Python CPU

Werner Thie werner at
Sun Apr 3 11:44:18 EDT 2011

You probably heard of the infamous FORTH chips like the Harris RTX2000, 
or ShhBoom, which implemented a stack oriented very low power design 
before there were FPGAs in silicon. To my knowledge the RTX2000 is still 
used for space hardened application and if I search long enough I might 
fine the one I had sitting in my cellar.

The chip was at that time so insanely fast that it could produce video 
signals with FORTH programs driving the IO pins. Chuck Moore, father of 
FORTH developed the chip on silicon in FORTH itself.

Due to the fact, that the instruction sets of a FORTH machine, being a 
very general stack based von Neumann system, I believe that starting 
with an RTX2000 (which should be available in VHDL) one could quite fast 
be at  a point where things make sense, meaning not going for the 
'fastest' ever CPU but for the advantage of having a decent CPU 
programmable in Python sitting on a chip with a lot of hardware available.

Another thing worth to mention in this context is for sure the work 
available on


On 4/3/11 3:46 AM, Dan Stromberg wrote:
> On Sat, Apr 2, 2011 at 5:10 PM, Gregory Ewing
> <greg.ewing at <mailto:greg.ewing at>> wrote:
>     Brad wrote:
>         I've heard of Java CPUs. Has anyone implemented a Python CPU in VHDL
>         or Verilog?
>     Not that I know of.
>     I've had thoughts about designing one, just for the exercise.
>     It's doubtful whether such a thing would ever be of practical
>     use. Without as much money as Intel has to throw at CPU
>     development, it's likely that a Python chip would always be
>     slower and more expensive than an off-the-shelf CPU running
>     a tightly-coded interpreter.
>     It could be fun to speculate on what a Python CPU might
>     look like, though.
> One with the time and inclination could probably do a Python VM in an
> FPGA, no?
> Though last I heard, FPGA's weren't expected to increase in performance
> as fast as general-purpose CPU's.

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