6 Hardware/Software Codesign For Neo Smalltalk
Tuesday, 28 October
Wednesday, 29 October
The processors normally used for low cost or embedded applications are
not well suited for running Smalltalk, so we created our own using
programmable circuits (FPGAs). By creating the software and hardware
specifically to work with each other it was possible to simplify both
to such a degree that the resulting system is competitive in terms of
price/performance compared to solutions with traditional processors,
despite the inefficiency of FPGAs relative to custom designs.
Both a 16 bit and a 32 bit hardware implementation of Neo Smalltalk
will be shown in order to illustrate the cost and performance
tradeoffs possible in this kind of development. The hardware is
defined in terms of objects exchanging messages down to the lowest
level, which is an interesting contrast to the traditional bytecoded
virtual machines used for Smalltalk, Java and similar languages.
Since the programming environment was designed to graphically show all
implementation details, the audience will be able to see the issues
mentioned above during a demonstration of the normal operation of the
two Neo Smalltalk machines.