IBM1410 FPGA: Inputs

Since the last post, I have begun working on inputs – switches, in particular. The input subsystem is much simpler than output, at least for things like switches and console input- there is no need for any kind of common FIFO or arbitration. Instead the module IBM1410_UART_INPUT_SUBSYSTEM receives data from the FPGA development board UART, and then places that character onto one of N (currently 0..7) input FIFOs (one each for receiving data for switches, console input, card reader, and so on), and N write data flags.

Then, each input module (for example, module IBM1410_CONSOLE_SWITCHES_RECEIVER) reads data off of its FIFO, and does the appropriate thing with that data. Specifically for switches, this means receiving the entire vector of switches into a temporary vector, and once fully received, replacing the one that the 1410 itself is using.

Testing the various switches has led to some interesting discoveries:

  • Adding switches made a number of multi-page combinatorial loops pop up, that were previously hidden as a result of optimization by the Xlinx Vivado toolset. The 1401 compatibility switch was the second (and I hope last) of the loops involving large numbers (more than 300) gates. I could have change the design rule check to ignore this issue, but I decided instead to modify the SMS generation application to look in the logic block Notes field for “DFLIPFLOP” causing it to add a D Flip Flop after the identified logic block.
  • I like to be able to run the FPGA CPU on its own. This means that it’s initial switch vector (the one that gets copied into when an entire switch vector is received from the host support program) needs to be reasonably initialized. To do this there are a few SWITCH_VECTOR(….._INDEX) => ‘1’ entries along with an OTHERS => ‘0’ at the end to set things up right. This fact is what actually led to the replace with a buffered copy concept described above. (The first time ANY switch is activated on the PC host program, the entire switch vector gets replaced by the transmitted one; indexing in hardware is hard. 😉
  • While testing the “DISPLAY” function of the console’s MODE switch, when one presses START, a “D” should appear. However, currently, instead an “F” with invalid parity currently appears. This is occurring because the printing of “B” is also enabled, causing a “pick” of the “2” bit. It looks like my ALD is out of date – the “B” should really be being suppressed under these conditions – in other words, a hardware “bug”. Sure hope there are not too many of those! A similar thing happens with the MODE switch set to C.E. A “#” should be printed, but instead I get a “.” – same bit pick, for the same reason.
  • Pressing CHECK TEST SWITCH #3 (and holding – which the C# user interface host program makes easy by holding on a click, and then releasing on the next click), and then pressing START should light up all the PROCESS CHECK lamps. This works fine for check test #1 and #2, but for #3 it does not light up the ADDRESS CHANNEL error as expected. This scenario uses the DC SET input to set the flip flop, but it appears that there is a signal using collector pull down causing the flip flop to reset (DCRFORCE in the SMS gate’s module) at the same time – and that reset it taking priority in the VHDL. There are not too many of that particular gate type in the system, so I may try reversing the priority of those things, so that a DC SET takes priority and seeing if that breaks anything else.
  • The SCAN GATE switch on page (part of the ADDRESS STOP circuitry) has a note that says it is a “CIRCUIT OPENINING” switch – in other words, all outputs are -36V except the selected position. In most cases in the IBM 1410, a connected switch means ‘0’, that is, -36V, so this behavior is (to be verified) a natural outcome of how I implemented switches – I “NOT” switches in the VHDL all – because an “on” switch electrically connects to -36V. For this switch, a given unselected position has to be a ‘1’, which is then “NOT-ed” in the VHDL to a ‘0’ – which then forces the output of the gate it is connected to to a ‘1’ – taking it out of the filtering criteria for address stop – it’s scan position can be either on or off. This, along with a failure to initialize the SCAN GATE switch and the address top address switches had me tied up in “NOTs” for a little while (pun intended.)
  • On this same page there are a couple of optional SYNC COND inputs – at least one of which need to be tied to logic ‘0’ in order for address stop to work. They were intended to give CE’s a way to do an address stop on arbitrary conditions inside the machine.