Transputers can be fun



What, you ask, is a Transputer? This is a Transputer. Now that you know what it is that I am talking about, let me explain why this webpage is helping to clutter up the Internet.

In the late '80s, while I was living in Madrid, I was lent a prototype of the Atari Transputer Workstation (ATW) (known at the time as the Abaq). It was a very intriguing architecture and had excellent performance. However, I was never able to really stretch it's legs since I only had a single Transputer and a limited amount of time to play with it. I had enough time to write a few pieces of software, most of which just exercised X Windows, poked the registers of the custom video hardware and wrote graphics to the video memory to see what the thing could do.

Ever since then I have wanted to get back to what I had been doing and explore more of what it's like to program a Transputer. To this end I've been purchasing/accepting donations of various INMOS Bxxx boards and TRAMs with the hope that I'll get enough of a critical mass to have something interesting to play with.

I have finally managed to get a good sized farm of processors up and running using Helios 1.31 on a Win98 machine as a front end. It was, and continues to be, an interesting learning process. I have come to the conclusion that if you're going to run Helios, the old ATW is still the best front end (aside from the fact that there isn't an Internet connection on an ATW). And there is nothing to keep you from having two different front ends used alternately with the same network! News Flash: I have deciced against using Helios because on the smaller processor nodes, the kernel simply consumes too much memory to make this a useful exercise.

Since I still don't have an ATW/Abaq, if you happen to have one that you would like to sell, please send me an email!

If you have any old Transputer hardware or software that you don't know what to do with anymore and would consider selling or donating it, please send me an email!

Parsytec T8 x'plorer

In 2004 I purchased a Parsytec T8 x'plorer and I am in the process of trying to get it up and running along with the other Transputer equipment that I have. I think I know how to make a link cable to wire it up to the other processors, but I'm not sure that all of the wiring from the backplane inside the x'plorer to the outside of the case is all correct. If anyone out there knows how this should be setup, please drop me a line.

FEP Motherboard

In February, 2007 I purchased a FEP Motherboard on eBay from a former Inmos Bristol employee. This is a board that was part of internal Imnos computers to design the actual Transputer hardware (this is likely a very late model FEP board). As such it is an interesting artifact from a historical perspective. From a technical perspective, it has a T212 as some sort fo simple controller, two C004 switches on the mainboard and three modified B405 8mb TRAMs (actually, the top TRAM in the stack appears to be unmodified, but the other two TRAMs in the stack are lacking processors and appear to have custom PAL chips). It looks like the TRAM stack is designed to work like one 24mb T8 TRAM. I hope to add this board to the other hardware in my running Transputer setup. For the record, FEP stands for Front End Processor.

Current Setup

You can find a few photos of my current Transputer setup here. It basically consists of two INMOS ITEM cabinets more or less fully populated with B012, B003 (T800), and B007 boards. The B012 boards have a widely varying variety of TRAMs. The host front end is a Crystal PC with a Pentium III at 600Mhz running Windoze '98 and a B008 board with a couple of TRAMs. For reasons unknown the C004 doesn't appear to be working on the B008, so it's been removed and therefore all of the configuration on the B008 is hardwired. I would dearly like to add the x'plorer to the current configuration...

Abaq/ATW Documentation

It has come to my attention that some of the old documents that I have from when I was using the Issue 3 Abaq have not generally been available to other Abaq/ATW users out there. So, I have scanned them in and I am making them available here.

I understand that if you have your own Transputer/ATW/Abaq website or tend to distribute things to people on CD-ROM, you may have the temptation to bulk download these files and post them to your site or otherwise re-distribute them. Please resist the urge. I would like to continue to update and add to this archive (for example creating .pdf files instead of individual pages). But if folks are downloading and reposting the content, the result will be various fractured versions. Use a link instead of downloading -- don't worry this site isn't going to disappear and I won't break your links. If you really, really insist on re-distributing these files, please have the courtesy to at least inform me of this. Downloading a copy of what is here to your own computer for offline use is another matter; Have at it.

I have quite a bit more material to add to this site. However, if I find parts of what is here replicated willy-nilly across the Internet, that will be a pretty good dis-incentive for me to continue to maintain and add to what is here. Thank you for your consideration and I apologize in advance if I am being heavy-handed about this.

All documents have been scanned at 150dpi and stored as black & white .jpg files. Any defects that appear in the files also appear in the "originals," so this is as good as they will get. The image size should be large enough that you can get a nice quality printed copy and still have something that is easily read on the average 1024x768 computer monitor.

Since this is a Transputer page, here are some links to relevant sites

atw800.complicated.net (Jean-Marie's excellent ATW800 page)
The Transputer Archive
Andy Rabagliati's Transputer Page (ispy, mtest, dasm, etc.)
Transputer Assembly Language (interesting discussion of transputer programming model)
The Transputer Connection (interview with Tim King)
Tim King's Homepage
Google comp.sys.transputer newsgroup
Ram's Transputer page (lots of good stuff, with fewer broken links each day!)
INMOS ex-employees page
ATW User's mailing list (excellent mailing list for people who have access to ATW/Abaqs)



Ultima modificacion: Veinteiocho de Febrero, dos mil siete (desde Brookside Drive). Una hora menos en las islas Canarias.

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