The CPU of the Day: Motorola MC68040VL #Microprocessors #Morotola #DieShots
The CPUShack Museum posts information on the strange Motorola MC68040VL microprocessor. VL? What does that mean?
The Mask code F94E is that of the first generation Motorola COLDFIRE CPU, the MCF5102. The COLDFIRE was the replacement for the Motorola 68k line, it was designed to be a 32-bit VL-RISC processor, thus the name 68040VL for VL-RISC
The COLDFIRE, and the 68040 are microcoded processors, meaning they do not execute the instructions directly, the opcodes are translated in a PLA to the actual instructions that manipulate the flow of data. This is common in processors today and allows greater flexibility. Its what allows the COLDFIRE to execute 68040 code as well as the new VL-RISC instructions. In fact, it’s actually what allowed Motorola to re-spin the 68040V as the COLDFIRE, at its heart the COLDFIRE 5102 is actually a slightly modified 68040V. It seems that Motorola may have even been thinking about calling it the 68040VL before renaming it COLDFIRE. There are some minor differences however.
By the 1990s the 68k line was getting a bit tired, and increasing competition was making it less relevant and competitive. Motorola’s quick update to the design, made possible by good engineering and microcoding allowed them to make a ‘new’ product and compete again in the 32-bit embedded market. The complete renaming of the design to COLDFIRE from 68040VL helped market it as ‘new’ and certainly COLDFIRE is a cool sounding name for a product that had grown cold and needed a bit of reheating.
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