The Temptation

The temptation to implement a modernized Lisp architecture in a high-end FPGA never ceases to tug at me. It has recently re-asserted itself after my discovery that one can buy reasonably priced and fully assembled boards containing the latter, complete with SDRAM, DVI, SATA, etc. sockets. Verilog guides have silently crept into my browser tabs and the epic pile of papers on my desk.

I end up constantly reminding myself that, while elegant and in some respects easier, this path would permanently consign Loper to the status of a sideshow attraction (or, at best, an academic curiosity.) A Lisp Machine renaissance cannot come before the Lisp renaissance. Trying to market one right now would be not unlike pushing dirigible travel in the years when memories of the Hindenburg were still fresh.

This entry was written by Stanislav , posted on Monday January 07 2008 , filed under Distractions, Hot Air, LoperOS . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

3 Responses to “The Temptation”

  • I’ve thought a great deal about this myself. I don’t think the two (hardware Lisp machine and a Lisp OS) are necessarily mutually exclusive, since the hardware can be the VM on which the OS can run, in addition to having it run on commodity PCs (via your software VM).

    To make the hardware successful, you don’t have to make Lisp successful on the whole, you just have to find a niche for it. The embedded space could certainly use the reliability.

  • Matt Campbell says:

    Dear Stanislav,

    When you wrote this post, you understood that a Lisp environment running on a commodity x86-64 machine would be much more useful than a Lisp environment running on a custom FPGA-based machine. So why did you change course? What made you decide to pursue absolute purity over practicality? Consider that if you had kept working on an OS for x86-64 machines, you might now be using Loper OS to develop the intelligence amplification application that you originally set out to create in the first place, rather than being mired in the minutiae of a custom hardware architecture.


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