Novix NC4000 Beta Board

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The NC4000P is a single chip Forth Engine based upon mlnlmum hardware concepts developed by Mr. Charles H. Moore ('Chuck' Moore), the designer of the Forth programming language. This highly parallel machine architecture directly executes Forth primitives in a single clock cycle. The initial implementation of this device is based upon a 4000 gate CMOS semicustom integrated circuit operating at an 8 MHz clock rate. The NC4000P is a prototype engine presently operating at a machine instruction rate of 8 MIPS (million instructions per second) while the basic instruction set has a compression ratio greater than one (single instruction compression ratios range from 1 to 5 at present). This source to machine code compression permits Forth language execution at averaged rates approaching 24 MIPS.

Our Beta board has a serial number B0234. The board is complete with the Novix User's Manual for the Microprocessor.

The following text is taken from 'Forth Dimensions', Volume 7, No. 2 (July/August 1985):

'The  hottest  topic  of  interest in the Forth  world must  have been  the  Novix NC4000P  Processor, Charles Moore's embodiment  of  Forth  in silicon.  This sizzler of  a  processor  gives  about 10,000,000  Forth instructions  per  second  (10  mips).  Up  to  four  Forth instructions (like DUP I +) can execute at each  125 ns clock cycle. A call takes one  clock  cycle  and  a return takes none! This rewrites the book  on software, obviating interest  in linear code and macros.'

Further information has been provided by Mark Lacas, the hardware and printed circuit board designer on the NC4000:

'At the time it was likely the fastest microcomputer on the planet, and my design of that computer resulted in my getting inducted into the (Hackers Conference), and the Asilomar Microcomputer Conference.  

The computer was so fast we did all the low level SCSI communications with the floppy and hard disks in software, and we bit-banged the SCSI interface using nothing but a few off the shelf TTL chips.

The Novix chip was the basis for the Forth chips that helped land the Rosetta Philae probe on the comet in 2014.

A few stacking daughter boards were made that snap onto the long black connectors.'

Our board and manual were kindly donated by Sue Rees.

Date : 1986

Manufacturer : Novix

This exhibit has a reference ID of CH25228. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.

Scan of Document: Novix NC4000 Beta Board

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