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[FYI] The Lisp Machine is back


From: Thorsten Jolitz
Subject: [FYI] The Lisp Machine is back
Date: Fri, 19 Sep 2014 19:20:20 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/24.3 (gnu/linux)

Hi List, 

Emacs success as an editor or rather an OS is sometimes explained by
its (at least superficial) similaritiy to a LispMachine [fn:1]:

,----
| Emacs as a LispMachine
| 
| Some people have started to refer to Emacs as a LispMachine. It is
| not strictly a LispMachine because, clearly, it is a software
| program and not a physical computer, but as that line starts to blur
| it seems like a useful epithet for Emacs because these days Emacs
| look more and more like an operating system.
`----

Today a modern 64bit LispMachine, based on one of the most exciting Lisp
dialects around, has been announced [fn:2]:

,----
| PilMCU is an implementation of 64-bit PicoLisp directly in hardware. A
| truly minimalistic system. PicoLisp is both the machine language and the
| operating system:
| 
|    * Memory management is trivial, just the Lisp heap and the stack
|    * The built-in database is extended to hold a "file system"
|    * One SSD per database file for mass storage
|    * "Processes" run as tasks and coroutines
|    * Events (timing and interrupts) via a 'wait' instruction
|    * Complex I/O protocols are delegated to peripheral chips
| 
| The final hardware can be very lightweight. Low transistor count and
| power consumption. No overhead for an OS. It is conceivable for a later
| stage to put many interconnected CPUs on a single chip.
| 
| At present, we have it running in the Verilog simulator, and in an
| emulator (adaption of the PicoLisp 'emu' architecture). [...]
| 
| We imagine something in the line of an "Embedded Lisp Machine" or a
| "Lisp Machine Kit". Perhaps for home brewing, educational institutions
| and/or robotics research?
`----

I thought this might be interesting for Emacs hackers and user too.

* Footnotes

[fn:1] http://www.emacswiki.org/emacs/LispMachine

[fn:2] http://www.mail-archive.com/address@hidden/msg04823.html


-- 
cheers,
Thorsten




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