MIST user base

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Re: MIST user base

Postby ijor » Wed Oct 26, 2016 6:49 pm

antoniovillena wrote:ZX-Uno users has not JTAG programmers (Xilinx cable, USB Blaster or RPi) but can configure from SD in 2 steps. The xilinx cores have multiboot, so you can load up to 9 cores from flash.


Yes, that's another possibility with Xilinx devices. Don't think you can do that with Altera.

Although if you use many cores, to be able to boot directly without flashing, is probably more convenient. Anyway, I think it is quite important to match the FPGA with a processor. And not only for the purpose to configure from SD. Some things, such as handling USB devices, you can't do efficiently without a processor. Of course, if the FPGA is big enough, you can instantiate a soft processor.

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Re: MIST user base

Postby ryan » Wed Oct 26, 2016 6:58 pm

Many of the Zynq devices have a hefty enough ARM core to run a full Linux. So one could use the full USB stack on Linux, not to mention its block devices, etc. to support the core running on the FPGA. Much of the firmware on the MiST right now would be unnecessary.

There are Zynq dev boards that ship with HDMI. If I had more time maybe I'd sit down and try to port a core to one. Could be fun.

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Re: MIST user base

Postby ijor » Wed Oct 26, 2016 9:12 pm

ryan wrote:Many of the Zynq devices have a hefty enough ARM core to run a full Linux. So one could use the full USB stack on Linux, not to mention its block devices, etc. to support the core running on the FPGA.


I'm not sure if you are making a case of Xilinx vs Altera, or SOC vs non-SOC FPGAs.

But of course, that's what we were saying. Nowadays, moderately priced FPGA are too powerful. Not only that affordable SOC devices can run Linux on the built-in processor. Some non SOC variants are so big (yet, affordable) that you can instantiate a soft processor capable of running Linux as well, and still with enough logic remaining to run two Falcons.

This is both true for Altera and for Xilinx devices. Some of the boards we mentioned above precisely comes with Linux already configured. And btw, some cores were already ported to those.

But Terasic boards are almost exactly what we need. May be things changed. But some time ago I searched for similar Xilinx based boards and I couldn't find it. Not only that Terasic boards are high quality but yet low cost. But most important they have a line with plenty of legacy peripherals built-in. Depending on the board you can get serial, VGA, PS/2, SD, Audio, USB, Ethernet, switches, button, etc. HDMI is nice, but many users claim that the "experience" can't match an old CRT and want old school VGA.

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Re: MIST user base

Postby Newsdee » Thu Oct 27, 2016 1:34 am

Looking at that page the sweet spot seems to be the DE1-SoC at $250. That is close to the MiST price.

It has 80 GPIO pins that could be wired into cartridge adapters, 2 USB inputs on the ARM, 24bit VGA, 24-bit Audio DAC with audio input, 64MB on the FPGA (+1GB fpr the ARM). And the FPGA is double the size of the MiST.

It does have things that aren't really needed (video in), so it makes you wonder if the design could be simplified into a smaller board. That said, I guess a limited run won't be cost efficient.

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Re: MIST user base

Postby sebdel » Thu Oct 27, 2016 6:54 am

Showing off... 8)
mist_de1.jpg
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Re: MIST user base

Postby antoniovillena » Thu Oct 27, 2016 9:52 am

sebdel wrote:Showing off... 8)
mist_de1.jpg


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Re: MIST user base

Postby ijor » Thu Oct 27, 2016 1:10 pm

Newsdee wrote: ... DE1-SoC ... And the FPGA is double the size of the MiST.


I think that figure is not optimistic enough. It is difficult to compare the capacity as they are two generations apart, and the newer one uses a completely different structure (ALM vs LE). But just in terms of logic, it would fit between 2.5 and 3.5 times more than the MIST. And the memory capacity is 6 times (without counting that it can use logic as memory as well)!

That said, I guess a limited run won't be cost efficient.


It won't be affordable at all. That FPGA alone, in small quantities, costs more than U$200! And some lucky users (no, not me) can get Terasic/Altera educational price. It's U$175 for the DE1-SOC !

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Re: MIST user base

Postby jotego » Thu Oct 27, 2016 1:25 pm

ijor wrote:It won't be affordable at all. That FPGA alone, in small quantities, costs more than U$200! And some lucky users (no, not me) can get Terasic/Altera educational price. It's U$175 for the DE1-SOC !


I think an alternative would be to buy the development board as the base system and then build and expansion board with retro-specific stuff of our interest. That way we can get the FPGA at a lower cost.

I really love the fact that they have a proper audio DAC. The current DAC we have in MiST has stray noise issues as I have documented here.
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Re: MIST user base

Postby Newsdee » Thu Oct 27, 2016 2:57 pm

jotego wrote:I think an alternative would be to buy the development board as the base system and then build and expansion board with retro-specific stuff of our interest. That way we can get the FPGA at a lower cost.


If it costs $200 just for the chip alone, then yes I agree. Help, I'm starting to have ideas :)

Add a nice box to "consolize" it and offer external adapters with different purposes. Like a "wing", but instead of just being a board on top, have a open area in the case to slot in a panel with the external connectors, and the rest is connected neatly inside. The switches on the board would be like DIP config, and the buttons could be hidden to keep it simple.

If we reserve 7 GPIO pins we could have up to 128 wings with automatic detection (one pin sends power, and we check the result), and we could reserve a couple of DIP switches to increase this number to 512.

Some wing ideas:
  • 2x Atari joysticks or 2x Neogeo Joysticks, MIDI IN/OUT, HDMI, S-Video, RGB (base option, backwards compatible to "MiST 1")
  • JAMMA connector to go inside a cabinet
  • Cartridge connector for the NES, or Atari, etc.

For the first one, if I'm not wrong we'd still have a few pins left (8 config + 30 joystick + 4 MIDI + 19 HDMI + 3 SVideo + 4 RGBS)

Actually I'm not sure if we need more than 3/4 kinds of wings (think of a template) and each physical board could declare via GPIO what part of the templates it has. That way the cores know if it needs to activate HDMI (for example).

With case and one "wing" I'd imagine the cost would go to $350 at least, but given the extra power over a MiST, it's not too bad I think.
It would be a big exercise to standardize all of it so core authors have some guidelines to follow.
Last edited by Newsdee on Thu Oct 27, 2016 3:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: MIST user base

Postby ex68k » Thu Oct 27, 2016 2:59 pm

ijor wrote:It won't be affordable at all. That FPGA alone, in small quantities, costs more than U$200! And some lucky users (no, not me) can get Terasic/Altera educational price. It's U$175 for the DE1-SOC !


If you would redesign it with the altera-soc, you probably wouldn't need the 896 pin version. Those eval/student boards
have a lot of stuff on them, which isn't really needed.

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Re: MIST user base

Postby antoniovillena » Thu Oct 27, 2016 4:03 pm

There is a model called Pipistrello that costs $155 and fit some of your needs:

http://saanlima.com/store/index.php?rou ... duct_id=51

LX45 is bigger than MiST FPGA and it has wing connectors.

Personally I prefer a project with at least the main connectors included (SD, keyboard, joystick, audio/video) giving the expansion port for the rare ones (jamma, additional joystick, cartridges...)

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Re: MIST user base

Postby ijor » Thu Oct 27, 2016 4:23 pm

ex68k wrote:If you would redesign it with the altera-soc, you probably wouldn't need the 896 pin version.


That's very true. But it shows the relation between our costs of the parts, and their selling total price. They can sell the whole thing assembled and packaged at a much lower price than we could just buy the parts. And that's not considering board manufacturing, assembling and the profit that sellers like Lotharek obtain (and I have nothing at all against that).

So let's say we don't use the 896 pin version, we use the 484 pin part, which is the smaller packaging on this family. Using the same speed grade as the one in the Terasic board, it costs u$181. The FPGA used in the Mist costs just u$49. That's still more than three times the cost of the FPGA. So I doubt you could sell such a board at a reasonable cost.

That reminds me about Jookie's brilliant idea of using a Raspberry Pi on his ComoEx device. You can't even understand how it sells at a price so low. That's really power without the price. LOL

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Re: MIST user base

Postby ex68k » Thu Oct 27, 2016 4:24 pm

antoniovillena wrote:There is a model called Pipistrello that costs $155 and fit some of your needs:
http://saanlima.com/store/index.php?rou ... duct_id=51
LX45 is bigger than MiST FPGA and it has wing connectors.
Personally I prefer a project with at least the main connectors included (SD, keyboard, joystick, audio/video) giving the expansion port for the rare ones (jamma, additional joystick, cartridges...)


There are tons of "nice" FPGA boards out there, but I think that the MIST is still the nicest combination of features:
- booting from SD-CARD, is VERY important, because that the easiest way to run different emulations
- "all" standard connectors already on board

Wishes for the next one:
- bigger FPGA
- more RAM and higher bandwidth
- faster disk access
- faster USB
- faster Ethernet (directly on FPGA, or MCU) not via USB ...
- ?

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Re: MIST user base

Postby ryan » Thu Oct 27, 2016 6:11 pm

HDMI is a big one for me.

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Re: MIST user base

Postby ex68k » Thu Oct 27, 2016 6:37 pm

ryan wrote:HDMI is a big one for me.


Sorry, you are right. I was thinking Displayport or/and HDMI is important. Got tired of carrying the glass tubes around ;-)

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Re: MIST user base

Postby farvardin » Thu Oct 27, 2016 9:11 pm

Brt wrote:
farvardin wrote:where did you find this serial number? Probably it's inside... I'll try to open mine one day.


I didn't have to open anything, I have additional sticker with # on bottom of the unit (next to Mists nameplate).


I have a sticker saying it was made by Lotharek, but no serial #number with this.

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Re: MIST user base

Postby Newsdee » Fri Oct 28, 2016 2:52 am

ex68k wrote:There are tons of "nice" FPGA boards out there, but I think that the MIST is still the nicest combination of features:
- booting from SD-CARD, is VERY important, because that the easiest way to run different emulations
- "all" standard connectors

Wishes for the next one:
- bigger FPGA
- more RAM and higher bandwidth
- faster disk access
- faster USB
- faster Ethernet (directly on FPGA, or MCU) not via USB ...
- ?


That's almost the spec of the DE1-SoC board, precisely.

But I just realized it doesn't have a Flash ROM! It will need hardware to insert a bootloader (and then load the rest from SD). That could make it slow to boot in addition to make it more expensive.

The SoCKit at $350 does have everything... but also stuff we won't ever need (temperature sensor...!).

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Re: MIST user base

Postby ijor » Fri Oct 28, 2016 3:33 am

Newsdee wrote:That's almost the spec of the DE1-SoC board, precisely. But I just realized it doesn't have a Flash ROM! It will need hardware to insert a bootloader (and then load the rest from SD).


Of course it has. It doesn't have extra parallel flash for general purpose usage. But it does have a so called Altera Flash configuration device.

And it is not strictly needed anyway. The integrated ARM processor can boot directly from SD and configure the FPGA.

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Re: MIST user base

Postby Total Eclipse » Fri Oct 28, 2016 7:34 am

farvardin wrote:
Brt wrote:
farvardin wrote:where did you find this serial number? Probably it's inside... I'll try to open mine one day.


I didn't have to open anything, I have additional sticker with # on bottom of the unit (next to Mists nameplate).


I have a sticker saying it was made by Lotharek, but no serial #number with this.


Same here, no serial number on mine.
Atari equipment all in storage - Now playing with MiST :)

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Re: MIST user base

Postby ericgus » Fri Oct 28, 2016 2:46 pm

Newsdee wrote:
jotego wrote:Some wing ideas:
  • 2x Atari joysticks or 2x Neogeo Joysticks, MIDI IN/OUT, HDMI, S-Video, RGB (base option, backwards compatible to "MiST 1")
  • JAMMA connector to go inside a cabinet
  • Cartridge connector for the NES, or Atari, etc.

For the first one, if I'm not wrong we'd still have a few pins left (8 config + 30 joystick + 4 MIDI + 19 HDMI + 3 SVideo + 4 RGBS)


Add to that list
[*]Commodore/Atari 8 bit legacy IO connectors (IEC/SIO) to allow connecting legacy hardware like disk drives.
[*]Parallel/Serial ports (also would allow devices like parallel Amiga audio/video digitizers etc to be used )


(things to consider)
[*] IDE connector

{some of the connectors could share GPIO lines.. i.e. use the parallel port lines for the legacy IO connector would just depend on the core being used}

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Re: MIST user base

Postby Brt » Fri Oct 28, 2016 8:40 pm

Total Eclipse wrote:
farvardin wrote:
Brt wrote:
I didn't have to open anything, I have additional sticker with # on bottom of the unit (next to Mists nameplate).


I have a sticker saying it was made by Lotharek, but no serial #number with this.


Same here, no serial number on mine.


Sorry for late reply (was little busy @ work lately). After taking closer look at the sticker, it's indeed S/N sticker, but it's been placed there by the reseller (RetroAmi shop). I have no clue whether they mark all their sold hardware with the same sequence or it's just for the Mist.

Unfortunately I don't think we can rely on it :shrug:

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Re: MIST user base

Postby jotego » Sat Oct 29, 2016 8:05 am

If it has a nice expansion port, we can then have daughter boards to have as many specific connectors as we wish, without having to bloat the price of the base model.
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