ZX-UNO Spectrum FPGA

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Re: ZX-UNO Spectrum FPGA

Postby NML32 » Mon Mar 21, 2016 2:40 am

@Newsdee thank for the info and I don't trust my soldering skills either only for very simple jobs.

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Re: ZX-UNO Spectrum FPGA

Postby Newsdee » Mon Mar 21, 2016 6:29 am

I was looking yesterday at FPGAs that might be easy to assemble.

I've found this modular kit on Aliexpress that looks interesting, but the FPGA is only 10K LE (compare to 25K with the MiST) and there is a bunch of stuff I dont really need:
http://m.aliexpress.com/item/3252927375 ... sitedetail

Price is not horrible so maybe there is a version with less components at a cheaper price.

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Re: ZX-UNO Spectrum FPGA

Postby vebxenon » Mon Mar 21, 2016 8:43 am

Newsdee wrote:
vebxenon wrote:Master System core using some improvements on T80 works better, for example :D


Sure but is that just because of the SDRAM, or the HDL code? If it's just a difference in HDL it can be ported back to the MiST?


As far as I know, my friend Quest used the T80 core from ZX-UNO instead of the T80 core used in the MiST Master System one. Alex Kidd in Miracle World, for example, works like a charm. In the MiST Core in doesn't even boot.

He also has fixed some graphical problems and the PSG now sounds like a real SMS (correct pitch and tone).
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Re: ZX-UNO Spectrum FPGA

Postby Newsdee » Mon Mar 21, 2016 12:12 pm

Do you have the link of the FTP server wih the source? I found it in one forum Saturday, but can't remember which one. I think it wasn't Zone de Pruebas though.

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Re: ZX-UNO Spectrum FPGA

Postby vebxenon » Mon Mar 21, 2016 12:42 pm

Newsdee wrote:Do you have the link of the FTP server wih the source? I found it in one forum Saturday, but can't remember which one. I think it wasn't Zone de Pruebas though.


http://www.atc.us.es/svn/zxuno/cores/sm ... test1/src/
http://www.atc.us.es/svn/zxuno/cores/sm ... test2/src/

Here I've found two sources, both available here http://www.atc.us.es/svn/zxuno/ (user: guest pass: zxuno)

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Salva

PS: I'm going to contact Quest to know if there are more new sources.
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Re: ZX-UNO Spectrum FPGA

Postby Newsdee » Mon Mar 21, 2016 4:05 pm

Well... I tried merging the files but I got stuck on the use of Xilinx specific macros which I don't know how to translate to Altera (e.g. RAMB16_S1_S1 from UNISIM). Oh well was worth a shot :(

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Re: ZX-UNO Spectrum FPGA

Postby Sorgelig » Thu May 12, 2016 4:35 am

For me, the only interesting part in ZXUno project - is Sam Coupe core. It's much easier to make it with SRAM than SDRAM. The problem is video which can be anywhere in 512kb, so my trick with video cache in FPGA RAM cannot be used.
Actually, it should be possible to use SDRAM. It just need some good memory manager.
Except SRAM this board is not interesting. According to sources, VGA output is 3bits per channel.

Actually, most popular Spectrum features are already supported in my core.

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Re: ZX-UNO Spectrum FPGA

Postby Newsdee » Thu May 12, 2016 3:31 pm

SRAM does allow running some cores not available for the MIST, like the Bagman arcade. The SMS core also seems better until somebody ports it back.

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Re: ZX-UNO Spectrum FPGA

Postby farvardin » Fri May 13, 2016 1:09 pm

Sorgelig wrote:Except SRAM this board is not interesting.


I think it's an interesting board anyway, it's smaller than MiST, cheaper, has a "ear" input. It might not be interesting for everyone, but it's a board made by passionate hobbyists and thus it deserves respect for this. I wonder how the beeper and AY musics sound on it.

Yet I prefer the MiST, even if it's more expensive, it can emulate so many systems (my beloved ST as well). And your core is very good. The ula+ is wonderful, now this core on the MiST can do so much... thanks a lot.

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Re: ZX-UNO Spectrum FPGA

Postby Newsdee » Sat May 14, 2016 12:28 am

I prefer the MiST by a large mile and hope it keeps getting developer support. I think the MIST still has a lot of unexplored potential and it can house many future projects, both extensions of current cores and future ones. The fact that people are pushing the envelope for it reminds me of the demoscene days :)

I'm all for diversity when it comes to open-source though, especially if they have something a bit different. The ZX-Uno guys thought they could make a cheap-ish board only specialized for a few cores; and they seem to be doing well so more power to them. There is a bit of danger of fragmenting the developer community... but one has to hope that at least developers on Altera could be convinced to port to the MiST (or have somebody port a core for them).

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Re: ZX-UNO Spectrum FPGA

Postby vebxenon » Sat May 14, 2016 5:36 pm

farvardin wrote:
Sorgelig wrote:Except SRAM this board is not interesting.


I think it's an interesting board anyway, it's smaller than MiST, cheaper, has a "ear" input. It might not be interesting for everyone, but it's a board made by passionate hobbyists and thus it deserves respect for this. I wonder how the beeper and AY musics sound on it.

Yet I prefer the MiST, even if it's more expensive, it can emulate so many systems (my beloved ST as well). And your core is very good. The ula+ is wonderful, now this core on the MiST can do so much... thanks a lot.


An ZX-UNO like its name says... it's a ZX Spectrum range clone made by ZX Spectrum users.
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Re: ZX-UNO Spectrum FPGA

Postby Newsdee » Sun Nov 06, 2016 10:51 am

Reviving an old thread, just to say these are out now and I've got mine recently. For those that just read about this, its another FPGA like the MiST but with a smaller FPGA (9K LE). Its also cheaper at 60 to 100 Euros (depending on options)

Besides the crowdfunded boards, there are small production runs done by different people. Some have minor changes (e.g. VGA soldered to.board) but are 100% compatible.

The cores are preloaded in a Flash ROM (similar to the TC64). This leads to a different handling than the MiST in that you can boot without any SD card. This is definitely better for new users and if you'll mostly focus on a few cores. You need to install new cores from a PC; but its not a major problem. The biggest downside is the smaller FPGA which rules out some cores, but its a nice introduction board for people interested in FPGA retro computing.

So far I've only used it with the RCA out which is very decent. Didn't get a chance to try other cores than the spectrum but some support only VGA out (so get the adapter cable or a board with VGA output). A few new cores have popped up recently so it looks very promising.

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Re: ZX-UNO Spectrum FPGA

Postby Sorgelig » Sun Nov 06, 2016 11:46 am

Newsdee wrote:The biggest downside is the smaller FPGA which rules out some cores

there a several big downsides:
1) small FPGA (it's not only smaller by LE, but also smaller FPGA RAM which is cruicial for some implementations).
2) small RAM chip. Only 512kb. The usage of RAM is not only for emulated systems, but also for DISK/Tape buffers.
3) no MCU. So handling SD card is extremely difficult. On MiST you simply ask MCU to supply the data from virtual disk or tape, and core will get it without messing with SD card filesystem. On ZX UNO you can't do this. You have to add virtual MCU with its own firmware to handle SD card. It will require RAM (remember about 2) and RAM access time. And it also means "No affordable OSD".
4) only 3 bits per color channel. With downsides 1-3, this downside can be disregarded since more color demanding cores can't be implemented anyway.
5) no USB. It means you cannot put the board somewhere behind TV or even inside TV stand and use wireless keyboard and wireless joystick.

Basically, ZX UNO has been created around ZX Spectrum 128 + DivMMC. And because it has DivMMC you don't need any MCU. Fat16/32 and Menu are directly handled by DivMMC firmware. This is ideal core for ZX UNO (hence the name). Everything else will require a lot (A LOT) of work to port. Actually, team behind ZX Uno could think about it and provide a working module which emulates MCU at some level, so porting form MiST (cores which can fit Uno's FPGA/RAM) could be more or less straight forward. But so far there is no such module.

If you have MiST already, then don't bother getting ZX Uno. If you are looking for cheaper retro board mainly for ZX Spectrum - then ZX Uno is right for you. But remember, you won't get many cores with common easy to use OSD.

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Re: ZX-UNO Spectrum FPGA

Postby Newsdee » Sun Nov 06, 2016 1:48 pm

There is Alistair's ZPU Flex as minimalist MCU core: http://retroramblings.net/?page_id=627 It's used by the MiST in the PC Engine and MSX cores, and I think in the ZxUno for the NES (it looks the same at least). Of course, it eats 500 to 1000 LE so that's less rooms for the cores to do something else. And I don't know how easy or difficult it is to develop for it.

In any case, I'd say the boards fill different niches with their different prices and features. I don't see direct competition... the MiST is the more powerful and "consolized" choice and the ZxUno is a bit more hobbyist at a smaller budget. Both run on open-source cores so any advancements should benefit all, in principle.

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Re: ZX-UNO Spectrum FPGA

Postby antoniovillena » Sun Nov 06, 2016 6:16 pm

As Sorgelig said, ZX-Uno was focused initially to fit all spectrum machines. But with the time more 8 bits machines were added. The biggest core is a C64+SID+1541 that it's in alpha stage and occupies almost 100% of FPGA. Also it has RCA Composite (both PAL/NTSC) included, and VGA/RGB Scart through custom cables (some models with VGA on board). Yes, MiST has better capabilities, but also the price is higher and it's focused on 16 bit machines like Amiga and Atari ST (like ZX-Uno, the name indicates their main cores).

The most important is that both devices are open source, so cores can be ported/improved in both directions. It's beneficial for both projects. I think that ideally the core authors must own both machines and release the same core for both machines (in case of ZX-Uno optimized or with less features). For this reason I can offer a good discount in a ZX-Uno to MiST developpers. Don't hesitate to contact with me by PM.

This week has been very prolific to ZX-Uno, since 3 new cores were added: PET, ZX81 and MSX1

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Re: ZX-UNO Spectrum FPGA

Postby ericgus » Mon Nov 07, 2016 5:41 am

antoniovillena wrote:The biggest core is a C64+SID+1541 that it's in alpha stage and occupies almost 100% of FPGA.


It might be nice to port the c64 core back to the MiST if it's had more active development, I just worry that the c64 MiST core is more or less abandoned save for some of the work that Sorgelig has done .. but AFAIK there is no active ongoing development with it .. and it could really use a working 1541 "writeable" disk drive implemented in the FPGA ..

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Re: ZX-UNO Spectrum FPGA

Postby Sorgelig » Mon Nov 07, 2016 7:18 am

C64 has licensing issue - this is the main "hand brake" in its development. You need to complain to original author of C64 core.

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Re: ZX-UNO Spectrum FPGA

Postby Sorgelig » Mon Nov 07, 2016 7:27 am

antoniovillena wrote:Also it has RCA Composite (both PAL/NTSC) included

Very questionable "advantage".
Owners of real retro computers (C64, Amiga) are adding HDMI/DVI output, while you cripple the video intentionally on capable hardware.

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Re: ZX-UNO Spectrum FPGA

Postby ericgus » Mon Nov 07, 2016 8:03 am

Sorgelig wrote:C64 has licensing issue - this is the main "hand brake" in its development. You need to complain to original author of C64 core.


Why Im thinking a "new" c64 core needs to be found.. perhaps one that has no ties to the current one so we can avoid this problem .. but I fully appreciate the current situation and its unfortunate restrictions we live with.

While I am not suggesting we write one, the FPGA arcade folks I believe have "rolled their own" and are free .. (or at least as much as I understand it) to develop it freely ..

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Re: ZX-UNO Spectrum FPGA

Postby antoniovillena » Mon Nov 07, 2016 12:33 pm

Sorgelig wrote:
antoniovillena wrote:Also it has RCA Composite (both PAL/NTSC) included

Very questionable "advantage".
Owners of real retro computers (C64, Amiga) are adding HDMI/DVI output, while you cripple the video intentionally on capable hardware.


ZX-Uno is also capable of HDMI. There is a cheap addon for it. The problem is the core developers don't support it, so I only sold few of them. Also there are VGA and RGB-Scart outputs that works in all cores.

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Re: ZX-UNO Spectrum FPGA

Postby antoniovillena » Mon Nov 07, 2016 12:37 pm

Here you can see the HDMI addon (this addon also has a wifi chip called ESP12E).

Image

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Re: ZX-UNO Spectrum FPGA

Postby Sorgelig » Mon Nov 07, 2016 3:36 pm

HDMI looks much better, than composite video :)

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Re: ZX-UNO Spectrum FPGA

Postby antoniovillena » Fri Jan 20, 2017 5:05 pm

Some screenshots from latest PC XT ZX-Uno core:

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Re: ZX-UNO Spectrum FPGA

Postby Sorgelig » Fri Jan 20, 2017 5:16 pm

not bad.
Is it open source?

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Re: ZX-UNO Spectrum FPGA

Postby antoniovillena » Fri Jan 20, 2017 5:29 pm

Sorgelig wrote:not bad.
Is it open source?


Yes. It's a port based on Nicolae Dumitrache Next186 project
https://opencores.org/project,next186_soc_pc

The author of the port is DistWave, and he will upload the source code to the repository.
http://www.zxuno.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=56&p=12988

The SRAM is working at 75MHz and the CPU at 25MHz. But at 1 cycle per instruction this is much faster than a 80186 at same frequency.


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