Wednesday, October 14, 2015

MEGA65 @ Amiga30.de - Part 1

I don't know exactly how many parts we will have with things from the Amiga30.de appearance of the MEGA65 prototype, but in any case this part is clearly the first.

Here is an interview (in German, but with English translation below) showing the MEGA65 there, and some discussion about the architecture, compatibility and related matters, and probably a lot more that I can't be sure about with my current level of German.   Even if you can't understand it, you can still see some nice video footage of the prototype unit, and read the English translation below.


UPDATE: Here is the German transcript courtesy of a kind user on forum64.de.

UPDATE: Here is my English translation of the German transcript. It is quite imperfect, but I figure that people are more interested in reading something that is mostly correct today, rather than waiting for something that is perfect, but might never come.

English Translation

1: The man who is responsible for the technology: here is Detlef.  Greetings to you Detlef.

2: Hello.

1: Tell us straight-out, what is this exactly? It isn't a real C65, even though it looks just like a real C65, what is really in there?

2: You're right.  We have given this its own name, that is the MEGA65.  The MEGA65 is based on the C65.   The computer is C65 compatible, as well as C64 compatible. In fact, we have improved upon the compatibility with the C64, compared with the original C65. But it also has new features that the C65 didn't have.   We like to say that, what Commodore began, but didn't finish, we are now completing bit by bit.   The original C65 has bitplanes, like the Amiga, but with an 8-bit 3.5MHz CPU, it is really too slow to sensibly use the bitplanes. This means that you can have static images, but you cannot easily alter the contents of the bitplanes. Because of this, we have greatly increased the speed of our system.  The MEGA65 is 13x as fast as the C65, and 45x as fast as the C65.

1: How compatible is the whole system, then, I mean you know how little, you had hardly any software, about the whole system, the chips, to accommodate for compability?

2: Yes.

1: How could you then deal with the compatibility, do you have the chips somehow read out, or how could you reproduce the whole system or how compatible is it in general with the C65?
What can you say in regards to that?

2: Good question, yes we have an original C65 in the collection, this means that we can check everything against the original.
The main developer of the VHDL "hardware", also had a C65, and at that time subjected it to deep analysis and even wrote a demo for it, which runs flawlessly on the MEGA65.
I say sometimes, the fact that there are so many different C65 units and so little software for them, that we really don't need to worry about C65 compatibility that much, because we have a few benchmark programs, as we call them, that are lavishly programmed, and that must function, also in C65 mode, but we also keep the deviations from the original C65 as few and slight as possible.
What is actually much harder, is to make the bridge to C64 mode as finished, unlike how Commodore left this unfinished, for example to provide cycle-exact operation, so that really everything runs.
So we have also allowed a couple of things in the construction to improve, really extended features as we call them...

1: Opcodes that are not allocated on the C64, for example?

2: Yes, in a moment.   Well, sorry, if I take control of this topic, it is very complex.   The C65 was built, so that the formerly illegal opcodes or unallocated opcodes on the C64, now have their own useful meaning, yes, this means that it is already a totally interesting design.   You have the 4510 CPU, and it is, as it were, backward compatible to the 6510, as long as you don't use any illegal opcodes.   They have done much the same with the VIC-III, it is backward compatible to the VIC-II from the C64, which causes some interesting effects.   If we look at this here demo.
Here is this demo that I coded in C...

1: This is a C65 demo...

2: This is one, first, first time that I have, in C64 assembler coded a demo, it uses only C64 opcodes, uses the charset and functions of the C64, but above that, on the VIC-III from the C65, was also functioning the same in the original, so a wider palette works and is used with it and it uses now also two features, that we have classified as VIC-IV features, these are thus purely MEGA65 features, namely: Screen shift and the scaler.
Yes, this means that you program now just like on a C64, it has a hardware register, that like the hardware sinus register on the C64 is mapped into memory space, there is behind here, for the colours, I just throw them against an address, that I call the Screenshift, which is different to the original that could only allow movement about one character column, and I need only one line of code to do this. The hardware scaler is the same, needing only one line of code to use it.

1: The C65 has 256 colours and thus has somewhat better graphics than the Amiga 500?

2: Yes and no. The Amiga 500 has 4,096 colours. The Amiga requires HAM mode to make use of them all, limitations still remain, compared with the bitplanes here. Also with the bitplanes we have difficult limitations.   Yes, one can't really say it is better, it is different, it is more on this 8-bit architecture embedded, and it is unfortunately, by todays standards also very, very slow, in the original, yes.

1: Will two SIDs also be emulated, because the C65 also has two SIDs?

2: Yes, this demo uses six SID voices, and is in stereo.

1: Can one then play with stereo sounds and naturally also much more complex, as we have briefly heard just now.   (Puts microphone towards the speaker of the computer)

2: It is of course at the moment using only one output channel, but what is interesting...

1: Is both there, though?

1: What is really interesting is, the whole thing is based on a single board that one can buy for themselves on Amazon.

2: Yes, exactly.

1: On a Raspberry Pi board?
2: No, but similar.

1: Can we take a look at that here now?

2: It is, to be exact, and FPGA development board.   Should I pick up on that point, and explain now what an FPGA is?

1: Yes, we can perhaps take a quick look at that shortly.

2: Sure, of course.

1: Regarding the computer, what we see here looks like a C64.

2: This here is the FPGA board, that one can buy.

1: Won't the CPU get warm?

2: No.

1: Totally normal Raspberry Pi processor, right?

2: No, it is real, the thing is called an FPGA unit, admittedly a special one.

1: An Artix7? What is the clock speed in MHz?

2: You can't say that, that's why I want to explain what an FPGA is, it is something in which you can build your own chips.   And so, the complexity of the chips, this affects the possible clock speed.

1: Similar to how the 1541 Ultimate works...

2: Yes! Or the Chameleon, only the Artix7 FPGA is distinctly more powerful than the FPGAs that came before it.  This means that you can design your own chips, and we can expand them with our so-called Widgetboard.

1: What is this here (pointing to the widgetboard)?

2: It is one of the Widgetboards.   I have here an un-cut one, that I have here only cut, because originally we wanted to put it on the table.  Have we said, that currently we put this into a C64 case.
The board fits normally directly here on it. Hence in our proper case this board sticks in here and we have the possibility for keyboard, joysticks, directly the original keyboard, directly driving.

1: Directly driving.. That is practical.

2: Right, and here the expansion port is already anticipated and provided for.

1: And we have here also a VGA output.  We can see this also.   So also that the build quality will of course be better than in this prototype.

2: Right, naturally for the final product, where we will have a bit more time to work on things,
we will also have an HDMI connector, because while in the first instance, for desktop coding, VGA is good, DVI is better, and HDMI is essential for getting this thing into the lounge room.

1: So now we come to perhaps the interesting questions for potential buyers,
Who will buy this for themselves, for which target group is this especially interesting?
For those, who always wanted to have a C65.   More for people with that perspective, than with the C64 and writing their own software for it?

2: Yes, very good question and also a very complex answer.
So we have one the one hand the collector,  who says, I'd love to have a C65, but I'm not willing to pay twenty thousand Euros for one.  Those folks are naturally very concerned that we don't modify anything, and we ourselves are also really Commodore Fans, and have said that we won't fiddle around with anything, we are making the case as authentic as possible, and it must all work like the original.  Ports and connections on the outside, must work like the originals.
Then the next group is the people, who in principle are demo-coders, who in their sinews would like a new old  platform, a new old school platform so to speak, that they can explore how to stretch the possibilities of, and that is a self-consistent platform.
Yes, because we can give a standard, developed by the core-team, it can naturally, and as an open-source project, each can have build his own variations, but there is an offical MEGA65, and that offers identical specifications among units, and we have now here for example a demo, that can be shown now, and shown at other times and places...

1: Here we see again the casing, and perhaps you can see that it is 3D printed.
But very faithful to the original, although one can see that it has come from a printer, one can see that it is a bit rough, but that can get to it with sandpaper ...

2: Get away with that! As I said earlier, for the end result, we will be moving to injection moulding.

1: Oh, nice.

2: And we will create a keyboard for it.

1: Yes, then we don't have any of this roughness at that point, that is only for now...

2: Yes, and the price of the case will naturally come down at that point...

1: On that I would like for us to speak again, that is, what do you want now:
Do you want to offer more versions, for example just the motherboard for people, so that they can build their own unit, or a complete computer, and what will it cost?
What have you presented on this?

2: For us this is important, that we are a non-profit charitable enterprise.
MEGA also has other lines of activity programs for primary school students and similar endeavours.
This means that we have no interest now in making a profit.  If we do make a profit, then we use that profit to carry out activities for the public good.  This means that, in principle, we want to get a community around our project.  And because of that, it is a rather slow process.  This means that you can already today, order this board, and work on the MEGA65.  With 170 Euro you can get it.

1: Oh, that is cheap

2: But... it should also have the luxury variation, with the really professional case, the professional keyboard, a totally plug-and-play package, plug it in and you can play all your C64 games directly from the SD card, for example.

1: When, and how expensive?

2: Spot on.   And that is the question right now.   At present we are working on the developer board, building widget boards around that.

1: Exactly, already you are doing that (reporter plays with keyboard). Unfortunately, not yet printed.
We can see this here.  While it isn't perfect, it already functions.

2: We expect to have everything finished by the 3rd quarter of 2016, in a BETA version.  This means, that everything works.  There are still bugs.  And then we will show, at that point, how much interest we see from the community, and how much resonance there is, and at that point decide whether to produce professional cases and keyboards, and hopefully,  our own motherboards.

1: So you don't have a price yet?

2: No, but of course everyone wants to know what the price will be.  I am always telling people, that the margin goes from  only 10 people wanting the thing -- already we have 4 or 5 members of our association wanting it --  in which case the cost would be 1,500 EUR.  If 1,000 people want it, then the cost would be around 600 Euro, and if 10,000 people want it, then it would be in the region of 400 Euro.

1: That would then be a question from me.   Do you have also made a C64-replacement, that would be 100% compatible, and that can run all the stuff that won't run on a C65?   With, so to speak, a kind of port of VICE, that is the most compatible emulator of all.

2: Yes, we are working towards that.   We are working towards that.  There is also a C64 FPGA project, that unfortunately meanwhile is closed-source, which is very regrettable.

1: I can imagine, that the interest would be much higher, if it is a authentic...

2: We have already worked on fixing 2 bugs, that the original C65 has in C64 mode, and we can already under-clock it to run at 1MHz.  We are already there that we really can implement each instruction cycle-exact.  When we finish that, we will have at that point 100% compatibility, as the hard-core freaks say, although individual C64's are not exactly with one another 100% compatible.
So therefore we talk about 99 point many-9s, not 100%.

1: Even the Chameleon is not 100% compatible.

2: Correct.

1: But it is nice that one can always get updates for it.

2: You can.  Right, you can upgrade the thing anytime.  We can then, for example,  offer the image to download.  The computer can flash itself, update itself, because we boot up, how you see here already.  If I switch it on here, inside of one second,  the monitor is slower than the computer, this Kickstart loads the ROM... There it is already ... from an SD-Card.  Yes, this means that this part is flashed on the chip, and that we can also in principle, update this any time, that is to say, that this is already how the architecture is  but also anticipating a single-board architecture.
This FPGA enables you, naturally, if you want, or the community wants, to also emulate completely different computers.  You can thus, if as for fun I said, have a start menu and it can ask me, should I be an Amiga or a C65.

1: Yes, I think sometimes, if the computer can be 100% C64 compatible like VICE, or in the vicinity of 100% compatible, then this thing will be much more interesting for me, if it is affordable.  

2: Of course we hope that many find it interesting.

1: Then I say firstly, many thanks.

German Transcript


1: Ja, herzlich Willkommen, ich stehe jetzt hier vor einem Rechner den es eigentlich so in der Form nie gegeben hat und auch nie wieder geben wird. Ein C65, aber kein echter es ist ein Nachbau! Und
derjenige der für die Technik verantwortlich ist, das ist hier der Detlef. Grüß Dich Detlef.2:Hallo1:erzähl uns doch mal gerade, was ist denn das genau, es ist kein echter C65 es ist er sieht nur so aus, was ist da eigentlich drin ?2:Richtig. Wir haben erlaubt, dem auch einen eigenen Namen zu geben, den nennen wir nämlich Mega65. Das heißt die Basis ist der C65. Der Rechner ist C65 kompatibel, damit auch C64 kompatibel.Wobei wir die C65 Kompatibilität zum C64 noch deutlich verbessert haben, gegenüber dem Original.Aber er hat auch neue Features, die der C65 nicht hatte. Wir nennen es immer so, wir haben es ein bisschen fertiggemacht, was Commodore angefangen hat. Der C65 hat im Original ja Bitplanes, wie der Amiga, ist aber mit 3,5MHz und einem 8-Bit CPU viel zu langsam, um die Sinnhaft zu nutzen.Das heißt du hast statische Bilder, aber du kannst es nicht modifizieren die Bitplanes.Aufgrund der erhöhten Geschwindigkeit ist es mit unserem System möglich. Der ist also 30 malso schnell wie der C65 und 45 mal so schnell wie der C64.1:Wie kompatibel ist das ganze denn, ich mein ihr konntet ja kaum, ihr hattet ja kaum Software, umDas Ganze an die Chips, möglichst kompatibel anzupassen.2:Ja1:Wie konntet ihr denn das möglichst, habt ihr die Chips irgendwie ausgelesen oder wie konntet ihr das ganze irgendwie so nachbauen oder wie kompatibel ist das überhaupt zum C65 ?Was kannst du da für Aussagen machen ?2: Gute Frage, Ja also wir haben einen C65 Original in der Sammlung, das heißt dagegen könnenWir immer checken. Der Hauptentwickler, der VHDL Hardware in Anführungszeichen, hatte auchEinen C65, hat den damals auch sehr stark analysiert und dafür auch ein Demo programmiert,welches auch hier schon einwandfrei läuft. Ich sag mal, die Tatsache das es sehr viele verschiedeneC65-Stände und sehr wenig Software gibt, bedingt, dass wir uns darüber nicht so viel Sorgen machen,weil wir haben so ein paar Benchmark Programme, wie wir sie nennen, also die sehr aufwendig programmiert sind, die müssen funktionieren, auch in diesem C65 Modus, aber wir halten natürlichauch die Modifikation am Original möglichst gering. Viel schwieriger ist es doch tatsächlich dann,die Brücke zu schlagen und diesen C64 Modus mal so fertig zu machen, wie Commodore es nicht gemacht hat, nämlich dort auch Cycle exakt zu sein, dass wirklich alles funktioniert. Ich sag mal, beimBau haben wir uns erlaubt, ein paar Sachen zu verbessern, beziehungsweise, erweiterte Features, um es richtig zu benennen….1: Opcodes die jetzt auf dem 64er nicht liefen zum Beispiel….2: Ja, Moment. Also, sorry, wenn ich dagegen steuere, es ist sehr komplex. Der C65 ist so gebaut,dass er die ehemals illegalen oder nicht belegten Opcodes des C64, sinnhaft befüllt, Ja, das heißt es ist schon mal ein ganz interessantes Design. Du hast also den 5410 CPU und der ist sozusagen abwärtskompatibel zum 6510, solange du keine illegalen Opcodes verwendest. Das gleiche haben sie gemacht mit dem VIC III, der ist abwärtskompatibel zum VIC II, dem Grafikchip vom C64.So, das bedingt einen ganz interessanten Effekt. Wenn wir uns hier das Demo hier drüben mal anschauen. Wir können also, ich habe dieses Demo jetzt ge-coded in C….1: …Das ist ein C65 Demo…2: Das ist ein, erst, erst mal ein, in C64 Assembler ge-coded-es Demo, es benutz nur C64 Opcodes,greift aber, neben dem Charset und Funktionen aus dem C64, nach oben durch, auf den VIC IIIvom C65, was auch am Original so funktioniert und nutzt damit die erweiterte Farbpalette und esnutzt jetzt auch zwei Features, die wir jetzt unter VIC IV klassifiziert haben, die also reine MEGA65Features sind, nämlich: Screenshift und den Scaler. Ja, das heißt du programmierst jetzt wie auf einem 64er, hast aber ein Hardwareregister, was wie beim 64er gemappt ist ins RAM und der Sinus, den ich hier hinten durchfahre und hier durchfahre, in den Farben, den werfe ich hier gegen eine Adresse, die ich halt Screenshift nenne und muss jetzt im Gegensatz zum Original, brauch nur eine Zeile, um das „wobbeln“ zu lassen und ich brauch nur eine Zeile, um das zu skalieren.1: Der C65 hat ja 256 Farben und war damit grafisch etwas besser sogar als der Amiga 500 ?2: Jein (mix from Yes and No in one Word) Der Amiga 500 hat eigentlich 4096 Farben.Die aber nur in diesem HAM-Mode nutzbar sind, der noch eingeschränkter ist, als die Bitplanes hier.Auch mit den Bitplanes haben wir hier eine starke Limitierung. Ja, also man kann nicht wirklichSagen, es ist besser, es ist anders, es ist mehr auf diese 8-Bit Architektur ausgelegt und es ist leider aber auch sehr, sehr langsam in heutigen Verhältnissen, das Original, ja.1:Wird der zweite SID auch emuliert, weil der C65 hat ja zwei SIDs ?2: Ja, dieses Demo benutzt jetzt bereits 6 Stimmen SID, also Stereo SID1: Dann kann man damit Stereo Sounds abspielen und natürlich auch weitaus komplexer, dann können wir gerade mal kurz reinhöhren.(Puts Mikrofon towards the Speaker)Ist jetzt natürlich nur an einem Kanal, aber was intressantes…..2: Ist auch beides da.1: … was wirklich Intressant ist, das ganze basiert ja auf einer Platine die man ganz normal bei Amazon oder so kaufen kann….2: Ja…genau..1:..auf einer Rasperry Pie Platine ?2: Nein, so ähnlich1: Das können wir uns gleich mal anschauen hier2: Es ist, um exakt zu sein, ein FPGA Entwicklungsboard. Soll ich ausholen und mal erklären, was ein FPGA ist ?1: Ja, wir können uns das vielleicht mal kurz anschauen.2: Auch das, natürlich1: Am Rechner, so wie das hier am C64 verbaut, so sieht das aus.2: Das hier ist der FPGA Board, das man kaufen kann1: Wird auch gar nicht warm die CPU.2: Nein.1: Ganz normaler Rasperry Pie Prozessor, nehme ich an ?2: Nein, es ist wirklich, das Ding nennt sich auch CPU FPGA und zwar ein spezieller. Ein Artix-71: Wieviel Megahertz hat der ?2: Kann man so nicht sagen, du kannst dir, deswegen wollte ich FPGA erklären, du kannst dir deine eigenen Chips bauen. Ja und je nachdem, wie komplex die Chips sind, hast du dann auch die Möglichkeit eine gewisse Taktung draufzugeben.1: Wie bei der 1541 Ultimate, so ähnlich…2: Jaaa, oder das Chameleon, nur dass der Artix-7 nochmal deutlich stärker ist, als die bisher verbauten FPGAs. Das heißt, du kannst dir deine Chips selbst designen und wir erweitern dasÜber dass sogenannte…..Widgetboard1: Was ist das hier (points to the Widgetboard) ?2: oder eins der Widgetboards. Ich habe hier ein un-zersägtes, das habe ich hier nur angesägt, weil ursprünglich wollten wir die Platinen hier auf den Tisch legen. Haben wir gesagt, jetzt legen wir sie hier in so ein C64er Gehäuse. Das Board passt normalerweise direkt hier dran.Also in unserem richtigen Gehäuse steckt dieses Board hier direkt dran und wir haben darüber die Möglkichkeit, Tastatur und Joysticks, direkt, Original Tastatur, direkt anzusteuern1: Direkt anzusteuern..Das ist praktisch.2:Richtig und hier ist schon der Expansion port vorgesehen.1: Spart auch jede Menge Bauteile, wenn man das alles auf über eine PC…
1: Und wir haben hier auch noch einen VGA Ausgang. Das sehen wir auch. Also auch die
Bildqualität ist natürlich deutlich besser als die eines…
2:Richtig, wobei natürlich, für das finale Produkt, was jetzt noch ein bisschen Zeit hat,
wir auch eine HDMI Schnittstelle zur Verfügung stellen werden, also, zum erst einmal, zum Desktop coden, ist VGA gut, DVI ist besser und HDMI ist aber dann, um es ins Wohnzimmer zu kriegen essentiell.
1: Da kommen wir vielleicht dann auch noch zu einer interessanten Fragen für den Abnehmer,
Wer kauft sich den sowas oder für welche Zielgruppe ist das besonders interessant ?
Für diejenigen, die sowieso immer so einen C65 haben wollten oder für diejenigen, die eher
Mehr damit machen wollen, als mit dem C64 und darauf individuelle Software programmieren wollen ?
2: Ja, sehr gute Frage und auch eine recht komplexe Antwort. Also wir haben zum einen die Sammler,
die sagen, eigentlich hätte ich gerne einen C65 aber 20000€ will ich nicht ausgeben.
Die sind natürlich sehr bedacht, dass wir nichts modifizieren und wir selbst sind ja auch wirklich Commodore Fans und haben gesagt, wir fummeln jetzt auch nicht daran herum, wir machen das Gehäuse möglichst Authentisch und es muss auch alles Original funktionieren. Erweiterungen aussen vor, die Originalsachen müssen funktionieren.
Dann gibt es die Leute, die im Prinzip, Democoder, die eigentlich sich sehnen nach einer neuen, alten
Plattform, also sozusagen einer neuen oldschool plattform, die wieder Möglichkeiten der Erforschung, des Verbesserns und der Vergleichbarkeit bietet. Ja, weil es wird einen Stand geben, von uns, vom Kernteam entwickelt, es kann natürlich, da es Open Source ist, jeder seine Varianten bauen aber es gibt einen offiziellen MEGA65 und der ist vergleichbar und wir haben jetzt hier zum Beispiel ein Demo, kann ich gleich mal zeigen, das zeigt dann…
1: Hier sehen wir nochmal dass Gehäuse vielleicht, also man sieht doch, dass das alles nachgedruckt
Aber sehr originalgetreu, also man sieht schon es kommt aus dem Drucker, man sieht das an diesen, etwas rauhen, aber das kriegt man ja auch mit Sandpapier..
2: Kriegt man weg, aber da kann ich jetzt schon sagen, es wird von uns Spritzgussgehäuse geben.
1: Oh, schön.
2: Und es wird von uns Tastaturen geben.
1: Ja, dann haben wir auch das hier gar nicht mehr, dieses Rauhe, das ist jetzt nur…
2: Ja und der Preis geht natürlich nochmal deutlich runter…
1: Darauf wollte ich jetzt nochmal drauf zu sprechen, also was wollt ihr jetzt:
Wollt ihr jetzt mehrere Versionen anbieten, zum Beispiel nur die Platine, für Leute, die das selber einbauen wollen oder auch Komplettrechner und was soll es kosten ? Was habt ihr euch da vorgestellt?
2: Für uns ist wichtig, wir sind ein gemeinnütziger Verein. MEGA macht also auch Sachen wie
Programmieren für Grundschüler und ähnliche Sachen. Das heißt wir haben kein Interesse daran jetzt
Gewinn zu erzielen. Wenn wir Gewinn erzielen, geben wir den für gemeinnützige Sachen aus.
Das bedeutet, wir machen das im Prinzip, um eine Community um unser Projekt zu bekommen. Und deshalb ist es auch ein langsamer Prozess. Das heißt, du kannst heute schon dir dieses Board bestellen und kannst schon mit dem MEGA65 arbeiten, Ja. Mit 170€ geht es los.
1: Oh, das ist günstig
2: Aber…es soll natürlich auch die Luxusvariante geben, mit wirklich professionellem Gehäuse, professioneller Tastatur, Plug & Play, steckst es ein und kannst alle deine C64 Spiele auf die SD Karte machen, zum Beispiel und abspielen.
1: Wann und wie teuer ?
2: Genau. Und dass ist jetzt genau die Frage. Im Moment arbeiten wir mit dem Entwicklungsboard, bauen Widgetplatinen aussen drum.
Genau, schon mal richtig (reporter plays with keyboard)
1: Leider noch nicht bedruckt. Wir sehen dass hier. war nicht ganz richtig..funktioniert auch schon.
2: Wir werden bis zum dritten Quartal 2016 alles fertig haben, in einer Beta version. Das heißt, dass alles funktioniert. Es gibt noch Bugs.
Und dann wird sich zeigen, in wie fern, was für einen Anklang das findet, in der Community, aber auch…und da haben wir auch schon gute Resonanz bei Leuten, die sich vorher gar nicht für das Thema interessiert haben und dann wird sich entscheiden, ob es bei diesen Gehäusen, die professionell hergestellt werden bleibt, den Tastaturen oder ob zusätzlich noch, was die Hoffnung ist,
eigene Mainboards gebaut werden.
1: Preise habt ihr noch nicht jetzt ?
2: Nein, das heißt, will aber jeder wissen. Ich sage es immer so, die Spanne geht von,
wenn nur 10 Leute das Ding wollen, da gehören schon mal 4 oder 5 von unserem Verein dazu,
Dann kostet so ein Ding 1500€. Wenn 1000 Leute das wollen kostet es etwa 600€ und ab 10000 kommen wir in den 400er Bereich.
1: Da wäre dann noch eine Frage von mir. Habt ihr denn vor auch wirklich einen C64 Ersatz zu bauen, der dann wirklich 100%ig kompatibel ist und dann auch die Sachen abspielt, die der C65 Nicht hätte abspielen können. Das ihr sozusagen so eine Art Vice-port oder so, dass ist ja auch der kompatibelste Emulator überhaupt…
2: Ja..daran arbeiten wir schon. Wir arbeiten bereits daran. Es gibt ja auch C64 FPGA Projekte, die sind ja leider inzwischen Closed-source, was sehr bedauerlich ist
1: Könnte ich mir nämlich vorstellen, dass dass Intresse dann weitaus höher ist, wenn sie einen echten…
2: Wir arbeiten bereits schon daran, wir haben 2 Bugs schon gefixt, die der Original C65 im C64 Modus hat und wir können ihn schon runter Takten dass er auf 1MHz läuft. Wir sind jetzt dabei
Dass wir wirklich Cycle-exakt jeden Befehl umsetzen. Wenn das fertig ist, haben wir irgendwann eine
100% Kompatibilität, wobei die Hardcorefreaks sagen, nicht mal die einzelnen 64er sind zu einander
100 % Kompatibel. Also lass uns von 99,viele neunen reden.
1: Selbst das Chameleon ist ja nicht 100%ig kompatibel
2: Richtig.
1:Aber dass schöne ist ja, dass man immer Software Updates einspielen kann.
2: Du kannst. Richtig, du kannst jederzeit dass Ding upgraden. Wir können dann zum Beispiel
Dass Image zum Download anbieten. Der Rechner flasht sich selbst, updatet sich, weil,
wir booten ja, wie du siehst, auch schon. Wenn ich anschalte habe ich innerhalb von einer Sekunde,
der Monitor ist langsamer als der Rechner, diese Kickstart und die lädt jetzt das ROM..,.Da ist er schon…von einer SD-Karte. Ja, das heißt, dieser Teil geflasht auf dem Chip und dass können wir aber auch im Prinzip updaten, jeder Zeit und du musst dazusagen, dass die Architektur so wie sie jetzt ist
aber auch mit der angedachten, Einplatinenarchitektur. Dieser FPGA ermöglicht dir, natürlich, wenn du möchtest, oder der Community, auch ganz andere Rechner zu emulieren. Du könntest also, wenn
einer Spaß daran hat sagen, ich mache ein Startmenu und es fragt mich, soll ich ein Amiga sein oder
ein C65.
1: Ja, ich denke mal, wenn der Rechner dann noch C64 kompatibel wird und das zu 100% so wie der Vice oder nahezu 100%, dann wird das Ding wahrscheinlich auch für mich interessant, wenn es bezahlbar ist. Na hoffen wir mal, dass wir möglichst viele Interessenten finden. Dann sage ich erst einmal vielen Dank……………………………………


2: Wir haben einen eigenen Bus vor allen Dingen. Wir modulieren alles auf einen Bus und füttern damit den FPGA.

24 comments:

  1. The only problem with that interview is that the interviewer apparently doesn't know what an FPGA is, and despite the fact that the MEGA guy is trying to explain that to him, he still thinks the board inside is some kind of Raspberry Pi and he also asks a few times if VICE is going to be ported to this board. This might be a bit misleading, so if you publish a transcript, you might make sure to clarify these things.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello,
      Yes, that is a bit of a problem. My German isn't (yet) up to writing a good transcript of this, and to then address that issue in German. Volunteers are welcomed on this point.

      Paul.

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    2. Ok here is what I hope....I hope that this can only take c65 core...i want this to be only c65 and you cannot put other cores in them...I want a pure c65...not vice, apple ii/c, nes, snes, amiga, all that stuff. We already have enough and I mean fpga out there that can do all of this...so I really am hoping in the future that this will be pure 100% c65 and can only accept c65 and nothing else. Putting that aside.


      I LOVE IT! IT IS SO BEAUTIFUL! SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO BEAUTIFUL!! I WANT IT! Look at that sexy disk drive all the way over there heheheh....I love it, I love it, I love it!!!! It is worth every dollar....it is a gem in every sense of the way!!

      Paul! I do hope you can achieve a true Mega65 motherboard (custom made) and will be only C65 for life and it is impossible to do anything but C65 (c64 mode) on it...if you know what I mean. If not...what I mean...I hope you will have a custom Mega65 motherboard the same way as we have an x86 motherboard that is designed to be an x86 and not an fpga that you can program it to be something else the same way as the AMD CPU is an AMD CPU and you cannot program it to be something else....and so on. I hope we can reach there.....

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    3. Hello,

      So we have no plans to make any other cores for this machine -- just getting solid C64 and C65 compatibility and all the nice conveniences around that will keep us busy for a long time yet.

      At this stage, we still intend for it to use a reprogrammable-FPGA, so that we can continue to update it, and people can fiddle with it as well. This means that if someone does want to make an Apple2 core for it, there is nothing to stop them -- just like you can make whatever operating system you want to run on a PC.

      We fully intend to make an integrated MEGA65 motherboard, as well as continuing to allow people to use their Nexys4 boards.

      Paul.

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    4. Ones you do to make an integrated Mega65 motherboard I will trade you the nexys4 board and pay difference for it and use only the Mega65 motherboard in my Mega case.

      Delete
    5. Hello,

      You are certainly welcome to buy the motherboard instead of using the Nexys4+PCB option that we still intend to support -- that is you can keep using your Nexys4 board. However, we won't be able to buy back Nexys4 boards, as that makes no sense for us to do. You might find that you can on-sell them to others who don't want to pay the price of the new motherboard, but are happy to have a 2nd hand Nexys4 board.

      Paul.

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    6. Sure. I can keep the nexy4 board and turn it into an Apple II/c I suppose :) OK...thanks. :D

      Delete
  2. Good job so far. I notice that the c65 casing in the video is 3d printed. While this is good as a concept and as a functional model, i pray to godzilla that you guys are able to pull it off and produce proper injection molded 1:1 copies of the original. Maybe it is about time to toss a donation in mega's direction ;)

    Regarding the adaptor board, is that soldering holes for a cartridge port i see? I also notice that the pcb is populated by smd components. That would make it quite a bit harder for the DIY crowd, i assume.

    For a machine with a complete, proper motherboard in a injection molded case, i only have one word:
    WANT ;^)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello,

      Yes, the prototype is necessarily 3D printed. This prototype has several purposes, including so that we can show something now to get feedback, but also to allow us to test the accuracy of our 3D model for the case, so that we can get it totally perfect before we (hopefully) move to injection moulding.

      Yes, the PCB already has provision for a cartridge port. SMD is a bit of a necessary evil these days. We think that we will probably just offer such PCBs at a good price for those who cannot make them themselves. I think we can already offer that one for less than the cost of a Keyrah.

      Paul.

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  3. My feedback:

    1) I noticed the power LED to be too weak in the video. If you notice it is bright day and you can barely see the power LED red and when he have his hand on it...that shadow from his hand made the power LED red visible but weak. I am unsure if this is intended on purpose or not...but if it isn't...this need to be fixed.

    2) On the top case of the Mega65 can you have the default look like this exactly but for people who wish to not own a disk drive but would prefer keypad instead they pay extra for the case and the keyboard with the keypad? Me? I want the disk drive please and I want it just like this 100% in terms of design and look and I want disk drive badly in my Mega65. However, the reason I am asking for the other request or feature so that when people complain they don't want disk drives...I don't want their complain effect people like me who do want disk drive and we end up with the majority of not wanting disk drive or look like majority. I want if possible to give choices for people who do want disk drive and who do not want and I don't care if it is cheaper without disk drive and I would pay extra for it...I will pay....and if it is more expense to remove the disk drive and have a keypad then people who don't want disk drive will have to pay. All I am saying, give us choices :)

    3) You said for the Mega65 will soon or not soon but will have a Mega65 motherboard. Could you make it like the Amiga where the is an ability to add an expansion at the bottom of the case and start the Mega65 (for price reasons) with like 4 MB of RAM or less as the main system and the basic will say No Expansion Found or something like that and on the trap door we can buy as a separate hardware expansion cards like the Amiga, either increase CPU speed or add more RAM. (Weeeeeeeeee.....if you do that...I can only imagine all the cool third party expansion cards that will come out...it will be fun :D).

    Of course the expansion will not be the same as the Amiga's naturally...and thus the Amiga's expansion will not fit on this and on top of that...the voltage and wiring is completely different. :) I start to feel the good old 80s back now :D

    4) Again, I feel when you do release the Mega65 motherboard you should release it the cheapest possible which means it should not come right away with all the bells and whistles immediately. You should be able to provide expansions and external add on hardware to increase the power and add features for the Mega65 that will fit on the casing and fit on both the bottom trap door and internally. This gives millions of possibilities from third party hardware developers and allow to sell the Mega65 for the cheapest possible to increase sales and interest a lot. It should be sold to the market the Mega65 with a standard setting like the Amiga 500 does....for example...kickstart 1.3, Workbench 1.3 and 512 KB chip RAM. Then in the future third party expansions allowed it to go beyond what it is designed in the default setting....I think this should be the same approach for the Mega65 motherboard. What do you think?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello,

      I'll try to answer your questions:

      1. We know that the power LED is not bright enough in the current prototype. That is easy to fix, and will certainly be addressed before any "final" hardware.

      2. We will only be offering the normal C65 shape -- there is no real justification for a keypad on an 8-bit computer. After all, when you buy a mac laptop it doesn't have one either. Authenticity is much more important to us than a keypad, so don't get worried about this.

      3 & 4. The FPGA is the single most expensive component. We expect that the basic model will have either no expansion RAM, or if we can get a nice big RAM chip cheaply, we will probably just include it. We haven't really thought much about supporting arbitrary external memory via an expansion port on the bottom, but will certainly consider the options as we move forward. Also, I want to make sure that we set proper expectations: this computer will not be cheap, because it is extremely unlikely that we will have any useful economy of scale. There are limitations on us due to the number of pins on the FPGA etc, that will also affect the options available to us.

      Paul.

      Delete
  4. You: "1. We know that the power LED is not bright enough in the current prototype. That is easy to fix, and will certainly be addressed before any "final" hardware."

    Reply: Thank you! :D

    You: "2. We will only be offering the normal C65 shape -- there is no real justification for a keypad on an 8-bit computer. After all, when you buy a mac laptop it doesn't have one either. Authenticity is much more important to us than a keypad, so don't get worried about this."

    Reply: THANK YOU! THANK YOU SO MUCH!! WE GET TO KEEP THE DISK DRIVE! * JUMPS AND DANCES AND SINGS * WE GOT TO KEEP THE DISK DRIVE! YAAPPIIEE!!

    You: "3 & 4. The FPGA is the single most expensive component. We expect that the basic model will have either no expansion RAM, or if we can get a nice big RAM chip cheaply, we will probably just include it. "

    Reply: No expansion RAM! NO EXPANSION RAM! I want the basic! I want the basic! :D :D


    You: "We haven't really thought much about supporting arbitrary external memory via an expansion port on the bottom, but will certainly consider the options as we move forward."

    Reply: YEeeess!! Please consider the idea of an expansion at the bottom. A) It gives it the toy feel, hehee. Lego pieces feel kinda of thing. B) It gives endless possibilities to expand this by third party, not necessary you or Mega65.org either :D People with this skill can make money out of it too...and why not? :) I would love to buy third part expansion card that gives the Mega65 for example 32 MB of RAM, or increase it's CPU from 40+ Mhz to say 80 Mhz or 100 Mhz. I am sure this is not needed now...but I am thinking in the future when more programmers come into the scene and eventually there will be an OS for it (GUI) and having faster CPU speed means opening possibility for better CPU speed demanding games, who knows...maybe there will be a format for watching videos on Mega65 on the OS itself ;). I am dreaming. Just saying, give the option for anything in the future :)

    You: "Also, I want to make sure that we set proper expectations: this computer will not be cheap, because it is extremely unlikely that we will have any useful economy of scale. There are limitations on us due to the number of pins on the FPGA etc, that will also affect the options available to us."

    Reply: I understand. I will save every money and buy it...even if it cost 1000+ dollar :) It is worth it :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello,

      We will likely include some RAM beyond the chipram, because it will otherwise require people to add a possibly expensive and/or non-existent RAM expansion. However, we will do our best to allow for various other extensions to be added. CPU upgrades will be difficult to allow for, because of the way the CPU is integrated into the FPGA, and to be honest, my pretty sloppy VHDL skills. That said, it should be possible to improve the CPU in the VHDL to be faster than now -- 48MHz is our starting point.

      As for the price, I am glad that you are understanding that it is hard to predict, and might not be as cheap as we would all like, due to the low production volumes that we are likely to be facing.

      Paul.

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    2. Actually I was thinking for the mega65 motherboard and not the FPGA when I was doing the suggestions for the expansion port and memory and CPU upgrade.

      Delete
    3. Hello,

      Yes, I realised this. However, there is scope for substantial CPU improvement without requiring extra hardware. Memory expansion requires real hardware, of course.

      Paul.

      Delete
  5. High price is expected by most people I guess, as long as it's close to a 500$-600$ price range, it should be fine. Do you remember how costly computer were in the 80's? I do :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is really hard to say what the price will be, even whether it would be more or less than US$600. The challenges include the huge cost of getting injection moulding tools made, as well as the high unit cost of the FPGA, and that with a small team, we are likely to need to re-do the motherboard at least once to get it all correct.

      Paul.

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  6. This is back to the future :)

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  7. Here's another mega65 presentation from the event.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKNrWI-DPQ8

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I have embedded that one in another blog post for convenience.

      Paul.

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