A few Firebee questions (general & dev)

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A few Firebee questions (general & dev)

Postby Orion_ » Thu Nov 19, 2015 4:43 pm

I had a Firebee a few years ago when it first came out, I sold it because there where too much things lacking in my point of view.
But now I got the chance to get a secondhand Firebee at a very fair price, so, I decided to give the little bee a second chance.

I updated the Firebee to the latest FireTOS, FPGA and BaS (from firebee.org, which is down at the moment BTW)
I also updated to the latest FreeMiNT distribution. (1-18-0 ?) (from firebee.org too)

and I have some problems:

-I tried several SD card (4GB HC, or 64MB, FAT32 or FAT16) and none are mounting, the drive A is not accessible.

-Whenever I boot, the first time I type on the keyboard, I get this message in an alert window:
"WARNING! The MiNT IKBD handler is for a TOS < 2.00. Try to patch MiNT for TOS 4.04 USB Kbdvbase-1 usage..."

I still have this VGA "noise" problem, even using a brand new 24V 3A AC/DC adapter.
It's not my cable or my screen, because the same cable/screen is used on my PC and I don't have any noise on this setup.
I really hope I can find a cheap DVI screen to fix the problem ...

The speaker inside the firebee was not connected, so I would like to know if this is the right spot to connect it ?
speaker.png


Also, I would like to know if I can format the CF card from my Windows PC and install a fresh FreeMiNT setup easilly ?
I think I read somewhere that it needs 2 partitions, one 2GB FAT16 bootable as C, and the other one can be any size FAT32 (but can only be seen on MiNT) is that correct ? You don't need any HD driver like on a Falcon/ST ?


As a developer, I thought that the new FireTOS update (from 2014 !) would fix some problem I had back in 2012.
It seems that the Vsetscreen command "CMD_ALLOCPAGE" is now returning a new correct video pointer address, but..
unfortunately, when I use the command "CMD_SETADR" with this new pointer, and then "CMD_FLIPPAGE", Physbase/Logbase are still the same pointer.
Thus not allowing a double buffering possibility ... (bad news for gaming)
Or, maybe Physbase/Logbase are returning wrong pointers, and the flip is working anyway, I didn't tried that.


Thanks to anyone answering my question.
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Re: A few Firebee questions (general & dev)

Postby jfl » Thu Nov 19, 2015 7:54 pm

Orion_ wrote:Also, I would like to know if I can format the CF card from my Windows PC and install a fresh FreeMiNT setup easilly ?

I think I read somewhere that it needs 2 partitions, one 2GB FAT16 bootable as C, and the other one can be any size FAT32 (but can only be seen on MiNT) is that correct ? You don't need any HD driver like on a Falcon/ST ?


To install the (equivalent of the) official FreeMiNT setup you only need a FAT16 C drive. Preferably not bigger than 512MB if you don't want to encounter strange problems like corrupted FAT tables (happened to me twice until I decided that I really didn't need 1GB for my C partition).

FAT32 partitions won't be seen by TOS, that is correct.

Yes, you don't need an external HD driver. It's included into TOS.

I don't know anything about formatting on Windows. Most people I know use Gparted on Linux and this is more or less the officially supported way of formatting you card for the FireBee.

If you wan't to expand your FreeMiNT setup into some kind of SpareMiNT or Gentoo you also need an ext2 partition. Otherwise, you don't *need* a second drive -- but you certainly want one :)
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Re: A few Firebee questions (general & dev)

Postby Rajah Lone » Thu Nov 19, 2015 8:30 pm

- Formating on PC windows is OK, but with a third party software (french article here)
- upgrading your MiNT setup is highly recommended, with Vincent Rivière's ColdFire built, though risky (I had some problems with my former monitor). You should have a backup set-up in a CF card.
- I use a MegaST keyboard, so the IKDB alert is only displayed when the mouse wheel is used for the first time.
- DVI is better than VGA.

- the 256 color screenmode may be not standard (ie Atari, found on Falcon, interleaved planes), but chunky like on PC. This mode was planned for the MicroBox Falcon, for quicker display on games.

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Re: A few Firebee questions (general & dev)

Postby Orion_ » Thu Nov 19, 2015 8:48 pm

Thanks for the answers, I will try to setup a new FreeMiNT from the one from Vincent Rivière

Got other bugs:
-I experienced some directory corruption on my USB FAT32 device, some files disappeared :/ (happened twice)
-I also flashed the latest EmuTOS, and it crash just after the emutos info splashscreen

I tried Kronos benchmark, and from the result, the memory access is slower than a CT60 @100mhz ...
I guess it's another FPGA issue because, on CT60 you have SDRAM, and on Firebee, it should be highspeed DDRAM
I wish an FPGA developer could look into this to make the Firebee so much better.
I also didn't had any luck switching video buffers on the Firebee, so, no double buffering = no decent action game :/
I'm also trying to make VBCC work using bash, but no luck either (it says "failed" after starting vbccm68k with all paths correct)

I gave it a second chance, seems like 3 years later, not much changed :( (besides the great firebee.org website)
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Re: A few Firebee questions (general & dev)

Postby Rajah Lone » Thu Nov 19, 2015 9:06 pm

Orion_ wrote:so, no double buffering = no decent action game

OpenTyrian is slow and more a proof of concept. I guess it's built with an old version of SDL. Latest version of pmDoom is really good.
But looking on GEM conversion of Pupul demo, a Xenon II Megablast may be possible.
Allocating rasters in TT-RAM (ie ColdFire's DDRAM) and building the screen with sprites in this TT-RAM is very quick. The slowliness is due to the Flexbus, to transfer the bitmaps to the Video-RAM located in the FPGA related chips, so it's OK if the game screen is small.
I guess that adding a PCI Radeon graphic card would solve the problem.

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Re: A few Firebee questions (general & dev)

Postby anodyne » Thu Nov 19, 2015 9:11 pm

Re EmuTOS crashing:
When you say the latest EmuTOS, I assume you mean 0.9.5?
Did you boot into EmuTOS natively (DIP switch 5 down) or via the FireTOS menu (DIP switch 5 up)? Either should work, but booting with DIP switch 5 down will avoid any problems that might be related to FireTOS.
At the splash screen, if you press Escape, you should reach the console. You can play around there and perhaps get some clue to other problems.

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Re: A few Firebee questions (general & dev)

Postby mfro » Thu Nov 19, 2015 9:36 pm

I'd assume on a machine that was mainly used with FireTOS, there will be AUTO folder programs and/or accessories/CPXs installed that are not EmuTOS compatible.

So it's probably not EmuTOS crashing, but autostarted applications/code that are not Coldfire-clean.

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Re: A few Firebee questions (general & dev)

Postby Orion_ » Thu Nov 19, 2015 9:52 pm

yes I just found out that EmuTOS was crashing due to auto/acc program not native to coldfire.

Rajah > I will try the Pupul demo to check this, maybe I should stick with GEM, but I really fear the slowness and reaction time :/

I read the tos_driver source from Didier, and it seems that, if no radeon card is detected, all the Vsetscreen command that I was talking about, are not active at all, so ... only one buffer available :/
I tried to talk to Torlus about fpga development, I know he started to look at this on the firebee some time ago, I hope he could work on this a bit to make things better :)
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Re: A few Firebee questions (general & dev)

Postby Rajah Lone » Thu Nov 19, 2015 11:36 pm

GEM is not mandatory, though it's cool to have all programs without rebooting the OS.
Using TT-RAM for bitmap operations make things really quicker: my DGEM is not sluggish on the FireBee, and there's enough time for zooming. Displaying a *1 and *2 dungeon view is OK. Slowliness appears when displaying *3 view, this is the FlexBus limitation.

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Re: A few Firebee questions (general & dev)

Postby vido » Fri Nov 20, 2015 7:05 am

Orion_ wrote:I updated the Firebee to the latest FireTOS, FPGA and BaS (from firebee.org, which is down at the moment BTW)
I also updated to the latest FreeMiNT distribution. (1-18-0 ?) (from firebee.org too)

FireBee page is not down. There is a DNS problem. To access the page you go to: http://84.20.240.129/fb-bin/index

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Re: A few Firebee questions (general & dev)

Postby joska » Fri Nov 20, 2015 7:20 am

Orion_ wrote:I read the tos_driver source from Didier, and it seems that, if no radeon card is detected, all the Vsetscreen command that I was talking about, are not active at all, so ... only one buffer available :/


Yes, Didier is using Radeon exclusively, so the Videl code is a bit buggy in this area. I noticed this myself when I wrote the screen mode selector for XaAES. This use the XBIOS Vsetscreen extensions, and I had to work around some bugs to get it working.
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Re: A few Firebee questions (general & dev)

Postby mfro » Fri Nov 20, 2015 7:24 am

Orion_ wrote:I tried Kronos benchmark, and from the result, the memory access is slower than a CT60 @100mhz ...

This might well be the case. I do not know what Kronos is measuring exactly, but memory access speed is quite limited on the Firebee. Video RAM accesses need to go through the slow FlexBus and DDR RAM accesses are limited by the Coldfire's memory controller.

With running Kronos, this might even be worse since there are probably some cycles lost through m68k emulation exceptions that need to be handled. Kronos will probably also disable caches to get exact measurement on m68k. This is done in emulation as well since the cache control registers are not compatible. With disabled caches, DDR RAM access speed is heavily dependend on how you access it on the Coldfire. If you don't do 16 Byte aligned accesses using movem then (which would be done 'in hardware' with caches enabled), you probably lose burst mode which will dramatically reduce throughput. Not sure if Kronos is taking this into account.

Nevertheless the Firebee still a very fast machine and in practice large caches cover most of the deficiencies.

Orion_ wrote:I guess it's another FPGA issue because, on CT60 you have SDRAM, and on Firebee, it should be highspeed DDRAM

Probably not. DDR RAM has nothing to do with the FPGA (this only handles video RAM which is DDR as well), it's handled solely by the Coldfire's DDR RAM controller.
[edit:] On second read, i don't even understand that sentence myself anymore ;). Second try: Video RAM is "behind" the FPGA, which is "behind" the FlexBus. But it's DDR RAM as well, same type as main memory. The FPGA can access it full speed, but the CPU must go through the 32 MHz multiplexed FlexBus. Main memory is DDR RAM and is connected to the Coldfire by a dedicated RAM bus that doesn't have anything to do with the FPGA.

Orion_ wrote:I also didn't had any luck switching video buffers on the Firebee, so, no double buffering = no decent action game :/

"classic" double buffering (rewrite video base address) should work as it does on a Falcon. At least in Falcon-compatible resolutions.

Orion_ wrote:I gave it a second chance, seems like 3 years later, not much changed :( (besides the great firebee.org website)

You are more than welcome to help with that.

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Re: A few Firebee questions (general & dev)

Postby Orion_ » Fri Nov 20, 2015 8:54 am

vido wrote:
Orion_ wrote:I updated the Firebee to the latest FireTOS, FPGA and BaS (from firebee.org, which is down at the moment BTW)
I also updated to the latest FreeMiNT distribution. (1-18-0 ?) (from firebee.org too)

FireBee page is not down. There is a DNS problem. To access the page you go to: http://84.20.240.129/fb-bin/index

Thanks for the link !

mfro wrote:
Orion_ wrote:I tried Kronos benchmark, and from the result, the memory access is slower than a CT60 @100mhz ...

This might well be the case. I do not know what Kronos is measuring exactly, but memory access speed is quite limited on the Firebee. Video RAM accesses need to go through the slow FlexBus and DDR RAM accesses are limited by the Coldfire's memory controller.

In the details of CPU test, you can read that the Coldfire CPU is faster in pure instruction execution (of course), but the global CPU result is weighed down by the slow memory access. You can't tell me that the Coldfire memory controller is slower than a 060 ?! Is that flexbus a poor design choice ?

mfro wrote:
Orion_ wrote:I also didn't had any luck switching video buffers on the Firebee, so, no double buffering = no decent action game :/

"classic" double buffering (rewrite video base address) should work as it does on a Falcon. At least in Falcon-compatible resolutions.

I will try that, but I doubt it because, the videl screen pointer is 24bits only, when the firebee default screen pointer is 32bits (0x60000000)

mfro wrote:
Orion_ wrote:I gave it a second chance, seems like 3 years later, not much changed :( (besides the great firebee.org website)

You are more than welcome to help with that.

Unfortunately, i'm not a hardware developper, and I can't help.
I bought a firebee to port my games on it, but the overall "not finished computer" feeling is not motivating me :/
For example, after only one day of use, my boot partition is already corrupted (FireTOS won't boot, and EmuTOS is telling me it's corrupt when i try to access it)
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Re: A few Firebee questions (general & dev)

Postby joska » Fri Nov 20, 2015 9:03 am

Orion_ wrote:In the details of CPU test, you can read that the Coldfire CPU is faster in pure instruction execution (of course), but the global CPU result is weighed down by the slow memory access. You can't tell me that the Coldfire memory controller is slower than a 060 ?! Is that flexbus a poor design choice ?


The Firebee's DRAM is not connected to the Flexbus, but directly to the ColdFire DRAM controller. On the Firebee the real life bandwidth would be around 80Mb/s.

The CPU communicates with the FPGA via the Flexbus, which has a bandwidth of around 20Mb/s I believe. Video RAM is connected to the FPGA, so all video access - and all legacy Atari hardware which is implemented on the FPGA - would have to go through the Flexbus.
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Re: A few Firebee questions (general & dev)

Postby Orion_ » Fri Nov 20, 2015 9:14 am

joska wrote:The Firebee's DRAM is not connected to the Flexbus, but directly to the ColdFire DRAM controller. On the Firebee the real life bandwidth would be around 80Mb/s.

And Kronos CT60-100Mhz result tells 100Mb/s access, so ColdFire DRAM controller is slower, I can not believe it 8O

The CPU communicates with the FPGA via the Flexbus, which has a bandwidth of around 20Mb/s I believe. Video RAM is connected to the FPGA, so all video access - and all legacy Atari hardware which is implemented on the FPGA - would have to go through the Flexbus.

So, that's no more than 30fps at 640x480x16bits, it seems that 16bits color resolution should be more privileged than 32bits on Firebee
I will try to Fix Elansar who is working in 32bits only, and maybe make it GEM compatible too
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Re: A few Firebee questions (general & dev)

Postby vido » Fri Nov 20, 2015 9:19 am

Orion_ wrote:So, that's no more than 30fps at 640x480x16bits, it seems that 16bits color resolution should be more privileged than 32bits on Firebee
I will try to Fix Elansar who is working in 32bits only, and maybe make it GEM compatible too

GEM compatible Elansar (and Philia ;) ) would be really great! Elansat is the type of the game it can be played while you are doing also other thingy on the computer :)

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Re: A few Firebee questions (general & dev)

Postby Mathias » Fri Nov 20, 2015 10:13 am

Orion_ wrote:For example, after only one day of use, my boot partition is already corrupted (FireTOS won't boot, and EmuTOS is telling me it's corrupt when i try to access it)

A few months ago I had to learn that FreeMiNT needs to be "shutdown" in any case, as just switching off the Computer (or resetting it) can corrupt the filesystems, ... did you use "shutdown" program? I am not happy about that fact, but it is a FreeMiNT "issue" not a FireBee one.
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Re: A few Firebee questions (general & dev)

Postby Orion_ » Fri Nov 20, 2015 10:21 am

I shutdown when I can ... sometimes the Firebee crash and I have no choice of rebooting (for example STzip is crashing)
also, the Pupul demo that Rajah Lone told me to try, crashed after showing some blue/black lines in the upper left portion of the screen

I just tried to partition/format the Compact Flash, and after doing so, my partition tool tells me that the disk is bad (can't use it anymore), seems like I'm damned >_<

One more question: Does the Firebee can be used on an HDMI monitor using a DVI to HDMI adapter ?

Also, no answer about the SD card issue ?
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Re: A few Firebee questions (general & dev)

Postby Mathias » Fri Nov 20, 2015 10:24 am

Orion_ wrote:-I tried several SD card (4GB HC, or 64MB, FAT32 or FAT16) and none are mounting, the drive A is not accessible.
Perhaps your 4GB one was a SDXC or HC under FireTOS, or you did try to use full 4 GB partitions, or something else?
Please consider the quite well and recent SD-Card Support article at firebee.org: http://84.20.240.129/fb-bin/page?label= ... ard&lng=FR


Orion_ wrote:The speaker inside the firebee was not connected, so I would like to know if this is the right spot to connect it ?
Yes, thats the correct connector!
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Re: A few Firebee questions (general & dev)

Postby Mathias » Fri Nov 20, 2015 10:34 am

Orion_ wrote:I shutdown when I can ... sometimes the Firebee crash and I have no choice of rebooting
Hmm, yes, ... I know. Perhaps someone can explain again how FAT partitions can be repaired under MiNT?

Orion_ wrote:I just tried to partition/format the Compact Flash, and after doing so, my partition tool tells me that the disk is bad (can't use it anymore), seems like I'm damned >_<
Well, right it really seems you are damned. In this Compact Flash case it sounds to me that your partition tool is not the best one, or that the card is seriously damaged? I never had such problems that a CF-Card could not be used anymore. Even not after the most damaged filesystems and most crazy bugs (I tested 500+ Applications and had many many crashes). And I have 4 different CF-Cards from different vendors.
Perhaps you could get some Linux live CD/Stick and use as well Gparted? It is the best one and the one that most people use.

Orion_ wrote:One more question: Does the Firebee can be used on an HDMI monitor using a DVI to HDMI adapter ?

There were reports that it is working, but no "official support". I just hope you are not using your FireBee-Killer-Monitor again! ;)

Orion_ wrote:Also, no answer about the SD card issue ?
I typed it already when you posted it :-)
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Re: A few Firebee questions (general & dev)

Postby joska » Fri Nov 20, 2015 11:05 am

Mathias wrote:A few months ago I had to learn that FreeMiNT needs to be "shutdown" in any case, as just switching off the Computer (or resetting it) can corrupt the filesystems, ... did you use "shutdown" program? I am not happy about that fact, but it is a FreeMiNT "issue" not a FireBee one.


No need to use a specific shutdown program. Control+Alt+Delete will also sync the filesystems.

You can also disable the writeback cache. Then all writes will write directly to disk with no delay. See mint.cnf.
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Re: A few Firebee questions (general & dev)

Postby joska » Fri Nov 20, 2015 11:06 am

Orion_ wrote:One more question: Does the Firebee can be used on an HDMI monitor using a DVI to HDMI adapter ?


Yes, that works fine in my case.
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Re: A few Firebee questions (general & dev)

Postby Rajah Lone » Fri Nov 20, 2015 12:11 pm

Orion_ wrote:I shutdown when I can ... sometimes the Firebee crash and I have no choice of rebooting (for example STzip is crashing)
also, the Pupul demo that Rajah Lone told me to try, crashed after showing some blue/black lines in the upper left portion of the screen

Pupul is safe, at least on my FireBee setup.
I think there's a problem on your setup. Some suspicious software? What is the size and bitplanes number of your screenmode?

I advise to get rid of old ST programs and clean your software collection: old ones use tricks that are not permited on Atari clone or 68K-ColdFire emulation. Even some PureC compiled program may be risky. I strongly recommend not to use STZIP on the FireBee (even on ST, it corrupts the ZIP file when you remove one ZIP entry).
Still Gogo Dancer in your ACCessories?

For the SD card, upgrading MiNT and FireTOS help. My SD card (4GB, but only 900MB FAT16 partition, with "active" checked) was finaly recognized with the latest MiNT and FireTOS versions.

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Re: A few Firebee questions (general & dev)

Postby Orion_ » Fri Nov 20, 2015 12:16 pm

Rajah Lone wrote:Pupul is safe, at least on my FireBee setup.
I think there's a problem on your setup. Some suspicious software? What is the size and bitplanes number of your screenmode?

I had a fresh install of MiNT 1-18-0 + Xaaes, no exotic software, just the standard default setup, in screenmode 800x600x16bits
I started the program from an USB FAT32 formated device

I strongly recommend not to use STZIP on the FireBee (even on ST, it corrupts the ZIP file when you remove one ZIP entry).

What can I use in replacement ? qextract can only extract the files, but not create zip
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Re: A few Firebee questions (general & dev)

Postby Rajah Lone » Fri Nov 20, 2015 12:28 pm

- FAT16 should be advised with TOS partitions. FAT32 is more suited for MiNT "posix" extensions.
- http://vincent.riviere.free.fr/soft/m68 ... /freemint/

- For my softwares releases, I usually FTP-upload to my Aranym+MagiC setup and use _carefully_ STZIP on this. If you prefer to build PKZIP files on the FireBee, try my KK Commander and the Deflate.ldg (one drawback, STZIP can't unzip these archives). There are some other archivers in Vincent Rivière's builts.


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