The Web Site to Remember National Semiconductor's Series 32000 Family


I bought in September 2016 an FPGA development board called Cyclone V GX Starter Kit from Terasic (see Figure 1). It costs 179 US$ and uses a 28-nm FPGA with six 3.125 Gbps transceiver channels from Altera. The board offers a 32-bit wide LPDDR2 DRAM memory with 512 Mbytes capacity. This device has a very high bandwidth for many applications. In addition the board has a HDMI output, an audio device, an SD card interface, many LEDs and switches and some expansion connectors.

The plan is to realize with this board a "multiple computer" system. The name TRIPUTER is an indication of how many systems will be integrated. The first one will be the PC532 running NetBSD. The second one will be the Ceres-3 using Oberon. Currently the last one will be the BBC computer with the 32016 Second Processor.

Using a commercial board for this purpose is the best choice. Nevertheless the board is not ideal. For example it lacks an Ethernet port and a real time clock. But it is cheap and the used FPGA is a modern one which will be available for many years. The missing features can be added through the expansion connectors. I will develop the necessary hardware for it too.

The three computers to be integrated are very different from a software point of view. Having them available in one system should be an exciting experience. The FPGA of the board is big enough to hold the required hardware.

Fig. 1. The initial configuration of the Cyclone V GX Starter Kit is presenting a photo of itself on the screen

Of course such a complex system is not build over night. But as time goes by the fourth milestone is now achieved :-)

Fig. 2. TRIPUTER V0.2 has calculated a Mandelbrot image. M32632 made it 20 times faster than NS32532/NS32381.

Fig. 2. The hardwired VT100 terminal of TRIPUTER V0.3 shows the boot process of NetBSD.

Milestone 4 : TRIPUTER V0.3 is available => updated to V0.33 again due to some issues in the VT100 terminal emulation.

Description: version 0.33 of TRIPUTER contains the PC632M system running NetBSD with an SD card. Still this system uses the USB connection for the RS232 interface. The image for the SD card is available at Software/NetBSD. The V0.33 zip archive contains the following files:

The date of the zip-file is 11 May 2019.

Status: done.

Milestone 5 : TRIPUTER V1.0 is available.

Description: TRIPUTER V1.0 contains the PERI board. It is a little PCB which uses the HSMC connector at the right side of the Cyclone V GX Starter Kit in Figure 1. The technical most ambitious expansion will be the SATA interface. It will overcome the reliability limitations of the SD cards. In addition PERI will contain a real-time-clock (RTC), a standard format SD card connector, an Ethernet interface, a PS2 connector for keyboard and mouse and a true serial interface. The last one is for people who like or have to work with a traditional RS232 interface.

The PERI board allows the TRIPUTER to be used as a stand-alone system.

Status: to be done.

Milestone 6 : TRIPUTER V2.0 is available.

Description: TRIPUTER V2.0 will contain the Ceres-3.

Status: to be done.

This chapter was last modified on 11 May 2019. Next chapter: Software/Crossassembler