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Commander X8 Disussion


Mtemal
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Commander X8 Interest POll  

19 members have voted

  1. 1. Would you buy the Commander X8 if it were made available to purchase next month?

    • Yes
      11
    • No
      8

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  • Poll closed on 10/19/21 at 02:24 AM

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On 10/19/2021 at 2:41 AM, Oldrooster said:

BGA to DIP adapters are available, but expensive. ☹️   ( geared towards programming, so they are for repetitive use )

@oldrooster, bga or not anything physical at this point would be great. Perifractic’s case and keyboard design were great step in the right direction and I wish it were economically practical to pull that off. I think this is a very similar  example of Apple’s early days where they struggled to differentiate themselves from the masses. To me it’s cool seeing the emulation based advancements but it would be awesome to fire up a physical machine that’s dedicated to the task instead of a multipurpose general computing product. The X8 concept isn’t fully X-16 “compatible “ but until FPGA price points and availability line up with aspirations everything will still stay conceptual. I would love to have a raspberry pi pico 65c02 ROM that could run with a NON FPGA VERA  simply because of the difficulty in acquiring FPGAs at this point. 

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On 10/19/2021 at 3:31 AM, Oldrooster said:

Decoding the datasheets (they don't make datasheets like they used to) it has a 132 Ball pins on the IC. The pitch of (spacing between) the pins is half a millimeter.  Regular DIP chips that people love to solder are spaced 2.54 mm apart. Thing is, it's a square array, so the next row is half a millimeter away. There are solutions, but they are fiddly enough to stop 98 % people doing anything with it.

617821681_icevariantof132BGA.png.2a2a3cd6737c0e3d0373c2a9a418e95d.png

but not all bad news, there are big gaps in the ICE variant, so a designer could hack this at home, but it's beyond most hobbyists.

Yes, if it was part of a kit, it would be like the Vera assembly, a daughterboard with surface mount parts that have a pin header to plug into a pair of block headers that can be soldered into the board with DIP parts. If it was the X16e, it would be a built board with surface mount parts placed and soldered in a solder oven in the normal way.

But not having 1MBit SPRAM is a big hurdle to get over. Even if the external RAM can be accessed at 16MHz, you'd need to have to access 16bits at a time to hit the bandwidth of the Vera accessing SPRAM every second cycle at an internal 50MHz clock. So something like 2 64KB 8bit SRAM accessed in parallel and a 1MB SRAM accessed on a single 8bit data bus for Low RAM and 123 segments of High RAM.

I think two of the FPGA that are used for the Vera, one implementing Vera and the other implementing as much of the CX16 as possible is a less expensive approach ... with an external SRAM if it is trying to be an X16e, and if it is trying to be lower cost relying JUST on two FPGA's, then 40K Low RAM, 2x 16KB shadowROM, and 7x 8KB High RAM segments.

with a CX16 bit map using the second internal 1Mbit as 40KB of Low RAM, 32K of ROM, and 56 KB of High RAM (7 High RAM segments) would be less

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  • 3 weeks later...

It’s been over a month since I’ve kicked off this thread. Has anyone built the X8 at this point? Is there a Pi image that runs the X16/X8 to the point where it’s usable? I can run VICE or combian on a pi. Where is the support for this hypothetical computer at this state?

Edited by Mtemal
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On 11/22/2021 at 8:13 PM, Mtemal said:

It’s been over a month since I’ve kicked off this thread. Has anyone built the X8 at this point? Is there a Pi image that runs the X16/X8 to the point where it’s usable? I can run VICE or combian on a pi. Where is the support for this hypothetical computer at this state?

Built from what?

You're WAY ahead of the actual state of things.

The only X8 is in David and Frank's possession. The VHDL files and emulation code are not available in any publicly accessible repository.

David asked the community if they wanted the X8 released as a product, but the community voted against it.

That's a different question than yours. The premise of your question is set in a universe where the X8 is already available as a product, and then asks us if we would buy it. But we don't live in that universe.

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On 11/22/2021 at 6:13 PM, Mtemal said:

Is there a Pi image that runs the X16/X8 to the point where it’s usable?

No, and there never will be. 

While the Pi can run a bare 6502 emulation at a respectable pace, it can't cope with VERA at anything more than about 4MHz effective. So without some serious improvements to the code, the Pi will never be an effective emulation platform for the Commander.

 

Edited by TomXP411
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On 11/23/2021 at 5:06 PM, TomXP411 said:

No, and there never will be. 

While the Pi can run a bare 6502 emulation at a respectable pace, it can't cope with VERA at anything more than about 4MHz effective. So without some serious improvements to the code, the Pi will never be an effective emulation platform for the Commander.

Though as the Pi has gone, maybe the "Pi5" will be able to ... only time will tell.

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