This website is an overview of the research and work that went into the Computer Architecture final project completed by Brendan Doms ('07), Sean McBride ('07), Brian Shih ('07), and Mikell Taylor ('06) during the Fall 2005 semester.

The Arcade Machine

In 1972, Atari forever changed the world of entertainment when they introduced the coin-operated Pong electronic arcade machine. Featuring only 2 simple knobs and blocky black-and-white graphics, Pong started what became a tradition of highly entertaining and addictive electronic entertainment, with games like Space Invaders and Pac-Man working their way into the fabric of a generation's culture.

These old arcade machines were wonders of engineering for their time. Pac-Man, for example, used a Z80 CPU and had dedicated hardware for video sprites and sound. The Z80 CPU (very common at the time) didn't have the power to draw all of the necessary sprites and text to the screen, so the hardware designers had to come up with other solutions.

Our Project

The goal of our project was to investigate the hardware of these classic arcade machines. We wanted to know how the hardware was designed to support the kind of graphical capabilities that were necessary. Initially, our goal was to emulate an entire arcade game on an FPGA. However, due to limited resources, the project eventually evolved into implementing a demo of our own version of hardware sprites on the FPGA. Use the menu on the left to explore the various phases of our project.