December 02, 2011

Uploading the 6502

Processor has one of the most impressive electronics archeology projects I have ever seen. They took a 6502 processor, exposed the silicon die, photographed its surface and substrate at high resolution, generated polygon models of the individual components, used the known rules for how they intersect to form circuits to automatically deduce the circuit diagram and hence produce a transistor-level simulation of the chip. This can be used to run programs, or old Atari games.

See their SIGGRAPH 2010 slides for more detail.

This is a beautiful example of what WBE attempts to do to the brain, as well as a nice warning of just how tricky even well defined systems can be to handle. After all, this is a human-designed 2D system where we know perfectly what the components are supposed to do, everything has clean interfaces and there are just about 3,510 transistors to deal with. Still, it shows that we can reconstruct complex artifacts in a semiautomated manner. This ability will only get better over time.

Now I want to make myself a wall-poster of the real and uploaded processor.

Posted by Anders3 at December 2, 2011 11:36 PM