It’s time to starting making some of these bits (pardon the pun) solid, both so I can work on new interesting abilities for Veronica, and so I can have some damn breadboards back.
I spent a lot of time thinking about this, and planning out various strategies. I’ve settled on what’s called a Backplane Design. Essentially, every component of the machine is treated as a module that is plugged into a large master bus. Wikipedia has a nice treatment of this topic. Ideally, everything is completely general, so you could have multiple CPUs, multiple memory systems, or any other weird combination of components. In reality, that’s a lofty goal, and mine won’t be so fancy. This is in contrast to a motherboard design, where most major systems are on one large board, and you have a couple of connectors or slots for expansion in specific ways.
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Brings back memories of the S-100 bus backplane on the IMSAI-8080A that I built in 1975. Dang – I’m getting old 🙁
Ahh yes S-100 bus, etc. I built several as a tech in an early computer store (circa 1977). Then there was my own Processor Tech SOL computer – now hiding in a closet at CrashSpace (LA, CA makerspace).
Shield stacks are sorta like the backplane. I wonder what it would take to get a real backplane design working for Arduino (and other microcontrollers)? Bus Driver chips, contention for multi-masters? Support for different processors (Amtel, PIC, Propeller, …) It (design process) could get contentious itself. Would it be better than shields?
There were/are a few commercial backplane designs out there for embedded systems. Might be a place to start.