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The ZedRipper: a 16-core, 83 MHz Z80 powerhouse portable #VintageComputing #FPGA #Z80

We’re all used to multicore PC type machines these days but imaging a multicore Z80 machine. Z80? Like 1980 Z80? Yes. Clocked up to 83 MHz. A Kaypro dream to be sure. Chris Fenton has built such a beast:

Meet the ZedRipper – a 16-core, 83 MHz Z80 powerhouse as portable as it is impractical. The ZedRipper is my latest attempt to build a fun ‘project’ machine, with a couple of goals in mind:

  • Finally use one of the giant FPGA boards I had lying around
  • Play a little ‘alternate-history computer engineering’ with a hardware-focused approach to multitasking
  • Build a machine that I could write fun, small programs for on my daily train ride
  • Build a platform that would allow for relatively easy computer-architecture experiments

The ZedRipper is basically an attempt to build the ultimate CP/M 2.2 computer.

  • 16-core Z80 processor running at 83.33 MHz
  • 64KB of dedicated RAM for each Z80
  • 16-way ANSI-compatible “Multiterm” terminal accelerator
  • All CPUs and devices connected with a fully-synchronous, uni-directional ring network operating at 83 MHz
  • 128MB of storage on SD Card (available via 16 x 8MB disk drives in CP/M)
  • A ‘server’ core that boots into CP/M 2.2 and runs a CP/NET file server (written in Turbo Pascal 3 on the machine!) allowing shared access to the SD card
  • 15 ‘client’ cores running CP/NOS from ROM. Each client can access the shared storage and run any CP/M 2.2 programs without resource contention with the other cores.

See the full details in this incredible project post.


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