Nat Semi ns32k, was Re: Whitechapel Computer Works MG-1

Jon Elson elson at
Tue Dec 2 10:51:28 CST 2014

On 12/01/2014 11:13 PM, Eric Smith wrote:
> On Mon, Dec 1, 2014 at 8:03 PM, Jon Elson <elson at> wrote
> [about NS32K]:
>> It was certainly a CISC design, and probably not as clean as the VAX
>> architecture
>> (although the number of addressing options on the VAX may have gone off the
>> deep end also).
> You haven't seen "off the deep end" CISC until you look at the Intel iAPX 432,
> which makes the VAX architecture look lean and mean.
Yes, I do KNOW about the iAPX 4/32, and know somebody who 
worked on one.  Glacially
slow.  It was an ambitious project, and if object-oriented 
machine language was your
thing, it was what you needed.  But, as for a practical 
computer, it didn't make it.
> For that matter, VAX was far simpler than x86 and x86_64 have become.
Far cleaner, too!  The PDP-11 instruction set was quite 
good, the VAX had to move all
3-bit fields up to 4 bits, so they had to come up with 16 
addressing modes.  I suspect
some of them were so rarely used most programmers who even 
worked in assembly
language didn't quite know what some of them did.  The x86 
is just a mess, like king
Ludwig's castle.
> And I wouldn't argue that it's CISC, but even the ARMv8 architecture manual is
> over 2000 pages.
I use the Beagle Board and Beagle Bone.  The TI manual on 
the OMAP processors
is VERY badly organized, and vastly larger than it really 
needs to be.  For instance,
where they have 100 essentially identical registers for GPIO 
configuration, they
have them described on 100 nearly identical pages.  One page 
with a description
of how the addressing applies to the banks of registers 
would have been a LOT


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