It’s a 486 computer, on a breadboard

Ever since the 1970s, a frequent project has been to take a microprocessor and construct a computer system on a breadboard or stripboard. Usually these machines have a familiar 8-bit processor such as a 6502 or a Z80 due to their breadboard-friendly DIP packages, but there is surprisingly little reason why some of the newer silicon cannot be treated in the same way. (FoxTech) is leading the way by making a breadboard computer using an 80486DX.

A 1990s-era 32-bit desktop CPU seems unpromising territory for this application, but its architecture is surprisingly accessible. It needs a breakout board to access its various lines, but other than that it can be interfaced to in a very similar way to the previous chips.

So far there are two videos in the series that we have placed during the break. The first one introduces the project and shows the basic setup. A 486 running NOPs can produce a beautiful light show, but as he begins to show in the second video, it is capable of more. The ultimate goal is to have a simple but fully functional breadboard computer, so he starts with logic to decode the 32-bit bus on the 486 into the 8-bit bus he needs.

It’s fascinating to learn how the 32-bit 486 handles its interface and handles four bytes at once, and we’re very excited to see this project unfold. The 486 may be on life support here in 2023, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still receive some love.

Thanks (benny) for the tip!

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