The Mighty 6502 Chip

Posted by Alphazero (1547 posts) -

 

Closeup of 6502 mark (Atari 2600 chip)     
I thought this might be of some general interest. Behold, the mighty 6502 chip. A modified version of it powered the original Nintendo Entertainment System as well as the Atari 2600. It had two layers of Mario rendering goodness, and a small enough number of circuits to photograph and trace out where things went. You'd have trouble doing on modern chips without a serious microscope.  
  
The NES took the 6502 design and coupled it with some audio logic for their custom CPU. The GPU is off to the lower left on the NES board.
  
6502 chips were everywhere back in the NES heydey. They had a fairly straightforward instruction set as well as pretty good support for sprites and other things you'd want to get Mega Man to jump. There were also a few "undocumented" instructions. It wasn't anything sneaky, their behavior just wasn't defined, but the chip still accepted them. Some clever people found ways to use them to make their code faster which is pretty astounding.
 
These days chips need to be designed with large amounts of computer aid, but these were more or less laid out on graph paper and then put into production. Life was simpler then, but -- to be honest -- the original Metal Gear is no where near as fun as the latest.  
 
More history and archeology ahoy:  

#1 Posted by Alphazero (1547 posts) -

 

Closeup of 6502 mark (Atari 2600 chip)     
I thought this might be of some general interest. Behold, the mighty 6502 chip. A modified version of it powered the original Nintendo Entertainment System as well as the Atari 2600. It had two layers of Mario rendering goodness, and a small enough number of circuits to photograph and trace out where things went. You'd have trouble doing on modern chips without a serious microscope.  
  
The NES took the 6502 design and coupled it with some audio logic for their custom CPU. The GPU is off to the lower left on the NES board.
  
6502 chips were everywhere back in the NES heydey. They had a fairly straightforward instruction set as well as pretty good support for sprites and other things you'd want to get Mega Man to jump. There were also a few "undocumented" instructions. It wasn't anything sneaky, their behavior just wasn't defined, but the chip still accepted them. Some clever people found ways to use them to make their code faster which is pretty astounding.
 
These days chips need to be designed with large amounts of computer aid, but these were more or less laid out on graph paper and then put into production. Life was simpler then, but -- to be honest -- the original Metal Gear is no where near as fun as the latest.  
 
More history and archeology ahoy:  

This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Giant Bomb users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.