Creating a Tetris game to be played on the side of a Seattle skyscraper is undoubtedly a huge undertaking, but that’s relatively easy for a company with resources and ready-made components at its disposal. On the other hand, creating a Tetris game to be played on a computer built from scratch to resemble a blown up microprocessor probably takes the cake. It’s also insanely hard too. But that’s exactly what James Newman from Cambridge has accomplished. Both creating what he calls a “megaprocessor” and using it for what it does best: playing Tetris.
Of course, this megaprocessor wasn’t built simply for the sake of playing Tetris in a very crude way. No, it has a loftier purpose. Newman started the project to learn about transistors and how a microprocessor operated. And what better way to do that than to build your own. Well, a better way is to build a giant sized version of a microprocessor to see the processes and components in detail without having to use a microscope.
The end result? A series of “cabinets” that total 10 meters in width, 2 meters in height, 500kg in weight, 40,000 transistors, 10,000 LED lights, and costs 40,000 GBP ($53,000) to build. In that light, even the name “Megaprocessor” doesn’t seem to do it justice. “Epicprocessor” is probably better fitting.
True to its purpose, Newman put up a few YouTube videos that walks through the Megaprocessor, explains its workings, and, along the way, impart a few tidbits about transistors and microprocessors work.
Of course, it can also be used to play a round of Tetris, without the multi-colored blocks or easy to use controls. Of course crude by today’s standards, this might have been how Tetris would have played out had it been developed in the age of mainframes. Which is to say, probably not fun at all.