, Kelly, and Paula), However, a Kelly chip is not part of the official ...
6
votes
1answer
308 views

What is this (seemingly optional) box around my Sun's idprom chip?

I just replaced the idprom (AKA NVRAM + battery; I used an ST M48T08-100PC1) in my Sun SPARCstation 20. The original one was inside a rectangular holder with a tab on each short end; it had ...
-6
votes
2answers
532 views

Which computers / consoles used the 6502 and 65816 chipsets? [closed]

The Apple II and Commodore 64 are the obvious ones but which other computer systems used the 6502 and 65816 chips?