Archive for April, 2009
I am very honored to announce that HPDMC, the dynamic memory controller of Milkymist, is being used by the NASA in the development of an experimental software-defined radio prototype, similar to the Electra radio onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. It may be put up on the International Space Station in 2011.
One engineer from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in charge of the development, said that his work with HPDMC was doing “excellent” and that it was “a great core“. This strengthens the confidence in the superior quality of the Milkymist designs, and pushes for their wider adoption.
The synthesizable Verilog description of HPDMC, as for every other core used in Milkymist, is open source and freely available at the project’s website.
Here is a video showing what you can do by making the programmable floating point unit feed vertex data into the texture mapping unit. The PFPU is entirely customizable (rotation is not hardcoded). This effect was obtained by loading a hand-written microcode which implements vector rotation along with some glue code to enable communication with the CPU and the texture mapping unit. Next steps are fixing a couple of hardware quirks and implementing a compiler that generates automatically such microcode from MilkDrop presets.
The last major bugs that prevented the programmable floating point unit (PFPU) from working on real hardware have been fixed.
This is an important milestone – the hardware is now able to render a lot of MilkDrop presets, with proper software support.
Similar to a vertex shader in a traditional graphics card, the PFPU is in charge of evaluating the preset equations to generate the vertex data which is then used by the texture mapping unit (TMU – formerly known as “warp engine”) to apply a whole range of distortions and effects to the picture.
Ah, and Milkymist scored 117 points at BLOCKPARTY 3 last week in Cleveland, Ohio. This is a rather good score, given the crudeness of the software used for the demo And Notacon was a blast, well worth the long trip and the disgusting American food (next year, I’ll bring my own). Speaking about cons, did you submit your proposal for the Hacker Space Fest on June 26-30 in Paris ?
Check it out at http://www.milkymist.org/wiki/.
After stopping the development of the free Verilog simulator GPL Cver, Pragmatic C Software now seems to stop distributing it. The former page for GPL Cver, http://www.pragmatic-c.com/gpl-cver/, now redirects to their commercial flagship product, CVC.
This is quite a shame. GPL Cver is a great tool, which has helped a lot in my FPGA projects. It’s free, very light (installs and runs without a hitch on the EeePC, which is a must for nerds like me who routinely use Verilog while on the go), and reasonably fast and reliable (for the circuits I’m dealing with at least). Also, I’m not sure this move would even improve their CVC sales :
- Without GPL Cver, I’d never have heard of Pragmatic C Software. This tool, and its inclusion in Linux distros and BSDs, definitely gives them some free advertisement.
- There is still Icarus Verilog around, which is comparable to GPL Cver, and still being developed.
- While Pragmatic C Software is the only EDA company I’ve ever seriously considered buying a license from, it is also the only one whose salespersons lack communication to the point of completely ignoring my request for quote…
Just to make sure the tool will not disappear, I have copied it to http://www.milkymist.org/3rdparty/gplcver_2.12a.tar.gz, in compliance with its GPL license.
Here are some pictures of the first FPGA workshop at /tmp/lab. In case you would have liked to attend, there might be another workshop like this at the Hacker Space Festival. And by the way, it’s still time to submit your own presentations !
From: “Valdis’ Mustache”
Date: Wed 15 Apr 2009 13:46:27 GMT+07:00
To: full-disclosure List
Subject: Re: [Full-disclosure] Hacker Space Fest 2009 CFP: Call For Paper
Initially I shared your concerns, and I bristled at the recent
explosion of nascent self-proclaimed houses of hackerdom across the
North American continent and Europe.
Like you, I was not amused by the brazen audacity and foolishness
of hundreds of low-rent apartments, grandmother’s basements, and
shuttered Oldsmobile dealerships speciously presenting themselves
as dens of underground activity, providing opportune one-stop
surveillance points for various government entities. 
The more I wrapped my hairs around the problem, it seemed (at first
blush) to be a conspiracy on par with COINTELPRO and Bremer’s lost
B-52′s full of stacked hundreds! As luck would have it, though, the
two of us were quite magnificently wrong in this notion! Actual
hacking of any sort does not take place in these ostensible
Rather, it appears that young men (and even, it would seem, nubile
young women) band together in these “spaces” in a spirit of
bonhomie to work on shared endeavours like constructing sandwich-
making robots, soldering (and its ever-present cousin desoldering),
and the fabrication of hundreds of contraptions known as “LED
throwies” , the latter of which are evidently useful as props
during dance routines at electronic music events, in which the
throwies are attached to extremely ill-fitting “phat” (sic.) pants.
For an example of some of these behaviors, see the following
As the above should make abundantly clear, the only rational and
equitable conslusion this mustache can make is that the
“hackerspaces” movement is an elaborately staged campaign of
culture jamming by the authentic computer underground, aimed at
throwing Law Enforcement and media off the scent of true illicit
computer activity, and a terribly clever one at that!
Bravo “Hackerspaces”, I say! Bravo!
Your Humble Servant,
Ang bigote ng Valdis
 I couldn’t help but notice this link: http://barkingmadly.blogspot.com/2006/09/travis-biehn-wins-on-appeal.html,
which quite plausibly may contribute to your feelings
wrt. to Law Enforcement.
 For our purposes, “hacking” is defined as any activity not
performed by Bre Pettis.
 Dancing while clad in LED throwies is apparently useful in
signaling potential mates to one’s mechanical aptitude.