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WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

Frankly this is a virtual computer running in a virtual game running in the cloud so is the future virtual games running in virtual computers in virtual games in virtual computers? Argh! Paradox!?

 

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Computer chips have become so tiny and complex that it’s sometimes hard to remember that there are real physical principles behind them. They aren’t just a bunch of ever-increasing numbers. For a practical, well virtual example, just check out the latest version of a ground breaking new type of computer processor that was built exclusively inside the Minecraft game engine. And you heard that right.

 

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Recently unveiled Minecraft builder “Sammyuri” spent seven months building what they call the Chungus 2, an enormously complex computer processor that only exists virtually inside the Minecraft game engine. This project isn’t the first time a computer processor has been built virtually inside Minecraft, but the Chungus 2, which stands for “Computation Humongous Unconventional Number and Graphics Unit,” might very well be the largest and most complex, simulating an 8-bit processor with a one hertz clock speed and 256 bytes of RAM.

 

This wouldn’t fit in a datacenter … it’s a monster!

 

By leveraging a phenomenon that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Hollywood sci-fi movie in this case the Minecraft processors actually use the physics engine of the game to recreate the structure of real processors on a macro scale by using familiar Minecraft virtual building materials including Redstone dust, torches, repeaters, pistons, levers, and other simple machines.

 

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For a little perspective, each “block” inside the game is one virtual meter on each side, so recreating this build in the real world would make it approximately the size of an 80 storey skyscraper or cruise ship!

When connected to an in-game 32×32 “screen” and “controller”  – manipulated by a Minecraft player avatar jumping on block-sized buttons – the Chungus 2 can play interchangeable 2D games like Tetris, Snake, or even a graphing calculator. Some programs need the Minecraft server to be artificially sped up in order to make the 1Hz processor fast enough to use. Each program is also built virtually in Minecraft, plugging into the computer like a game cartridge the size of a freight train.

 

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Needless to say the project is an incredible application of computer science in action, created in a way that makes its principles immediate and visual. The video above showing off the Chungus 2 is dramatic enough, but if you want to check it out yourself, you can download and run it on your own server at mc.openredstone.org. And if we wait a few years then we might just get a Minecraft CPU that’s powerful enough to run Minecraft – at which point the universe, and our brains, will probably implode in a paradox.

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers” and a “Young Kurzweil,” is the founder and CEO of the World Futures Forum and the 311 Institute, a global Futures and Deep Futures consultancy working between the dates of 2020 to 2070, and is an award winning futurist, and author of “Codex of the Future” series. Regularly featured in the global media, including AP, BBC, Bloomberg, CNBC, Discovery, RT, Viacom, and WIRED, Matthew’s ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past six years as one of the world’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive, sustainable future. A rare talent Matthew’s recent work includes mentoring Lunar XPrize teams, re-envisioning global education and training with the G20, and helping the world’s largest organisations envision and ideate the future of their products and services, industries, and countries. Matthew's clients include three Prime Ministers and several governments, including the G7, Accenture, Aon, Bain & Co, BCG, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, E&Y, GEMS, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lego, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, T-Mobile, and many more.

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