What features an "ideal" MSX combo-cartridge should have?

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By Alexey

Guardian (3355)

Alexey's picture

01-04-2022, 15:13

We all know several MSX combo-cartridges: FlashJacks, Carnivore2, MFR, GR8NET. They have a few common features, but in other features they are quite different. I was always wondering what feature set an "ideal" combo-cartridge should have? Does it make sense to have all MSX sound cards in? Or maybe a cartridge should have 2 or more SD/CF cards? Should there be a Wifi or wired network with access to the Cloud service that serves games and disk images? Should there be a more flexible memory management? Bigger FlashROM? More RAM? Does FMPAC SRAM emulation still makes sense? Are there any completely new features that none of the cartridges have yet, but people would like to get?

So, what features an "ideal" MSX combo-cartridge should have? Your thoughts are appreciated!

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By ro

Scribe (4670)

ro's picture

01-04-2022, 15:18

Good one.
If you look at the classic extensions, I'd say
- SCC, SCCI
- MSX music, SRAM
- MSX audio
Adding scene stuff:
- OPL4
- VG9990
- IDE
with modern tech:
- Mass Storage solution (CF, USB, any)

By gdx

Enlighted (5350)

gdx's picture

01-04-2022, 15:40

And why not make a diskless combo cartridge full customizable (with SCCI, RAM expansion, MSX music, MSX audio, multi-mapper with sram, expansion RAM, OPL4, SN76489, V9990, etc)?
This would allow to have more features at the same time on MSXs with two cartridge slots without losing TPA memory.

By Manuel

Ascended (18724)

Manuel's picture

01-04-2022, 16:23

I really love the fully configurable RAM of the CW, so I would really like to see that as well. But make it a bit bigger, please, so even 4MB ROM files can be loaded.

By aoineko

Champion (407)

aoineko's picture

01-04-2022, 19:37

My dream cartridge :
- 2 x SD card reader
- USB link to PC or USB Key (as a virtual drive)
- MegaFlashROM 4MB
- MSX-DOS 1/2 or ROM boot
- SCC & MSX-Music (MSX-Audio, OPL4 & dual-PSG are bonus)
- 64K+ RAM

A kind of mix between MFR SCC+ SD + Rookie + Sound cartridge.

By erpirao

Paragon (1250)

erpirao's picture

01-04-2022, 21:00

I think it would be a great idea if the possible device was configurable at startup
that is, many times we are not going to use scc+fm+audio+ram, or several devices,
If there was a c2/fj type menu that would allow you to activate the modules that you are going to use at startup, you could reflash the fpga (if you use fpga), and activate it.
do you want fm+sd(CF)?, check box 1 and 3
you want sd(CF)+ram: 2 and 3
and by god, let the menu adapt to the machine, sc1 in msx1 sc6/7 msx2...

By friguron

Master (186)

friguron's picture

01-04-2022, 21:24

erpirao wrote:

I think it would be a great idea if the possible device was configurable at startup
that is, many times we are not going to use scc+fm+audio+ram, or several devices,
If there was a c2/fj type menu that would allow you to activate the modules that you are going to use at startup, you could reflash the fpga (if you use fpga), and activate it.
do you want fm+sd(CF)?, check box 1 and 3
you want sd(CF)+ram: 2 and 3
and by god, let the menu adapt to the machine, sc1 in msx1 sc6/7 msx2...

That's precisely what I remember GR8NET can do (not in an automatic way, you have to actually rewrite/choose the desired image you want from the catalogue of images Eugeny offers on his web page).

I rarely use the mp3 player for example, so I don't tipically flash this image, I tend to use the default one which is, otoh thankfully, really full of nice features...

By Manuel

Ascended (18724)

Manuel's picture

01-04-2022, 21:34

Oh, and ideally, it can be completely upgraded from the MSX or via another very simple method, not requiring use external (PC) tools, or opening the cartridge.

By sdsnatcher73

Prophet (3010)

sdsnatcher73's picture

02-04-2022, 05:40

For me the basics are:

  1. SD card for storage
  2. 512kB RAM
  3. 8MB flash storage
  4. SCC-I

To make it ideal I would say it needs:

  1. SD card for storage
  2. 8MB RAM (usable for memory mapper up to 4MB, ROM emulation up to 4MB, MSX-Audio sample RAM, OPL4 RAM)
  3. 16MB flash storage
  4. dual PSG (ePSG?)
  5. dual SCC-I
  6. dual MSX-Music (1 memory mapped, 1 I/O)
  7. dual MSX-Audio (on main and alternate ports)
  8. PAC S-RAM with backup battery
  9. OPL4

I know that’s a lot and it may seem over the top but there is software out there that uses 2x MSX-Music, as well as 2x MSX-Audio. If these became the go-to combo-carts maybe new software would support it as well. A tool to configure what should be active is needed of course, this can be either “online” (like in FlashJack’s config tool during boot) or “offline” like C2’s configuration tool.

By sdsnatcher73

Prophet (3010)

sdsnatcher73's picture

02-04-2022, 07:34

Oh and of course panning support (so left, center, right setting) for each audio chip output.

Also nice is a way to disable audio to slot GR8NET has a hardware switch but it could also be a option in the boot menu.

Keyclick would be nice (then entire audio is separate from MSX). With volume control Wink

By gdx

Enlighted (5350)

gdx's picture

02-04-2022, 10:16

The problem with wifi is that you have to establish an insecure connection.

The Cloud service is not really interesting except maybe for some personal uses because it's easier and faster to place the files on the flash card yourself with a PC and we can classify them in our own way.

In addition, more devices a cartridge has in one, more it must be configured often. An diskless combo cartridge in extra saves us from having to configure too often and allows more functions at the same time and gives access to them to those who already have an interface even with the simplest ones.

It is also possible to add an option to disable the flash card interface and thus be able to enable an additional device when we have two interface, but this costs more, and, too complex hardware have more often issues than simple devices.

sdsnatcher73 wrote:

PAC S-RAM with backup battery

Why the PAC S-RAM only? Multi-mapper can be with the appropriate SRAM, including the Game master 2 SRAM.

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