Friday, June 06, 2008

FORTH Is Back

The FORTH programming system is one of my favorites. The language is simple, compact, and extremely powerful, and almost dead. It has been kept alive over the years by a few fanatics including myself. Well, it looks like it is coming back in a big way. A lot of big names are now into the game.

By INQUIRER staff: Friday, 07 December 2007, 2:40 PM

PATRIOT SCIENTIFIC, which jointly owns a microprocessor related patent porfolio, said that Taiwanese firm Lite-On has bought a licence, becoming the third firm in a week to do so.

According to the firm, it's the first Taiwanese system company to buy a licence. Daewoo and a US manufacturer said they'd buy a licence earlier this week.

The firm's "Moore Microprocessor Patent Portfolio" that holds IP including seven US patents covering microprocessors, system on chip stuff, and microcontrollers.

This lot have also signed up for licences already. AMD, Intel, Hewlett Packard, Casio, Fujitsu, Sony, Nikon, Seiko Epson, Pentax, Olympus, Kenwood, Agilent, Lexmark, Schneider Electric, NEC Corporation, Funai Electric, Sandisk, Sharp Corporation, Nokia, Bull, Lego, DMP Electronics, Denso Wave, Philips, TEAC, Daewoo Electronics. And now Lite-On.
Now that looks like a rush. Why? Well, a dual stack architecture is pretty well fitted to C. Although C is not near as efficient as FORTH with such an architecture. EE Times Asia has more on the story.
06 Mar 2006

Alliacense announced that Fujitsu Ltd has licensed its intellectual property protected by the Moore Microprocessor Patent (MMP) portfolio. Alliacense is the subsidiary created last year to administer the portfolio on behalf of owners Patriot Scientific Corp. and TPL Group Financial terms of the licensing arrangement were not disclosed.

Fujitsu becomes the third system manufacturer to publicly disclose licensing of the MMP portfolio, following Hewlett-Packard (HP) in January and Casio Computer Co. Ltd last week. In announcing the Casio deal last week, Patriot Scientific revealed that semiconductor makers like Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) are not being required to pay royalties on MMP licenses.
Note the earlier date. About a year and a half before the Dec 007 announcement. Also note that I have a friend who works for the TPL Group. I'll have to ask him what happened.

In any case a little more background from the March 006 article:
Patriot and TPL came together in June 2005 to settle a long-standing patent dispute so they could jointly pursue licensing revenue from third parties. The TPL Group has been granted full responsibility and authority for the commercialization and licensing of a unified portfolio of 10 patents.

The MMP portfolio is named after inventor Charles H. Moore, chief technology officer of TPL Group, who is known for inventing the Forth software programming language and for his work in the 1980s on stack-based microprocessors.
It looks like FORTH as a chip architecture is back big time. I wonder if the language will come back as well.

In any case I really like the Fujitsu 16 bit and the Fujitsu 32 bit versions of the architecture.

3 comments:

aog said...

The register architecture reminds me of the Z8000, which was a nice chip, just too late and buggy.

But my question is, is the dual stack part of the patent? The PDP-11 addressing modes let you use any register as a stack pointer, in addition to the system stack pointer. Many implementations on that hardware used dual stack approaches and it's a big part of the reason C works well on such an architecture.

P.S. Don't forget the BELLMAC 32!

M. Simon said...

I never worked much with the Z8000. The Super 8 was my baby.

And yes the dual stack architecture is good for C. The Patriot Scientific guys figured that out when they did a Java Machine using the dual stack architecture.

BTW the Fujitsu jobs can use any register as a stack. I'm just getting into the program model and it is interesting. The only problem is that the Return stack is only one level deep - meaning Calls should always start with a register save to the stack and end with a restore.

Interrupt handling is more automatic.

I only was a PDP user. Never did get into the internals. Never heard of the BELLMAC 32

M. Simon said...

The Super 8 was a Register Machine with Register Banks.