Digital Roundup – April 2024

The calendar has flipped over once more, meaning it’s time to take stock of everything I’ve covered over the past month – and what a month it’s been.

April has seen my interview with Matt Venn on the Tiny Tapeout project and related topics land on the Make: website, fresh newsletters for the MyriadRF project and the Free and Open Source Silicon Foundation (FOSSi Foundation), the launch of new Raspberry Pi Compute Module boards – though, sadly, not the ones for which everyone’s waiting – Espressif’s acquisition of M5Stack right before it launches a device powered by competitor STMicro’s silicon, a tiny ZX Spectrum-inspired games console, a major hardware upgrade for the MNT Reform laptop, and the promise from Syntiant that its latest “Neural Decision Processor” can deliver 30 giga-operations per second (GOPS) of compute in a microwatt power envelope.

The biggest news, however, was Zilog’s decision to discontinue the venerable eight-bit Z80 microprocessor family – just short of it reaching its 50th anniversary. The move does, at least, finally put to rest many a 1980s playground argument over whether the Zilog Z80 or the MOS 6502 is the superior chip – the 6502 having been selected to prove a foundry model for the production of fully-flexible semiconductors, a paper on which was published this month.

Special thanks to Professor Hamish Cunningham who, following my covering the project on Hackster.io, kindly sent me an unPhone to try – expect to see a hands-on review of that clever little gadget in the near future.

Now to see what May brings!