James Newman told BBC he spent four years and $53,000 building a “Megaprocessor” that is 6 feet tall and nearly 33 feet wide. Newman said he built it to learn how microprocessors work.
We’ve all got hobbies that we probably spend too much time and money on. But only one of us has spent four years and $53,000 building a giant computer that can play Tetris.
James Newman’s “Megaprocessor” is 33 feet wide, 6 feet high, and weighs half a ton. It’s really, really big. It has 10,000 LED lights and 40,000 transistors, and yet, after all that time and money, the processor is only 20kHz.
“If you ask yourself what do you do with a processor like this,” Newman, a British engineer, says in the video above, “the answer is that you can play games, like Tetris.” So far, that seems to be all the giant computer can do, but Newman doesn’t seem to mind. (Between this and that Tetris movie trilogy, the game really is having a moment.)
“The machine on your desk may be a million times better than what I have built but mine is much prettier,” he told the BBC. Newman started the project to help himself visualize how microprocessors work, and pointed out that while our paltry computers might do more things than a puzzle game, his creation, which sits in his house, “has 10,000 times more LEDs.” He does have a point there.
The Megaprocessor Q&A on Newman’s website is similarly straightforward. What is it, you ask? “The Megaprocessor is a micro-processor built large. Very large.” And why? “Because I want to.” To each their own.