ATmega32 vs Apollo guidance Computer

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#1
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A friend was over and was watching me program an ATmega32 on
a solderless breadboard...it was beeping a piezo speaker and blinking
a few LEDs. She said, "what good is that? it runs sooo slow..how much could
it possible do?" She was comparing it to her PC that runs at about
2ghz It got me thinking and I looked up the Apollo Guidance
Computer specs. The computer aboard the Apollo that went to the moon
had these specifications.

-About 5,000 integrated circuit chips
-2mhz clock
-36kb of 16 bit words for main rom memory
-2kb of ram memory
-20 asm instructions
it ran on 28volts dc and used 70 watts of power.
it weighed 70 pounds...whew!

The Atmega32 has
-32kb of flash rom
-2kb of ram
-1kb of eeprom
runs at 16mhz

So I say the ATmega32 is more powerful than the old
Apollo Guidance Computer...and so, a cheap Atmega32
could control a spacecraft to the moon and back, what do you think?

Comparing tha AVR to that guidance computer really makes you think.
You can do amazing things with a simple AVR....

I bet NASA would have paid a million dollars for an ATmega32 in 1969 :)

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I bet they would have paid a whole lot more . Comparing the Atmega32 to a pentium centrino is funny. I'm sure you have told your freind that part of an engineers job is to identify the right tools for the job, don't use a sledgehammer to crack a nut , 100x the cost and all that.

This might be a bit unfair , but reminded me of all the people who are rushing out and buying the latest Apple latptop, perhaps because of the halo effect from the iPod . In many cases all they use it for is to write or edit a few documents, send e-mail. But it's worth it to them to pay out 10x the price of a cheep laptop, so go figure.

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Err, I don't think thats a good analogy
Yes, Apple is doing well with PR on iPods translating into increased Mac sales. However for most people, I would in fact suggest they get the Apple. 100X fewer problems and service calls. I'm definately more Windows oriented, however I'm impressed enough with the reduced personal IT service calls from friends and family, and especially with the pretty much non-existent virus/browser problems associated with Windows.

And, a cheap laptop is $500-600, a cheap Apple is $1000, not even close to 10X.

Food for thought.

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I'd say even a PIC would make the Apollo computer look lame. But as for sending an AVR or PIC into space - forget it! Due to the size of the active devices in these latter day ics, high energy particles would cause havoc. I don't think Microchip or Atmel have radiation hardened micros (then again, they might have!). I saw an add for a rad-hardened 8051 recently - $2800 USD+.

Still, its always interesting to compare old with new to see how far we've come. Micros still so much the same thing as they did years ago, just smaller and faster these days. My first micro was pretty lame even compared to a PIC! Do a search on SC/MP!

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Kartman wrote:
My first micro was pretty lame even compared to a PIC! Do a search on SC/MP!

Not mounted in a Sinclair MK14 by any chance?

Cliff

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Gee, the nostalgia!

My first computer was 100% TTL integrated circutis, then Intel 8008, 8080A, ZIlog Z80. The most amazing thing is though, that over 20 years ago I wrote a commercial application (you know, AR, AP, Ledgers, Purchasing, Inventory tracking) for a company I owned at the time. Each user had a Z80 with 64K of RAM and there was originally a 10mb disk drive. Later we took the disk drive up to 80mb. When we closed the company down in 1998 it was still running the same system on the same basic hardware.

The only reason we need 2ghz machines with a gig of RAM today is bloat! GUI's do that to you, and so does a coding environment where efficiency takes a back seat. You need the processor power to make up for the reams of code you have to get through!

But as for radiation hardening - Atmel is in fact one of the VERY FEW companies that does produce a radiation hardened processor - but it is not an AVR! It is the European Space Agency's LEON processor, a SPARC V8 compatible part which is intended to fly in all upcoming ESA missions as well as commercial ventures. It is known as the AT697. This recent release from the ESA may be of interest:
http://www.esa.int/techresources...

A far cry from the RCA CDP-1802 that I sent into space!

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Actually I was Googling for something yesterday and happened upon a page that seemed to be suggesting that a TI MSP430 had made it into space. Must check my history (and facts!) and see if I can find the link...

Cliff

Later... well it wasn't this but it seems to suggest a possibility....
http://www.cubesatkit.com/docs/p...

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I saw the nasa description of the mission computer. '69 was the day of the IBM 360 mainframe... 16 32 bit registers like a 68000 which wasnt invented yet... they had one in the computer center at U of Fla and when there was a moon shot, nasa used all the university computers somehow and it tooks days to get your cards compiled. So this is before microprocessirs and even rack mount mini computers... their big emphasis was on getting it in a suitcase sized box... they used ttl in flatpacks I think.

Imagecraft compiler user

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Could be interesting to see the firmware running on this guidance system, what was it doing, what was done by hard (like timers, ADC, so on), and how it guides the rocket. Inertial platform? 3D Kalman filters (sorry Bob) with 18 state variables? All the flight path stored in its Flash?

I bet many things were sended back to earth, processed here, and the results sended again to the flight computer that controls the flight within certain boundaries, ie, mantaining attitude (acceleration, rotation) within the margins marked from earth, and for partial path, updated from earth as soon as possible.

Also could be nice (and crazy) to have a look on its schematics.

Guillem.

Guillem.
"Common sense is the least common of the senses" Anonymous.

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There was no practical semiconductor memory available in the 1960's. No Flash, no EPROM, no RAM except for small (64 bit) TTL chips. This system used magnetic core memory for both program and data. Core was popular for spacecraft because it's non-volatile and immune to radiation - it was used well into the 70's for satellites and is probably still used today for deep space probes. The main disadvantage is that it's bulky and really heavy.

Guillem, the schematics would certainly be crazy. It only used one kind of chip - a triple, 3 input RTL NOR gate - more than five thousand of them.

Here's a really good link for more information, including the instruction set:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_guidance_computer

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Wasn't Surveyor using a hardened 386?

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Some adds:

The older processors i know all have a clock divider. So with 2MHz the made maybe 0.3MIPS. The AVR makes (about) one instruction per clock cycle.

Have they ever been on the moon? Are you sure?

Once i did a 32 channel trigger event recognization. I had two independent trigger possibilities. Each i could set:
trigger if channel1 = 0 and channel11= 0 and channel12= 1 and so on.
I did this calculation 100,000 times a second realtime with an 4MHz AVR. Nowadays i would do this in a PLD. Was hard work.

But usual calculatins i make are: 10,000 measurements per second with 2 channels and 16bit resolution in realtime. I work with 8..16MHz AVR. Signal processing (filtering, [R]MS calculation, triggering...) one would usually do with a DSP, but i find the AVRs need less power.
With a PC and windows i can´t imagine how this can be done. But to be honest i don´t know much about PC programming.
I do my AVR programming with assembler.

Klaus
********************************
Look at: www.megausb.de (German)
********************************

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You may be interested in this project ... It was a complete rebuild of a replica of the Apollo Guidance Computer. Extremely cool.

http://starfish.osfn.org/AGCreplica/

Dean 94TT
"Life is just one damn thing after another" Elbert Hubbard (1856 - 1915)

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Cool thing all this replicas. Really interesting to learn about how a computer (and a uC by extension) works.

I think it's incredible that it only weights 70 pounds (about 31Kg), but weight matters. What will weight a similar computer done with a rad hard ATmega? Could a simple ATmega work in this radiation environment if it is fitten into a lead box?

Also cool are the guidance systems and the firmware.

Guillem.

Guillem.
"Common sense is the least common of the senses" Anonymous.

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Here's your chance to land an AVR on the moon!
http://www.newscientistspace.com/article.ns?id=dn8037

Four legs good, two legs bad, three legs stable.

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Kartman wrote:
I don't think Microchip or Atmel have radiation hardened micros (then again, they might have!)

http://www.atmel.com/products/ra...

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Sonos wrote:
Kartman wrote:
I don't think Microchip or Atmel have radiation hardened micros (then again, they might have!)

http://www.atmel.com/products/ra...

Atmel micros listed, yes--but nary an AVR (or AVR core) in sight. :(

Lee

You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.

I've never met a pig I didn't like, as long as you have some salt and pepper.

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You guys don't really believe that old "Landing on the moon" story do you?
:lol:

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As long as the "Moon" was somewhere in the desert of Nevada. :wink: