Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

AppleCrate II: Apple II-Based Parallel Computer

Comments Filter:
  • will it run quake?

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @03:23PM (#36014828)

    Apple II == 6502 CPU from Commodore Semiconductor

    I'd sooner have an Apple IIgs stack however (with its 16 bit 65000). Same ease-of-use as the original 8 bit computer, but operates about six times faster, and has a Mac-style OS.

    • by chill (34294)

      16-bit 65000...is that like, 3000 less than the Motorola 68000? Did Apple get a discount, or just not use the extra transistors?

      And if you were going for M68000-based machines, why not the Atari ST or Commodore Amiga? (Nothing like dredging up decades-old flame wars. :-)

      • by Xtifr (1323) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @03:51PM (#36015238) Homepage

        It was actually the 65c816, which was a 16-bit version of the 6502, completely unrelated to the m68k, and binary-compatible with the 6502 so the IIgs could still run old Apple II software.

        • by chill (34294)

          Ah! I had totally forgotten about that beast. That was so long ago my memory of the 8-bit era is a bit pixelated.

        • Exactly! man its been awhile... thanks for the refresher.
      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        >>>16-bit 65000...is that like, 3000 less than the Motorola 68000? Did Apple get a discount?

        Funny, but your joke is actually truthful. 6500 processors originated at Motorola as a cheap alternative to the 6800 ($25 versus $300), but when Motorola tried to kill the project, the engineers spun-off their own company. In fact before today's "everything intel" or everything x86 world, multiple lines of CPUs existed:

        Commodore's 6502/8502 series (used in 90% of the 8 bit computers/game consoles)
        Zilog's

        • The 6800 came from Motorola. The 6502 was the successor the the 6501, both of which came from MOSTEK. Commodore may have had cpus contracted out, but the 6500 came nearly a decade before commodore hit the bigtime. MOSTEK was one of the leaders at the time because they offered experimenters a $20 "kit" that included a manual AND a 6501 CPU chip. This price was phenomenal at the time. The 6502 was the cpu that powered the KIM and SYM microcomputer kits, which were also very capable and very affordable - at $2

          • by SETIGuy (33768)
            Mostek was very much a different company than the one that built the 6502. MOS Technologies built the 6502.
          • by cpu6502 (1960974)

            >>>The 6502 was the successor the the 6501, both of which came from MOSTEK. Commodore may have had cpus contracted out, but the 6500 came nearly a decade before commodore hit the bigtime.

            Stop spreading incorrect information.
            - The 6501 was developed by Motorola engineers.
            - Motorola didn't want to sell it, so the engineers created a spinoff company: MOS.
            - MOS became Commodore Semiconductor in 1976 (not 86 as you incorrectly implied).

        • by SETIGuy (33768)

          The Commodore and Zilog lines never went higher than 16 bit.

          There was the Zilog Z8000 which was as 32bit as the Motorola 68000. It had a 16-bit ALU with ability to merge adjacent registers into 32bit or 64bit values. The Z80000 (aka Z320) was a true 32-bit processor. The Motorola 68000 had 32 bit registers, but a 16-bit ALU.

          Assigning the 6502 to Commodore is a misnomer. The original 6502 was made by MOS Technology and licensed to Rockwell and Synertek. MOS Technologies was later purchased by Commodore. The 65C02, 65C802 and the 65C816 were designed by Weste

          • by Algae_94 (2017070)

            The 68000 had a 16-bit ALU, but from the 68020 onward the series had a 32-bit ALU

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/68000_family [wikipedia.org]

          • by bhtooefr (649901)

            Of course, the Z80 had a 4-bit ALU, IIRC.

            And, the CMOS 65xx variants were designed and (I believe) manufactured by Western Design Center, not Western Digital Corporation, as well as manufactured by various second sources. (Well, that's not completely true - the W65C816S was designed by Sanyo, because the original W65C816 sucked ass, and Sanyo had to redesign it to fix the bugs, when they needed a 65816 for something they were designing. But, this was very late into the IIGS's life, and too late for it to be

          • by cpu6502 (1960974)

            >>>Assigning the 6502 to Commodore is a misnomer.

            Not really.
            Why do you think Commodore could sell their C64s for just $200?
            Answer: Because they were able to get the 65XXs and 85XXs for FREE. That gave them a competitive advantage over atari, apple, et cetera who were forced to pay full price. It's a key reason why the C64 sold 30 million units: because it was cheaper than the others.

            • by SETIGuy (33768)
              By the time you could get a C64 for $200, you could get a 6502 for $1.50. And it's not true that use on part build by a subsidiary or even the same company get you the part for free. Unless that kind of accounting is how Commodore ran itself into the ground. If a company gets $10 by selling it to someone else, you can be damn sure the per unit cost is accounted as close to the same. If it isn't the suits would decide that it's better not to use a part internally if you make more money by selling it.
    • by j00r0m4nc3r (959816) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @03:38PM (#36015056)
      Apple II == 6502 CPU from Commodore Semiconductor

      No, the 6502 was designed by Motorola and manufactured by MOS Tech. Besides, he's using enhanced 2e's which sported a 65c02 which was designed by Western Design Center...
      • by Arlet (29997) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @03:48PM (#36015186)

        More correctly, the 6502 was designed by Chuck Peddle and Bill Mensch. Both engineers were working for Motorola, but the 6502 was an underground project. Management didn't approve of their efforts to create a cheaper version of the 6800. They left, and started working for MOS to finish the design.

      • by drgould (24404)

        No, the 6502 was designed by Motorola and manufactured by MOS Tech.

        Almost, but not quite [wikipedia.org]. The 6501 was designed by a team at Motorola but Motorola management was uninterested so the entire design team resigned en masse, shopped the design around and finally MOS Technology produced it.

        The 6501 was pin-compatible with the Motorola 6800, Motorola sued immediately so the not-pin-compatible, but otherwise identical, 6502 was designed and produced.

        And the rest is history.

      • by LWATCDR (28044)

        No your wrong. The 6502 was designed by Chuck Peddle and Bill Mench who went to MOS they came up with the 6502that after Motorla sued them for making the 6800 pin compatible 6501. MOS was later bought by Commodore in 1976.
        So yes for most of Apples life they where using a Commodore CPU.

        • by msauve (701917)
          If you were to go through old A2 motherboards, I think you'd find that 6502s made by Synertek were predominant. MOS licensed the 6502 to both Synertek and Rockwell.
          • by LWATCDR (28044)

            But it is still a MOS 6502. AKA a Commodore CPU. Just because it was licensed doesn't change that.

            • by msauve (701917)
              The 6502 was developed by MOS Technology. That Commodore bought them after it was designed and produced doesn't make it a "Commodore CPU." Either way you look at it, that's the case. You can credit the CPU designer (MOS Technology independent of Commodore), or you can credit the manufacturer (Synertek), but it's not a "Commodore CPU," nor was it ever referred to as such.
              • by bhtooefr (649901)

                And, actually, Commodore Business Machines didn't make any computers at all until they bought MOS, and their computers before the Amiga were all descendants of MOS designs, so it could be argued that everything from the KIM-1 (which was pre-CBM), to the PET (the first CBM computer), to the C128 were all MOS machines.

                (The Amiga was bought from outside of Commodore, so...)

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        >>>MOS Tech

        A division of Commodore Semiconductor Group in Norristown, PA since 1975.

        >>>Western Design Center.

        A licensee of Commodore Semiconductor, who owned the 6502 IP. The arrangement was similar to how AMD licensed the 8088 and 80286 from intel. i.e. Second sourced.

        • by Anonymous Coward
          The Wikipedia article says that Commodore Semiconductor Group [wikipedia.org] purchased MOS Tech after the 6502 was first produced. I'm not sure who to believe: Wikipedia or a Slashdot troll with 6502 in his nick.
        • by rimcrazy (146022) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @04:47PM (#36016050)

          Western Design Center WAS Bill Mench. I worked with him. He had the rights to the 6502 as well as the follow on 16C6502. Bright guy but a disaster to work with. The world revolved around Bill. Did not matter that all of the world semiconductor fabs had their own design rules for how THEY manufactured semiconductors. Bill designed things based upon what he thought they SHOULD be using. Made for very fun times when you had to do silly things like DRC and timing analysis. In particular race condition analysis because you.... oh.... ran your CLOCK lines in poly (aka resistor) instead of metal. Can you say "Race Condition?" or how about "Lets beat the clock!"...............

          gad I thought I forgot those days....................

          • by rimcrazy (146022)

            I meant the 65C816. Been too long. That chip was a MotherF*@#&*#&*@# to get working........

          • by Kymermosst (33885)

            Back when I was younger I wanted to see if I could get my hands on some "new old stock" 65C802s (an '816 with external buses scaled down to a 65C02-compatible package) for a personal project. So I emailed their sales address to see if they might know of a supplier who still had some or if they perhaps had some inventory to unload.

            I got a reply from Bill Mensch himself. That was an interesting conversation that finally ended with me saying something like "I *really* only want like 5 chips and the project i

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      Commodore owned MOS technologies but I have never heard it called that before

    • by NullProg (70833)

      Blasphemy. My limited edition "Woz" IIgs has a 65816 in it.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WDC_65816/65802 [wikipedia.org]

      Enjoy,

    • by Xtifr (1323)

      I think you're missing the point. If he wanted performance, he could have used a machine built in this century. Here, the goal is clearly to show what can be done with underpowered machines, so using a more powerful machine would somewhat defeat the point. Plus, using a popular machine for its day makes the experiment resonate more with more people than choosing something as obscure as the IIgs would have done. Not to mention the fact that it's got to be a whole lot easier to find old Apple IIs, since s

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        >>>the goal is clearly to show what can be done with underpowered machines, so using a more powerful machine would somewhat defeat the point.

        You mean like if I bought a 45hp Lupo to prove my point that... um... not sure? I guess that I can get to work with only 1/6 gallon of fuel. (just joking)

        I like to write word processing documents on my C64 just to prove that "yes these old computers did actual work". I guess this is guy is trying to do the same thing.

        >>>using a popular machine for

        • by Xtifr (1323)

          Hardly "popular". Apple IIe sold what? 500,000 units?

          Don't know about the IIe specifically, but the II series (of which the IIe was the most popular and longest-lived) overall sold between 5 and 6 million. The 8-bit Atari machines (which were considered fairly successful) only sold about 2 million. Moreover, the Apple II was the only machine to be successful in both the home and small business markets until the IBM PC came along. In fact, until the PC, the Apple II was the most popular microcomputer for businesses, outselling the whole CP/M family combined

        • by bhtooefr (649901)

          It's estimated that there were 5-6 million Apple IIs sold in its entire run.

          As of the //e's launch, there were 750,000 units sold, so subtract that to remove the ][ and ][ Plus.

          That leaves the //c, which was considered only a moderate success, and the IIGS, which was gimped to keep it from competing against the Mac, and was most often used as a faster //e anyway. (And, in fact, the //e was sold for a year AFTER the IIGS was discontinued.) The //e was considered a wild success, too...

        • by gmhowell (26755)

          Hardly "popular". Apple IIe sold what? 500,000 units? Both Atari and Commodore and even the ugly green monochrome IBM PC outsold it.

          Troll, troll, troll. ~1,000,000 units in 1984 alone.

      • by hawguy (1600213)

        Hey, everyone is telling me that cpu speed doesn't matter anymore, it's all about the cores, so the 8 cpu AppleCrate should be twice as fast as my 4-core desktop machine. The 17 CPU Applecrate II must be blazingly fast! I'd love to see some Javascript benchmarks for that.

        So what if my desktop has 2.5GHz CPU and the Apple IIe runs at .001Ghz, more cores is what matters!

    • by kmdrtako (1971832)

      Apple II == 6502 CPU from Commodore Semiconductor

      No, Apple ][ == 6502 CPU from MOS Technologies

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        >>>No, Apple ][ == 6502 CPU from MOS Technologies

        which was purchased by Commodore in 1976.
        i.e. Apple ][ == 6502 CPU from CSG.
        i.e. Atari 800== 6502 CPU from CSG.
        i.e. Atari VCS==6507 CPU from CSG
        i.e. Nintendo ES==6502 core from CSG

        "And now you know..... the rest of the story."

    • by NuShrike (561140)

      You suck. It is the 65C816 by WDC which was at least 2x faster than an 8088 and > 4x faster than a 6502 from MOS. Of course that's stock numbers because the latest 65C816s run closer to 20MHz and faster than the original 2.8MHz (2.6MHz under load). Still have my IIGS.

      What's the point though now an Android phone can emulate it n-times faster.

  • It's 20% cooler, at most.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Can you imagine a Beowulf cluster of these?

  • ...Stuff that matters?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's meant to be interpreted as || rather than &&. Short-circuit evaluation saves a lot of time when validating article submissions.

  • Isn't this like running a program on a Cyber CDC 6600, a state of the art supercomputer when it was developed, instead of a generic PC which would do the same job in less than 1/10 of the time.

    • Other than the generic PC being a bit limiting if you want to learn more about cluster computing? Correct.
      • Of course, nowadays the generic PC is a cluster computer. How many single-core machines do you see these days? Factor in the GPU, and you pretty much are hacking on a mid-80s vector computer.

    • Hey, I used to write and run programs on a CDC 6600. Guess that means I'm old.
  • I would be more impressed if he built a 6502 processor with DIY chemical processing.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is nice, but I would have been more impressed by a bunch of Apple 2s made in Verilog and integrated into a single chip.

  • This is really cool and there are a lot of really interesting ideas but wouldn't using PC motherboards have worked just as well. Seems a waste to hack AppleIIe boards for this when they could be used to keep Apple IIs running.
    I like the idea of using the offsets to create the system and NADA net is also a very interesting hack but a stack of cheap PC mother boards from EBay would be alot more powerful and would leave the AppleII boards free to be used to keep the old classics alive.

    • If you really wanted cheap and simple, a network of AVRs would be approximately what he has here. Meanwhile, I can use the Apple IIe boards to restore more Apple IIe's...

      • by poptones (653660)

        Except you can buy an Apple IIe motherboard that IS based on an ASIC and actually runs BETTER than the original AND uses like a tenth the power. It's also more reliable because it has, basically, one motherboard chip, one cpu, two memory chips, and not much else.

      • by SkimTony (245337)

        Out of curiosity, do you get much demand for restored Apple IIe's?

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      From the way it looks the boards were not modified at least so they could be returned to normal service someday.

      If he did modify them permanently, he should be drawn and quartered.

    • Re:Cool but... (Score:4, Informative)

      by tekrat (242117) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @04:36PM (#36015894) Homepage Journal

      If you look at this actual website, it becomes more obvious WHY he's using Apple II boards.

      #1) He's using discrete components and actual wire and solder to cobble the boards into a single computer. He uses perf-board and socketed chips to build his extra peripherals. YOU CANNOT DO THAT with modern Intel-based mobos. They are all surface mount and pretty much unhackable unless you've got some elYte equipment.

      #2) The Apple II board was built by a hacker, for hackers. That makes it the obvious choice in a nutshell. This is exactly the kind of stuff Woz wanted people to do with his creation.

      #3) There's no challenge to doing parallel computing with an intel mobo -- they are already coming off the shelf with 8 cores. What's the fun in that?

      • by LWATCDR (28044)

        "#1) He's using discrete components and actual wire and solder to cobble the boards into a single computer. He uses perf-board and socketed chips to build his extra peripherals. YOU CANNOT DO THAT with modern Intel-based mobos. They are all surface mount and pretty much unhackable unless you've got some elYte equipment."
        Depends on the motherboard. If you find some old ones that have printer ports you can use them for all sorts of bit banged IO.
        Or you could us a pic or avr interfaced to the USB port if you w

      • Re:Cool but... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DriedClexler (814907) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @05:05PM (#36016374)

        #2) The Apple II board was built by a hacker, for hackers. That makes it the obvious choice in a nutshell. This is exactly the kind of stuff Woz wanted people to do with his creation.

        Wow, kind of a reminder of how much they've changed. These days it's, "You need an Apple technician to replace the battery / hard drive / casing / logo..."

        • Wow, kind of a reminder of how much they've changed. These days it's, "You need an Apple technician to replace the battery / hard drive / casing / logo..."

          Not much has changed; that was always Jobs's mantra -- it was just Woz's crew that prized hackability. That's why Jobs was in charge of sales. Hackability went out with the Lisa.

        • by c600g (30798)

          Wow, kind of a reminder of how much they've changed. These days it's, "You need an Apple technician to replace the battery / hard drive / casing / logo..."

          That is why I haven't owned an Apple Computer since my old and faithful Apple ][e. I used that computer from around 6th grade until I was in my first year of graduate school, when I finally bought a 386DX PC. Crazy, I know.

          And finally, a story where my user name makes sense...

        • by mrgiles (872216)
          It's a different world out there now. It's not just hackers that use computers anymore, mostly it's people who wouldn't know a CPU from a Hard Drive.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        He's using discrete components and actual wire and solder to cobble the boards into a single computer. He uses perf-board and socketed chips to build his extra peripherals. YOU CANNOT DO THAT with modern Intel-based mobos. They are all surface mount and pretty much unhackable unless you've got some elYte equipment.

        His extra peripherals are some hardware tied off the serial ports and an audio mixer that takes sixteen TTL signals (in the Applecrate II) and mixes them. He also rewrote part of the boot code, you can do that on PCs too. So there's nothing you couldn't do with PC motherboards here except stack them without some kind of fancy active cooling.

        There's no challenge to doing parallel computing with an intel mobo -- they are already coming off the shelf with 8 cores. What's the fun in that?

        More to the point, they already come with at least one GigE interface.

      • by shmlco (594907)

        "He's using discrete components and actual wire and solder to cobble the boards into a single computer. He uses perf-board and socketed chips to build his extra peripherals. ... The Apple II board was built by a hacker, for hackers. That makes it the obvious choice in a nutshell."

        That's how stuff was done back them. Processors and RAM were dropped into sockets. Boards had discrete parts. "Upgrades" meant filling in the empty RAM sockets so you had 48K of RAM and not just 16K.

        • Yes, I remember upgrading the RAM on my first computer by inserting ICs into sockets. But what I continue to find really amazing is how cheap absolutely mind-boggling amounts of memory are now. I recently upgraded a machine to 8GB of RAM for about $100; it seems like only yesterday that I could have spent several times as much money to upgrade a machine to 8MB. Likewise, I've still got some old 160kB 5.25" floppy disks hanging around... now I could easily carry many gigs of storage around on a keychain, and

          • by shmlco (594907)

            "... it seems like only yesterday that I could have spent several times as much money to upgrade a machine to 8MB."

            Several times? I once upgraded my first Macintosh II to 8MB of RAM, and I swear I paid at least $1,1000 to do so...

  • by JavaBear (9872) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @04:21PM (#36015706)

    Would it even be possible to make a stack with Commodore 64's?

    • Wouldn't exactly be 64-bit anymore then, would it?

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Why not? They're communicating via serial so the same kind of thing should be pretty easy to do. On the other hand, it might be niftier to utilize the expansion bus for communications to leave the serial ports free.

  • From the article for the II version: "This 'hi-rise' construction makes the 'stack' quite rigid and sturdy, while eliminating the need for a space-consuming exoskeleton."

    Well, what are you waiting for? Slap a touch screen on that puppy, and make it a 17-processor tablet computer!
  • Is this what Slashdot used to be like? It's great! People talking about bit banging, soldering, discrete components, hacking. It brings a smile to my face.
  • TFA has a typo in the first line: "AppleCrate I (at the time I didn't realize that it was number "I" ;-) was great fun"

    Should be: "AppleCrate I (at the time I didn't realize that it was number "I" ;-)) was great fun".

    crap, now I forget the html code for sarcasm...

  • What would it be like to play Ultima IV on this thing?
  • What kind of impact would this have had if people were doing this back in 70's?

    Granted, this guy is just using it mostly for audio processing. (Impressively done, though... especially if you ever experimented with audio sampling on an Apple II using self-designed software and custom-built I/O interfaces)

    What I'm curious about, is whether the video output from each of thee boards could be combined into either a single high resolution display matrix approaching VGA at a low depth, or layered atop each other t

Almost anything derogatory you could say about today's software design would be accurate. -- K.E. Iverson

Working...