This paper discusses the design and use of system-building modules of about minicomputer complexity. These modules (CMs), are intended to facilitate the design of the full range of digital systems needed to carry out current and future computational tasks. Module sets for computer system design are becoming increasingly complex, driven by decreasing cost and size of hardware and increasing computer system performance requirements. Standardized module sets have evolved from circuit elements to gates and flip-flops to 1C chips ' to register transfer level module sets. In this paper we introduce a new, more ( complex, more flexible set, called Computer Modules (CMs). A CM consists of a processor (PC) and memory (Mp) of about minicomputer complexity, together with several carefully designed ports: see Figure 1. The I/O and interrupt structures of conventional computers make it difficult to use them to construct closely coupled networks. Addressing this problem, each port of a CM is designed to handle operations such as handshaking and buffering, executing concurrently with the processor of the CM. These ports allow us to construct CM sys'tems covering a wide range of cost and performance. CMs will come into physical existence within the next few years: the current microprocessors of Intel,--------_-_-
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