AEWHistory wrote:Does anyone know what the long term goals are for this hardware?
I've had my Firebee since 2011, but unfortunately it has seen virtually no use the last few years. There are several reasons for this, but to me the single biggest problem with the Firebee is it's CPU/MMU and the lack of support for it in MiNT. The rest of the machine suits my use fine, despite it's many quirks. It is the fastest dedicated hardware out there (some here has spoken about emulation - not interesting at all to me), it has lots of RAM, big resolutions with Falcon compatible 16 bit pixels, can use real keyboards and it runs MiNT/XaAES very nicely which is all I need.
What it is not
is what it attempts to be - a modern Falcon. The design is too far from the Falcon to be even remotely compatible. With the exception of the partial Videl compatibility there is nothing "Falcon" about it at all. There is no Falcon sound hardware, and there never can be (unless someone comes up with a hardware patch for the missing FPGA<->sound mixer analog connection or a separate DAC board). Compatibility with legacy software is even less than clones like the Hades and Milan thanks to the CPU differences. But if you're looking for a clone to run GEM software on it's not a bad choice at all.
People are talking about implementing the DSP in the FPGA, not sure how to tie that in with the existing sound hardware. I see no point in a DSP, it will contribute virtually nothing to compatibility and it will be slower than using the CPU for new developments.
After using the Firebee as my main Atari for around four years I switched back to the Milan for GEM-stuff. Yes, it's slower but still plenty fast enough. It's more stable, and most importantly MiNT's memory protection works on it. I miss full HD in 16 bit from the Firebee, but that's it. For legacy stuff and games/demos I have a Falcon060.
There is still work being done on the Firebee, and one day I hope to find some use for it again.