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the Butcher Shop - Kindle book

 

The Nightmare of a MIPS R5000 Processor


A microprocessor can’t wake in a cold sweat to escape the horror of its subconscious. Its fate is dreadful. Rigidly soldered into a motherboard, it can only replay the sinister creation of its programmers over and over again....

Beginning in the 1970s, and continuing in the ‘80s, a fierce battle was waged for the supremacy of microprocessor design. In order to maintain usability of legacy program code, processors would simply expand the vocabulary of their binary instruction sets. The direction of this design required many compromises and soon became cumbersome in terms of programming efficiency and performance. However, IBM designers saw a market opportunity for applications that didn’t involve legacy software but only required the maximum speed and processing power available. Ultimately the solution was RISC (reduced instruction set computing). Its rival CISC (complex instruction set computing) would carry over all of the past instruction sets plus any new instruction set advancements (such as MMX and subsequent multimedia features). Essentially the RISC advantage was that it was ‘lean and mean’ - perfect to power machines such as servers, workstations, and... CarnEvil!

In 1984 experts from IBM and Stanford University founded MIPS Technologies, a RISC processor design enterprise that would create, but then outsource the manufacture of its products. They became successful with the 32-bit R2000 and R3000 processors and then advanced with the 64-bit designs of the R4000 and R5000. The R5000, used in Silicon Graphics workstations, was a 64-bit ‘superscalar’ streamlined number cruncher. At 150 MHz it is slow by today’s standards, but in 1998 its ruthless efficiency was ideally suited to bring to life the story of Professor Ludwig von Tökkentäkker, the legendary master of "The Greatest Show Unearthed."

Derived from the haunting memories of "Carnival of Souls," a 1962 horror film, CarnEvil is the electronic reanimation of a young boy’s dark adventure. Going on a hayride through an old graveyard seems like harmless Halloween fun. Spooky Sam, a friendly old man with a Southern accent, enjoys giving these rides as much as his guests enjoy taking them. But the graveyard they visit has sinister secrets and it’s best to stay together. As they approach Professor Ludwig von Tökkentäkker's gravestone the old man points it out and offers a brief mention of its history, but he keeps the wagon moving. A stone in the old dirt road jars the wagon and knocks the boy off the back. He moves to get back on but something draws him to the gravestone - perhaps youthful curiosity, perhaps something else. As he walks over to it with his flashlight a shiny gold token becomes visible. He reaches for it and it comes loose in his hand. There’s a slot in the weathered stone where the token goes; he now does what he’s told. Welcome to The Greatest Show Unearthed...!

 

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