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Janne Sirén

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Everything posted by Janne Sirén

  1. In the case of Spectrum, emulation use of the ROMs has been allowed by the license owner and of course ZX Spectrum Next has even the Sinclair name license. In Commodore's case they are owned by Cloanto, who has licensed them to various parties like Turbo Chameleon, MEGA65, THEC64 etc. So it is not quite black and white in that regard. For the Ultimate-64 they can be installed from a legal source as well, so it is not a pirated board. And I mean, all of these certainly have a tighter connection with their respective "parent" platforms than X16, which is very loosely connected to anything Commodore. Personally I think the best chance X16 has is probably as a sort of virtual platform (indeed one that already exists in emulation), an FPGA platform defined by the team loosely based on the dream computer idea, then popularized by the YouTube channel and distributed on a somewhat generic piece of hardware. I think that could certainly work. Probably the hardware won't be very unique or different and that's kind of too bad, but certainly a platform could form this way. If anyone has any thoughts on how to make the hardware proposition unique, when so many cheap retro FPGA boards already exist, I think hashing those out might benefit the project and community here.
  2. Another angle to look this from is that the Foenix actually turned out to be closer to the original dream computer specs than the X16 is headed towards. With its 65816 processor (and beyond) as well as discrete sound chip(s) as well as professional manufacturing for the boards, it is certainly quite close to that goal in all ways expect the price (and its video is FPGA). Even then Foenix U's $300 is not that terrible considering its vast features and the expected price of the initial X16 non-kit version which seems to be headed towards that region as well. Of course just having the hardware does not a platform make, but just painting a picture of the landscape where I think it is important for the X16 to find its niche.
  3. Perhaps, but then again SiDi and MiSTer and related products already serve the Commodore market as well. And there is the C-One, Minimig, Turbo Chameleon legacy alive still as well, and the Vampire direction. Both communities have been into FPGAs since the early naughts and there are great cores for running most Commodores. And the Ultimate-64 is selling by the thousands (I believe soon 4000 units solds), an FPGA C64 motherboard not too far above the intial X16 price projections. And of course there is the MEGA65 now taking preorders as you of course know. I get what you are pointing at, though, if the Commander X16 is packaged well (with software, licenses, peripherals, the lot), it can certainly be one way to carve out a niche for it.
  4. Sure, I get that if you can build an ecosystem around the X16 core, that can be something lead to something unique on the "soft" front so to speak. The keyboard is a nice bonus as well. I already have the premium one at home. Maybe David's YouTube following will help make all that happen and then the generic nature of the hardware might not even matter. Perhaps that will be the way it goes. I guess my point is, there is already a plethora of cheap, powerful FPGA retro boards available in reasonable volumes on one hand, as well as unique cased retro platforms like the ZX Spectrum Next, MEGA65 (licensed too both) and perhaps Foenix to a degree, it will be important for the X16 to finds its niche. The previous plan with a desktop case, discrete chips etc. certainly was one way. If that were not to be, IMO it would be useful to define some other niche that sets it apart from these, but it is unclear to me what that might be. Just my two cents.
  5. ZX-Uno is basically a whole family of FPGA computers that run various cores. One variant available here for 55 € ($65): https://www.antoniovillena.es/store/product/zxunoplus/ As for MiSTer, SiDi is MIST compatible (all but its largest cores) and costs 65 € ($80): https://manuferhi.com/p/sidi-fpga-sin-carcasa-without-case I believe both ZX-Uno and SiDi are way more powerful than X16/X8.
  6. And I mean, there are 10-20 more like it. They have been making really great FPGA computers in the ZX Spectrum/C64 and ST/Amiga communities for the past decade+. They've nailed it down to an art by now, very cheap, very powerful too.
  7. If it is that, there is already an entire range of MiSTer and ZX-Uno based FPGA boards that probably do such things even better and cheaper.
  8. Thank you, Scott. Indeed I am very interested in your thoughts. When X16 used to be a 65816 processor and a pair of discrete video and audio chips, that was something unique. Today the Foenix project of course offers almost that in a range of several professionally manufactured computers (the video is FPGA, but otherwise). If the X16 is turning into more of a simple FPGA board, what is unique about it that isn't already out there? For example, here is the SiDi FPGA from the ZX Spectrum community: https://manuferhi.com/p/sidi 89 € ($100), professionally produced and finished/cased, available today. Or 69 € ($80) professionally produced without the case. This is one of maybe 20 variants of simple FPGA computers made for running Spectrum, Commodore and similar cores that are readily available at lucrative prices. These are fairly powerful little machines with a plethora of connectors as well.
  9. Perfect, I just think it is a worthy question in its own right.
  10. @Scott Robison I hope this is a suitable thread to answer in, coming from the X8 poll thread. Moving onwards from any of that debate, I guess my question/point is how/what do you perceive the unique sales proposition being for an FPGA-only X8 or X16? There are certainly FPGA-only computers already out, but usually they have some other USP such as a case/compatibility/legacy with ZX Spectrum Next or the MEGA65, or they are lean-mean FPGA monsters like the MiSTer family, the ZX-Uno family or training boards such as Nexys. Others, like the Foenix computers, have the unique proposition of offering several discrete chips such as "real" processors and several hardware sound chips in addition to FPGAs. What would be the unique sales proposition of a simple FPGA board like X8/16 that could easily run on any existing FPGA platform that are already being produced? I am genuinely curious about your answer and I hope my question also illustrates the area where I think it would be beneficial for the X16 project to continue having a clear message and a clear point.
  11. Small correction: The Mini PET kits are by Tynemouth Software from the UK. TFW8b is just a retailer.
  12. In fairness, it was the start of the X16 dream computer that did set the expectations of the project using discrete chips and that being one of the things that set it apart from the rest. I don't think it is unreasonable that people who follow this project might have some preference towards that and did buy the rationale for such a project at inception. The Foenix family of products for example does all this and a lot more already, if FPGA is your thing, yet it also uses discrete chips for CPUs and sound (several options in fact, including the 65816 which X16 was also supposed to have originally), and of course for FPGA-only there a lot of other projects with existing hardware. The idea of a small retro computer with only "real" chips was enticing as an alternative IMO and since then the competition has grown quite a bit too. I am perfectly fine with VERA (especially as part of a whole that is somehow unique), mind, but just pointing out this history. The potential quite generic X8 path I am bit less interested in, because there are already many boards like that out there. It is certainly a bit less exciting to talk about one more full-FPGA computer, like the existing MISTers, ZX-Unos and the dozens of variants, Next/N-Go, MEGA65 DevKit/Nexys, Ultimate-64, Turbo Chameleon and so forth which have been with us for quite some time. I think it would be beneficial for the X16 to have some unique selling point other than merely the core loaded into an FPGA. Just my two cents of course. Or perhaps it really needs some insider input to put new life into the parts that matter.
  13. There is also the point that once you go fixed--silicon, that's it. So, it kind of makes sense it is the last step in a project like this – If it is to be done at all. Even if the feature-set would be fixed early on, the upgradeability of an FPGA can be very helpful in low-volume hobbyist projects. We do have some precedence for this though in the Commodore community: the hobbyist C-One (FPGA) evolved into the higher volume C64 Direct-to-TV (ASIC).
  14. In my messages I have deliberately made an effort to avoid any suggestion that the project owes or should do certain things for us. I am merely offering my thoughts on what I subjectively think would be in their best interest, i.e. an occasional comment on this thread given the gravity of the topic and the amount of requested feedback gathered. It would simply seem like a good idea for them IMO. I have been around on the Internet too and I know how it can be at its worst. However, what I see here is actually a very reasonable-looking community by those standards. I think the occasional comment to the requested feedback or a simple note on continued planning would do more good than harm for the project ands its owners. Obviously they have judged (deliberately or not) otherwise, but just my thoughts.
  15. Thank you for the update @Calculon, appreciate it. I still think it would be useful if even just a similar amount activity was shown here as well. I mean, a lot of input was gathered (on request) in this thread, perhaps a comment or two might have been useful in recent times. Just IMO.
  16. It seems to me the main reason is the developers not being active on the forums, but being active on Facebook instead, though? I am not sure how that fits with your interpretation, since some information does get posted on Facebook, right? Like the X8 tidbit. That is unfortunate given that the Facebook group is private, so the only external-facing updates are what we have here. Anyone coming from the website to the Community menu and then onwards here gets a partial picture. People are of course free to join Facebook, but I can see why some are trying to cut down on that these days.
  17. While I don't share the grave interpretation @maktos put forward, I do have to agree it seems like a mistake to not post any kind of follow-up yet. I don't share the idea that saying nothing is better in this instance, nor that saying something might require unreasonable commitments. So I think its pros would outweigh any cons. IMO. The audience here does not seem like an unreasonable bunch, so there is that. It also seems David does post on Facebook, so there is that as well. A quick summary to similar effect or even just a quick word every now in the spirit of "planning still going on!" would seem like a generally good idea given the significance of this thread. In fact it is something that I readily expected when reading through this thread a few weeks back and was surprised to find out did not happen already.
  18. FPGA when commanded with assembly without abstraction is hitting hardware. It is real transistors, not emulation, once the FPGA is setup.
  19. The thing is, I believe "hitting hardware" is exactly the appeal of a platform like this. What differentiates it from coding, say, a RasPi. So personally I'd prefer hardware level compatibility between different platform models, not just through an abstraction layer like kernal, as much as possible. But each their own of course, just adding my opinion to the poll.
  20. Certainly my comparison of volume product is the likes of ZX Spectrum Next, also a hobby platform. It is an example of a single coherent target platform I have in mind. It has a couple of models but all are compatible. On the other end of the spectrum are the likes of C256 Foenix that has many low-volume variants and little in terms of clear target platfrom yet. Personally I would prefer X16 project to resemble the Next in this regard: a single coherent target platform where possible model differences are details surrounding a shared, fully compatible core. On the Next there are even fully compatible clones of it, sanctioned, so it has a thriving software ecosystem. Even hobby developers like to target an audience and this type of platform would seem to maximize that. Just my two cents on what I would prefer personally.
  21. Sure, but I do wonder which would be the development target focus? A slow trickle of more expensive kits being completed or an incompatible consumer-priced volume model being sold alongside it? I think part of the appeal for the X16 is the idea of a new platform being born. If the volume focus is actually on a different, incompatible platform (the X8), I can see an effect on development focus and interest. This is why I personally would love to see X8, if it comes, as a clear subset of X16 only and not a partially superior and incompatible platform compared to the X16. It would make the X16 more "worth it", in my view, if it was a "super X8" and not something separate. Just my personal thoughts.
  22. Well, I think this is what many of us thought the Commander X16 would be about in the end. It is just that an incompatible variant is not what we probably had in mind, but a single platform that would get there after an interation or three. I wonder if the project might not be better off launching the X8 as the Commander X16 and focusing on that only, with possibly an X8 compatible larger memory version down the road, and forgetting about the hardware 6502 version completely. It would seem to me a higher volume X8 could quickly overwhelm any kit-based X16 ecosystem anyway.
  23. To be clear, it "appearing from nowhere" is not really an issue. A project is allowed to have secrets and surprises. But roadmap-wise it does not seem to fit IMO.
  24. Personally I'm "pro" all the projects, but I must admit those projects that have focused singularly speak to me more than those that have been a bit more all over the place. I think the X16 roadmap and the original plan made sense from the focus sense, and now the X8 is sort of out of nowhere kind of a diversion from that. I got the sense from the initial direction of this project that avoiding diversions was a part of the plan and it made sense to me. I still think it makes sense. Maintaining two incompatible platforms seems like a diversion. But just my opinion of course, nothing more.
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