This Guy Made a Literal CPU in Microsoft Excel with 16-Bit, 3Hz Speed, and 128KB RAM

Excel based CPU made by YouTuber Inkbox
Image Courtesy: Inkbox YT
In Short
  • YouTuber Inkbox created a CPU inside of Microsoft Excel, a spreadsheet program.
  • It is essentially a 16-bit architecture (modern CPUs are 64-bit), 128KB of RAM (we use gigabytes in modern systems), and a measly 2-3Hz reported clock speed.
  • The creator even made a custom assembly language called EXCEL-ASM 16 to write programs to run on this "system on a spreadsheet".

There is no limit to human imagination. That has been proven yet again as a guy has used the spreadsheet software Microsoft Excel to create a literal central processing unit (CPU). The YouTuber Inkbox utilized Excel’s formula bar, several thousand cells in Excel, and his highly skilled engineering brain to become the creator of this 16-bit Excel CPU. The result is truly impressive!

Of course, it’s not even remotely comparable to the super-powerful Intel Core i9-14900K. You can even download this on GitHub, which will send you “.XLSX” files. This project aimed to create the concept of a CPU inside Excel.

Do you know how CPUs are also referred to as “System on a Chip (SoC)”? Well, this is a “system on a spreadsheet,” according to Inkbox, the creator of this Excel-based CPU.

No actual physical circuitry is used. However, the cells in Excel were essentially used as an emulator. Watching the video explainer he uploaded is super educational and will teach you the inner workings of a CPU. This Excel-based project made by Inkbox is quite a low-level 16-bit CPU as compared to the 64-bit architecture that modern processors are made in mind with today.

The creator also made an assembly language termed EXCEL-ASM16 to build programs to run on the Excel CPU | Image Courtesy: Inkbox YT

According to the creator, the design of this Excel-based CPU has been made with several components. There are nine different aspects that he has built cell by cell (of course, also utilizing productive Excel tips such as auto-filling).

As the video progresses, things get even more interesting. There is a 128×128 16-color display and 128KB of RAM. The ALU (arithmetic logic unit), CU (control unit), fetch unit, register file, multiplexers, and PC unit are all present here.

One major caveat is that this Excel-based CPU is quite slow. The low-end Intel Processor 300 (so slow it doesn’t have the name Core in it) has a 3.9 GHz (gigahertz) clock speed. This converts to 3900MHz (megahertz). Now, 1 MHz equals to 1000000 Hz (hertz). According to the creator of this Excel CPU project, the final speed is not faster than 2 to 3 Hz.

Despite this, it is still super impressive to witness the computing prowess of Inkbox’s Excel CPU. What are your thoughts on this spreadsheet-based CPU? Let us know in the comments down below!

SOURCE Inkbox (YouTube)
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