Saturday, January 19, 2013

Interfacing a GPU with a CPU

Interfacing a GPU with a CPU:
from Hack a Day 
via SysAdmin

[Quinn Dunki] pulled together many months worth of work by interfacing her GPU with the CPU. This is one of the major points in her Veronica project which aims to build a computer from the ground up.
We’ve seen quite a number of posts from her regarding the AVR-powered GPU. So far the development of that component has been happening separately from the 6502 centered CPU. But putting them together is anything but trivial. The timing issues that were so important to consider when developing the GPU get even hairier when it comes writing to the VRAM from an external component. Her first thought was to share a portion of the external RAM between the CPU and GPU as a way to push rendering commands from one to the other. This proved troublesome both in timing and in the number of pins available on the AVR chip. She ended up using something of a virtual register on the AVR chip that can receive commands from the CPU asynchronously. Timing dictates that these commands be written only during vertical blanking so this virtual register also acts as a status register to let the CPU know when it can send the next command.
Her post is packed with the theory behind the design, timing tests on the oscilloscope, and a rather intimidating schematic. But the most important part is the video showing her success in the end.

Filed under: computer hacks  

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