Project Orbit - PCB update

Project Orbit - PCB update

by Jorito on 06-10-2012, 10:59
Topic: Hardware
Tags: Orbit, Worp3
Languages:

WORP3 has been making interesting progress on Project Orbit, the MSX compatible music computer on which we reported earlier. With the casing and connectors complete, it was high time to work on Orbit's internals.

Earlier this week, the first 3 PCB boards (power switch, joystick connector and MSX cartridge port) have been designed and assembled into the prototype. You can check out WORP3's website for photos and more information.

Relevant link: WORP3 website

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Comments (45)

By Meits

Scribe (5665)

Meits's picture

06-10-2012, 11:39

Need it...

By RobertVroemisse

Paragon (1235)

RobertVroemisse's picture

06-10-2012, 12:07

Desperately...

By alexworp3

Expert (126)

alexworp3's picture

06-10-2012, 12:17

same here

By vanfanel

Champion (446)

vanfanel's picture

06-10-2012, 13:13

How nice! I want it, too!

By roadfighter

Champion (395)

roadfighter's picture

06-10-2012, 16:27

Yep! like it to. Want one.

By MsxKun

Paladin (924)

MsxKun's picture

06-10-2012, 17:28

Cute. Tiny. I'd like to see what the soft can make with it. I'd like to don't have to make all the soft for new features myself Tongue Tho I like to check and program new stuff... and it's so lovely... Hope it's a success!

By PingPong

Prophet (3460)

PingPong's picture

06-10-2012, 20:03

Ok. an empty box. What about tech spec?

By WORP3

Paladin (804)

WORP3's picture

06-10-2012, 20:11

All good things takes time.
At the moment I'm busy designing the mainbord, I will update the hardware specification when I'm finished with the board.

By WORP3

Paladin (804)

WORP3's picture

06-10-2012, 20:13

Btw, thanks for the exhilarating words, really appreciate it Hannibal

By PingPong

Prophet (3460)

PingPong's picture

06-10-2012, 21:17

WORP3 wrote:

Btw, thanks for the exhilarating words, really appreciate it Hannibal

Do not misunderstand me, please. It's only that tech specs (the metal) are for me the real interesting thing before any other.
For example: how you manage the old vdp crappy ware? It's a kind of emulation? Do you plan to implement a FPGA? or what ever?

By WORP3

Paladin (804)

WORP3's picture

07-10-2012, 00:10

Yes, definitely a FPGA !
The VDP is getting a separate memory bus so it can work at a higher bandwidth.

By janghang

Expert (115)

janghang's picture

07-10-2012, 01:11

really looking forward to seeing the first prototype soon!

By vanfanel

Champion (446)

vanfanel's picture

07-10-2012, 02:49

WORP3: FPGA is the way to go, yes. And T80 just passed ZEXALL tests, so it's as compatible as it can be for a project like this.

By WORP3

Paladin (804)

WORP3's picture

07-10-2012, 08:52

But i'm not going to use the t80, it hasn't a 32 bits architecture and is also to slow.

By PingPong

Prophet (3460)

PingPong's picture

07-10-2012, 13:39

WORP3 wrote:

Yes, definitely a FPGA !
The VDP is getting a separate memory bus so it can work at a higher bandwidth.

that's great!
are you planning a separate FPGA for VDP or for the AUDIO part? (PSG, SCC, FM- part?)

By mesiasmsx

Prophet (3173)

mesiasmsx's picture

07-10-2012, 15:00

Nice! I want more! Smile

By RetroTechie

Paragon (1563)

RetroTechie's picture

07-10-2012, 15:20

Nice to see this project produce some real results.

But IMHO it should have a more informative name than something vague like "project Orbit". Something that more covers intended audience... Say, "MSX Music Box" or in that direction. Smile2

By mais1976

Master (169)

mais1976's picture

07-10-2012, 21:10

Very Nice! Big smile

By WORP3

Paladin (804)

WORP3's picture

07-10-2012, 22:42

PingPong wrote:
WORP3 wrote:

Yes, definitely a FPGA !
The VDP is getting a separate memory bus so it can work at a higher bandwidth.

that's great!
are you planning a separate FPGA for VDP or for the AUDIO part? (PSG, SCC, FM- part?)

No their will be only one FPGA, but video and audio will both get their specific controller/driver/dac, no resistor network or something like that.

By spl

Paragon (1461)

spl's picture

08-10-2012, 14:34

Great Big smile

By sd_snatcher

Prophet (3095)

sd_snatcher's picture

08-10-2012, 23:30

@WORP3

32bit? Will it be a Z380 core on FPGA?

Note: Yes, I know the original Z380 was 16bit, but it's the closest thing to a 32bit architecture on the Z80 world.

By WORP3

Paladin (804)

WORP3's picture

09-10-2012, 09:19

Nope, no Z380 core or one of the other Zilog products, I will be my own core which will have (besides the z80/r800 set) also special opcodes for the 32 bits transfers, calculations, OS support, etc.
Don't forget that the whole internal architecture will be different so standard cores won't be really compatible.

By MsxKun

Paladin (924)

MsxKun's picture

09-10-2012, 10:24

@WORP: So, to take profit of that, it's gonna need new software. Who's gonna make it?

By NYYRIKKI

Enlighted (5402)

NYYRIKKI's picture

09-10-2012, 12:32

WORP3 wrote:

Nope, no Z380 core or one of the other Zilog products, I will be my own core which will have (besides the z80/r800 set) also special opcodes for the 32 bits transfers, calculations, OS support, etc.
Don't forget that the whole internal architecture will be different so standard cores won't be really compatible.

I must say this is the most interesting part... So, what we are exactly talking here? Custom microcode hacked into some modern 32bit CPU?

Names? Numbers? Factory? Progress vs Plans?

By WORP3

Paladin (804)

WORP3's picture

09-10-2012, 13:21

@MsxKun, you don't need new software for the msx part itself. Off-coarse we from the WORP3 team will need to write or rewrite some exciting roms so you can access the newer functions/disk/memory etc.

@NYYRIKKI, we are talking about a new OS that is running on a custom CPU that is binary z80/R800 code compatible, not some modern 32 bits CPU like an ARM. Besides the OS specific op-codes, all other additional op-codes are accessible from the MSX part.

By NYYRIKKI

Enlighted (5402)

NYYRIKKI's picture

09-10-2012, 13:58

WORP3 wrote:

custom CPU that is binary z80/R800 code compatible

Yes, but I mean just this "custom CPU"-part... Could you open up this even a little bit more?

If I understood correctly you are not planning to implement CPU on FPGA and I find it quite unreal to think that there is somewhere a CPU factory that will make your custom CPU from scratch, so only thing I can think of is custom microcode in existing CPU... Or have you possibly won in a lottery lately?

(For people who don't know what microcode is: In modern CPUs microcode is layer before machine code, that is used to make CPU binary compatible with previous CPU-models although actual hardware is different. Usually microcode can be altered only in factory)

By WORP3

Paladin (804)

WORP3's picture

09-10-2012, 15:07

NYYRIKKI wrote:
WORP3 wrote:

custom CPU that is binary z80/R800 code compatible

Yes, but I mean just this "custom CPU"-part... Could you open up this even a little bit more?

Oh no, sorry if I misguided you, the CPU will definitely be build inside the FPGA, their is probably no company crazy enough to build me a custom CPU just for the Orbit project Wink

By Capitan_Goto

Master (168)

Capitan_Goto's picture

09-10-2012, 16:20

Ok..sure that still is a little premature but...WORP3...can you say us, approx, the final price of one Orbit unit? wich is the expected final price per unit?

By WORP3

Paladin (804)

WORP3's picture

09-10-2012, 20:05

That is really premature Wink
It all depends on the number of people that wan't to buy it.
The proto's are really expensive but if I must build a couple of thousands of those they will become cheaper.
probably the FPGA is the most expensive of the whole system. Btw it's almost curtain that it's going to be the Altera 5CEA5, shoot now i did give you some more spec. points Wink

By Konamito

Paragon (1028)

Konamito's picture

09-10-2012, 23:35

Nice project. But for me only if it is affordable I´ll buy it. Maybe less than 200€?

Is soon to talk about price so let this come out into light first...

By spl

Paragon (1461)

spl's picture

10-10-2012, 09:46

WORP3 wrote:

That is really premature Wink
It all depends on the number of people that wan't to buy it.
The proto's are really expensive but if I must build a couple of thousands of those they will become cheaper.
probably the FPGA is the most expensive of the whole system. Btw it's almost curtain that it's going to be the Altera 5CEA5, shoot now i did give you some more spec. points Wink

I'll follow the news Smile

By Konamito

Paragon (1028)

Konamito's picture

10-10-2012, 12:37

spl wrote:
WORP3 wrote:

That is really premature Wink
It all depends on the number of people that wan't to buy it.
The proto's are really expensive but if I must build a couple of thousands of those they will become cheaper.
probably the FPGA is the most expensive of the whole system. Btw it's almost curtain that it's going to be the Altera 5CEA5, shoot now i did give you some more spec. points Wink

I'll follow the news Smile

Me too Wink

By djh1697

Paragon (1412)

djh1697's picture

10-10-2012, 12:44

I do not see an MSX logo on the empty box? Is the because of licence fees payable to the MSX association ?

By WORP3

Paladin (804)

WORP3's picture

10-10-2012, 18:47

That is correct and their won't be any.
-The first reason is that it's officially not an MSX but a machine that is able to run MSX software and can handle most of it's hardware. Don't forget that Orbit is going to be a lot more that a MSX.
-The second is off-coarse that the name MSX is licensed, but you already had guessed that part Wink

Maybe we can make some additional branding plates so some individuals can change the Orbit to a MSX logo ?!?!

By mesiasmsx

Prophet (3173)

mesiasmsx's picture

11-10-2012, 14:19

I want more!!!! Smile

By snout

Ascended (15187)

snout's picture

11-10-2012, 14:26

As for the licensing, this is not necessarily a problem. For a free or cheap emulator the issues are clear, but for a relatively expensive device like this licensing might actually be an option. I'm not saying that you have to do it, but it is definitely not impossible.

By Meits

Scribe (5665)

Meits's picture

11-10-2012, 17:02

Having an empty bios and the possibility to flash it from an usb stick with a bios downloaded from you know where (like in emulators) might be an option as well...

By WORP3

Paladin (804)

WORP3's picture

11-10-2012, 21:40

The best thing for get the highest performance is to write our own bios, but this will take time....

By PingPong

Prophet (3460)

PingPong's picture

16-10-2012, 14:57

WORP3 wrote:

Nope, no Z380 core or one of the other Zilog products, I will be my own core which will have (besides the z80/r800 set) also special opcodes for the 32 bits transfers, calculations, OS support, etc.
Don't forget that the whole internal architecture will be different so standard cores won't be really compatible.

would be nice to have a SWI32 or SWI8 opcodes to switch to 32 bit mode or older z80 mode.

Having an extended, more orthogonal istruction set also z80 inspired, but with the 32 addressing and data power will be a great thing...

No need to maintain the z80 binary compatibility when in SWI32 mode. only assembler compabibility...
But what on complexity ? (How is complex to do this on FPGA?)

By WORP3

Paladin (804)

WORP3's picture

16-10-2012, 15:17

It isn't even complex for a FPGA but going to full 32 Bits isn't always better as it will consume more memory bandwidth.
I do have some nice thoughts about the internal and external CPU structure. Also did made a lot of timing diagrams for it.
I think you will like it, it's a mixture of the old and the new but overall powerful Wink

By PingPong

Prophet (3460)

PingPong's picture

16-10-2012, 20:56

WORP3 wrote:

It isn't even complex for a FPGA but going to full 32 Bits isn't always better as it will consume more memory bandwidth.
I do have some nice thoughts about the internal and external CPU structure. Also did made a lot of timing diagrams for it.
I think you will like it, it's a mixture of the old and the new but overall powerful Wink

one nice thing would be reducing the n. of cycles needed to perform some operations.
I think some issues, like the refresh cycle can be stripped down. and maybe one can do both execution and decoding of next instruction in parallel....

By WORP3

Paladin (804)

WORP3's picture

16-10-2012, 23:14

Refresh cycles will be eliminated in total, no need for that anymore Wink
Don't worry, keeping the clocks/instruction as low as possible is one of my biggest concern. Improving the z80 won't be really hard as it's using a enormous amounts of clk cycles per instruction.

By Ivan

Ascended (9123)

Ivan's picture

22-10-2012, 21:32

It looks so sweeeeet. I want one! A second cartridge slot would be a nice addition (too late maybe?).

By WORP3

Paladin (804)

WORP3's picture

22-10-2012, 21:49

Ivan wrote:

It looks so sweeeeet. I want one! A second cartridge slot would be a nice addition (too late maybe?).

Nope, it's not to late for that as there is a high speed expansion connector present on the backside Wink
Making a slot expanded that can be connected to that port isn't that hard.

By Capitan_Goto

Master (168)

Capitan_Goto's picture

26-10-2012, 11:58

It would be great to use the existing slot expanders [ Padial, Carchano, etc ] on the Orbit !!