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I had to teach an class recently that required introducing students to assembler. I designed an extremely RISC architecture (we’re talking mov into pc for control flow, r31 is “suggested” for use as a stack pointer) but gave it just enough that they could write more advanced instructions in assembler macros, which they designed themselves. I think it worked out well!





One homework problem I had in a computer architecture class circa the late 90s was, here's a hypothetical computer, now implement this instruction using the given microcode definition. I really enjoyed it because I was able to do it in much fewer micro-ops than the instructor expected.

In the early 80's my Computer Organization class the entire semester was dedicated to building a simulated 4 bit computer, with I/O channels (disk, screen, keyboard, printer) and a stripped down basic interpreter, and stripped down language compiler (it was a made up language).

We had to simulate everything, and the final project was to take the professor's Basic program and execute it correctly, and compile his other program and then execute that correctly.

That class was the absolute best thing I ever did, I learned so much in that class. It was the only class that I went to every day and took seriously, I got the only A in the class.

I had started programing back in the mid-70's by the time I got to college in 82 I had a bunch of side jobs writing code. I didn't focus too much on my college career, I was working my side programming gigs, and I was tutoring other students. That class got my attention and I loved it.


Finally an application for MIX!

Well, kinda. The architecture is minimal but I had a strong focus on orthogonality, a linear address space, and clean instruction decoding; so much so that I named it REGULAR ;) The ISA (https://github.com/regular-vm/specification) was specifically selected so that traditional control flow could be created with the use of only one temporary register (some take a bit of work; conditional branches decompose to branch islands for example).

Yeah I was being tongue in cheek. Your approach sounds great for encouraging people to think about and find solutions to specific issues.

MIX was, in theory, supposed really to be the opposite: so universal/generic that you'd ignore the language and focus on the lesson. Similar to the motivation for using Scheme in SICP. Obviously times have changed :-).

Sort of the difference between putting on eyeglasses to see the world better (MIX) or putting on eyeglasses to learn about how lenses work.


Have you seen MMIX? It's my favorite RISC architecture (unlike MIX, which isn't RISC)!



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