DSP upgrade

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Ragstaff
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DSP upgrade

Postby Ragstaff » Fri Jun 03, 2016 4:11 pm

What do people think of the idea of a DSP upgrade for the Falcon? In terms of difficulty, expense, and benefit.
Aside from people overclocking their DSP's (up to 64mhz) it hasn't really had the same attention over the years as what the CPU has!

It seems the DSP 56k family didn't stop development until only a few years ago, still supported and manufactured, so there are some modern 56001-compatible chips unlike what we have with the 68k family. Eg the DSP 56724 - dual core, 250mhz (500 mips), US$6.21 in quantities of 1000.

Not much software uses the DSP, and we know it wouldn't make the machine any faster to use day-to-day, but it should be a pretty low effort upgrade too, shouldn't it? (I'm not a hardware guy, so I'm not sure). At $6.21 for the chip, a few dollars for a few MB of SRAM, and not needing a whole lot of logic to integrate with the rest of the Falcon chipset (I assume? the DSP is pretty stand-alone, aside from DMA access?) the board would be the most expensive part. It seems to me it would be the cheapest, easiest, and most "true to spirit" of the original Falcon to get 500 mips of power available for video decompression, or things like BadMood and Quake 2 if anyone like DML were interested in playing with it.

Failing an upgrade of the Falcon, it also seems like it would be a good add on for the CT60. At 500 mips, it would have a similar relationship with a 100mhz '060 to what the old 32mhz 56001 was to the 16mhz '030. (Currently, the '060 is so powerful it's not worth bothering with using the DSP, but a 500 MIPS DSP added to the CT60 might change that!)

Anyway, don't mean to annoy anyone, from reading hardware threads started by non-hardware people over the years I would stress that I DON'T expect anyone to make this, nor am I even convinced it's a good idea :p Just an idea I thought it would be interesting to see discussed!

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Re: DSP upgrade

Postby Greenious » Sat Jun 04, 2016 2:37 pm

Well, afaik the DSP is surface mounted in the F030, is not disabled as easily as the 030 and is integrated with sound DMA hardware. ie, I do not think it is practical to do a straight replacement.

I suspect that the only feasible way of doing it would be to add it as a completely stand alone peripheral IC, which otoh would make it suitable as a addon to all ST/STE/TT/F030's, but as a completely "new" device it certainly would need to have support from coders interested in using it.
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Re: DSP upgrade

Postby Ragstaff » Sat Jun 04, 2016 6:06 pm

Thanks for your response, that's answers exactly the kinds of things I was wondering.
I don't know anything about the hardware compared to you but I'm surprised it's that deeply embedded in the chipset, sound hardware etc because I thought when people overclocked it to 64mhz it would have impacts.

Anyway, in that case adding the new DSP as a memory-mapped peripheral would be kind of pointless I guess, because nothing, not even existing DSP code is going to be able to take advantage.... so everything would have to be custom written, and if you're doing that you may as well add a better chip (e.g. some new quad-core Arm CPU for mobile phones), or not even bother having an Atari involved at all.

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Re: DSP upgrade

Postby Greenious » Sat Jun 04, 2016 7:53 pm

While I wouldn't say the DSP is "deeply embedded", (technically the F030 works without it) there is enough connections involved to make it tricky enough, but nothing is impossible.

To say something definitive, someone needs to look closer into the matter, but spontaneosly I'd say that removing the existing surface mounted DSP is impractical, and something most people lack the skill to do, which makes the upgrade a lot more complicated and probably puts off more than a few who'd be interested otherwise. There might be ways around that though, I have a few ideas, but I suspect the end result would still require more than basic soldering skills, and be an upgrade not to many can handle. Compare that to a simple plugin board with a simple mapped peripheral DSP, which basically anyone could install themself.

But I like the idea though, user "requests" of this kind give inspiration.

While I am in no position to look into this now, if someone else doesn't start looking into it, I might look closer at it in the future.
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Re: DSP upgrade

Postby Ragstaff » Sun Jun 05, 2016 8:07 am

I think it's not worth it to people to risk their machines or go to a lot of effort just for this upgrade. It's not like a CPU upgrade which has a big reward at the end.
Could you just cut the power pin to the existing DSP and piggy back a PCB onto it? The 56724 is not pin compatible with the 56001 (for a start, 144 pins vs 132), so it will need a PCB regardless.

Another complexity is the SRAM. I believe that's on the Falcon motherboard, but a 250mhz chip would probably suffer from 16mhz ram! We probably want to disable that and have some ram on the PCB for the DSP.

Anyway, just crazy ideas. Thanks for replying, I know often these kinds of threads are annoying to hardware people so I'm glad you find it at least interesting!

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Re: DSP upgrade

Postby Cyprian » Sun Jun 05, 2016 9:18 am

DSP has its own 32 MHz oscillator. What about removing it and piggyback a new DSP onto the old one?
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Re: DSP upgrade

Postby Greenious » Sun Jun 05, 2016 2:18 pm

Ragstaff wrote:Could you just cut the power pin to the existing DSP and piggy back a PCB onto it? The 56724 is not pin compatible with the 56001 (for a start, 144 pins vs 132), so it will need a PCB regardless.

Another complexity is the SRAM. I believe that's on the Falcon motherboard, but a 250mhz chip would probably suffer from 16mhz ram! We probably want to disable that and have some ram on the PCB for the DSP.


Cutting the power is likely not a good idea, and piggybacking is likely a bigger disaster waiting than trying to remove the ship to begin with.

Not all pins need cutting, depending on the protocol used communicating, it could be as easy as just cutting chip select, and disconnecting it from the sound hardware, and the new DSP would be on it's own board with SRAM, and be hooked up to the internal expansionboard with the DSP specific connections reconnected to the new board. The DSP port might be better off being rebuilt though. Basically that's how I *think* it has to be done to be a reasonably easy install.

But if the end result is a viable upgrade for the majority remains to be seen.

I do have a broken F030 mobo that I have planned to use for testing out stuff like this. I think it is the DSP that is broken on it, so yes... we'll see in the future. I have other things that needs my attention first though.
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Re: DSP upgrade

Postby lp » Sun Jun 05, 2016 3:15 pm

There was this add-on DSP card. Good idea for those not wanting to mod their falcon, but it never was sold far as I know.
http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/oct01/a ... es1001.asp

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Re: DSP upgrade

Postby Greenious » Sun Jun 05, 2016 3:46 pm

Interesting. Well, that kinda makes the idea already partly realised atleast.
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Re: DSP upgrade

Postby ldv-01 » Sun Jun 05, 2016 3:49 pm

Some infos on the Deesse card: http://rodolphe.czuba.free.fr/Deesse/en ... elcome.htm


lp wrote:There was this add-on DSP card. Good idea for those not wanting to mod their falcon, but it never was sold far as I know.
http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/oct01/a ... es1001.asp

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Re: DSP upgrade

Postby calimero » Sun Jun 05, 2016 3:59 pm

I just want to say that best way for implementing new DSP in Falcon would be on CT63 but since Rodolphe already made Deesse as separate card maybe it is not so good idea to implement new DSP on CT63... (although even DSP 56724 have only 114Kwords of RAM and it need SDRAM for more...)
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Re: DSP upgrade

Postby penguin » Sun Jun 05, 2016 4:09 pm

I've met up with Oliver Kotschi back in the day when there were early plans to do a Coldfire based Atari. Oliver did music with his Falcon and joined the Atari Coldfire Project later. The card was never finished as far as I recall and never sold obviously.

There was also the StarTrack VME card which contained a higher clocked DSP.
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Re: DSP upgrade

Postby christos » Sun Jun 05, 2016 5:01 pm

I think the amiga people have a dsp card that plugs in the parallel port that they use for mp3 replay.


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