Thursday, January 24, 2013

SAP-1 with a Microcoded ROM

Here is my attempt at designing a SAP-1 microprocessor with a micro-code ROM controller sequencer and a variable machine cycle.  The total number of ICs has decreased from 48 to 35.  My design deviates a bit from the block diagram shown at the end of chapter 10.  Looking at Digikey's catalogue, 16x4-bit or 16x8-bit ROMs are simply not available anymore.  I ended up using two 8Kx8-bit ROMs to give a 16-bit control word.  Obviously only a tiny fraction of the storage is used.  Also, the simulation program only has a few parallel access ROMs in its library anyway.  I took advantage of this wider address space to simplify the design.  Something like the AT28C64B (Digikey Part Page) can be used.  You will also need an EEPROM programmer; many inexpensive but adequate ones are available on eBay.


The OPCode half of the instruction register outputs directly to the address lines of the micro-code ROMs.  To simplify things, each instruction's microcode takes up a fixed block of 8-bytes, this allows for up to 8 micro-instructions for each routine.  Each instruction has 4-bits for the OPCode so there can be up to 16 OPCodes; this iteration of the SAP-1 has 8 instructions in its set.  Each machine cycle executes as follows:

  • T1: Load the memory address register from the program counter.
  • T2: Increment the program counter, load instruction from the RAM.
  • As soon as the instruction is loaded from RAM, the ROM address now points to the microcode for that instruction.
  • T3,T... Continue executing the instruction.
  • NOP: This resets the Controller/Sequencer counter back to zero and the machine cycle repeats.
 To save on manually entering a program each time the simulation is run, I have added an auto-loader circuit that will load into RAM a program saved in a ROM.  In the simulation, the ROMs are loaded from a linked binary file, which can be edited with a Hex editor to change the program.  Three 2:1 data selectors (think of them as a gang operated 4PDT switch) were added to easily switch between run/execute, manual programming and auto-programming.  Unfortunately the data input circuit is now much more convoluted.

The contents of memory once the auto-loader has completed.



And here the contents of the accumulator has been transferred to RAM by the store instruction.




The ROM allows for much more flexibility in creating and editing the instruction set.  The Jump, Store and Output memory instructions have been added to the original set.



The microcode for each instruction.  Thank-you to Kyle at 8-bit Spaghetti where I first saw this nice layout for the microcode.  He also has a build log of his own SAP-1 computer.





SAP-1 with Microcoded ROM

Link to a RAR file of the schematics, ROM binaries and microcode. 

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