CERBERUS 2100, Bernardo Kastrup's Multi-Headed Educational Computer, Is Now on Sale

A partnership with Bulgarian open hardware specialist Olimex brings the CERBERUS 2100 to a wider audience, in fully-assembled form.

Gareth Halfacree
5 months agoRetro Tech / HW101

Bernardo Kastrup's CERBERUS 2100, an educational single-board computer that puts a MOS Technology 6502 and a Zilog Z80 on a single board alongside an AVR and multiple complex programmable logic devices (CPLDs), is now available to buy — thanks to a partnership with with Bulgarian open hardware specialist Olimex.

"CERBERUS 2100 is an open source hardware and software educational multi-processor eight-bit computer, featuring both Z80 and 6502 CPUs, plus an AVR processor as I/O [Input/Output] controller," Olimex founder Tsevetan Usunov writes of the device. "Built with CPLDs, CERBERUS 2100 is fully programmable even with respect to its hardware, at the level of individual gates and flip-flops."

The design was first unveiled by Bernardo Kastrup late last year, following dissatisfaction with how computing is traditionally taught. "Year after year I was taught information theory, digital signal processing, control theory and whatnot, but not how a complete computer is put together from scratch," Kastrup wrote at the time. "Apparently, that wasn’t considered important, as in our professional lives we were expected to work only on, and with, high-level parts — not the whole, and not from scratch."

The CERBERUS 2100 is Kastrup's answer, and the device he wished he'd had back then: offering the ability to experiment with both the MOS Technology 6502 and Zilog Z80 processors, competing powerhouses of 1980s home computing, along with dripping right down into how the hardware works to practically the transistor level. "Moreover," Kastrup adds, "it allows for experimentation at both firmware and hardware levels, as the system is built around three in-system programmable CPLDs [Complex Programmable Logic Devices] and an AVR I/O [Input/Output] controller."

The machine is designed to deliver both an authentic 1980s eight-bit BASIC experience and low-level tinkering down to individual logic gates. (📹: TheByteAttic)

Kastrup released the machine's design and source code on GitHub under the permissive MIT license, and promised a production run of assembled boards to follow — and has partnered with Olimex on that very thing. "The initial batch of CERBERUS 2100 [boards] is assembled, tested, and works as expected," Usunov says, with orders open now for immediate shipping.

The CERBERUS 2100 can be ordered on the Olimex web shop at €219, while the design remains available under the MIT license on the project's GitHub repository for those who would rather build their own.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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