Call for question on a new Atari

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Re: Call for question on a new Atari

Postby Nikolas » Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:09 pm

Dos st emulators are good enugh?
If you guys expirience hardware problems.
1. Always remove chips if possible before soldering.
2. Resolder your hardware, check cables too.
3. If problem continue THEN must be faulty software.

I got 2 Atari ST
Main is stfm, with blitter, with 4 meg of ram, with 16mhz cpu + s-video and audio input to videobox, vdi out
P.S.
My english may not be correct

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Re: Call for question on a new Atari

Postby oehansen » Tue Apr 24, 2012 9:31 am

alexh wrote:And surely that is the main cost on other projects? The cost of the parts will run close to $100 not taking into account the NRE of making the boards or assembly! I think you'll struggle to have change from $2000 for the first one.


No, I'm counting between 3 and 4 hundred for the prototype. The biggest expense here, is the board itself ... time doing the layout, is on my own ... getting a board done, is somewhere around $280, that is for a single board. I think I saw a $160 offer somewhere, but locally it's around $280. Most of the components, I already have. The ColdFire I bought is a MCF5474. 410 MIPS.

On the 68k, the supervisor mode is only half done. There are many programs out there, that manipulated the "return address" on the stack, as well as the status register. So, obviously, this poses as a problem to some programs, not because it *really* is a problem, because if I recall correctly and I was looking up my bible "programmers reference manual (includes CPU32 instructions, wich happen to be just about the same instructions as 68k)", SR is 15bits, where the upper 7bits are reserved for Supervisor. The RTR instruction, was hardly useful as there wasn't any JSR equivalent. Just as the CALLM and RTM instructions are 68020 only. These are exceptions, not the rule. The $A000 never became a Co-processor instruction set, while the $F000 set did. The instructions do vary, and the ColdFire lacks the BCD instructions of the 68K.

If I could get my hands on a FireBee board, fast ... and at a reasonable price, or if I could get my hands on their designs. yes, I'd join the party. But as far as I can see, it's closed, until they're ready ... and that's pretty darn crummy. I want an open platform.

Current status, design phase. I have in my pocket, 2 ColdFire's, 1 BlackFin, all the small cirquits I need, a USB, a Ethernet. One hickup is SATA, probably through a FPGA. I'm thinking Cyclone II, small one. Not that I really know where I am going there. The SATA is a stopper at the moment. I haven't yet figured out how to solve that one, in a smooth manner.


Let me see the coldfire has built in PHY for two 10/100 ethernet. It has 1 USB 2.0. It has a PCI interface capability. It has a DDR capability. Just these parts, don't need anything except logic lines to their relative destination. There are UARTS there, that would require some translations, to interface with an USB.

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Re: Call for question on a new Atari

Postby joska » Tue Apr 24, 2012 9:50 am

oehansen wrote:The ColdFire I bought is a MCF5474. 410 MIPS.


There's no USB host on the 5474.

oehansen wrote:The $A000 never became a Co-processor instruction set, while the $F000 set did.


Both causes problems on the ColdFire.

oehansen wrote:The instructions do vary, and the ColdFire lacks the BCD instructions of the 68K.


...and a lot of addressing modes, and the dbra-instructions...

oehansen wrote:If I could get my hands on a FireBee board, fast ... and at a reasonable price, or if I could get my hands on their designs. yes, I'd join the party. But as far as I can see, it's closed, until they're ready ... and that's pretty darn crummy. I want an open platform.


1. You can buy a Firebee today.
2. Schematics, board layout and all sources are available at acp.atari.org and http://www.atariforge.org/gf/project/firebee/.

oehansen wrote:Let me see the coldfire has built in PHY for two 10/100 ethernet. It has 1 USB 2.0.


The 5474 is not a USB host, just a device. This is why the FireBee has a USB controller on the PCI bus.

oehansen wrote:It has a PCI interface capability. It has a DDR capability. Just these parts, don't need anything except logic lines to their relative destination. There are UARTS there, that would require some translations, to interface with an USB.


I'm not sure how your project differs from the Firebee except that you want to make it less compatible at the hardware level.
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Re: Call for question on a new Atari

Postby oehansen » Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:54 am

oehansen I think you're an actual real life crazy person.


Of course I am. Isn't that how "everyone" knows, that there are so many bad people in the world ... because we're the same? Isn't it because we see a little of ourselves, mirror in their image?

That's philosophy 101 for you ;-)

:cheers:

simonsunnyboy wrote:
On Marcer's Game DVD tehre is an older version of Mint and XAAES and teradesk which ran on a similar configuration under Hatari for me.
I bet it runs on real hardware aswell. It's not really usable and slow but it runs.



The emulators are "poor", to say the least. When they run, they run with bus-errors, address-errors, all over the place.

1. You can buy a Firebee today.
2. Schematics, board layout and all sources are available at acp.atari.org and http://www.atariforge.org/gf/project/firebee/.


That's not what it says on the website, and I've been on the site, even registered and I see no documents. The doc is empty, File is empty ... there is nothing there.

The 5474 is not a USB host, just a device. This is why the FireBee has a USB controller on the PCI bus.


That means MSD are out of the question, and that it can't power devices of the USB. I understand the choice of an USB controller.

I'm not sure how your project differs from the Firebee except that you want to make it less compatible at the hardware level.


You are probably right, I'll look at the schematics and see how mine differs.

One of the reasons I want "less" hardware compatibility, is because I want a "clean" TOS rewrite.

...and a lot of addressing modes, and the dbra-instructions...


Now, that's a bummer for sure. Personally, I never used the DBRx instructions, but addressing modes? Are some of the 68k addressing modes missing? they shouldn't be on a CPU32.

But we still have the ability to single step instructions in user space, when compatibility is desired. Makes it more complicated, for sure, but not impossible.

As far as I know, the FireBee uses a 53xx ColdFire? The 300 MIPS version? What FPGA does it use? Is the FPGA on-board programmable?

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Re: Call for question on a new Atari

Postby oehansen » Tue Apr 24, 2012 11:26 am

Ok, I didn't get the entire schematics of the FireBee, but enough to see the basics.

Where we differ is basically located in FireBee's use of it's FPGA. You are correct in saying, that I want "less" compatibility in that I want to dump the ACSI/SCSI port, the parallel port and the serial ports. The only ports I wanna have, are USB, SATA. And graphics, my most sincere desire is to have a slave cpu, handle the graphics. Just have it dedicate itself to the handling of "Line-A" and AES, basically. The rest, I think is basically the same idea, except that I want an on-programmable FPGA, for future use. If a user, "wants" to have some of the compatibility ... the user can chieve that through an on-board FPGA, if that is desired. But "leave" that part to the user, who can chose to use the board as a "development" platform, or experimental platform. And I would prefer to use a PIC32 instead of a PIC18, in-board flashable. On-board boot rom, flashable. What does the firebee have, in case the flashing goes wrong?

And basically, that is it. But I think the last part, is pretty important.

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Re: Call for question on a new Atari

Postby joska » Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:22 pm

oehansen wrote:
1. You can buy a Firebee today.
2. Schematics, board layout and all sources are available at acp.atari.org and http://www.atariforge.org/gf/project/firebee/.


That's not what it says on the website, and I've been on the site, even registered and I see no documents. The doc is empty, File is empty ... there is nothing there.


From acp.atari.org:

"2009-08-06 Schema & Co.
Today we got the assembly diagram and the schema for you. Below you can download our 5th revision as sent to the factory for the prototype production.

assembly diagram
schema"

But I agree, finding stuff on that page is not very easy.

oehansen wrote:One of the reasons I want "less" hardware compatibility, is because I want a "clean" TOS rewrite.


You want to rewrite TOS from scratch? Why?

oehansen wrote:
...and a lot of addressing modes, and the dbra-instructions...


Now, that's a bummer for sure. Personally, I never used the DBRx instructions, but addressing modes? Are some of the 68k addressing modes missing? they shouldn't be on a CPU32.


Yes, there's a lot of missing addressing modes. But these generate "illegal instruction" exceptions and can be catched and thus emulated. But some instructions behaves differently and can't be catched at runtime.

oehansen wrote:As far as I know, the FireBee uses a 53xx ColdFire? The 300 MIPS version? What FPGA does it use? Is the FPGA on-board programmable?


It use a 5474 at 266MHz. The FPGA is a Cyclone III and is fully programmable by software.
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Re: Call for question on a new Atari

Postby joska » Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:35 pm

oehansen wrote:Where we differ is basically located in FireBee's use of it's FPGA. You are correct in saying, that I want "less" compatibility in that I want to dump the ACSI/SCSI port, the parallel port and the serial ports. The only ports I wanna have, are USB, SATA.


All these ports are driven by the FPGA. If you want you can use the connectors for completely different things - or not at all. That's one of the nice things with a FPGA :)

But dumping these ports (except the IKBD-port - I can't imagine using an "Atari" without a real keyboard) would probably make the board a bit simpler and a little bit cheaper.

oehansen wrote: And graphics, my most sincere desire is to have a slave cpu, handle the graphics. Just have it dedicate itself to the handling of "Line-A" and AES, basically.


1. This "CPU" can be implemented in the FPGA, and this is one of the goals with the FireBee Videl.
2. Forget about LineA, it has been obsolete since TOS 1.06.
3. Handling the AES in the graphics card doesn't make sense. However, many of the VDI primitives can be handed over to the graphics card to render. This is how it's done with all graphics card solutions (like the Radeon on the Firebee).

oehansen wrote: The rest, I think is basically the same idea, except that I want an on-programmable FPGA, for future use.


The FPGA on the FireBee is fully programmable. You can even flash the FPGA code with a GEM-program.

oehansen wrote:What does the firebee have, in case the flashing goes wrong?


If flashing goes wrong and you can't boot the FireBee it must be reflashed with an external tool.
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Re: Call for question on a new Atari

Postby bid » Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:50 pm

I think that if you could make something that is very inexpensive, then there would be a market.

Many people cant afford the firebee.

The firebee is not perfect. And certainly, so long as its compatible with other developments, then competition is always good. And competition breeds innovation.

Use of the CTPCI type PCI cards would be an excellent start. And also, good compatibility.

I reckon, that there is probably a way to make a cheaper computer than firebee. Its main drawback seems to be cost.

Now if there was a way, to make the actual hardware, say based on a mass produced PCB (like a run of the mill development board) then the costs are very low

I am not advocating Rasberry Pii, and there are others as well. Heres a dev kit for £80 http://comsol.secured-area.co.uk/acatal ... Tools.html and I'll bet there are cheaper.

Now take one of these, and the only "custom bit" that you are going to make, is a daughter board with just connectors on it. Maybe 2x PCI, 2x USB, any standard Atari connectors if you wanted. So the new computer is not expensive.

Benefit from the mass produced development board prices. And then add a daughter board, and you have a brand new, powerful Atari that will last years, and for less than £100. I cant see why it does not have to be compatible with the firebee if need be.

Making a case is easy. You can buy suitable cases from Maplin or RS Components. ... Or maybe I'll design a laser cut one (when I finally get some free time, lol).

But the winner I think would be a Coldfire Atari for less than £100 ... :D
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Re: Call for question on a new Atari

Postby joska » Tue Apr 24, 2012 8:08 pm

bid wrote:But the winner I think would be a Coldfire Atari for less than £100 ... :D


You can drop the FPGA and build a ColdFire-based computer with PCI graphics, AC97 sound, ethernet and USB for about twice of that I think. Maybe a bit less. But not even the CPU will be compatible with the classic Ataris. So what's the point?
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Re: Call for question on a new Atari

Postby nativ » Tue Apr 24, 2012 8:29 pm

I think the firebee and suska fulfill the complete device criteria leaving a door open for an upgrade board arduino/ raspberry pi based, both of which are cheap and well supported for projects.

although there is one other possibility !!!!!!!!

The STAG! an ST with a JAG! modification! wire the Jag in like a PAK board or similar and bobs your uncle! 8)
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Re: Call for question on a new Atari

Postby bid » Tue Apr 24, 2012 8:36 pm

joska wrote:You can drop the FPGA and build a ColdFire-based computer with PCI graphics, AC97 sound, ethernet and USB for about twice of that I think. Maybe a bit less. But not even the CPU will be compatible with the classic Ataris. So what's the point?


My understanding is that Firebee is based on coldfire?

Frankly I dont care what its made with. But is it possible to make a powerful Atari type computer for less than the FireBee's 599 Euro price tag?

Thats why I am suggesting a standard Dev Board (which are made in 1000's and often sub £100), with maybe a cheap and simple plug-on daughterboard. The daughterboard just has the bits required, that aren't on the Dev Board. Whack a box on, and there you go.

What would you suggest Joska? What do you think of Firebee. And do you have an alternative way to go?
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Re: Call for question on a new Atari

Postby joska » Tue Apr 24, 2012 8:46 pm

To be honest I believe that the ColdFire is a dead end. It doesn't seem to have a future, Freescale focuses on the ARM architecture. I think that the next generation "Atari" will either have a completely different CPU (ARM maybe, like the RaspberryPi), or be based around a much faster FPGA with a fast 060 implemented in the FPGA together with all the custom chips. Both will be cheaper and faster than the current FireBee.

That said, I own and use a FireBee which I'm very pleased with. Ok, it's expensive, but I think you get a lot for your money.
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Re: Call for question on a new Atari

Postby bid » Tue Apr 24, 2012 9:24 pm

joska wrote:To be honest I believe that the ColdFire is a dead end. It doesn't seem to have a future, Freescale focuses on the ARM architecture. I think that the next generation "Atari" will either have a completely different CPU (ARM maybe, like the RaspberryPi), or be based around a much faster FPGA with a fast 060 implemented in the FPGA together with all the custom chips. Both will be cheaper and faster than the current FireBee.


Interesting. So the ColdFire is expensive. Although I am sure that its great. At somepoint, then a FPGA could basically act like 'any' chip of course. The FPGA is an amazing technology. Alternatively hook into something else, in the future that is cheap, ubiquitous, and made in large numbers. There are many attractive and well designed microcontrollers, and the ARM is no exeption. Atari used the microcontrollers that were available. And so long as its Gem and TOS based, with Mint capability who cares?!

I think that the Firebee is a wonderful thing. I dont have one, and certainly it takes some saving up for. lol. But its an amazing achievement, and seems to be very well executed.

I do believe that the recent and ongoing development of FPGA and other technologies, mean that we can virtually (or totally) create the entire computer on a chip, and still have bags to spare. Plus the cost of such items gets lower and lower. So the idea of designing and making something Atari-like but with the power of the FireBee is looking like it could be done... using an alternative to Coldfire ... theoretically, if someone wished to do this technical challenge. Certainly there are several routes or options to do this.

I can see the reasons for the choice of Coldfire, and its certainly of the 68000 family. ... However, I feel certain, that a more, or should I say less "faithful" hardware design, using FPGA or ARM could be made for a fraction of the cost.

joska wrote:That said, I own and use a FireBee which I'm very pleased with. Ok, it's expensive, but I think you get a lot for your money.


Agreed. I am sure that it is very good value for money for what you get. ... Of course, we would have paid more than this for a Mega STe or a TT back in the day. And its low volume, well made, and a great solution. I'd imagine it compiles pretty quick too, and makes for a highly enjoyable software programming environment.

I should think that if I was interested in programming and exploring the limits, and future development path of Gem, the AES and Mint, then this would be a fantastic way to explore the potential of the machines. Its fascinating to see a computer, that is hand built and software that is developed not in the bloaty modern way. I suspect that such a machine would be great for other things too maybe. Especially if it were possible to use this for MIDI and music production, in a very pure way.

I expect, with the continuing interest in this fascinating and alternative hardware, that there may be such a machine created. And Firebee is certainly going to encourage further research, use and development of interesting avenues, both in software, and maybe hardware. The CT60's only flaw really is the availability of the 68060, and maybe Coldfire might be superceeded, and in this case, no doubt enthusiastic and innovative minds might find themselves thinking "what if". :D ... No hurry tho.

FireBee is a very important, interesting, exciting and useful product. And I would imagine it will give decades of useful service. After all, 8Mhz on an ST was pretty fun for over 10 years.
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Re: Call for question on a new Atari

Postby wongck » Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:30 pm

bid wrote:Thats why I am suggesting a standard Dev Board (which are made in 1000's and often sub £100), with maybe a cheap and simple plug-on daughterboard. The daughterboard just has the bits required, that aren't on the Dev Board. Whack a box on, and there you go.


If I am not mistaken, the standard Coldfire dev board path was suggested by Didier once upon a time.
Not sure why it did not take off.... not enough takers or it was not too technically possible ?
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Re: Call for question on a new Atari

Postby bid » Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:09 am

wongck wrote:If I am not mistaken, the standard Coldfire dev board path was suggested by Didier once upon a time.
Not sure why it did not take off.... not enough takers or it was not too technically possible ?


Seems to me, that maybe the FireBee developers are 'purists'.

i.e. It has to be one one complete new board, with a 68k family chip (aka coldfire), and true to Atari mentality.

However, I think Didier may have been onto something. A quick and dirty cobble of dev board and then a custom (and virtually componentless) daughter-board would be lower cost, as the dev boards are made in quantity. Technically, I am sure it would be easier. So I am guessing that the decision was made for other reasons. Maybe the PCI form factor? Who knows?

I'll bet they started with a dev board, and I just wonder if it could all be ported onto something cheaper sometime?
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Re: Call for question on a new Atari

Postby Zogging Hell » Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:28 am

I think the Firebee is one if not *the* most powerful Coldfire machine in the world (probably), and it seems to have to step down to around CT60 levels of performance at the mo when executing legacy code as far as I can tell. I can't imagine any of the lesser boards would be much cop at running our favourite apps at much more than TT/ Milan rates, once they've had to emulate the missing instructions.
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Re: Call for question on a new Atari

Postby joska » Wed Apr 25, 2012 6:12 am

bid wrote:Seems to me, that maybe the FireBee developers are 'purists'.


No, there's too many compromises in the Firebee for that ;)

bid wrote:i.e. It has to be one one complete new board, with a 68k family chip (aka coldfire), and true to Atari mentality.


The goal was/is to make a computer with hardware that's as compatible with the Falcon as possible.

bid wrote:However, I think Didier may have been onto something. A quick and dirty cobble of dev board and then a custom (and virtually componentless) daughter-board would be lower cost, as the dev boards are made in quantity. Technically, I am sure it would be easier. So I am guessing that the decision was made for other reasons. Maybe the PCI form factor? Who knows?


Easy - the dev-boards were...

a) not powerful enough.
b) did not meet the requirements for the goal of the ACP project.

Didier's excellent work with FireTOS on ColdFire started on a ColdFire evaluation board years ago. If you want, you can get one of those and run FireTOS (and MiNT) on it.

bid wrote:I'll bet they started with a dev board, and I just wonder if it could all be ported onto something cheaper sometime?


Sure, it would be cheaper but it wouldn't have any Atari hardware - which was one of the key point in building the ACP in the first place - and it would be less powerful.
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Re: Call for question on a new Atari

Postby joska » Wed Apr 25, 2012 6:18 am

Zogging Hell wrote:I think the Firebee is one if not *the* most powerful Coldfire machine in the world (probably), and it seems to have to step down to around CT60 levels of performance at the mo when executing legacy code as far as I can tell.


CPU-wise it's quite a bit faster than even a 100MHz 060 when running 68k software. If you optimise the code for a 060 it might be about equal (but then you could also optimise the code for the V4E and run it at twice the speed).

Zogging Hell wrote:I can't imagine any of the lesser boards would be much cop at running our favourite apps at much more than TT/ Milan rates, once they've had to emulate the missing instructions.


I think you're quite right. The evaluation boards (atleast the ones that were around when the ACP project really got going, I don't know about current boards) were already quite expensive and significantly less powerful than the FireBee. I think the decision to make the FireBee was a good one :)
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Re: Call for question on a new Atari

Postby joska » Wed Apr 25, 2012 6:28 am

bid wrote:I can see the reasons for the choice of Coldfire, and its certainly of the 68000 family. ... However, I feel certain, that a more, or should I say less "faithful" hardware design, using FPGA or ARM could be made for a fraction of the cost.


If made in large enough numbers - yes. The Milan was an attempt at this. It's basically an AT computer with a 040 or 060 CPU. The result was the cheapest Atari clone ever (before the Firebee that is), and a quite powerful one too. But it only runs clean GEM applications, and it never caught on.

Right now most activity in the Atari community happens in the demo-scene and in the OS. As this platform is turning more and more retro you need a certain level of Atari legacy hardware to make a new computer interesting. If you want to go the "Milan route" you can simply port TOS to the RaspberryPi and have an incredibly cheap and powerful "Atari".

bid wrote:I'd imagine it compiles pretty quick too, and makes for a highly enjoyable software programming environment.


That's what I'm using it for. I'm using AHCC and compilation is instant :)
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Re: Call for question on a new Atari

Postby oehansen » Wed Apr 25, 2012 8:03 am

joska wrote:
oehansen wrote:
The FPGA on the FireBee is fully programmable. You can even flash the FPGA code with a GEM-program.



To be perfectly honest, I love the FireBee. It's basically an idea we share in common, except for two very basic and very important parts.

*) Graphics
*) Price

The pricetag of the FireBee, is actually the price tag of a computer I'd build myself. It's about the same price tag. And again, as with Atari Falcon and Jaguar, the price tag being so high is killing it.

You have to bring it down, it's a *must* There is a huge user base out there, that wants a computer like the Atari. Not because they want an Atari, but because they want a computer that can be easily played with, and used to develope and experiment with. There are huge areas, that can be improved.

Like you said, who doesn't want a "real" keyboard, an intelligent one. But the midi ports, serial port, parallel port, asci port and the rom port, as well as mouse and joystick port. That's not really a viable option to take, because when we had our Atari the first time, our first choice was to try and rig the Atari to get rid of that crummy mouse. No pun intended, but what is the point at having that port on a new version of Atari, in 2012? Nobody uses a SCSI today, unless they have a server rack. Otherwise it's SATA. I've looked into a SATA controller IC, and it's possible to build one like that. Not too expensive, but is it really needed? With an USB 2.0, an external Hard Disk is actually quite a viable option. You have the SIL3114, which can be connected to a 33/66 PCI and gives access to 1.5Gb SATA.

So, you have your PC, your USB Host controller, and your PIC (my choice is PIC32). What, the ColdFire has 4-5 BRQ/BG lines, right ... so you can have at least 2-3 free ones. Now, we all want a FPGA, that's one of the beautiful parts about it, and I agree there. A cyclone II, would be my choice ... but Cyclone III is even better, but also more expensive. It's probably needed, for the intensive emulation of hardware.

The setup above is not expensive. If one can get the mainboard pricetag down.

Then, there is graphics.

I think we basically agree on graphics, where to take it ... although I am a little bit more extreme than you. That is because I am daily working with my little Linux, and already live with the "split" of Window Manager, and OS, in the same manner the Atari used originally. I want to build on that, utilize that to the farthest possible extent. I want to "send the window manager" a resource set, and it takes care of the rest. I don't want to bother with buttons, shadows, frames and the like. I remember the good old SGI and X-Windows working over the network. The two were exchanging "bitmap graphics", over slow lines. Because the software was telling the window manager, how the buttons should be displayed, and the color of the shadow. In the Atari world, we're used to build a Resource Set, and GEM/AES take care of the looks. Want to do bitmap graphics, you can ... through specific calls, but it isn't necessary.

I want to build on this ... use it further. Because I don't want the graphics to be the bottleneck of my computer. I hate bottlenecks, and I really was frustrated with my Linux when it went to sleep at 3 o'clock in the morning, for over half an hour, doing some cron jobs. I hate it, when the graphics freeze and I have to restart my computer. Give the Window Manager a resource file, maybe even a plain stylesheet .css :angel: If I want a circle, I tell it the coordinates ... and the drawing of it, is not going to take time of my hands.

When the Falcon came, everyone jumped to the fact that there was a Digital Signal Processor on it. You could have it do a lot of stuff, instead of having your program do it ... you could simplify it, by having a "slave" cpu do it.

This has always been the heart behind the Atari world, and my point with the Line-A code, was simply to put forth the notion. That it wasn't just the user base who had this idea, it was there from the start.

And I miss my old Commodore 64, and my old Commodore Pet, as well as my old Atari. Not because I'm Nostalgic, but because it was so easy to do what you wanted to do. The Commodore 64, you had a basic interpreter where you could do anything you wanted to. On the Atari you got STOS, which basically gave you a similar environment, just more enhanced. The basic idea here, was that doing what you wanted, was quick and easy.

Now, I'm playing with PIC32 ... it's not that quick and easy, but it's a hell of a lot of fun. And you have a huge user base around the world, that loves this stuff. They love playing with the hardware, except the PC doesn't allow you to play with it's Hardware.

And that's just it ... you have a market. I got myself a PIC32, and a Network Shield and been playing around with it for some time. The network is full of such people, and they all want to play with sensors, gates, logic gates. They're building sensors, relays, motors and robotics. It's the same user base, that was using the Commodore 64, and the PIC, ARM and other platforms combined with a PC is not fully living up this user bases "desires". You have to compile, flash, compile and flash, compile and flash. And then talk to the external component through USB, through an RS232 port.

This is just a rant, to tell you that there is a user base out there. There does exist a market.

There is just one ackilees heel. And that is the graphics. If the graphics is done with my systems CPU, that system is always going to be "slower than I want it to be". But if it's separate, it's always upgradable and the ackilees heel effect, minimized.

Price, and graphics.

The second can be discussed, as to be honest the use of FPGA to solve it is ok. But the first, must be cut in half.



This is my dream ... I wanna split the work, between different parts.

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Re: Call for question on a new Atari

Postby oehansen » Wed Apr 25, 2012 8:59 am

bid wrote:
i.e. It has to be one one complete new board, with a 68k family chip (aka coldfire), and true to Atari mentality.



There is a certain "envrionment" that you work in. This "environment" has some basic rules. When it came to the 650x, 680x and 68k platforms, the instruction set made it very easy to make a fast program, with few instructions. The Mac and Atari, were running graphc user environments, while the PC was stuck with character based ones. There was a GEM and Windows available for intel platforms, but they were slow to the extreme. Even OS/2 was slow as hell, although workable.

Today, you are correct in your assumption wether "that" is important anymore. As the MiNT code is not written in this spirit, it is written in the intel spirit of not giving a damn how big the code is. To someone like me, that borders on heresy :cheers: and although there is a lot of memory in computers today, it still matters. Most compilers, don't look at the assembly code they produce.

An ARM based Atari, would be a "LoseThos". The idea behind "LoseThos" is sound and valid, to an extend. The Commodore was nice, for it's basic shell which provided a much better environment than any "csh","sh" or other on a Unix platform. Those c-shells provide a unix batch job environment.

If ANY environment is old, and crummy ... it's the Unix/Linux environment. That's even older than the Atari, and it was like working with a mainframe in the 90's ... where the OS was still using "punchcards" as its basic layer.

The heart of MiNT, is Linux. In turn, Linux is just Xenix. Yeah, I know they say Linux Torwalds wrote it all by himself, and I'm not going into the discussion where Microsoft gave open it's Xenix port. Which found its way to Universities, etc ... that's an old story. And my point is, Linux is OOOOLLLLD, partly older than dirt. It's like pants, that have been patched way too often. That OS, as well as Windows, is nothing but endless patches ... security patch, this patch, that patch, new release, not a really new release.

I think the TOS *should* be run on a ColdFire or 68k "like" cpu. At least, for now, as some of the legacy code is still in "assembly". But, for the future? Why not clean up the code, so it is not dependant on the CPU platform?

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Re: Call for question on a new Atari

Postby wongck » Wed Apr 25, 2012 11:38 am

don't forget wireless and 4G as well
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Shared SCSI Bus:ScsiLink ethernet, 9GB HDD,SD-reader @ http://phsw.atari.org
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Re: Call for question on a new Atari

Postby oehansen » Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:09 pm

wongck wrote:don't forget wireless and 4G as well


Why build so much into the system, when you can have a hell of a lot more fun adding it through a PMOD ?

Just provide the standard interfaces, like PMOD, I2C, SDL ports. Now you can have a lot of fun, enjoying modding your computer. That is the entire idea ...

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Re: Call for question on a new Atari

Postby bid » Wed Apr 25, 2012 1:20 pm

joska wrote:No, there's too many compromises in the Firebee for that ;) ... The goal was/is to make a computer with hardware that's as compatible with the Falcon as possible.


Joska. Your explanation of the aims of the FireBee are highly illuminating.
Clearly the Firebee has a design purpose that it fulfills. And massive learning and programming potential.
... lol. I keep forgetting about the Falcon. ... I never had one.
You know, I wish Atari had put the TT Shifter into the STe specification in 1990, even though it was flawed. The Falcon video modes was its greatest strength, although the DMA was also unusual and interesting. I think that the video mode finally being solved, was quite significant. So does FireBee implement the VIDEL

You know, I'd really like to know the story about the VIDEL. Background, how Atari came to it. How good it was etc. ... Im guessing that VIDEL can be made in FPGA and there have been various attempts http://hardware.atari.org/vhdl/vhdl.htm . So how does FireBee implement it at hardware level?

joska wrote:Easy - the dev-boards were...
a) not powerful enough.
b) did not meet the requirements for the goal of the ACP project.

Didier's excellent work with FireTOS on ColdFire started on a ColdFire evaluation board years ago. If you want, you can get one of those and run FireTOS (and MiNT) on it.


Wowser. Lol. So making something at Dev Board price is possible. And minus some elements, anyone with a bit of nouce could run it on the dev board. By "powerful enough", do you mean that the Coldfire on the dev board is entry level, or do you mean that extra things have been added to optimise for FireBee?

I should really read what the "goal of the FireBee project" was. Although, I still dont understand why a Dev Board, with a custom "Shield" or daughterboard, could not be used to implement the various ports and expansions. Guess there was some things needed on the FPGA, and putting this onto a daughterboard would not be a great idea for signaling etc?

joska wrote:
bid wrote:I'll bet they started with a dev board, and I just wonder if it could all be ported onto something cheaper sometime?

Sure, it would be cheaper but it wouldn't have any Atari hardware - which was one of the key point in building the ACP in the first place - and it would be less powerful.


By Atari hardware, we are meaning the Falcon custom chips etc? These are Im guessing done in the Cyclone III FPGA. Why did people not go the whole hog, and use Cyclone for the 68k implementation?

joska wrote: The Milan was an attempt at this. It's basically an AT computer with a 040 or 060 CPU. The result was the cheapest Atari clone ever (before the Firebee that is), and a quite powerful one too. But it only runs clean GEM applications, and it never caught on.


Interesting. I did not know that about the Milan. Certainly a great idea to cut cost though, and try to access standard PC I/O devices and cards! ... I'd guess that it was quite TT like, in its simplicity. But yeah, the Falcon does have some nice bits :wink: (If a but constricted on Mhz etc)

joska wrote: Right now most activity in the Atari community happens in the demo-scene and in the OS. As this platform is turning more and more retro you need a certain level of Atari legacy hardware to make a new computer interesting. If you want to go the "Milan route" you can simply port TOS to the RaspberryPi and have an incredibly cheap and powerful "Atari".


Key words here [url]RETRO[/url]: So people want to run the OLD legacy demos and games. As well as develop the OS to its "ultimate conclusion"?

Taking the Pii, which is about £35, you could add a shield like this, maybe a cheap and easy one that just has ports implemented (for ST/TT/MSTE keyboard, ASCI, MIDI etc etc) and make a stackable hack. lol. Maybe sub £100 easily. But, the Pii having no FPGA would not be able to do a more "hardware faithful" implementation of the custom hardware for Falcon. So, you could make a machine that at Gem level would be fine, but not so great for demos, unless significant emulation of hardware was made in software mode. Which is really going to complicate things. Effectively making the Pii an emulator, and not a real computer? Of, alternatively if just using CPU alone, a 'Milan-like' number cruncher, with no DMA, or other hardware 'tasty bits' :lol: .... (Sorry, I cant enunciate, lol. I am a mechanical engineer! Ha ha )

oehansen wrote:To be perfectly honest, I love the FireBee. It's basically an idea we share in common, except for two very basic and very important parts.
*) Graphics
*) Price
You have to bring it down, it's a *must* There is a huge user base out there, that wants a computer like the Atari. Not because they want an Atari, but because they want a computer that can be easily played with, and used to develope and experiment with. There are huge areas, that can be improved.


FireBee certainly seems to be the software programmers dream, lol. But I agree, I think that there is probably a dirty and cheap solution for "Power without the Price". lol

I guess it would have to take a pure FPGA dev board route? Slap on a board with the relevant comms ports on a cheap expansion shield, and you have a quick(?) and dirty FPGA based thing, with some ability to run Mint etc, and if it was done nicely, then maybe more? :lol:

oehansen wrote:Like you said, who doesn't want a "real" keyboard, an intelligent one. But the midi ports, serial port, parallel port, asci port and the rom port, as well as mouse and joystick port. ... Nobody uses a SCSI today, unless they have a server rack. Otherwise it's SATA. I've looked into a SATA controller IC, and it's possible to build one like that. Not too expensive, but is it really needed? With an USB 2.0, an external Hard Disk is actually quite a viable option. You have the SIL3114, which can be connected to a 33/66 PCI and gives access to 1.5Gb SATA.


Plenty of keyboards about 2nd hand. MIDI ... yes please!!!! Yeah, MIDI would be great. A cheap modern MIDI capable device that runs Cubase etc. Whats wrong with that? The standard MIDI connectors are cheap and easy to source. Just solder on as required. Personally, I'd keep the ports that are easy to implement, and add any that would be fun. Keeping in mind, that retro software can run from any storage device. Win32 based USB would be great tho on a USB stick. ... But keep the MIDI!

oehansen wrote:So, you have your PC, your USB Host controller, and your PIC (my choice is PIC32). What, the ColdFire has 4-5 BRQ/BG lines, right ... so you can have at least 2-3 free ones. Now, we all want a FPGA, that's one of the beautiful parts about it, and I agree there. A cyclone II, would be my choice ... but Cyclone III is even better, but also more expensive. It's probably needed, for the intensive emulation of hardware.


PIC32 http://www.microchip.com/stellent/idcpl ... odeId=2607 . Plus FPGA. So this is a custom type rig. Whats the price going to be like?

oehansen wrote:Then, there is graphics. ... There is just one ackilees heel. And that is the graphics.


Gah! :mrgreen:

oehansen wrote:There was a GEM and Windows available for intel platforms, but they were slow to the extreme. Even OS/2 was slow as hell, although workable.


Yep. Intel, is by all accounts a dog. lol!

You know. It always amazed be, especially later when I learned more; How the Atari implemented things. CPM, TOS, AES, GEM... beautiful.

When I used Magic, it became clear to me, that AES could be replaced. ... The old full screen CPM like TOS progams, using text, could then go into a window, and that amazed me. Old TOS text based programs in a terminal shell, like extractors, raytrace rendereres and the like... With pre-emptive multitasking. ... You had TOS, TTP, Gem Apps etc etc. In the old atari, there were several options for applications. ... So I cant see why we cant add more. lol. ... Yes I would run a linux command shell, or windowed applications that were based on DOS, CPM, Linux, ARM or Java in a Gem Window shell, lol. Imagine that. :lol:

You know, on my Nokia phone. I had a port of Rick Dangerous, it was in JAVA. But it was actually based on the ST version ported to Java. There are lots of small JAVA games for mobile devices.

Now, if I had in my Gem options, Java takes parameters. lol. Have em all! ... Lol. Why does Atari have to be CPM, or Linux. After all Gem was supposed to be OS independent!

Image

Lol. :lol: I'm just having a bit of fun here.

oehansen wrote:An ARM based Atari, would be a "LoseThos". If ANY environment is old, and crummy ... it's the Unix/Linux environment. That's even older than the Atari, and it was like working with a mainframe in the 90's ... where the OS was still using "punchcards" as its basic layer.


Gotta read about that. But radical lol. ... LoseThos. I agree that Linux is not my cup-of-tea. Its almost as bloaty and patch as WinNT. But LoseThos?!

Try incorporating modern embedded and other cool, well developed OS into Gem. Like JAVA for example, based on ARM cpu.

Linux is OOOOLLLLD, partly older than dirt. It's like pants, that have been patched way too often.


Looooooooooooooool! :lol:

I think the TOS *should* be run on a ColdFire or 68k "like" cpu. At least, for now, as some of the legacy code is still in "assembly". But, for the future? Why not clean up the code, so it is not dependant on the CPU platform?


You know. Im liking the idea, of an alternative.

Everyone likes things like Pii, ARM, Amtel AVR, MC32 etc etc.

THe new embedded systems are the future. They are so easy, that even I have written simple stuff on the MicroChip, and Amtel using high level interpreters. Everyone is doing it and getting in on the action.

Now lets reverse the problem.... None of these great new IC's with all-in-one-everything-on-a-chip have a suitable or fun OS. Linux is bulky, no one likes MS at all. And I'm thinking if ever there was a need for a neat, compartmentalised, and easy to program within OS, it was for embedded.

And God, if there was a way to program from the embedded OS, to make useful things, then that my friend would be very cool. 8)

I dont think Atari were loyal to Motorolla, it was just a chip at the right price. It lacked suitability for multitasking. But they designed the OS as a holy trinity. The Father (GEM), the Son (CPM/TOS), and the Holy Spirit (AES).

Now dare we question that CPM has had its day (Gary Kildall forgive me!) :twisted:
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Re: Call for question on a new Atari

Postby Zogging Hell » Wed Apr 25, 2012 1:56 pm

bid wrote:Interesting. I did not know that about the Milan. Certainly a great idea to cut cost though, and try to access standard PC I/O devices and cards! ... I'd guess that it was quite TT like, in its simplicity. But yeah, the Falcon does have some nice bits :wink: (If a but constricted on Mhz etc)


The Milan, like the Hades, was basically a TT clone. I enjoyed the Milan a lot when it came out, mainly because of the nice high res graphics and a impressive version of Magic, which mad my PC of the time, a 500mhz Cyrix clone look a complete dog, even if it was vastly more powerful.

bid wrote:You know. It always amazed be, especially later when I learned more; How the Atari implemented things. CPM, TOS, AES, GEM... beautiful.

When I used Magic, it became clear to me, that AES could be replaced. ... The old full screen CPM like TOS progams, using text, could then go into a window, and that amazed me. Old TOS text based programs in a terminal shell, like extractors, raytrace rendereres and the like... With pre-emptive multitasking. ... You had TOS, TTP, Gem Apps etc etc. In the old atari, there were several options for applications. ... So I cant see why we cant add more. lol. ... Yes I would run a linux command shell, or windowed applications that were based on DOS, CPM, Linux, ARM or Java in a Gem Window shell, lol. Imagine that. :lol:


I think Atari's implementation of GEM was kind of forced into that style by the original DR GEM, which being PC based would have had to have had the separate parts so it could cope with the different hardware (not to mention it being a bit of a 'kludge'. Atari's version had to take the original program on board and also adapt it for the STs hardware, all in a very short space of time.

bid wrote:I dont think Atari were loyal to Motorolla, it was just a chip at the right price. It lacked suitability for multitasking. But they designed the OS as a holy trinity. The Father (GEM), the Son (CPM/TOS), and the Holy Spirit (AES).


Atari most definitely were not 68k loyal to the death (they could smell which way the wind was blowing), although the Falcon 040 was slated there were also plenty of stories around at the time about 8086 compatible chips (and Jaguar chipset as well). I suspect, if they had survived, that Atari would have either followed Apple and Amiga down the Power PC route, or even (heaven forbid) shifted to Intel. The reason I kind of support some development of GEM on the ARM platform (NVDIA new SOCs look like they may end up being some really nice packages) is that I think if they were still going, this would have been the processor that Atari would have used in a new machine, power without the price etc :) . Not to mention that Coldfire looks a bit of dead end as Freescale has a somewhat limited roadmap for the platform now, and has pretty much switched focus to ARM chips.
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