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Games Entertainment Hardware

Making a Game of Hardware Design 60

Posted by Soulskill
from the sim-cpu dept.
no-life-guy writes "Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a web-game to harness the natural human abilities for electronic design automation (EDA). Arguing that people are still much better than computers in games of strategy and visualization, and that we'll do anything as long as it's fun, a group created FunSAT — a game where an average Joe gets to solve a Boolean satisfiability problem. Known as SAT, this problem is an important component in various hardware design tools from formal verification to IC layout to scheduling. The pilot version is a puzzle-like single-player Java app (akin to those addictive web-games), but the researchers envision that it can be extended to a multi-player (and, perhaps, replace WoW as the favorite past-time of the millions), so anybody can be a hardware designer. If anything, this is definitely a great learning tool."
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Making a Game of Hardware Design

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  • by Fry-kun (619632) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @04:29AM (#28878827)

    Though it doesn't serve a useful purpose (other than entertainment)

    http://www.zachtronicsindustries.com/pivot/entry.php?id=79 [zachtronic...stries.com]

  • Re:Not so fun (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wagnerrp (1305589) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @04:59AM (#28878943)
    The puzzles get larger and more complex quickly, but can still be solved in a largely mechanical manner. The bigger issue is that these hardware designers know nothing of software design. Ten minutes in and eight levels passed, I notice the 'game' getting very sluggish. I pull up task manager and find 'java.exe' bouncing between 95-98% CPU usage.
  • Re:Not so fun (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jurily (900488) <jurily AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday July 30, 2009 @05:25AM (#28879089)

    A simple brute force approach should be able to outperform a human by atleast a factor of millions.

    Till level 5, at least, yes. But I imagine that's only the tutorial. As the levels advance, the puzzles get increasingly interconnected, and I imagine it'll take some real intuition to get past the bigger levels.

    Brute force definitely won't cut it. The goal here might be to figure out an algorithm that behaves like a skilled human, only millions of times faster.

  • Re:Not so fun (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jurily (900488) <jurily AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday July 30, 2009 @05:59AM (#28879313)

    Stopped playing at level 10, because of UI issues [photobucket.com], and because it takes over half a second to update the screen after each click.

    However, this game could be much more interesting if it had a scripting interface.

  • This IS awesome. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BlueKitties (1541613) <bluekitties616@gmail.com> on Thursday July 30, 2009 @10:23AM (#28881819)
    I opened the game in one tab (Chrome) and the article in another. According to the article, the larger the bubble is the more buttons control its color -- by pressing the button tied to the bubble, the color will change accordingly. The smaller the bubble, the more buttons control it. Once all bubbles become green, you've won the game.

    If a bubble only has "one" button tied to it, that we know for a FACT that button must set that bubble to green -- we now don't have to worry about that button! Using similar tactics, this becomes an interesting cat-and-mouse game of whack-the-bubble. If you didn't enjoy the game or felt it's mechanical, give it a second chance and try to figure out how to use strategy -- it's actually really damn fun, and requires a lot of thought and careful reasoning. Don't worry, if it seemed hard at first, you're not a dunce, you're probably just not looking at things the right way.
  • by MarkGriz (520778) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @11:47AM (#28883089)

    It's pretty interesting, though the tutorial video with the inverter completely ignores the fact that you need to also drive the outputs to ground when the inputs are high. Not exactly the EDA fundamentals you want to teach people.

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