We regularly hear the time period “Turing-complete” with out giving a lot thought as to what the implications is likely to be. Technically Microsoft PowerPoint, Portal 2, and Magic: the Gathering all are Turing-complete, what of it? But, every time somebody embarks on an unimaginable quest of perseverance and creates a pc in certainly one of these mediums, we stand again in awe.
[Nicolas Loizeau] is one such particular person who has created a computer in Conway’s Game of Life. In contrast to electrical energy, the Recreation of Life makes use of gliders as indicators. As a result of two orthogonal gliders can cancel one another out or type a glider eater in the event that they intersect with a superb section shift, the fundamental logic gates could be shaped from these interactions. This implies the house between gates is essential as indicators have to be in section alignment. The essential constructing blocks are a period-60 gun, a 90-degree glider reflector, a glider duplicator, and a glider eater.
All of the Python code that generates these structures is on GitHub because the sheer measurement of the machine couldn’t presumably be positioned by hand. The Python consists of scripts to assemble the fundamental packages as a financial institution of selectable glider mills. It’s all based mostly on Golly, which is a superb program for simulating Conway’s Recreation of Life, amongst different issues. Whereas this isn’t the primary pc within the Recreation of Life as [Paul Rendell] published a design in 2000 and [Adam Goucher] published a Spartan universal computer constructor in 2009, we expect it is a notably stunning one.
The precise structure has an 8-bit knowledge bus, a 64-byte reminiscence with two learn ports, a ROM with 21 bits per line, and a one-hot encoded ALU supporting 8 totally different operations. Directions have a 4-bit opcode which is decoding in just a few totally different directions. The clock is 4 loops, shaped by the glider reflectors because the glider beams rotate. This provides the pc 4 levels: execution, writing, increment PC, and write PC to reminiscence.
The Recreation of Life is a superb instance of Mobile Automaton (CA). There are a number of different varieties of CA’s and the historical past behind them is fascinating. We’ve coated this field before and delved into this beautiful fringe of computer science. Take a look at the video beneath to really get a way of the dimensions of the machine that [Nicolas] has devised.