Combining cores

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Xyla
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Combining cores

Postby Xyla » Sun Jan 28, 2018 6:26 am

Has anyone ever done weird experiments with trying to combine hardware from different cores? Things like adding the FM sound chip from a Genesis/Megadrive core to the Atari ST core? I really have no idea how feasible something like this would be but I'm very interested in the idea.

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Re: Combining cores

Postby Sorgelig » Sun Jan 28, 2018 7:23 am

It's pretty common situation. If one core has a better module then it's copied to another core.
Sometimes you need to adjust the signals to match the new module with the core.

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Re: Combining cores

Postby Xyla » Sun Jan 28, 2018 7:41 am

Sorgelig wrote:It's pretty common situation. If one core has a better module then it's copied to another core.
Sometimes you need to adjust the signals to match the new module with the core.

You are saying it's a common situation to do something like take an Atari ST core and add a sound chip that was never used in any real Atari computer? I'm talking about copying modules from one core to an unrelated core that never had such hardware... not using a better implementation of something that normally exists in the machine.

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Re: Combining cores

Postby nightshadowpt » Sun Jan 28, 2018 7:53 am

It should be the same as described by Sorgelig. You would have to ensure that the new "hardware" communicated somehow with the base computer being simulated, but you would still have to develop operating system drivers to ensure the harware was recognized and properly used.

You can check out what the Spectrum Next team is doing with their project to better understand this type of integration on FPGAs, as they are including several SID and AY chips with the Next.

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Re: Combining cores

Postby Sorgelig » Sun Jan 28, 2018 8:49 am

My comment was not about adding something never existed in real HW. I was talking about taking some modules from other cores if some part of real HW exist in other cores.

But of course with FPGA you can combine and mix anything even if it never existed in real life. And of course new hybrid should know how to use new hardware. So you will need to write your own OS/APP support for Atari ST to work with new FM chip.
And here we have situation which i'm doubt very much. No one will write software for 20+ years old computers. May be couple demos or proof of concept semi-working app.
Overall effort of adding never-existed HW not worth of result.

20+ years old computers are in preservation stage and all efforts should be targeted to precise emulation rather adding never existed HW. That's my point of view.

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Re: Combining cores

Postby azesmbog » Sun Jan 28, 2018 8:59 am

но тем не менее в любимый Spectrum добавляют и второй чип AY, и третий, и SID и SAA и пишут какую никакую поддержку, пусть и ограниченную. Сорри за мой французский.

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Re: Combining cores

Postby Sorgelig » Sun Jan 28, 2018 9:06 am

azesmbog wrote:но тем не менее в любимый Spectrum добавляют и второй чип AY, и третий, и SID и SAA и пишут какую никакую поддержку, пусть и ограниченную. Сорри за мой французский.

ну покажи список игр где это используется

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Re: Combining cores

Postby PurpleMelbourne » Sat Dec 22, 2018 3:30 pm

So what could we do with combining cores?

I'm interested in a turbocharged Amiga like never actually existed. So could better sound be included while maintaining compatibility?

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Re: Combining cores

Postby Shazz » Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:23 pm

I guess this is the story behind Jeri's C=One (FPGA) and then the Commodore DTV (ASIC)... A C64 with additional capabilities thanks to FPGAs
https://www.richardlagendijk.nl/cip/article/item/c64dtv/en
...8bits are enough...

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Re: Combining cores

Postby Sorgelig » Sat Dec 29, 2018 1:39 pm

She never released C64 sources. So what's the purpose of the link?

There is no much points to add additional emulated HW to computers never had it. It will need software support which won't happen (well, may be except demonstration code).

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Re: Combining cores

Postby MasterOfGizmo » Sun Dec 30, 2018 10:00 pm

Technically it's usually pretty simple to rearrange existing modules into the 'wrong' machine.

The big question is what you are going to do with it. You need software to use it. Who's going to write that? And why would someone spend much time writing such software if it would never run on e.g. a real Atari st. You could of course use this as a test bed and once you used the FPGA solution to verify that the new setup is satisfying then you could start building add-on boards for the real hardware using the same chips. This may be a nice approach to develop a new graphics card. But since TOS has virtually no OS support for sound only special applications could benefit from a new sound card.
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Re: Combining cores

Postby Sorgelig » Mon Dec 31, 2018 8:26 am

This wish comes from the time when particular computer was actual. Many technically knowledgeable people was thinking like "If hardware scrolling would be added to ZX and if video buffer would be linear then it would be a mega computer!"
Now, with FPGA version of ZX it's possible and easy to do.
But the key point is this computer is no more actual. Why someone needs to write the games for ZX with extra functions never existed in real ZX? Instead they will choose more suitable computer or even console. As a big bonus, this game can work on a real hardware.

It's simply pointless to add non-existed features to retro computer now. It's better to preserve it in the form it reached when it was actual. Cycle accuracy is a key feature for retro replica today. If more functionality is required then there is a big choice of other computers/consoles most likely having this feature as standard set.

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Re: Combining cores

Postby nico24 » Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:36 am

Sorgelig - yes and no.

Every old 8-bit (probably 16-bit too) had it weirdness and limitations. That's good, but also it would be good to have a slightly less limited version. Personally I think the Amstrad 6128 with Sprite support was at about the level I would have like to see developed more. Simple but also technically proficient.

I'll look forward to the ZX Spectrum Next - but I hope it doesn't get too complex, and focuses more on the simpler side. I am interested in the coding for sure.

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Re: Combining cores

Postby vebxenon » Thu Jan 03, 2019 6:10 am

nico24 wrote:Sorgelig - yes and no.

Every old 8-bit (probably 16-bit too) had it weirdness and limitations. That's good, but also it would be good to have a slightly less limited version. Personally I think the Amstrad 6128 with Sprite support was at about the level I would have like to see developed more. Simple but also technically proficient.

I'll look forward to the ZX Spectrum Next - but I hope it doesn't get too complex, and focuses more on the simpler side. I am interested in the coding for sure.


The CPC Plus line (464 and 6128 Plus and GX4000 console) has sprite support and a lot of new features, more palette, DMA sound, cartridge support and hardware scroll :-) .
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Re: Combining cores

Postby Sorgelig » Fri Jan 04, 2019 1:43 pm

nico24 wrote:I'll look forward to the ZX Spectrum Next - but I hope it doesn't get too complex, and focuses more on the simpler side. I am interested in the coding for sure.

there is already open source ZX on steroids implementation - TSConf. It even has some games developed and some utilities. I can play Amiga MOD files there for example.
A lot more graphics capabilities than original ZX.
It exists several years already - it's fun to fire it up sometimes. But honestly it's not as useful as original ZX with lot of games. Spectum next is just another born dead variation. Nothing will change. No one will write games for 0.00001% users comparing to current console gen and mobile game market.

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Re: Combining cores

Postby Sorgelig » Fri Jan 04, 2019 1:49 pm

vebxenon wrote:The CPC Plus line (464 and 6128 Plus and GX4000 console) has sprite support and a lot of new features, more palette, DMA sound, cartridge support and hardware scroll :-) .

And only few games written in time when this CPC was in production. No interest from game developers after that. So, it just proves my word that retro systems should remain in the form they they stopped develop from original manufacturer.

There is no difference if you will create fully new retro-like system in FPGA with functionality you want. So why limit yourself with ZX or other computer compatibility? Just create your own computer. You will have the same number of developers (usually the number is 0) as exaggerated ZX because in any case new games won't work on original ZX.

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Re: Combining cores

Postby vebxenon » Fri Jan 04, 2019 2:57 pm

Sorgelig wrote:
vebxenon wrote:The CPC Plus line (464 and 6128 Plus and GX4000 console) has sprite support and a lot of new features, more palette, DMA sound, cartridge support and hardware scroll :-) .

And only few games written in time when this CPC was in production. No interest from game developers after that. So, it just proves my word that retro systems should remain in the form they they stopped develop from original manufacturer.

There is no difference if you will create fully new retro-like system in FPGA with functionality you want. So why limit yourself with ZX or other computer compatibility? Just create your own computer. You will have the same number of developers (usually the number is 0) as exaggerated ZX because in any case new games won't work on original ZX.


Do you know the MSX scene? We even have new soundcards (Moonsound OPL4, Midi PAC) and graphic cards (V9990) , RAM expansions, storage medium updates... and MSX is now better than ever.

Also now thanks to C4CPC new Plus games are appearing.

There are some absurdities (add FM to Atari ST only on FPGA) bit some new expansions or ideas hace been welcomed by the communities :)
Just a computer and videogame lover :)

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Re: Combining cores

Postby Sorgelig » Fri Jan 04, 2019 6:55 pm

vebxenon wrote:Do you know the MSX scene? We even have new soundcards (Moonsound OPL4, Midi PAC) and graphic cards (V9990) , RAM expansions, storage medium updates... and MSX is now better than ever.

Also now thanks to C4CPC new Plus games are appearing.

There are some absurdities (add FM to Atari ST only on FPGA) bit some new expansions or ideas hace been welcomed by the communities :)

These expansions are done for real HW so they have their right to live :) I think the largest amount of post-mortem updates has Amiga.
Though HW upgrades requiring special support like new games are mostly just wasting the money, because if even new games appear, usually it's like 2-3 games with doubtful usefulness. These new audio cards mostly used for simple music playback from sound packs. There is no much different if you will play the same music on PC :) It's like i play MOD music in TSConf, but with the same success i can play it on Amiga or even PC with less hassle. But it's just for fun - i agree.

What i mean in previous posts is adding some functionality only in FPGA.
Last edited by Sorgelig on Fri Jan 04, 2019 6:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Combining cores

Postby Sorgelig » Fri Jan 04, 2019 6:57 pm

double post

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Re: Combining cores

Postby vebxenon » Fri Jan 04, 2019 10:38 pm

Ok :wink: :wink: I understand.
Just a computer and videogame lover :)

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Re: Combining cores

Postby nico24 » Sat Jan 05, 2019 5:54 am

So what I meant with the CPC Plus was the hardware was there but it came too late to get development. Would have been great to see more what it could have done.
I've been aware of TSConf for a good many years, and it's great to see it on the MiSTer, I do like it. But since it's completely Russian it's a mystery to program, we'll never know how any of it is done.
From my perspective it's just to be able to write the odd game that has cool graphics relatively simply in assembler!! something I could never work out as a kid. Now I just love learning about how each 8-bit computer did it in its own particular way. Like the screwy ZX screen mapping etc.

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Re: Combining cores

Postby MasterOfGizmo » Sat Jan 05, 2019 7:53 am

I'd say: Just go for it!

For my Tutorials at https://github.com/mist-devel/mist-boar ... orials/soc I just implemented a z80 machine. That was great fun. It has a colour vga display and I even added a hardware sprite to be used for the mouse pointer.

It's actually fun to write the hardware while you write the software. Implementing the sprite in hardware was necessary since the video memory on that machine is write only (great design idea, huh?). As long as you don't expect to have more than 3 users in total you won't be disappointed with your project.
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Re: Combining cores

Postby Sorgelig » Sat Jan 05, 2019 9:28 am

nico24 wrote:But since it's completely Russian it's a mystery to program, we'll never know how any of it is done.

It has no much info in Russian as well. So it doesn't matter if you know the Russian or not :)
To understand how features are working - see the core source code - haha :)

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Re: Combining cores

Postby nico24 » Sun Jan 06, 2019 4:11 am

I'm working through the MiST tutorials, but I needed to get more of a grounding in Verilog. I'm getting there slowly.

There's a good site call 8bitworkshop.com It's got an IDE environment which is pretty sweet!!

You know what I with though - there was some kind of book explaining it ALL kind of like the Grant Searle thing, gradually adding complexity to a computer code. That would be nice.

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Re: Combining cores

Postby PurpleMelbourne » Sun Jan 06, 2019 10:49 am

[quote="MasterOfGizmo"]Technically it's usually pretty simple to rearrange existing modules into the 'wrong' machine./quote]

I wonder if you could put the big hardware which is too much to emulate. And then could (after some reprogramming) you use MAME on an Amiga which has these extra bits of hardware sitting there?

I'm imagining the genuine Arcade games sitting on the Workbench screen in a window on a huge monitor :-D


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