Plane of core memory

Anders Nelson anders.k.nelson at
Thu Apr 18 20:01:26 CDT 2019

I believe I read they weaved the planes this way to minimize crosstalk, EMI
or heat.


On Thu, Apr 18, 2019, 1:13 PM Paul Koning via cctalk <cctalk at>

> > On Apr 18, 2019, at 11:47 AM, Jon Elson via cctalk <
> cctalk at> wrote:
> >
> > On 04/18/2019 04:49 AM, Brent Hilpert via cctalk wrote:
> >> It's a 4-wire 3D planar array. By topology and construction I would
> guess it date it from the 60s.
> > Make that EARLY '60s.  As soon as somebody figured out that you could
> combine the sense and inhibit wires, everybody immediately went to 3-wire
> planes.
> >
> > Jon
> Is that true even for the highest speed designs?
> CDC 6000 series memory is unusual in that it has 5 wires per core.
> Instead of the classic X, Y, Inhibit, Sense it has two inhibit wires,
> routed in the X and Y direction.  There are four X and four Y inhibit
> wires, each of which run through 1/4th of the cores, so a given inhibit
> pair acts on 1/16th of the cores.
> The documentation doesn't spell out why this is done.  My guess is that it
> makes the various driven wires more alike in how many cores they pass
> through.  X and Y, in the 12 bit stack, pass through 64 * 12 cores.  Each
> inhibit wire passes through 64 * 16 cores, i.e., nearly the same number.
> And the driver circuits for all these wires are the same.
> A regular full-plane inhibit wire would pass through 4k cores, meaning the
> inductance is far higher than that of the X and Y wires.  So either the
> drive circuit would require a lot more power, or it would be significantly
> slower than the X/Y drive.
> As for separate sense, split inhibit obviously requires that, but even
> with conventional inhibit, keeping sense separate avoids the overhead of
> switching the signal path between two very different bits of circuitry.
> Compared to many other core memory designs of that same era, the 6000
> memory is quite fast, with access times of a few hundred nanoseconds and
> full cycle (read plus restore) in one microsecond.  Actually, comfortably
> under 1 microsecond, allowing for magic like read and update in one cycle
> (for the exchange instruction in the CPU) or read and write new data in one
> cycle via the ALU data path (in the PPUs).  I suspect the unusual core
> plane design was a factor in making this speed possible.
>         paul

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