Once the new model of MSX comes out...

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Van Xenophon

Supporter (11)

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04-02-2016, 14:23

I believe an FPGa loads it's configuration on start-up, which configures the hardware on the chip. It's a sort of cross between hardware and software allowing for development of ASICs etc. Though in my opinion it is not true hardware as the logic is not permanently fixed and is lost on power-down ! Though FPGa are excellent for development purposes it could be argued that they emulate hardware using software that configures their internal logic ! It's a bit like an actor using make-up to impersonate anther person.. though it may fool people it still not the real thing !

As for the ZX Vega... not a Z80 CPU in sight so how can it really be a ZX Spectrum !

Van l_oliveira

Hero (533)

afbeelding van l_oliveira

04-02-2016, 14:34

zPasi wrote:
Dirty Harry wrote:

And I'm not talking about software emulation like running a MSX emulator on a Raspberry-pi. The ZX Vega uses this approach, which is dreadful !!

ZX Vega is dreadful mainly for other reasons than using emulation...

Dirty Harry wrote:

Or using Hardware emulation (FPGA) like a Altera DE0 board programmed to act like an MSX ! I mean using Real chips like Z80,V9958 YM2149 etc !!

FPGA implementation is NOT emulation, it's a real circuit! Take a discontinued chip, like the MSX-Engine S3527. You could re-create it using discrete logics. Or you could do it in VHDL. If you had a lot of money, you could have that VHDL manufactured in ASIC, a real chip! But burning that design to an FPGA works as well. For a user, there is absolutely no difference!

That's exactly what those "Gate Array" chips we find on original MSX2 or newer Japanese MSX computers. Each chip making company (Toshiba, Fujitsu, Mitsubishi, NEC, Hitachi, Ricoh, Sharp and others) had a "package" which included a custom RAM based ASIC prototyping kit (like a FPGA, but very clunky and big) which would be used to test a "program"(VHDL like) proprietary description language. Once the customer was satisfied with the prototype of the design, it would be sent back to the factory where a "ROM" version of the design would be made using actual photographic die etching. That's how these model specific gate array chips were made.

That was known as "foundry" IC design I believe. Also that's how Yamaha (at the time it was fab-less or without it's own IC factory) developed their chips which then would be "pressed" into real final chips at Sharp, Hitachi, NEC or Ricoh.
A lot of arcade hardware was also made that way (SEGA, Konami, Namco and such to mention some).

Van zPasi

Champion (499)

afbeelding van zPasi

04-02-2016, 22:16

Xenophon wrote:

I believe an FPGa loads it's configuration on start-up, which configures the hardware on the chip.

That's one technical difference vs real ASIC. Another (considering retro-computers) is that FPGAs are not 5 V tolerant, you'll need level shifters or resistors to interface them to typical MSX circuits. But as long as these details are properly handled, a typical user doesn't care much if a chip inside is a real retro MSX piece or not, when it works just as well.

BTW: CPLDs contain also the flash memory, and many of them are 5 V tolerant.

Xenophon wrote:

Though FPGa are excellent for development purposes it could be argued that they emulate hardware using software that configures their internal logic ! It's a bit like an actor using make-up to impersonate anther person.. though it may fool people it still not the real thing !

Well, as some chips, like MSX-engines are not manufactured anymore, most of us accept replacements made of 74-series logic as "real". Making the replacement from CPLD or FPGA is not much different, only more economical.

However, some chips may even have "sentimental value", like the old trusty, legendary Z80. Or a VDP or PSG. There may be even inaccuraties in the FPGA-ilmpelentations of those, but improvements are constantly made.

So, if and when making a new MSX model, we should find the right balance of the costs and that how "real" it will be. One approach could be a device that's FPGA-based, but comes with "slots" of some kind to insert real Z80, VDP etc if the user so chooses. (And, if the user finds them somewhere. Some, like Z80 are easy to find, some others not.)

l_oliveira wrote:

That's exactly what those "Gate Array" chips we find on original MSX2 or newer Japanese MSX computers. Each chip making company (Toshiba, Fujitsu, Mitsubishi, NEC, Hitachi, Ricoh, Sharp and others) had a "package" which included a custom RAM based ASIC prototyping kit (like a FPGA, but very clunky and big) which would be used to test a "program"(VHDL like) proprietary description language. Once the customer was satisfied with the prototype of the design, it would be sent back to the factory where a "ROM" version of the design would be made using actual photographic die etching. That's how these model specific gate array chips were made.

That's very interesting!

Van l_oliveira

Hero (533)

afbeelding van l_oliveira

04-02-2016, 23:24

This is the inside of my VG-8020/00. I did some upgrades to it (I made it 60Hz NTSC, modified BIOS to work correctly at 60Hz and added mapper init routine then added 256KB mapper).

It's not less MSX than a VG-8020/20 which has a S3527 chip engine, because the S3527 does exactly what that kilogram of TTLs do. ;)

Van hit9918

Prophet (2921)

afbeelding van hit9918

05-02-2016, 15:42

Generaly about the thread.
The only way I see.
Is that someone makes the fpga code for turbo z80 + compatible slot.
How about in 2017 match panasonic 1990.
Why is the #1 issue never discussed.

Van hit9918

Prophet (2921)

afbeelding van hit9918

05-02-2016, 16:27

Another thing is that a new model should have a rear slot.
It makes an essential physical difference.
The other essential that is never talked.

Van hit9918

Prophet (2921)

afbeelding van hit9918

07-02-2016, 00:04

Quote:

Though in my opinion it is not true hardware as the logic is not permanently fixed and is lost on power-down !

What counts is what the user gets out of the black box.
The great thing is that one can download updates.
The lack of reverse engineering knowledge can be postponed.
One day it might have the turboR slot.
And then "true hardware" like a 7Mhz kit goes wrong and the fpga goes like TurboR.

Van Xenophon

Supporter (11)

afbeelding van Xenophon

11-02-2016, 15:44

Will this survey be used to make a NEW MSX ?? otherwise what is the purpose of it ?

Perhaps trying to collaborate with a Retro Computer Charity like :

http://www.retrocomputermuseum.co.uk/

http://www.computinghistory.org.uk/

Then they might help organise funding and the design work etc , worth a try if anyone knows people that work for them !

Van Kai Magazine

Paragon (1418)

afbeelding van Kai Magazine

19-02-2016, 12:02

This is the weirdest thing I have ever seen, but they managed to get twice the funding they need, in just a few days:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/specialstage/ming-micro...

Perhaps there is still a market for 8 bit hardware?

Van ivke2006

Expert (80)

afbeelding van ivke2006

19-02-2016, 18:15

Quote:

Perhaps there is still a market for 8 bit hardware?

Can you imagine what happens if this was a high speed MSX2 compatible board with some extended VDP capabilities? Cool
btw only realistic if FPGA technologie is used..

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