Backward software compatability

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Backward software compatability

Postby TTowner » Sat Sep 24, 2011 12:25 am

I have an interest of, "just how backward compatable is the Firebee"?

Is there a list of apps that work un hindered & unmodified?

What issues will there be with all my collection not working?

I am looking into coding a few little apps for a project, having a fast cpu to do it on would shortern the compile times.
Will the Coldfire fully support languages like C, Gfa & Fast Basic to there full capacity?
How about Assembly code, or Devpack?

Is it going to be possible that new apps or indeed older ones will be compatable to such an extent that I can just install them & they will behave as presumeably expected & intended? Or at best not just run at the stated 200+ mhz. Or will they perform badly and run slower than a standard TT?
If that is the case, I'd rather put my money into motorola and petition them to make a 200mhz 68060 cpu/ fpu ..

All the answers to these questions and more questions that will come. Will be carefully considered in my purchase decision making process.

Whilst it is fantastic to know that the Firebee is a capable NEW machine, one that as yet has much to prove, I for one don't think I will shell out over 500 euros for an X box clone which has a bland and uninspireing black metal case that looks like some freeview box.

When I first heard about this "new all singing and dancing wonder tos machine". I was as eager to follow it as anyone..

The initial idea of a 266 mhz machine that would run all my origional collection of Atari sofware sounded so promising.. Recently though.
I am getting more concerned that I am indeed not liking what I see, the machine and its developers have done a fantastic job. But as yet have failed to spend enough adequate time to reasure end users of its total backward compatability.A compatability that I would immagine a huge ammount of current machine users would more like than not!
But I guess, if that was never the intent. The easiest way to avoid talking about or indeed stating that would be to just say the machine is ground breaking in design & there will inevitably be issues of backward & indeed forward compatability.


As I said.
I am not so eager any longer to lash out the cash so quicky!!
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Re: Backward software compatability

Postby wongck » Sat Sep 24, 2011 3:38 am

Ok then.
I remove my answer.
Looks like you don't even know what question you have asked yourself.
Last edited by wongck on Sun Sep 25, 2011 1:57 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Backward software compatability

Postby christos » Sat Sep 24, 2011 9:58 am

Basically you should expect about the same level of compatibility as a CT60 falcon and that's pretty good. From what I hear GFA BASIC apps will have a problem running but I think that stuff written in C will be much more compatible. Anything that can be recompiled - and a lot of them can- will take advantage of the extra speed, otherwise expect ct60 performance.
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Re: Backward software compatability

Postby TTowner » Sat Sep 24, 2011 3:47 pm

Thank you for the replies, although as usual Mr Wong, you missed the point entirely. Please therefore, return to other topics and stay out of this one.. I cannot as yet see any point to your comment! so usefull as it is ....NOT!

When younger. I heard the expression Jack of all trades... MASTER of NONE!
Seems prevelant right now!

Mr Christos, a valid point you have...
However, I'd like to find out your and indeed others views on this..
Since many a program has its base in GFA, how would this slight oversight affect the rest of us who want to run most of our old stuff faster..?
Surely, the coldfire will cater fully for the apps it poports to support . If not, then as I have commented already. I am reticent to dish the dosh!
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Re: Backward software compatability

Postby Mathias » Sat Sep 24, 2011 6:17 pm

TTowner wrote:you missed the point entirely. Please therefore, return to other topics and stay out of this one.. I cannot as yet see any point to your comment! so usefull as it is ....NOT!

When younger. I heard the expression Jack of all trades... MASTER of NONE!
Seems prevelant right now!
As I had very nice private contact to you, I am really wondering about such hard words. I´d like to ask you to calm down (as mod in this subforum).
You asked about development environments, and AHCC is the recent availaible compiler at the FireBee. For target there is as well vbcc and GCC.

I am preparing a detailed answer to your questions as well.
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Re: Backward software compatability

Postby TTowner » Sat Sep 24, 2011 9:39 pm

I can asure everyone. I mean no disrespect, I only want to find a reasonable answer to my question..
I am not angry about anything nor am I looking to pick a fight..

I do have in mind the possibility of purchasing the computer, but having an informed view toward doing so is what I am after. I look at the Firebee as the potential future machine I would consider putting my hard earned cash into...

But when purchasing an item with a large pricetag, I am cautious because of laying out money on something that may not live upto expectations.

I am cautious in my approach and will remain so until such a time as I am comfortouble in doing so..
I would not by a 3D tv for instance, just on reading that it will display images in three deeee.

I know for a fact that this would be a silly thing to do if for some medical or genetic reason I would not be able to utilise it as intended.
Not everyone can handle the 3D picture well, & I might be one of them.
Thus ending up with a useless TV to me..

I wouldn't want to make a Firebee purchase to be dissapointed in it in any way, especially when there has been so much hard work gone into it by so many people..!
I am sure that many people for what their reasons are will be more than happy to buy & use the Firebee..

Please accept an appology if my previous posts have offended anyone..

I believe I have though a valid query..
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Re: Backward software compatability

Postby christos » Sat Sep 24, 2011 10:25 pm

I think the best answer to your query would be a compiled list of the applications that currently run on the firebee. For example I am told that my effort to atari fame runs on the firebee, which is surprising since it's GFA BASIC.
Also a good idea would be for you to state which applications you want to use. Perhaps the acp team could then do some benchmark on some of them. It would be a good publicity idea as well, my subscription to the acp in youtube hasn't informed me for any new videos for awhile. ;)
I am no stranger to incompatibilies, my first Atari was the falcon and I remember a lot of software I got that just refused to run in a consistent manner. I've had a lot of trial and error in trying to run software. Then I installed mint which added another layer of incompatibility and then the 060 which was kind of devastating since i only recently added a switch for 030 mode. In the end, i filtered out software that wouldn't run, and choose the software that did. However you indeed have a valid point. A compatibilty list coupled with some speed results would go along way into helping the firebee.
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Re: Backward software compatability

Postby Mathias » Sat Sep 24, 2011 11:06 pm

TTowner wrote:I believe I have though a valid query..
Of course you have. I am absolutely aware that 600+ Euros are not easy for everybody.

First of all, I´d like to explain some basics for understanding whats going on at the ACP. We let everybody participate in our development. The FireBee is availaible for those of you who like it immediatly, but we did not yet tell it is ready. It is not for the end-user who likes a "product" recently. We know that, and our aim is a complete new system that works out of the box, even with different enclosures and all peripherials.
At the time being, you should consider it somewehre at Beta-testing phase. Nevertheless we are interrested in users opinions, and try to align the direction we are going to users needs.
But as we are a free project, and everybody is working in it´s spare time and as well nobody doesn´t earn anything, we cannot assure anything. Things get done, but there is no roadmap which will be fulfilled in x months. Thats impossible for a small team, which always lacks of time, developers or other ressources.

But as well, I think the members of the ACP and the up to now achived things show our severity and stand for the fact that we are trusworthy. Of course you should also consider that more sold FireBees mean more impact to developers. But that may only count if you can easyly spend that amount of cash.


TTowner wrote:I have an interest of, "just how backward compatable is the Firebee"?
You have a Hades, so you are familiar with general compatibility issues. Expect similar issues. Known problems with video modes of very old apps etc. for example.
'But please also consider the Suska. The Suska boards are more compatible as the FireBee, as they are a ST/E clones. I doubt you are interrested in ST/E compatibility as you are up with Hades and TT. But who knows. The FireBee will be a fast GEM machine for serious "work" and the Suska is a deathlesness ST/E for original old games/demos or applications (but with modern connectors).

TTowner wrote: Is there a list of apps that work un hindered & unmodified?
There is. I am preparing a list for publishing with the recently sucessful tested applications.


TTowner wrote: What issues will there be with all my collection not working?
I do not really understand that question.


TTowner wrote: Will the Coldfire fully support languages like C, Gfa & Fast Basic to there full capacity?
How about Assembly code, or Devpack?
The Coldfire itself supports every language (why not?), the question is which language will be availaible. Recently there is C. Gfa Basic applications have several problems. And as the sources of Gfa are not availaible, Lonny doubts he can do complete CF support one day, but we will see. Recently Didier for example made an important patch for Gfa applications inside the TOS and much more of them are working. Fo Assembly just referre to the Freescale documentation. And about Devpack, do you talk about "C++ Devpack"?


TTowner wrote: Is it going to be possible that new apps or indeed older ones will be compatable to such an extent that I can just install them & they will behave as presumeably expected & intended?
At the time being, half of the applications we are testing work immediatly and without any patch, just with FireTOS and/or MiNT. But this percentage increases all the time. Further development means more compatibility of course.

TTowner wrote: Or at best not just run at the stated 200+ mhz. Or will they perform badly and run slower than a standard TT?
At my FireBee at least nothing feels slower than at my Hades. Considering the fact that the scrolling is pretty awful right now, and that you can already use a Radeon with hardware acceleration instead of the onboard graphics, you can imagine, why Didier called the FireBee with Radeon the fastest availaibble Atari.


TTowner wrote: If that is the case, I'd rather put my money into motorola and petition them to make a 200mhz 68060 cpu/ fpu ..
Hah, if you think you can convince Freescale to develope 060s again, please let us all participate, as wee as the Amiga guys. I´d simply say no way as prooven the last 17 years.


TTowner wrote: All the answers to these questions and more questions that will come. Will be carefully considered in my purchase decision making process.
Please consider as well, nobody of us needs to sell anything. Our aim is to have a new "Atari" from us for us. We are throwing in all our spare time, but we are not playing the huge company/concern. So we do not need to use dirty marketing tricks (even if we love our machine *g*). But also be aware that every sold Bee stabilizes the TOS plattform, as every installed (and really used) Aranym or every sold Suska or CT6x or professional application does.



TTowner wrote: for an X box clone which has a bland and uninspireing black metal case that looks like some freeview box.
Well thats hard as I personally did it with a good friend. ;) But ok you do not like it. Others did. The aim was to have a first (!) enclosure that is as small as possible. Others will follow. Ah, and it comes in ble, "Atari-grey" and pink as well. ;) But maybe you would like to assemble your own, or ask the Atari dealer you trust to assemble one, or wait for a tower or Mini-ITX enclosure?


TTowner wrote: I am getting more concerned that I am indeed not liking what I see,
Thats possible, even if the Suska, Aranym and the FireBee should cover all possible user whishes.

TTowner wrote: But as yet have failed to spend enough adequate time to reasure end users of its total backward compatability.A compatability that I would immagine a huge ammount of current machine users would more like than not!
Please always be aware, that we are not ready right now. So we will not tell somebody that we are totally backward compatible if we are not.


TTowner wrote: But I guess, if that was never the intent.
Please read our aims again: http://acp.atari.org/about.html


TTowner wrote: The easiest way to avoid talking about or indeed stating that would be to just say the machine is ground breaking in design & there will inevitably be issues of backward & indeed forward compatability.
Well, of course we will never be 100% Falcon compatible (as the Hades is not 100% TT compatible). But you have to understand that we are producing new hardware that is availaible, that has the possibility to become very compatible (via "software" updates). Of course its up to everybody how far that compatibility will go. For example if somebody finishes the 56001 in VHDL, we can use all the applications for the DSP.
And our design is future-proof as it is free, and can be improved all the time by everybody who likes. As well as further support is welcome at every time.

For the simple "users" we always recommended to wait some more time until they order their FireBees to avoid any frustration.


TTowner wrote: I am not so eager any longer to lash out the cash so quicky!!
You do not have to hurry. Just give us another winter, and give it a ccloser look than.

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Re: Backward software compatability

Postby Mathias » Sat Sep 24, 2011 11:12 pm

christos wrote:For example I am told that my effort to atari fame runs on the firebee, which is surprising since it's GFA BASIC.
And Qextract worked before Didier patched the TOS for GFA!

christos wrote:Also a good idea would be for you to state which applications you want to use. Perhaps the acp team could then do some benchmark on some of them.
Nice idea! Hand over some of the most important applications and I´ll give them a try.

christos wrote:my subscription to the acp in youtube hasn't informed me for any new videos for awhile. ;)
Donate me an MiniDV camera (can be an 2001 model) and you´ll get a video per week. ;)
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Re: Backward software compatability

Postby wongck » Sun Sep 25, 2011 3:07 am

TTowner wrote:I can asure everyone. I mean no disrespect, I only want to find a reasonable answer to my question..
I am not angry about anything nor am I looking to pick a fight..
<snip...>
Please accept an appology if my previous posts have offended anyone..


No problem Mr Perry. As always, you have been quick to shoot off posts.
May be next time, step outside, look at your aeroplanes... may be fly one of your RC. That would calm you down.
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Re: Backward software compatability

Postby lp » Sun Sep 25, 2011 4:11 am

Mathias wrote:And Qextract worked before Didier patched the TOS for GFA!


Its an extremely small program. I think it depends heavily on the program and what functions are used in the language. There's about 34 or so move.b comands to the stack scattered across the library. Someone would have to test much larger programs like aICQ or such to get a better idea about GFA compiled apps. GBE is compiled GFA (+asm) and its not working, but its much larger than Qextract.

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Re: Backward software compatability

Postby christos » Sun Sep 25, 2011 6:38 am

Well an application list isn't that hard to come by though I do know some of which I use do work. From the ones I don't:

KKCommander - it's gfa basic so it shouldn't, but I'd be interested in a test.
aFTP or Litchi - litchi is gfa
Aniplayer - that one is really important. Maybe play a high quality mp3 and see how much cpu it uses?
and...
Oh well, most of the stuff I use are open source and I know they can be recompiled, such as QED and zView and.. Matthias, cell phone video will do just fine ;)
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Re: Backward software compatability

Postby Mathias » Sun Sep 25, 2011 11:50 am

Aniplayer works for ages (with dBug) and has 23 % CPU usage when decoding a high quality MP3 via CPU. Qed works in all versions, zView does not work, and cannot be recompiled, as our technicians found an GCC Bug that is still not solved by the (non Atari) GCC team. aFTP works in general, if i remember correctly, but is not tested online.

And there is no cellphone at the market, that is DRM free, so I am not allowed to get my videos to my MacOS 9 or Atari machines. No joke.
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Re: Backward software compatability

Postby TTowner » Sun Sep 25, 2011 6:26 pm

wongck wrote:
TTowner wrote:I can asure everyone. I mean no disrespect, I only want to find a reasonable answer to my question..
I am not angry about anything nor am I looking to pick a fight..
<snip...>
Please accept an appology if my previous posts have offended anyone..


No problem Mr Perry. As always, you have been quick to shoot off posts.
May be next time, step outside, look at your aeroplanes... may be fly one of your RC. That would calm you down.



You make me :x Your an idiot!
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Re: Backward software compatability

Postby m0n0 » Sun Sep 25, 2011 9:30 pm

Someone would have to test much larger programs like aICQ or such



What, aICQ is an GFA basic program? That explains why it crashed =) (I tested it a few month ago - I thought it would be C...)

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Re: Backward software compatability

Postby wongck » Sun Sep 25, 2011 11:39 pm

TTowner wrote:You make me :x Your an idiot!

I apologise if you take it wrongly.
With your postings on Vulcan, I thought you loved plane-spotting.
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Re: Backward software compatability

Postby lp » Mon Sep 26, 2011 1:30 am

m0n0 wrote:What, aICQ is an GFA basic program? That explains why it crashed =) (I tested it a few month ago - I thought it would be C...)


The main program is GFA and some tiny bits of asm. The overlay module(s) for online use are written in "C" as far as I know. I think the STiK module was written with PureC.

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Re: Backward software compatability

Postby TTowner » Wed Sep 28, 2011 12:14 pm

I tell you what, if some kind person would allow me an example of the Firebee. I'd be more than glad to burn the midnight oil doing a beta test of all the apps I have, & produce a compatability report. I have additional hardware to hook up to it to make sure that the app does everything it should do..flatbed scanners CD writers, Lazer printer etc.
How much of a comprehensive report would you like?

Any takers coldfire team? :) :D :)
Of course, if the tests made me convinced it was a worthwhile purchase to make. I'd lash the cash & keep it obviously!
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Re: Backward software compatability

Postby Mathias » Wed Sep 28, 2011 9:18 pm

Well real final tests would not be wise recently as we are not ready. As well the TOS is changing once a week. So we have applications that are known well working and others that do recently not, but may do in some weeks. Of course if you buy a board I would like if you participate in testing and share your experiances like others already do.
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Re: Backward software compatability

Postby qbert » Sun Oct 02, 2011 10:58 pm

Whatever will happen in the future, I would like to say "great job, impressive stuff" to Mattias and all the CP team ! :D

So much to do before we have a nice compatibility, but I see you're on your way ! :wink:

I have only a dumb question but ... how do you explain the GFA-Basic incompatibility issue ? Does the compiler specifically uses the 680x0 instructions that are not supported by the Coldfire ?

What about the various C Compilers ? Which seems to give the best compatibility ? Aztec, Lattice, GST, Metacomco, Mark Williams, Pure, GCC ... so much differences in all theses stuffs, I do not think GFA is so different, but of course it may be a detail on the selection of each compiler's options....?

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Re: Backward software compatability

Postby joska » Mon Oct 03, 2011 8:17 am

The only compilers that produce Coldfire binaries for TOS/MiNT are AHCC, gcc and vbcc. All other compilers produce 68k binaries which are not Coldfire-compatible. To be able to run these binaries FireTOS use cf68klib which catch most of the illegal instructions and replace them with Coldfire code.

However, not everything can be catched. There are two types of instructions that's commonly used by Atari compilers (including GFA) which behaves differently on Coldfire and can't be catched: LineA and move.b xx,-(sp). FireTOS attempts to work around this by patching the binary during Pexec(), this works remarkably well with PureC-applications but apparently not so good with GFA.

I'd say that the Firebee is now able to run as much (maybe more) software as my Milan060. So my Milan has been retired :)

Btw for max compatibility there is also a software 68k-emulator (written by Vincent Riviere) that allows you to run virtually any 68k GEM-app on the Firebee. It's just an experiment but works extremely well even at this early stage. Emulation is completely transparent and works under MiNT too. Speed is good - most GEM-apps spends 99% of their time waiting for the AES so it's only when performing CPU-intensive tasks (like image processing) you notice the slowdown.
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Re: Backward software compatability

Postby lp » Mon Oct 03, 2011 8:27 am

Its not a dumb question actually. Joska mostly answered it. The problem with GFA is that it does not have just one or two move.b instructions in its start up code like Pure-C. It has a crap load of them all over the place, so the workaround in FireTOS for Pure-C does not apply.

I wrote this explanation, to avoid having to repeat myself every time someone asks about GFA not working:
http://userpages.bright.net/~gfabasic/html/gfa_cf.htm

It goes into more detail as to why GFA buggers on the FireBee.

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Backward software compatability

Postby Mal7921 » Mon Oct 03, 2011 9:54 am

The thing to remember though is that the is backward compatibility and backward compatibility.

The STe is backward compatible with the ST range, however there are older programs that will not run. Same for the TT030 and the Falcon. These all use processors from the same family, with similar core instructions.

The firebee introduces a new processor into the mix, new hardware and in reality provides an emulation of older hardware, not the actual hardware itself, so it has to be expected that some software will not run.

Even the playstation 2 had trouble running some playstation 1 games, and that was "fully backward compatible" with older games, so if Sony with the resources at it's disposal has trouble making everything work, how can you expect a group of volunteers on the firebee to do any better?

Given time they may well do better, especially if more talented people join in and help test and complete things like the DSP emulation and other such sections, but until them all we can be is patient. Things improve, but rarely overnight, Windows Vista is a good example, lousy OS on launch but by the time Windows 7 launched it was a fairly reliable OS, even if it was still a mess in places and incompatible with many older applications.

The STe, TT and Falcon all had a hardware base to start development from, firebee did not. It had to be built from the ground up and any hardware for backward compatibility "programmed", which at least has helped with the process of chip fabrication. While Atari had to spend a lot of money designing and fabricating prototype chips which could not be re-used if anything was wrong, these guys could wipe the chip and start again, but the design process still takes a lot of time.

I suppose in future if you wanted ST compatibility to be improved, a complete ST could be built into the architecture, but that's up to the developers. But if you did that, where then do you draw the line?

Compatibility will be as good as it can be at that given time. As the system can be improved, the compatibility will also improve over time. I'm sure if the team had the resources of a large major hardware vendor, they would have this sorted and out of the door, but they don't. They do this off their own backs and give their time for us, the least we can do as a community is be patient and help wherever we can.

As for compatibility, if an application can run, the application is compatible and where one runs, others will follow.


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joska
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Re: Backward software compatability

Postby joska » Mon Oct 03, 2011 11:39 am

lp wrote:It goes into more detail as to why GFA buggers on the FireBee.


One solution is to write a GFA->C converter. It won't fix existing binaries, but people will still be able to code with GFA. You'll loose immediate mode though.
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lp
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Re: Backward software compatability

Postby lp » Mon Oct 03, 2011 3:57 pm

joska wrote:
lp wrote:It goes into more detail as to why GFA buggers on the FireBee.


One solution is to write a GFA->C converter. It won't fix existing binaries, but people will still be able to code with GFA. You'll loose immediate mode though.


I've already discussed this idea with the aICQ author a while back and he's not interested. Absolutely does not want to deal with "C" in any way shape or form. So you also have people that just will not change their ways. :wink:

I think that could work as a 1 time solution, for someone that wishes to abandon GFA. Reason I say that is any use of GFA's string descriptors or references to internal structures related to how variables are arranged in memory would have to be hand fixed every time. There is a tool I found that appears to do exactly that, but it won't handle the latest version of GFA, some of the newer commands will cause it to suddenly abort. Unless I was doing something wrong, it won't skip them, pity.

GFA to C conversion tool -> http://gfa.atari-users.net/archive/gfa_c.zip

I was unable to get it to process any of my source files successfully. My sources are littered with GFA v3.6 commands. Maybe someone can write an improved tool, this one is rather dated.

PS. If charles sees this post, do not attempt to use this tool. I repeat do not attempt to use this tool. :lol:
Last edited by lp on Mon Oct 03, 2011 4:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.


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