A Cambridge, UK, resident has finished building a computer that’s so big it takes up an entire room. But this isn’t a new contender for the supercomputer list; right now, it’s mostly being used to play Tetris.
James Newman constructed “The Megaprocessor” over the course of four years, at a cost of £40,000 ($51,590). The 33-foot wide by 6-foot high machine is essentially a giant version of a standard microprocessor, and is used to visualize how the chips work.
"Computers are quite opaque. Looking at them it's impossible to see how they work. What I would like to do is get inside and see what's going on. Trouble is we can't shrink down small enough to walk inside a silicon chip,” reads Newman’s website. "But we can go the other way; we can build the thing big enough that we can walk inside it. Not only that, we can put LEDs on everything so we can actually see the data moving and the logic happening."
The machine weighs roughly 500kgs, has around 40,000 transistors, 10,000 LEDs, and uses 500W of electricity. Newman, a digital electronics engineer, hopes to use the Megaprocessor as an educational tool. The enormous size and weight mean mobility isn’t its strongest feature, so Newman is planning a series of open days for kids to learn about what goes on inside a silicon chip.
The creator admits that the Megaprocessor isn't going to be playing Crysis 3 at any point. "The machine on your desk may be a million times better than what I have built - but mine is much prettier," he told the BBC. "Mine has 10,000 times more LEDs."
Anyone interested in finding out more about how the Megaprocessor works should check out Newman’s video series on YouTube.