Firebee: the long game?

All things related to the Atari Coldfire Project

Moderators: Mathias, Mug UK, moondog/.tSCc., [ProToS], Galvez, Moderator Team

AEWHistory
Atarian
Atarian
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2019 9:27 pm

Firebee: the long game?

Postby AEWHistory » Sun Mar 17, 2019 2:20 am

So I think I once had an account here, but damn if I can find it now. So to christen my new account, I figured I would start by asking about the Firebee. Does anyone know what the long term goals are for this hardware? For example, is there a desire to try to rebuild a small mass of TOS users to keep the OS alive? Will there one day be an option for add on RAM and video cards? I know that drivers would be an issue for the video cards, but I would pay someone to make drivers for the cards that I’m interested in and give them to the community, so that’d open up at least some choices.

Also, it seems to me that the Firebee org could really find itself latching onto a not so insignification number of sales among musicians if the Firebee could replicate the tight timing that the original ST had with MIDI. AFAIK, no modern computer has managed to do what Atari did in 1985 with a 1ms timing tolerance. I think that the Firebee has MIDI built in (going from memory here) but has the implementation been compared to the original ST line by some musicians?

I realize That this is asking a lot for a project that is on a volunteer basis, but I just wanted to ask. I can’t wait to be able to afford one..... Wish I had never sold my 1040STe. How many Atarians have said that?

vido
Atari Super Hero
Atari Super Hero
Posts: 694
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 7:39 pm

Re: Firebee: the long game?

Postby vido » Sun Mar 17, 2019 8:12 am

Hello!

FireBee alleady has video driver for the Radeon video card built into ist OS. So there is no need for the driver to make. We would just need someone to build right PCI backplane to connect video card to the FireBee. I would buy in a second as what FireBee really lack is fast graphics.

And the other thing FireBee lack are developers. As you noted all is based on a volunteer basis. But there is some development. Most SDL ports for the Atari computers are also compiled to be Coldfire native. There also exists some software still in development but not yet released.

And FireBee also has some hardware bugs to be cleared. Seems like the small bugs but we would need a FPGA developer to repair them. That includes low res ST compatible resolutions, printer port (FireBee OS bug), ...

As everything is open source (also hardware) FireBee can live the long run, but somehow developers has to be found or motivated to support it.

Vido

User avatar
wongck
Ultimate Atarian
Ultimate Atarian
Posts: 12774
Joined: Sat May 03, 2008 2:09 pm
Location: Far East
Contact:

Re: Firebee: the long game?

Postby wongck » Sun Mar 17, 2019 12:03 pm

vido wrote:I would buy in a second as what FireBee really lack is fast graphics.

+1
My Stuff: FB/Falcon CT63 CTPCI ATI RTL8139 USB 512MB 30GB HDD CF HxC_SD/ TT030 68882 4+32MB 520MB Nova/ 520STFM 4MB Tos206 SCSI
Shared SCSI Bus:ScsiLink ethernet, 9GB HDD,SD-reader @ http://phsw.atari.org
My Atari stuff for sale - click here for list

stormy
Atari Super Hero
Atari Super Hero
Posts: 648
Joined: Tue Jan 26, 2016 12:39 pm

Re: Firebee: the long game?

Postby stormy » Sun Mar 17, 2019 4:40 pm

AEWHistory wrote:So I think I once had an account here, but damn if I can find it now. So to christen my new account, I figured I would start by asking about the Firebee. Does anyone know what the long term goals are for this hardware? For example, is there a desire to try to rebuild a small mass of TOS users to keep the OS alive? Will there one day be an option for add on RAM and video cards? I know that drivers would be an issue for the video cards, but I would pay someone to make drivers for the cards that I’m interested in and give them to the community, so that’d open up at least some choices.

Also, it seems to me that the Firebee org could really find itself latching onto a not so insignification number of sales among musicians if the Firebee could replicate the tight timing that the original ST had with MIDI. AFAIK, no modern computer has managed to do what Atari did in 1985 with a 1ms timing tolerance. I think that the Firebee has MIDI built in (going from memory here) but has the implementation been compared to the original ST line by some musicians?

I realize That this is asking a lot for a project that is on a volunteer basis, but I just wanted to ask. I can’t wait to be able to afford one..... Wish I had never sold my 1040STe. How many Atarians have said that?


I think for Atari midi with FPGA you're better off getting a MIST with midi ports. But from what I gather I think you're hoping for new software development for music software on Firebee, which I highly doubt will ever happen. You can still use the industry standard Cubase on the MIST.
Falcon CT60e 060 - 256mb ram - Phantom bus and DSP accelerated // Atari TT - Thunder and Storm IDE 64mb ram - Lightning VME - USB LAN - ATI Mach64 2mb

penguin
Captain Atari
Captain Atari
Posts: 182
Joined: Tue Dec 24, 2013 10:43 am

Re: Firebee: the long game?

Postby penguin » Sun Mar 17, 2019 5:43 pm

AEWHistory wrote:For example, is there a desire to try to rebuild a small mass of TOS users to keep the OS alive?


As vido wrote, the issue is not a lack of goals or wish lists, but of developers. It's unlikely that donations could persuade someone given that Atari projects these days are largely driven by passion. Fortunately, EmuTOS development doesn't depend on FireBee, the OS is available for lots of systems and updated once or twice each year.

AEWHistory wrote:Also, it seems to me that the Firebee org could really find itself latching onto a not so insignification number of sales among musicians if the Firebee could replicate the tight timing that the original ST had with MIDI. AFAIK, no modern computer has managed to do what Atari did in 1985 with a 1ms timing tolerance. I think that the Firebee has MIDI built in (going from memory here) but has the implementation been compared to the original ST line by some musicians?


Most musicians have long moved on and their workflow depends on modern audio software available for Windows, macOS or even iOS. Others, like Aphex Twin, still use the ST as part of their setup because they may have some MIDI equipment that has good Atari support. The software they use may not run on anything but a standard ST with a monochrome display. So why buy a system that isn't 100% compatible to the ST for software which wouldn't use any of the FireBee's advanced features anyway?

It's best to treat the FireBee as a successor to the previous Atari clones Medusa and Hades. It's a good system if you don't want to hunt for an accelerator and graphics card to use one of those SDL ports.
AtariUpToDate - Atari ST/TT/Falcon software database and version tracker: http://www.atariuptodate.de
st-computer magazine - https://st-computer.atariuptodate.de/

mikro
Hardware Guru
Hardware Guru
Posts: 2034
Joined: Sat Sep 10, 2005 11:11 am
Location: Kosice, Slovakia
Contact:

Re: Firebee: the long game?

Postby mikro » Sun Mar 17, 2019 11:11 pm

penguin wrote:As vido wrote, the issue is not a lack of goals or wish lists, but of developers.

It has been discussed many times, even here. From my, developer's, point of view the biggest issue is the lack of anything even resembling a development attitude - on one hand you get statements like "no, we are all in to open everything, just do it!" and on the other hand the most crucial developers (Didier at that time, Fredi for HW and some others) would just refuse to join and continue cooking stuff in their homes, communicating with Mathias over phone and letting other guess what's going on.

It's best to treat the FireBee as a successor to the previous Atari clones Medusa and Hades. It's a good system if you don't want to hunt for an accelerator and graphics card to use one of those SDL ports.

I certainly hope there's more to it, otherwise you'd be fine with any system having an SDL port available, i.e. basically anything else. :)

Mathias
Atari Super Hero
Atari Super Hero
Posts: 672
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 4:51 pm
Location: Vienna

Re: Firebee: the long game?

Postby Mathias » Tue Mar 19, 2019 6:09 pm

mikro wrote:From my, developer's, point of view the biggest issue is the lack of anything even resembling a development attitude - on one hand you get statements like "no, we are all in to open everything, just do it!" and on the other hand the most crucial developers (Didier at that time, Fredi for HW and some others) would just refuse to join and continue cooking stuff in their homes, communicating with Mathias over phone and letting other guess what's going on.
Yeah, communication is the biggest problem of the project in my opinion. And - as a part of communication issues - also language issues. Some developers do not accept that there are others who do not speak English for example. And Mikro; belive me, most time I have also no chance than "guessing" ;)

From my point of view - now 10 years later - the biggest issue was to mix up the (different) Operating Systems plus end users software with the hardware. So the crowd is eating our time with questions "how to use an Atari". Another huge problem is that nearly nobody likes to take responsibility and really care about the entire project. Sure some parts, some software, some things get done, but the neoliberal attitude of the FOSS community is a pain, ...but back to the initial question:

The FireBee has still a very high potential. The Drivers for a graphic card is already included as Vido told. The FPGA has plenty of possibilities. For example one could include the entire MiST inside the FireBee. In fact we planned an "ST-Mode" in the beginning of the project as 3rd compatibility layer, before we lost all VHDL developers.
Also the inventions the FireBee put to the scene should be noticed. First working USB at the plattform, new Webbrowser ported, brand new and up to date Mailclient, and much more. I belive that it still shall go in this direction. Also the improvements to the machine are not abandoned, just because development is quite slow these days.

About the RAM, there is no Atari software that can use the 512mb at the moment. I think the only case where there could be more RAM at the FireBee is Linux with GCC at the moment.
MegaST 4 with Sounddesigner II MegaBus hardware and 56001, Hades 040, MagiC Mac at Mac OS 9 and a FireBee.

User avatar
wongck
Ultimate Atarian
Ultimate Atarian
Posts: 12774
Joined: Sat May 03, 2008 2:09 pm
Location: Far East
Contact:

Re: Firebee: the long game?

Postby wongck » Tue Mar 19, 2019 11:41 pm

IIRC, I heard that there was speed up in HDD access. What happened to that version?
There is a need for user-friendly based flashing tool to flash the firmware, not one that needs special tools.
My Stuff: FB/Falcon CT63 CTPCI ATI RTL8139 USB 512MB 30GB HDD CF HxC_SD/ TT030 68882 4+32MB 520MB Nova/ 520STFM 4MB Tos206 SCSI
Shared SCSI Bus:ScsiLink ethernet, 9GB HDD,SD-reader @ http://phsw.atari.org
My Atari stuff for sale - click here for list

User avatar
MacFalcon
Captain Atari
Captain Atari
Posts: 324
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2003 1:00 pm
Location: Muenchberg, Germany
Contact:

Re: Firebee: the long game?

Postby MacFalcon » Wed Mar 20, 2019 9:53 am

Well I still really like the Firebee and it's a great machine and still the most compatible tos clone.

No other TOS clone offers mp3 playback
No other TOS clone has as much working games (arkanoid, philia, elansar, Alice's mom's rescue, scummvm with sound)
No other TOS computer is capable of using the Internet and USB like the Firebee does.

It's a perfect mix between modern computer and old school Atari.

My biggest dream is that it can fully replace a ct60 one day. But it still lacks many Falcon gfx modes. Nooone seems to be able to fix this and as you can't for example set VGA resolution (640*480 16 colors) or ST Low (in a usable way) many software refuses to work.

:(

Beside that it's an awesome machine that takes really little space and will still give you the feeling to use a "real" hardware...
Falcon060, 100/25 MHz, 256 MB SD-RAM, PhantomPBS, CTPCI with Radeon, USB and Network Card. atari rulez!

User avatar
MacFalcon
Captain Atari
Captain Atari
Posts: 324
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2003 1:00 pm
Location: Muenchberg, Germany
Contact:

Re: Firebee: the long game?

Postby MacFalcon » Fri Mar 22, 2019 10:15 am

To make things clear: the Firebee can if course display VGA.

Only st compatible color Video modes and 16 color modes are not fully implemented, yet.
Falcon060, 100/25 MHz, 256 MB SD-RAM, PhantomPBS, CTPCI with Radeon, USB and Network Card. atari rulez!

User avatar
mfro
Atari Super Hero
Atari Super Hero
Posts: 806
Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:33 am
Location: SW Germany

Re: Firebee: the long game?

Postby mfro » Fri Mar 22, 2019 5:59 pm

MacFalcon wrote:To make things clear: the Firebee can if course display VGA.

Only st compatible color Video modes and 16 color modes are not fully implemented, yet.


The Firebee can also display ST compatible and 16 colour modes. It's just that FireTOS doesn't implement these.
EmuTOS (while not supporting any higher resolution/colour depths) supports all Falcon video modes (including ST compatible ones) except full colour.

warp12
Atari maniac
Atari maniac
Posts: 99
Joined: Fri Jun 12, 2009 7:03 pm

Re: Firebee: the long game?

Postby warp12 » Fri Mar 22, 2019 11:14 pm

Emulation is the solution. Hardware keeps getting more powerful. Software emulation allows for relatively easy fixes for bugs, and scaled performance improvement. When your "new-ish" hardware platform can't fully emulate a 35-year-old computer...well...

I posted basically the same thing, before the Firebee was even produced. Heck, I even tried to buy a Firebee...but, sadly, bad hardware delayed this beyond the reasonable.
Shane

Mathias
Atari Super Hero
Atari Super Hero
Posts: 672
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 4:51 pm
Location: Vienna

Re: Firebee: the long game?

Postby Mathias » Sat Mar 23, 2019 1:46 am

mfro wrote:
MacFalcon wrote:To make things clear: the Firebee can if course display VGA.

Only st compatible color Video modes and 16 color modes are not fully implemented, yet.


The Firebee can also display ST compatible and 16 colour modes. It's just that FireTOS doesn't implement these.
EmuTOS (while not supporting any higher resolution/colour depths) supports all Falcon video modes (including ST compatible ones) except full colour.

That's a perfect example for what I mean when I am saying mixing up software and hardware was a bad idea. People are blaming the FireBee ongoing for issues concerning programs or OS(parts). And even I didn't think about that the Bee can of course display ST compatible modes, but one OS cannot, ... ;)
MegaST 4 with Sounddesigner II MegaBus hardware and 56001, Hades 040, MagiC Mac at Mac OS 9 and a FireBee.

User avatar
mfro
Atari Super Hero
Atari Super Hero
Posts: 806
Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:33 am
Location: SW Germany

Re: Firebee: the long game?

Postby mfro » Sat Mar 23, 2019 7:00 am

Mathias wrote:That's a perfect example for what I mean when I am saying mixing up software and hardware was a bad idea.


Too bad the mix of hardware and software somehow makes the intrinsic building blocks of all computers? :D

User avatar
mfro
Atari Super Hero
Atari Super Hero
Posts: 806
Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:33 am
Location: SW Germany

Re: Firebee: the long game?

Postby mfro » Sat Mar 23, 2019 7:07 am

warp12 wrote:... When your "new-ish" hardware platform can't fully emulate a 35-year-old computer...well...


There is indeed no point in building a new computer with powerful, modern configurable hardware if you just want the exact same behaviour of an ancient one.

If you want just that, the Firebee is probably not for you.

User avatar
MacFalcon
Captain Atari
Captain Atari
Posts: 324
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2003 1:00 pm
Location: Muenchberg, Germany
Contact:

Re: Firebee: the long game?

Postby MacFalcon » Sat Mar 23, 2019 9:35 am

mfro wrote:
MacFalcon wrote:To make things clear: the Firebee can if course display VGA.

Only st compatible color Video modes and 16 color modes are not fully implemented, yet.


The Firebee can also display ST compatible and 16 colour modes. It's just that FireTOS doesn't implement these.
EmuTOS (while not supporting any higher resolution/colour depths) supports all Falcon video modes (including ST compatible ones) except full colour.


That's interesting... I will try with emutos then ;)

That means even st-low is working and displayed correctly with emutos?
Falcon060, 100/25 MHz, 256 MB SD-RAM, PhantomPBS, CTPCI with Radeon, USB and Network Card. atari rulez!

mehlab
Retro freak
Retro freak
Posts: 16
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:48 am

Re: Firebee: the long game?

Postby mehlab » Sat Mar 23, 2019 3:37 pm

Hello all,

My goal here is to have a little bit more clear picture of the situation so if one of you can help it will be great.

So we have now Combel SCSI and DSP not present (lack of vhdl programmer )
We have firetos (tos 4.04 modify) who exist but due to license can not be open sourced
We have Emutos (Tos by the book) open source written by excellent but few programmer
Am I correct on my statement or am i wrong
will greatly appreciate any one who could help me i am getting old and sometime can not regroup all the idea :)

User avatar
lp
Fuji Shaped Bastard
Fuji Shaped Bastard
Posts: 2442
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2003 11:09 pm
Location: GFA Headquarters
Contact:

Re: Firebee: the long game?

Postby lp » Sat Mar 23, 2019 4:11 pm

MacFalcon wrote:Well I still really like the Firebee and it's a great machine and still the most compatible tos clone.

Never seen a Hades060 I'm guessing? I could run the original GFA editor at 1280x1024x256c with a simple patch program. On the FireBee the original GFA editor is a complete no-go. I don't think the standalone emulator thing can make apps work which do move.b on the stack (not trappable). Omikron basic is another one that won't work. See if you can get either of these to fly.

No other TOS clone offers mp3 playback
No other TOS clone has as much working games (arkanoid, philia, elansar, Alice's mom's rescue, scummvm with sound)
No other TOS computer is capable of using the Internet and USB like the Firebee does.

The Hades plays MP3 and some of those games run. Btw, Hades has compatible ST sound (Yamaha chip) and also a GSXB xbios driver for sound blaster. You might be right about USB, I never explored or liked usb myself. My Hades was on my network for years. Recently USB arrived for the TT, it might catch up.

It's a perfect mix between modern computer and old school Atari.

Always though the same about the Hades. :D Since it offered PCI there was always potential for USB or other cards/drivers.

It's one thing to be enthusiastic, but try and stay realistic. I think some Milan users might also take issue with your "No other" statements. ;)

User avatar
mfro
Atari Super Hero
Atari Super Hero
Posts: 806
Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:33 am
Location: SW Germany

Re: Firebee: the long game?

Postby mfro » Sat Mar 23, 2019 4:20 pm

mehlab wrote:So we have now Combel SCSI and DSP not present (lack of vhdl programmer )
We have firetos (tos 4.04 modify) who exist but due to license can not be open sourced
We have Emutos (Tos by the book) open source written by excellent but few programmer


Basically correct.

But if you judge an OS by the number of programmers that worked on it (probably not a good quality indicator anyway - how many people worked on Windows 10?), you should rather stay away from TOS in general ;). I don't think the number of original Atari coders that worked on TOS outweights the number of people that worked on EmuTOS by many...

BlankVector
Captain Atari
Captain Atari
Posts: 484
Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2007 7:52 pm
Location: France
Contact:

Re: Firebee: the long game?

Postby BlankVector » Sat Mar 23, 2019 4:30 pm

MacFalcon wrote:That means even st-low is working and displayed correctly with emutos?

EmuTOS for the FireBee can switch to ST-Low, yes. It uses the same resolution dialog as EmuTOS on Falcon.
But the picture is shifted due to bugs in the VIDEL implementation inside the FPGA. Fredi improved things a while ago, but AFAIK those fixes have never been released.

And remember: EmuTOS for ColdFire (including for the FireBee) can only run ColdFire programs. Classic 68000 progams will not run.
Subscribe to my Vretrocomputing channel on YouTube and Facebook. Latest video: Display a picture in assembly language on Atari ST.

mehlab
Retro freak
Retro freak
Posts: 16
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:48 am

Re: Firebee: the long game?

Postby mehlab » Sat Mar 23, 2019 5:05 pm

Thank you very much
mfro

for your fast and consice answer and Thank you for your understanding that at no time i was willing to be incorrect to any one

vido
Atari Super Hero
Atari Super Hero
Posts: 694
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 7:39 pm

Re: Firebee: the long game?

Postby vido » Sat Mar 23, 2019 5:35 pm

BlankVector wrote:And remember: EmuTOS for ColdFire (including for the FireBee) can only run ColdFire programs. Classic 68000 progams will not run.

How about 68k emulator you ported it for coldfire?
I guess some 68k software would work using it under EmzTOS?

warp12
Atari maniac
Atari maniac
Posts: 99
Joined: Fri Jun 12, 2009 7:03 pm

Re: Firebee: the long game?

Postby warp12 » Sat Mar 23, 2019 5:42 pm

mfro wrote:
warp12 wrote:... When your "new-ish" hardware platform can't fully emulate a 35-year-old computer...well...


There is indeed no point in building a new computer with powerful, modern configurable hardware if you just want the exact same behaviour of an ancient one.

If you want just that, the Firebee is probably not for you.


The problem is that the Firebee is not really powerful, modern, or all that configurable. Ultimately, it is just destined to be another dead, outdated, hardware platform...like a 1985 machine. It's mostly there, already.

However, pc hardware continues to evolve...and will, for a long time. That is why, imo, emulation is the best solution for the platform. As far as "behavior of an ancient one"...well, why can't you have both capabilities? Look at the Amiga Forever package. Something like that for the TOS platform would be fantastic.

Don't get me wrong...I love Atari hardware. I've got a TT, Falcon, ST's, STE's, etc....but, as far as future-proofing, the best you can hope for is to build upon current hardware trends. Again, imo.
Shane

vido
Atari Super Hero
Atari Super Hero
Posts: 694
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 7:39 pm

Re: Firebee: the long game?

Postby vido » Sat Mar 23, 2019 6:17 pm

warp12 wrote:The problem is that the Firebee is not really powerful, modern, or all that configurable. Ultimately, it is just destined to be another dead, outdated, hardware platform...like a 1985 machine. It's mostly there, already.

However, pc hardware continues to evolve...and will, for a long time. That is why, imo, emulation is the best solution for the platform. As far as "behavior of an ancient one"...well, why can't you have both capabilities? Look at the Amiga Forever package. Something like that for the TOS platform would be fantastic.

We already have both capabilities!
And why would you emulate "not really powerful, modern, or all that configurable" computer on really powerfull, modern and all that configurable computer?

warp12
Atari maniac
Atari maniac
Posts: 99
Joined: Fri Jun 12, 2009 7:03 pm

Re: Firebee: the long game?

Postby warp12 » Sat Mar 23, 2019 6:37 pm

vido wrote:
warp12 wrote:The problem is that the Firebee is not really powerful, modern, or all that configurable. Ultimately, it is just destined to be another dead, outdated, hardware platform...like a 1985 machine. It's mostly there, already.

However, pc hardware continues to evolve...and will, for a long time. That is why, imo, emulation is the best solution for the platform. As far as "behavior of an ancient one"...well, why can't you have both capabilities? Look at the Amiga Forever package. Something like that for the TOS platform would be fantastic.

We already have both capabilities!
And why would you emulate "not really powerful, modern, or all that configurable" computer on really powerfull, modern and all that configurable computer?


I don't really understand what you are saying. You are saying it is better to not have legacy support than it is to have legacy support? That it is better to have your cake, but not eat it, too? Do you think that having a powerful TOS machine means that it cannot support legacy software? These are not mutually exclusive, from a hardware standpoint.

You are saying that the best solution for the future is a 266 mhz cpu (not even fully native 68k compatible), with compact flash storage, and very limited expansion?

Obviously, this platform is not attracting many new "power users". Of course people would like to use their old favorites on a new system. But, emulation allows both legacy support and scaled performance increases.
Shane


Social Media

     

Return to “FireBee”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests