We redesign the STE

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Frank B
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Re: We redesign the STE

Postby Frank B » Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:42 pm

Well you can't buy an Acorn Archimedes these days either. It's dead as a dodo. Switching to an archimedes would not have been a sane choice. It had zero future.

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Re: We redesign the STE

Postby Frank B » Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:47 pm

The problem with the STE was that it didn't offer an incentive to existing ST users to upgrade. Most of the features were gaming oriented. If you were a serious user the SIMM slots and blitter would be useful. The DMA audio might be useful. It's not enough reason to upgrade. I'd have supported more RAM in the ST, broken the 4 meg barrier and shipped it with a faster CPU like the mega Ste. I'd also have added overscan support to make the machine more palatable to the video crowd. It needed an additional ST video mode. That way STFM users might have considered moving to it. If it was your first ST then the choice was easy. Choose the STe. As a replacement for an existing ST? That would be harder to justify. Given the poor software support the machine had :(
Last edited by Frank B on Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: We redesign the STE

Postby Zarchos » Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:48 pm

Frank B wrote:Well you can't buy an Acorn Archimedes these days either. It's dead as a dodo. Switching to an archimedes would not have been a sane choice. It had zero future.


Again you are missing the point :
there has been new hardware, ARM based, able to run RISC OS and the Archimedes and RISC PC software, appearing at the rate of 1 new hardware machine every 3 months for the past 20 years.
https://riscos.fr/utilisez.html (near bottom of the page).

The Archimedes is dead of course, but there have been many successors, and today the most obvious examples are the Raspberry pies.
RISC OS is still being developped, and apps, utilities and even games produced.
https://www.riscosopen.org/content/
Last edited by Zarchos on Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Falcon, Atari 1040 STE, 520ST, 800xl, xegs, Amigas, Archimedes, RISC PCs, Iyonix, Omega, BBC B, Atom, Electron, ZX 81, Spectrum 48/128/+2/+3, Russian clones, Sam Coupe, V6Z80P, QLs inc. Q68, and more !
2200 m2 museum on its way https://youtu.be/xjB6_Ez-3BA
Shorter video here : https://youtu.be/UEZisfkcN1Y

Currently porting SOTB to the Archie : https://www.youtube.com/user/Archimedes75009/featured

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Re: We redesign the STE

Postby Frank B » Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:52 pm

Dude. RiscOS is dead as a dodo. I'm sorry, if you think RiscOS is a healthy software ecosystem you're deluded. The ST and Amiga scene is way more vibrant. You need to face reality. It may be fun as a retro platform but it is not commercial.

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Re: We redesign the STE

Postby Zarchos » Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:56 pm

Frank B wrote:Dude. RiscOS is dead as a dodo. I'm sorry, if you think RiscOS is a healthy software ecosystem you're deluded. The ST and Amiga scene is way more vibrant. You need to face reality. It may be fun as a retro platform but it is not commercial.


Oh yes, more vibrant, I will not say 'no'.
It is why I enjoy my Ataris.
'Deluded' : well ... at least it is being developped (RISC OS) and not spread into multiple branches, most of them dead.
So no : it isn't dead at all. Sorry : that's facts.
Now if you name the ST or Amiga successors, or OSes, as 'commercial', please let me laugh and tell me about being 'deluded' :cheers:
I never said the RISC OS machines were serious for anything commercial, btw,(or please : quote me), even though it has great advantages in many areas. After all having the possibility to developp ARM code isn't what I'd call worthless.
You should define what you mean exactly, and what is true for the RISC OS platform that is, or isn't, for the Atari or C= platform.
Falcon, Atari 1040 STE, 520ST, 800xl, xegs, Amigas, Archimedes, RISC PCs, Iyonix, Omega, BBC B, Atom, Electron, ZX 81, Spectrum 48/128/+2/+3, Russian clones, Sam Coupe, V6Z80P, QLs inc. Q68, and more !
2200 m2 museum on its way https://youtu.be/xjB6_Ez-3BA
Shorter video here : https://youtu.be/UEZisfkcN1Y

Currently porting SOTB to the Archie : https://www.youtube.com/user/Archimedes75009/featured

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Re: We redesign the STE

Postby Frank B » Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:08 pm

Arm32 is dead now. There's no arm64 port of RiscOS which is the future. There's no high end hardware. It's a hobby platform like the Amiga and the ST. At least the ST has EmuTOS and the Amiga has Aros. There's no open source equivalent on the archimedes. I know all about the mess behind the RiscOS "open" source. I know some of the people involved. It's not healthy in the slightest. It would not have been a good choice to move to. I know. I was using the platform in 1995.

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Re: We redesign the STE

Postby joska » Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:44 pm

Some people here seem to think that hardware specs sells computers. It doesn't. Maybe it did in 1981 when people expected to have to make software themselves. But hardware specs sold very few ST's or Amigas. Software sold computers, just like today. And by the end of the 80's there was loads more quality software for the PC than any other platform. Boring hardware or not. Why do you think Windows computers rules now?

Here in Norway you'd mainly find two types of computers in people's homes in the late 80's and early 90's - PC's and Commodore 64. The 64 outsold both the ST and Amiga here in Norway even in it's last year of production. You'd find the odd ST and Amiga, but the 64 was *the* home computer for gamers until consoles took over, and the PC was *the* home computer for anyone who needed to do some work. Yes, a low-end PC would cost maybe twice as much as an ST, but then it had it's own monitor and a harddrive. It ran the same software as the PC in people's office.

As for the Archimedes... Outside of the UK it was just another tiny, obscure platform that no-one used or even knew about. Even in the UK it was not very common in homes compared to 8-bits, ST's, Amigas and PC's.
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Re: We redesign the STE

Postby mrbombermillzy » Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:02 pm

I remember the ONLY person I knew who owned an Archimedes was the son of the computer science teacher at school (wonder why? :) )

At school I got to play Zarch and Conqueror for a whole year, as my school forgot to put my whole class in for the IT course that we were meant to be doing! (I think I recieved some low grade typing certificate instead! lol)

Anyhow, when I eventually got round to playing the ST/Amiga versions, I was dissapointed as they ran much slower. So the Archie did impress me for a while.

However, I saw no Acorn adverts and all the cool games and mags were covering the 68k machines, so the archimedes was left out in the cold, so to speak. Shame really, as ARM assembly and the BBC basic were quite elegant.

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Re: We redesign the STE

Postby mikro » Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:04 pm

joska wrote:Some people here seem to think that hardware specs sells computers. It doesn't.

Well said. Maybe in our 'obscure' circles we had been arguing whether Amiga's 7 MHz is better than ST's 8 MHz but generally speaking, nobody really cared. Exactly as you said, the main selling point was the software. Only *then* you'd ask -- will my Lotus123 run decently fast? Would I be able to play Doom in full window? Would I have enough hard disk space for this strange WIndows 3.1? Not the other way around.

P.S. I hadn't had a PC until ~2002 so I certainly can't be called a 'switcher' but I could see the trend (and my own temptation) for these very reasons.

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Re: We redesign the STE

Postby Foxie » Tue Jan 02, 2018 4:41 am

Zarchos wrote:I am surprised nobody (or only a few people) refer to the Acorn machines in this thread.
After all they are what everybody was looking for :


The Archimedes does interest me quite a lot! My mate grew up with a BBC Micro, and later, an Archimedes, and learned ARM assembly on the system. So, I've learned a lot about the machine's internals from him. Including the astounding memory bandwidth. I can hardly believe it could do 32MB/s in 1987, but he wrote a benchmark and confirmed it. Although the totals were a bit lower, and dependent on the screen mode in use (since it's essentially chip RAM). Compare that to the ST's 4MB/s, and the Amiga 500's peak of 8MB/s using the blitter with all bitplanes turned off.

The ARM instruction set looks quite interesting too, with a barrel shifter usable within certain instructions. Ideal for fixed point memory addressing like audio resampling and image scaling.

I was also very surprised to see it could drive 640x256 in 256 colours, and 640x512 non-interlaced in 16 colours (Is this correct? That's the best information I've been able to find so far). The A400 series could even handle 1152x896 in non-interlaced mono, making it one of the first consumer-level computers to handle a high resolution (3 years before the TT030). The IBM 8514 card could handle 1024x768 in 256 colours in the same year, which sounds impressive, until you realise it had to interlace the display to achieve that. The IBM card also had extremely little software support and probably cost about the same as a complete Archimedes by itself (let alone the house-priced PC it goes in).

The Archimedes did seem to have some technical shortcomings compared to the Amiga. The 8 sound channels unfortunately all share the same sample rate, so you need to resample in software - partly defeating the point of having 8 channels. I guess Acorn didn't really "get" sample based music. I imagine it would only take a couple of percent CPU to mix and resample four channels in software though. Another shortcoming was Acorn's lack of care about gaming, hence there is no hardware scrolling. Let alone parallax scrolling. But the memory bandwidth is so high you can just brute-force it in software. Apparently it gets a bit marginal with parallax scrolling, but it can be done.

I suppose in terms of potential memory bandwidth, a 68030 at 24MHz would provide the same memory performance as an ARM at 8MHz. But I think most 68030 systems at the time had severely under-specced memory and relied on the cache.

From what my mate has told me, almost no software ever tried to redefine the palette in 256 colour mode, because of the complex interactions that occurred. It doesn't really offer you 16 shades of each of the 16 colours as you might hope. Instead, redefining the palette seems to only offer a way to slightly re-shuffle the bit allocations in the 8 bit truecolour mode. For example, you could set up rrggbbtt (Archimedes default), or rrrgggbb (MSX2) by redefining the palette. It's basically an 8 bit truecolour mode, rather than an indexed mode. Not quite as good as 256 definable colours, but it's good enough. Of course they went to 256 definable colours later, but that was well after VGA AGA and Falcon came out.

I think for a typical home machine the Archimedes was probably still too expensive. According to some research I did a while ago, the Archimedes A3010 was the equivalent of $899, versus $799 for the already too-expensive Falcon, and $599 for the fairly-popular Amiga 1200. There is a threshold beyond which a typical home user won't pay, regardless of specs or software. I fear that the Archimedes was above that threshold.

A huge problem was "Little Britain Syndrome." Acorn seemed only interested in selling to the UK, and even worse, mainly only the schools. Since they not only invented a completely incompatible architecture, but also a completely incompatible CPU, that made porting far more difficult. Even more so considering the most preferred high level language on the platform seemed to be BASIC rather than C. Not selling the machine overseas pretty much guarantees eventual doom, since Britain alone isn't big enough to be self-sustaining for computing for very long.

This has a serious knock-on effect for the consumer, since fewer users means less software. The target market being education did mean there was some useful productivity software, but it was a niche nonetheless. It seems that my mate had to program a lot of his own software, while I never felt the same need on the ST or Amiga. That said, I'm surprised there was as much software as there is for the platform given the limited audience.

I can't ever remember seeing an Archimedes at any computer store in the UK, throughout the 80s and 90s. Tons of STs and Amigas, and by the early 90s, also a few PCs and I even saw a Mac clone once. But the only Archimedes I ever saw was during my final years at school, when the school got a single Archimedes for the whole school (amongst a sea of BBC micros). We also got a PC around the same time, and there was much more software on the PC than the Archimedes had available in our school. And even more on the BBCs.

As a result of that, I can't ever consider the Archimedes a competitor in the home computer market, even if it was technically impressive. It could have been huge, if Acorn had thought bigger.


Zarchos wrote:I won't even talk about PACE technology, who bought the rights of RISC OS, used it in its set top box, and made hundreds millions with it.


I don't really know much about set top boxes, but I believe Amstrad were/are a major player. I suppose Commodore made a crack at it with the CDTV. I think Gateway were going to do something with it too.


joska wrote:Here in Norway you'd mainly find two types of computers in people's homes in the late 80's and early 90's - PC's and Commodore 64.


That's quite a different situation to the UK, from what I recall. The ST and Amiga were seen as credible platforms for getting work done in the home, and it wasn't unheard of for businesses to use them. I believe in Germany, the ST was a mainstream business computer - and even used for industrial machine control instead of PCs. There was a hardened version of the ST for that purpose.

I suppose it didn't help that schools all used BBC micros, and later Archimedes systems. As a result, nobody received any training on the extremely difficult to use DOS software like Lotus and Wordperfect. So naturally, people chose the easy to use platforms with mice, with WYSIWYG. Not the hostile text-only green screen monster that costs more than their car, and requires you to memorize 50,000 keyboard shortcuts. Not to mention having to understand high memory areas, MDA/CGA/EGA/VGA, EMS cards, XMS, EMM386, MMUs, IRQs, DMAs, config.sys entries, alternative boot configurations, DOS commands, PKZIP command line options, and much more. That's not quality software. It's just a polished turd, leaking diarrhea all over your keyboard. It makes me projectile vomit just thinking about those days on the PC. *shudder*

By that measure, I would say software for PCs at the time was vastly, hugely inferior to ST/Amiga/Archimedes software. It didn't really matter if some PC software supported particular business feature X. That was moot, when it was far too difficult to use. The PC needed Windows 3.1 to make it accessible to a normal person. Not surprisingly, sales of PCs boomed here after 3.1 came out.

joska wrote:Some people here seem to think that hardware specs sells computers. It doesn't.


I think it does, but not directly. People didn't choose their machines based on reading the specs. They did choose based on price alone in many cases - which is why so many gamers ended up with STs instead of Amigas.

Where hardware specs do come into the question is with cost of manufacture, and with the software available for the platform. Many gamers could see that quite a few games looked better on the Amiga than the ST, and hence bought the Amiga instead (if they could afford it). Or if you were doing art or video, THE machine to have was the Amiga. Or music, the ST. Those choices were all based indirectly on hardware capabilities.
In terms of gaming, the killer app for the PC was Doom. Doom was only made possible directly by hardware specs - you needed a very fast 386 or 486 to get it to run well, and you needed a chunky display. Any computer with a planar display or a slower processor simply couldn't deliver what people were looking for. So people started buying computers with "doom hardware."

Balancing cost against killer hardware features is key for home computers. But businesses in the 80s and early 90s seemed to be the exception, for some bizarre reason. They would buy heap-of-crap IBMs, with very little power, for a huge sum of money. And then have to spend even more money on training to overcome the extremely hostile usability of the software. I'm glad to see that some countries like Germany could see beyond this madness.

But I feel that home computers are more interesting than discussing business computers, and it's a much higher volume market. Not necessarily more lucrative (due to smaller margins) but more units sold.

Atari had the chance with the STE to eat away at some of the market for the Amiga, and the new 16 bit consoles. But due to a series of mistakes, some of which were technical, that couldn't happen. If the STE had been pumping out graphics better than a SNES, I'm fairly sure it would have been a much bigger hit.

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Re: We redesign the STE

Postby Foxie » Tue Jan 02, 2018 5:08 am

Frank B wrote:The problem with the STE was that it didn't offer an incentive to existing ST users to upgrade.


I think it suffered from being stuck in the middle. Not powerful enough for competing with the Amiga on games, and not cheap enough to be the overwhelmingly better choice than the Amiga. I think they would have had more success if they had biased it more strongly one way or the other. Release it earlier and cheaper, or make it more powerful. Developers might be more interested then.


Frank B wrote:and shipped it with a faster CPU like the mega Ste.


It would be interesting to see how much this would add to the cost. A potential problem that I can see is that you'd need twice as fast DRAM. Or a cache. Either is going to add to the cost a fair bit. But had the price of 60ns DRAM dropped by 1990? The MegaSTE used slow DRAM AFAIK, but had a cache. Doubling the speed of the DRAM would be much better because then your video modes are doubled too. You might not notice a 200% CPU increase so easily, but you will definitely notice doubling the bits per pixel. That's a squaring of the colour depth!

Naturally you could combine 60ns DRAM with the all-cycles fetch design I proposed initially. That would give you 4x the display throughput, at the expense of halving CPU speed (back down to 8MHz). 16 bit truecolour is possible. It does seem a bit far-fetched for 1990. But then, the Sharp X68000 managed it in 1987.

A 32 bit bus would have given the same speedup for video with cheap slow DRAM, but at the expense of a massive chipset redesign. Probably not viable at the time.


Frank B wrote:I'd also have added overscan support to make the machine more palatable to the video crowd.


I did think about overscan, but I feel like as soon as the Toaster hit the US, video was a lost market for Atari. The lack of a big box Atari with multiple slots meant an ST toaster could never be developed even if they had upgraded the graphics.

On the other paw, truecolour graphics would have been a big feature for video. Combine that with overscan and you have something important. And there's the massive PAL market, which the Toaster never tapped.

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Re: We redesign the STE

Postby Zarchos » Tue Jan 02, 2018 7:51 am

Frank B wrote:Arm32 is dead now. There's no arm64 port of RiscOS which is the future. There's no high end hardware. It's a hobby platform like the Amiga and the ST. At least the ST has EmuTOS and the Amiga has Aros. There's no open source equivalent on the archimedes. I know all about the mess behind the RiscOS "open" source. I know some of the people involved. It's not healthy in the slightest. It would not have been a good choice to move to. I know. I was using the platform in 1995.


Is it ?
True for the arm64 port yes. So far. Who knows the future ? There is an active community of talented coders, let's see what they will do.


Define 'high end hardware'. What is the Titanium then ? Junk ?
http://shop.elesar.co.uk/index.php?rout ... duct_id=51
Yes that is a hobby platform, I don't remember saying the opposite.
Do you use the usual strategy of mixing one lie with one true fact to make believe both statements are true facts ?
Won't work here with me, sorry :lol:
OK you dislike the machine and prefer an Atari : that is just perfectly fine for me, but there is no need of spreading misinformations.
Tastes and feelings are personal, I am ok with that. Modifying truth, tangible facts, just gets on my nerves quickly.

'I know all about the mess behind the Risc OS ...' : wow : impressive. 'all', really ? God is an atari-forum member :coffe: Tell us more then.
'I know' : oh yes I think we already understood you know so much about just everything, but so far I had to correct 90% of your statements.
It seems your science stopped some way, around 1995 : 'I was using the platform in 1995' : theres' just been 22 years of evolution since then, with over 30 new systems able to run RISC OS, and thousands of additional features brought to RISC OS ... and now (= for more than 10 years) a unified structure to monitor and promote RISC OS developments (so : no mess anymore. Or PROVE your statements.).

I do love my Falcon too, to me it is a more interesting machine than an Archie thanks to its DSP architecture, let's say, but technologically speaking, Acorn has always been light years ahead of Atari or Commodore. That's harsh reality.
Life, events showed Acorn's strategy to sell their machines with high margins, knowing they had the captive educational market, was just brilliant ; and cooncentrating on R&D paid. It paid hundreds of millions, if not billions.
Reminder : the success of a product, is 1st of all the enrichment of the main shareholders owning the company manufacturing it, NOT the 'pleasure' of the consumers, NOR is it the number of units sold. We are talking money and business here.
Truth is that Atari and C= entered a price war, and both lost it. It was a stupid strategy. Harsh reality again, sorry folks.
So yes : the Archimedes was a great success for Acorn and for Hermann Hauser (Acorn CEO and founder), as facts proved it.
The guy had the vision there would be only 2 types of computers makers in the future : 'those who are into silicon design, and those who are dead'.
He is a billionaire. That's an entrepreneurial success.

@Foxie : well I agree with most of what you wrote, except the machine has hardware scrolling facilities.
Even better today, new techniques exist : with a timer and the fact the ARM is so fast at writing in memory, you can redefine all values in the registers of the memory controller and video controller at the end of each scanline.
OK it isn't 100% hardware solution, but it does the job.
Nobody managed to do that 30 years ago, or wanted to. Now we have it, with a keyboard handler, and a sound + MOD playroutine.
Redefinition is even possible up to 16 times per scanline.
Today nobody can say he or she has seen what an Archimedes is capable of, since it is brand new and brings totally new techniques for programming, never demonstrated before, where CPU usage will be near 0%, when it had to be done beforehand 100% by the ARM CPU.
I have developped the sprites plotting routines, and the fast segment filing routines, to work in a clever way with these new facilities, when visual start of each scanline will be modified (my routines compensate the 'hardware' visual display distortion, so that what you want to plot on screen isn't distorted. These routines rely on generating optimal opcodes, so they are extremely fast, possibly the fastest ever produced for this machine. I doubt at the time coders on the Archies knew thanks to a special ordering of the ARM instructions, the execution of some of them could be 'merged' within a sequence of DMA video cycles consumption for example https://youtu.be/Pjev7O7fKjA ).
Falcon, Atari 1040 STE, 520ST, 800xl, xegs, Amigas, Archimedes, RISC PCs, Iyonix, Omega, BBC B, Atom, Electron, ZX 81, Spectrum 48/128/+2/+3, Russian clones, Sam Coupe, V6Z80P, QLs inc. Q68, and more !
2200 m2 museum on its way https://youtu.be/xjB6_Ez-3BA
Shorter video here : https://youtu.be/UEZisfkcN1Y

Currently porting SOTB to the Archie : https://www.youtube.com/user/Archimedes75009/featured

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Re: We redesign the STE

Postby Frank B » Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:38 am

Zarchos wrote:True for the arm64 port yes. So far. Who knows the future ? There is an active community of talented coders, let's see what they will do.


All the talented coders I know left the archimedes 10 years ago. I've not seen anything interesting retro wise on the platform. It's the most inactive retro platform of them all. I have two archimedes machines, a strong arm powered Risc pc with a pc card and an a5000. I haven't switched them on in years. I should probably swap them for other kit. There's far more interesting stuff going on in Atari and Amiga land IMHO. There isn't even a decent retro forum for the Acorn out there. Nothing like EAB or this forum.

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Re: We redesign the STE

Postby mikro » Tue Jan 02, 2018 11:53 am

Frank B wrote:All the talented coders I know left the archimedes 10 years ago. I've not seen anything interesting retro wise on the platform. It's the most inactive retro platform of them all.

Out of curiosity I've looked on pouet and it's even worse. It seems the scene died in the 2000s.

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Re: We redesign the STE

Postby mrbombermillzy » Tue Jan 02, 2018 11:59 am

It seems lately whatever post I seem to be involved in at AF, be it programming/HW/general, etc... They always seem to end up being about the Archimedes!! lol

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Re: We redesign the STE

Postby Zarchos » Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:13 pm

mikro wrote:
Frank B wrote:All the talented coders I know left the archimedes 10 years ago. I've not seen anything interesting retro wise on the platform. It's the most inactive retro platform of them all.

Out of curiosity I've looked on pouet and it's even worse. It seems the scene died in the 2000s.


Guess what ? Contrary to the Atari ST or the Commodore Amiga, after Acorn left the market, there have always been new, compatable machines, far more powerful, so development is for these machines, not anymore for the old ones. It makes sense.
This development is about porting applications, utilities, compilers and so on.
The 1st machine available about 20 years ago was the Iyonix with a 600 Mhz XScale CPU.
Tell me why people would keep on supporting the 8 Mhz Archies or even the 233 Mhz RISC PC ? (Even if they did, for the latter).
None of these really fast machines were really available for ST or Amiga users : so yes development carried on with the only old hardware available.
Forget demos, it is considered as utmost rubbish by 90% of Acorn users : ask them, they will answer 'loss of time, childish, non productive.'
There are a few games, including libraries to create yours (but nobody cares about that, frankly).
The Acorn machines have never been games oriented : people bought them not for gaming, not for demos.
It is the way it is, and most people are very happy with it. (When I had my Archie back in the days, I also had an Amiga for the demos, and a megadrive for gaming, then a SNES with a so-called 'back-up device').
Acorn users prefer to hear about latest versions of NetSurf, Artworks, TechWriter, Impression, StrongEd and so on, including programming languages.

If you still think a computer is 1st of all a gaming machine, or to watch demos : go for a PS4. :mrgreen:
OK that is a very academic view, but it is thanks to it that there is still a community of hobbyists not only using the machines, but developping on them.
I'd say the RISC OS machines must have the highest percentage of people not only using them but also developping software (BBC Basic, Python, C), in the form of small utilities for this or that specific task.
The programming of the Raspberry Pi GPIO is a great example.
I am very happy I own Ataris and Amigas to watch, admire, play games / demos, understand me.
All machines have interesting features, it is why I own them all and enjoy them (less true for the Amiga because of the psychology of the 'sceners').
Falcon, Atari 1040 STE, 520ST, 800xl, xegs, Amigas, Archimedes, RISC PCs, Iyonix, Omega, BBC B, Atom, Electron, ZX 81, Spectrum 48/128/+2/+3, Russian clones, Sam Coupe, V6Z80P, QLs inc. Q68, and more !
2200 m2 museum on its way https://youtu.be/xjB6_Ez-3BA
Shorter video here : https://youtu.be/UEZisfkcN1Y

Currently porting SOTB to the Archie : https://www.youtube.com/user/Archimedes75009/featured

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CiH
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Re: We redesign the STE

Postby CiH » Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:53 pm

Forget demos, it is considered as utmost rubbish by 90% of Acorn users : ask them, they will answer 'loss of time, childish, non productive.'
There are a few games, including libraries to create yours (but nobody cares about that, frankly).

That distainful attitude goes right back to the early days of the BBC Micro. BBC Micro users were terribly popular back in the day for that attitude.

I can add that another limiting factor for Acorn succeeding in the wider marketplace is down to a particularly British interpretation of social class. The BBC Micro was priced for middle class families in 'nice' areas. Scruffy working class people got ZX Spectrums instead.

It seems that Acorn chose to maintain that market along with the captive educational market for their later hardware, to their ultimate detriment.

My recollection of the RISCOS demo scene is that it gave up when the Phoebe was canned.
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Re: We redesign the STE

Postby Frank B » Tue Jan 02, 2018 1:32 pm

OK. So point us at a few recent games released on the Arch. Say within the last 5 years. We had a BBC in our house. I turned my nose up at it and used a Spectrum instead. I much preferred the speccy. The Spectrum scene is still amazing even now. Much healthier than the Atari and Amiga scenes.

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Re: We redesign the STE

Postby chlu600 » Tue Jan 02, 2018 1:44 pm

Come on. Get this thread on track again.
Move the Arch-talk to a seperate thread :-)

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Re: We redesign the STE

Postby Foxie » Tue Jan 02, 2018 3:40 pm

Zarchos wrote:Tell me why people would keep on supporting the 8 Mhz Archies or even the 233 Mhz RISC PC ?


I think it's a shame nobody is interested. For one, the original 8MHz Archimedes was in retrospect such an important machine historically, as the first ARM system. That's got to be worth some development effort.

Secondly, I think for the challenge of seeing what can be done with older hardware. Just as there are demos written for the A500 even today, when so many Amiga users own A4000s with 060s. Older hardware is usually easier to understand and get the most out of, too. I think I understand the memory timings of the ST/E and A500, but I haven't a clue about the A1200 or Falcon. I've heard that the 030 needs 3 clock cycles for a memory access, but I've never been able to find any hard facts. God knows what effect the cache has. Then there's the display DMA eating into processor cycles, it gets so complicated. It's beyond me.

I'm pretty interested in writing code for the original STFM, even the 512K systems. I'd like to do some sync scroll stuff and really see how far it can go. As far as I can tell, the majority of STE-only games could be ported to the STFM using some hardcore tricks.

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Re: We redesign the STE

Postby 1st1 » Tue Jan 02, 2018 4:53 pm

Redesign the STE in the possibilities of the 1989's:

- faster serial ports
- 16 mhz cpu & chipset, providing also new video modes
- add on card expansion slots
- cpu upgrade slot
- offer upgrade cards, like graphics, network, sound, real scsi
- internal ide harddisk (at-bus was there already)
- mega st like chassis, but has hight that vertical expansion cards could be added
- TOS enhancement to support more easy graphics card (BIOS & VDI in graphics card ROM)
- better keyboard (use the mega ST one)
- use logitech mouse
- converting standard business apps from DOS to TOS by Atari themselves, or pay manufacturers for it
-add multitasking
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1040STFM in PC-Tower (PAK68/2, OvrScn, 4 MB, 1GB SCSI, CD-ROM...) * 2x Falcon 030 32GB/14MB+ScrnBlstrIII * 2x TT030 73GB/20MB+Nova * 520/1040STFM * 520/1040STE * 260/520ST/+ * some Mega ST * 2x Mega STE 500MB/4MB+M.CoCo * Stacy * STBook * SLM605 * SLM804 * SLM605 * SMM804 * SH 204/205 * Megafile 30/44/60 * SF314 * SF354 * 5x Pofo * PC3

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Re: We redesign the STE

Postby Foxie » Thu Jan 04, 2018 5:12 pm

I really get the impression that 16MHz would have been out of the question in 1989. The Archimedes managed the equivalent throughput of 16MHz, but it did so using fast page RAM. Not only would that have been more expensive, but it would also require a total redesign of the ST's chipset to use it. In particular, I think you'd need to add a fast line buffer SRAM so you can burst all your video into it at 16MHz. If you interleave CPU and video at the ST normally does, then you can't take advantage of bursting. This is where the PC had a slight advantage in that it had separate DRAMs for video and CPU, but that wouldn't be possible on the ST without totally breaking compatibility (and pushing up cost).

Using an all-cycles fetch design would be possible though, doubling the number of bits per pixel at the expense of dropping CPU speed to about 4MHz. I wonder if there would have been enough chip space to implement a few 4-bit adders? This would allow YUV to RGB conversion. That's quite a big deal. It would allow three new very useful graphics modes:

Mode 1, 256 colours: upper four bits specify the luminance, while the lower four bits index the 16 colour palette which stores the U and V colour components. This allows you to choose 16 colours, and automatically generate all 16 shades of those colours. That's a very artist-friendly mode and would give much better results than rrrgggbb. To support blitter-assisted parallax scrolling, one of the unused bits in the palette can be set to override the pixel-specified Y component and provide a 3-bit luminance from the palette. You could then draw the single-plane background to one of the palette select bits.

Mode 2, 4096 colours: upper four bits specify luminance, while lower four bits specify U component for odd pixels, and V for even pixels. Colour is sub-sampled to about PAL resolution, but you'll hardly notice for photorealistic images. It's much more practical to use in a game than HAM mode since you can blit to the screen normally. You could easily implement an art program in this mode, much easier than HAM.

Mode 3, 131072 colours: upper five bits specify luminance, while lower three bits specify half of the U and V components. Two pixels together provide U (6 bits), and the next two pixels provide V (6 bits). Colour is sub-sampled more aggressively so you might notice a bit of colour bleeding, similar to NTSC. Similar to MSX2+ YJK video mode. Perfect for photorealistic images. The only downside of this mode is that it would require 6 bit video DACs. Might be more expensive to implement.

In addition to that, you can still support 16 colour * 2 layers parallax scrolling mode, doubling the number of colours per layer compared to Amiga 500's parallax scrolling. And you can also support medium resolution in 16 colours like the Amiga. I think the addition of these modes would have made a huge difference not just to gaming, but also to productivity and especially art. And all done very cheaply too.

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Re: We redesign the STE

Postby penguin » Thu Jan 04, 2018 6:40 pm

An earlier release date and the discontinuation of the ST would've been crucial to get enough market share. I'd ditch the enhanced joystick ports and move the standard two to a more accessible position.

One problem I had with my STE was that the "E" part was never visible to me besides the extra ports. A redesigned STE should make it obvious that it's a new machine, even some changes to the desktop would be fine.

Additional screen modes that take up more than 32KB would've started the trend towards more resolution independence programs sooner. Especially GFA developers relied too long on the command that would put a screen in a string.

But perhaps most important of all: developer support! Show devs how to take advantage of the STE without losing ST compatibility. Work with top developers to have games and paint programs ready for launch.

Other expensive stuff would be more suited for a redesigned Mega STE that could serve as a stop gap system before the actual release of the TT. This Mega STE should be faster and offer a higher-res monochrome mode to make Germany happy ;)
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Re: We redesign the STE

Postby calimero » Thu Jan 04, 2018 10:22 pm

joska wrote:by 1989 (or 88, really doesn't matter) the ST (and Amiga) was already doomed as software support shifted towards the PC. People wanted more than just playing games on their home computers


I really disagree: ST got great application software in late 80s and early 90s - software much better then PC counterparts!!! Just compare Signum to WordPerfect... or GEM Ventura to Calamus ;)

I am pretty sure that you are all aware of my thread: Programs born on Atari, Amiga, Mac... and then ported to Windows


mrbombermillzy wrote:Just send Troed back in time to show Atari how easy it would be to just overclock the STF to give new 1280x200/400 and 640x480 modes:

https://www.exxoshost.co.uk/forum/viewt ... f=18&t=283


I always wonder if this is true: * 16MHz 68000 was not available until 1990.? * (so this kind of ST upgrade like Troed and Exxos did would not be possible before 1990.?; just like Mega STe...)


Regarding topic:
for me real question is: Why Shiraz Shivji leave Atari Corp.??? What happens to Atari EST? Why Atari TT took so much time to complete?
STe look like some quick patchwork...

After ST release, Tramiel somehow lost his killing edge. I think that Jack gave sons to much freedom...
using Atari since 1986.http://wet.atari.orghttp://milan.kovac.cc/atari/software/ ・ Atari Falcon030/CT63/SV ・ Atari STe ・ Atari Mega4/MegaFile30/SM124 ・ Amiga 1200/PPC ・ Amiga 500 ・ C64 ・ ZX Spectrum ・ RPi ・ MagiC! ・ MiNT 1.18 ・ OS X

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Re: We redesign the STE

Postby Atarieterno » Thu Jan 04, 2018 10:40 pm

1st1 wrote:Redesign the STE in the possibilities of the 1989's:

- faster serial ports
- 16 mhz cpu & chipset, providing also new video modes
- add on card expansion slots
- cpu upgrade slot
- offer upgrade cards, like graphics, network, sound, real scsi
- internal ide harddisk (at-bus was there already)
- mega st like chassis, but has hight that vertical expansion cards could be added
- TOS enhancement to support more easy graphics card (BIOS & VDI in graphics card ROM)
- better keyboard (use the mega ST one)
- use logitech mouse
- converting standard business apps from DOS to TOS by Atari themselves, or pay manufacturers for it
-add multitasking



Year 1986: Atari EST is the answer.
Why did not Atari launch a computer that had won the computer war? This is not easy to answer and should be done by the old engineers involved in the project. Perhaps he did not fulfill the "Power without price", or he did not have the economic base to build it on a large scale, or he made a mistake trusting in the ST series ...

Atari EST System (32 bits).JPG


Atari EST (32 bits) - descripción.jpg
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ST/fm/e, STacy, Mega ST/e, TT, Falcon, C-Lab MKX... and more music tools.


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