The Big Hex Machine
is a giant, yet simple, 16-bit computer designed by staff and students at the University of Bristol to explain how a computer works.
The giant machine, based in the Merchant Venturers School of Engineering, measures over eight square meters. It is built out of over 100 specially designed four-bit circuit boards, which enables students to be taught about fundamental principles of computer architecture from just a few basic components.
Tech Spark: David May (pictured right, above), Professor of Computer Science in the Department of Computer Science (pictured right, above), designed the Big Hex Machine with education in mind. David says, “You cannot understand how a computer works by taking one apart!”
“In our giant machine, all of the structure is clearly visible – as is the movement of information as it executes programs. It demonstrates the principle used in all computers – general-purpose hardware controlled by a stored program.”
The ‘Big Hex Machine’ is a giant, yet simple, 16-bit computer specifically designed to explain how a computer works. Its instruction set requires a very small compiler, but it is powerful enough to implement useful programs.