The DEC CVAX - An Illustration of Chip Art - CPU, MPU, 21-24674-14


Availability: 1 in stock

About this Artwork

Introduced in 1987, the CVAX was DEC's first CMOS processor and was first used in DEC's MicroVAX III minicomputers (that were somewhat confusingly part of the MicroVAX II line.) It was the 3rd generation of chips to implement the VAX Instruction Set Architecture. The chips were known as the 78034 and also the DC341. The CVAX contained over 134,000 transistors and was clocked between 11.11 and 12.5 MHz depending on the system. The 32-bit processor was microprogrammed with some pipelining of instructions. The CVAX chip set also included a floating-point accelerator chip. The chip designers gave the CVAX one of the largest and most interesting varieties of chip art; some are visible in the large CVAX image. The CVAX chip die was embedded in an 84-pin surface-mount package with an integral heat sink.

Bob Supnik led the microprocessor group at DEC and did the architecture and most of the microcode for the CVAX. The following is Bob's description of the chip art on the CVAX: CVAX included a large number of on-die drawings and logos (MicroVAX had only the designers' initials). One drawing showed a poker hand consisting of a straight flush, with an Ace of Spades up the sleeve, and the motto "$ The dream is always the same..." This was a reference to the popular movie "Risky Business", only in this case the dream was to boot VMS (get to the $ prompt) on a pass 1 part. (The Ace up the sleeve was Rigel, the next design.) Another section had a big star and bigger arrow, saying "This is the last one", namely, the last transistor to be laid out. Finally, the scribe lane contained the Cyrillic motto "VAX: When you care enough to steal the very best". In 1983, an Unnamed Intelligence Agency had given me the wording, saying that they got it off a purloined VAX-11/780 that was running a Soviet SS20 missile complex. Knowing that some CVAX's would end up in the USSR, the team wanted the Russians to know that we were thinking of them.

This artwork includes 3 elements. The art on the front is of the DEC CVAX chip. It has a rare DEC CVAX CPU 221-24674-14. On the back is a narrative describing the artwork and Chip found on the chip (along with a guide to finding them), and the artist’s signature.


    The artwork is framed in an 11"x14" black shadow box frame, with glass. All framing materials are acid-free. A narrative about the artwork that includes the artist’s signature is placed on the back of the artwork.

    Please note:  I only have one of the 21-24674-14 chips, so this is likely the only one of these that I will be able to make. This is the artwork you will receive.