[Oberon] Oberon System on the FPGA (was Oberon-1 or Oberon-2?)

Bill Buzzell captbill279 at gmail.com
Tue Nov 4 21:27:12 CET 2014

Hi Chris,

>> I understand that for your very special application the FPGA is the way
>>to go. From what I see at your webpage you have done some impressive
>>hardware. What I still not understand is: what is the essential benefit
>>of the Oberon System/Compiler in your case. You have ucLinux (I
>>believe) running and 600 MHz CPU or so; compared to that the RISC5 is a
>>small toy running at 25 MHz, I think.

These numbers are very deceptive when you are wanting real-time
performance. You don't  tune a watch for precision by speeding it up.
Modern OS's are "soft real-time", at best whereas Oberon FPGA promises
"hard real-time" performance...Precision Swiss timing.

The clock cycles consumed by say, uCLinux to pulse a signal to a pin may
far exceed the clock cycles to do the same with Oberon. More importantly,
on uCLinux the clock cycles are worthless as a "precision clock" since they
vary from moment to moment based on "traffic". This is generally dealt with
by some type of "averaging/normalizing" of time slices, after the fact,
thereby rendering your best hope as merely "soft real-time".

Oberon promises "hard real-time" performance out of the box. You may only
have 25mhz by you have ALL of them precisely timed.

>>It is lacking a lot of features from the core like 8 and 16 Bit
>>arithmetics to the peripherals like ethernet, color, etc. and the
>>device drivers necessary.

If you look at the Oberon graphics system as simply the "command line"
version of the Oberon OS this makes a more versatile arrangement. I really
don't want my graphics system housed on the FPGA if there is a way around
it. Besides, realistically, I would want a "FPGA-GPU" add on board and have
it (as well as all peripherals) as modularized as possible.

Besides, Oberon has the coolest "DOS screen" there is, does it not? By
farming out the graphics to a "client gpu-board" you retain the real-time
performance. There are even boards packaging the screen and GPU board
together. You drive them in a openGL style of interfacing, plug and go. I
think this is more practical to bundle the "GPU" with the screen vs
incorporating into my OS. Graphics don't need real-time. "Horses for

What we really have is the ultimate modular platform that has built in
precision Swiss timing. This is what sets Oberon apart from anything I have
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