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General Category => Amstrad CPC hardware => Topic started by: Duke on 08:45, 23 June 18

Title: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: Duke on 08:45, 23 June 18
Just thought I'd create a new thread for posting progress on my (maybe) coming boards, rather than cluttering the M4 thread even more.

A short video of the current progress of Galaxy board (booting SymbOS).
https://youtu.be/NAWO1etR-vQ (https://youtu.be/NAWO1etR-vQ)
Now RAM expansion is working (allocated 320KB for the CPC/GX4000 for now).

Still need to implement USB keyboard, FDC emulation and more...

Of other interesting features:
I can now set hardware breakpoints on code execution and fully monitor all HW regs, probably this will develop into at least doing snapshots on the fly.

Zen80 board ?
This is a planned external version of Galaxy board, but with 8MB SDRAM.
More to come on this, once I am satisfied with the Galaxy board hardware design (hopefully next revision).

EDIT: updated with a few pictures of galaxy board, mounted in a GX4000.
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: pelrun on 09:04, 23 June 18
I can now set hardware breakpoints on code execution and fully monitor all HW regs, probably this will develop into at least doing snapshots on the fly.


Implement a gdb stub on it and that would be an *amazing* device. (well, it already is, but you know, *more*)
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: LambdaMikel on 03:05, 24 June 18
Wow, very cool!
But, in a nutshell - what is a Galaxy Zen80 board?

Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: Duke on 08:13, 24 June 18

Implement a gdb stub on it and that would be an *amazing* device. (well, it already is, but you know, *more*)
Maybe - Atleast it would give some way to debug for people wanting to do net applications. Otherwise it's hard to compete with Winape etc for general development.

But, in a nutshell - what is a Galaxy Zen80 board?
Galaxy board is an extended version of M4 board.
It plugs into the Z80 socket on the CPC mainboard and will provide additional features such as RAM expansion & FDC emulation and also ability to plugin wireless USB keyboard & mouse, so you can upgrade a GX4000 console to a very expanded CPC+ without any soldering.
My initial posting on this is lost somewhere in the M4 thread, a basic explanation of the workings is here: http://www.spinpoint.org/2018/04/08/m7-galaxy-board/ (http://www.spinpoint.org/2018/04/08/m7-galaxy-board/)

Zen80 board
pretty much the same, but externally like M4 board. And it will feature 8MB SDRAM (and MCU with more GPIO's),  which would be hard to fit in the internal version without going BGA.
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: tjohnson on 10:49, 24 June 18
Wow this sounds great Duke what is your estimated ETC for these, I would be very interested buying one.

Sent from my E5823 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: Duke on 11:00, 24 June 18
Wow this sounds great Duke what is your estimated ETC for these, I would be very interested buying one.

It will be more expensive than M4 board. Probably around 60 euro +/- some, but is very roughly estimated. M7 mcu's are still quite new and pricey in small quantities.
Will give a better estimate in some months when it is closer to being ready :)
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: GUNHED on 21:39, 24 June 18
Great news! Will the features (except ROM and RAM) also be available for the native CPC-OS?


What exactly do you mean by FDC emulation?
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: Duke on 23:26, 24 June 18
Will the features (except ROM and RAM) also be available for the native CPC-OS?
Yes, they will.

Quote
What exactly do you mean by FDC emulation?
It will emulate the FDC765 chip so that any read and write can be redirected to a DSK-image of choice. Think of it like gotek/hxc, except you don't need a floppy disc controller chip in the computer.
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: LambdaMikel on 10:15, 25 June 18
Yeah, I would buy one for sure!
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: GUNHED on 17:36, 25 June 18
Put me on the list too :-) The extenal version I guess, since it can be used for more CPCs by plugging and 8 MB RAM is nice too.


But how do you address the 8 MB? And are they compatible to the 4 MB expansions? The latter one would be really important since this would support already existing 4 MB software.  :)
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: Duke on 18:29, 25 June 18
Put me on the list too :-) The extenal version I guess, since it can be used for more CPCs by plugging and 8 MB RAM is nice too.

Thanks. I wont take pre-orders yet as I may be dead before it's finished  or have a mental breakdown or whatever else :) - Once I am closer to be done, I will let you know.

Quote
But how do you address the 8 MB? And are they compatible to the 4 MB expansions? The latter one would be really important since this would support already existing 4 MB software.  :)
I have not decided yet, I will of course make it compatible with what exists already (yarek 4MB I think would be most used?) and add another I/O reg for the additional 4MB and I can even add some config option to the interface if there is more options needed.
I just choose 8MB because SDRAM is ridiculously cheap. I don't think there is much sensible use for it, but if it cost $1 more than 4MB who doesn't want it :)
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: GUNHED on 19:16, 25 June 18
That's just right  :)  And about the 'more than 512 KB' expansions. Up to now they are all compatible, I mean this expansions:
- Tot0' Y-MEM (enhances to 1 MB via port &7Exx)
- RAM7's 2 MB (enhances to 2 MB via ports &7Fxx to &7Cxx)
- RPalmers 2 MB (enhances to 2 MB via ports &7Fxx to &7Cxx)
- Jareks 4 MB (enhances to 4 MB via ports &7Fxx to &78xx)
- Piotrs 4 MB (enhances to 4 MB via ports &7Fxx to &78xx)

The all do the same using one port address for 512 KB, by decreasing the high-byte they add anothe 512 KB block.

Well, it could be absolutely cool to have a DMA on chip which can transfer inside all the 8 MB RAM :-)

And I really hope you can do finish your two great upcoming boards during one single life  ;) :) :) :)
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: Duke on 19:42, 25 June 18
That's just right  :)  And about the 'more than 512 KB' expansions. Up to now they are all compatible, I mean this expansions:
- Tot0' Y-MEM (enhances to 1 MB via port &7Exx)
- RAM7's 2 MB (enhances to 2 MB via ports &7Fxx to &7Cxx)
- RPalmers 2 MB (enhances to 2 MB via ports &7Fxx to &7Cxx)
- Jareks 4 MB (enhances to 4 MB via ports &7Fxx to &78xx)
- Piotrs 4 MB (enhances to 4 MB via ports &7Fxx to &78xx)

The all do the same using one port address for 512 KB, by decreasing the high-byte they add anothe 512 KB block.

Cool, thanks for the info :)

Quote
Well, it could be absolutely cool to have a DMA on chip which can transfer inside all the 8 MB RAM :-)
It's no problem to transfer within extended memory (fast).
I can add new instructions, like I have 0xed,0x01 for print string to serial console (used for zexall test). 0xed,0x02 for breakpoint to serial console.
However it is more problematic to transfer to base memory, but it's something I would like to add.
Quote
And I really hope you can do finish your two great upcoming boards during one single life  ;) :) :) :)
Thanks, me too :)
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: GUNHED on 22:55, 26 June 18
Thanks a lot for all the info and ideas. Talking about ideas... well, probably dreams, because hardware always has limits. So... sorry for asking... Would it be possible to 'control' the new expansion by software running in ROM too? If not there will be other solutions.  :)
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: Duke on 00:20, 27 June 18
Would it be possible to 'control' the new expansion by software running in ROM too? If not there will be other solutions.  :)
Yes, it will feature similar rom board & cartridge slot as M4.
In fact it will be able to map any rom including ROM7 for 6128's (without data contention), and it can map roms similar to gx4000/464 plus/6128 plus on regular CPC.
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: GUNHED on 11:47, 28 June 18
Ok, since the Galaxy board will emulate/simulate/control RAM and ROM ... and it plugs into the CPU socket... would it be possible to run the Z80 with 8 MHz? Just take the Z80H and the CPU will be fine.

I got one 6128 here running at 6 MHz, the whole system is more quick, but it won't work with 8 MHz.

So in case of the Galaxy: Can there be a "switch" to speed up to 8 MHz (or even more) - except for I/O instructions (slower hardware on CPC-PCB?).

Sorry for spamming your thread ;-) It's just an idea I had :-)
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: Duke on 12:26, 28 June 18
Ok, since the Galaxy board will emulate/simulate/control RAM and ROM ... and it plugs into the CPU socket... would it be possible to run the Z80 with 8 MHz? Just take the Z80H and the CPU will be fine.

I got one 6128 here running at 6 MHz, the whole system is more quick, but it won't work with 8 MHz.

So in case of the Galaxy: Can there be a "switch" to speed up to 8 MHz (or even more) - except for I/O instructions (slower hardware on CPC-PCB?).

Sorry for spamming your thread ;-) It's just an idea I had :-)

I have been thinking about that. I even planned to put on a qfp 10 mhz variant to save board space (but couldn't find a suitable, non through hole DIL-40 male connector for the motherboard).
 However, while you could run code quicker from extended RAM (on the galaxy board), the base memory would still need to match the gate array, so it's not much fun without increasing rendering speed.
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: GUNHED on 13:10, 28 June 18
Yes, that's true of course.  :)  However, when developing software for this expansion it could be made in a way to run in simulated RAM (therefore quick). It wouldn't enhance V-RAM access, but calculations a lot.  :)
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: Sykobee (Briggsy) on 13:30, 28 June 18
This sounds very interesting, I would be interested for my GX4000 (as I have no other Plus hardware).


What are you considering as the GX4000 configuration? 512KB + FDC + Simulated Disk Drive (Gotek compatible? Could you use FlashFloppy and attach an OLED display?) + WiFi/Bluetooth for Keyboard?


Not so concerned about overclocking the CPU TBH, that would be a very niche feature.
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: Duke on 15:29, 28 June 18
What are you considering as the GX4000 configuration? 512KB + FDC + Simulated Disk Drive (Gotek compatible? Could you use FlashFloppy and attach an OLED display?) + WiFi/Bluetooth for Keyboard?
Probably about 320KB + 64KB baseram = 384KB total, maybe I can spare another 64 KB. Will see in the end how much is left.
FDC + disk drive will not be firmware compatible with gotek/flashfloppy/hxc, as it's very different implementation on the FDC level. No display (don't have any spare gpio).
WiFi for network, USB (wireless) for Keyboard & mouse.
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: Sykobee (Briggsy) on 16:30, 28 June 18
Ah, the RAM is within the M7 microcontroller! Still, I think that's plenty for a CPC, not many 512KB RAM games about...
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: pelrun on 09:04, 29 June 18
Well since it doesn't look like I'm going to be able to lay hands on a Plus any time in the foreseeable future, I should start watching for GX4000's now...


(wish I'd got one back when there was a glut... oh well)
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: Duke on 09:11, 29 June 18
Well since it doesn't look like I'm going to be able to lay hands on a Plus any time in the foreseeable future, I should start watching for GX4000's now...


(wish I'd got one back when there was a glut... oh well)
When I started this, you could get a gx4000 for 30-40 euro, so the idea was it would be cheap way to have a fully expanded CPC+.
Prices seems to have gone through the roof now. This goes for regular CPC's too :/
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: zhulien on 11:15, 29 June 18
how about adding an 80Mhz coldfire or similar as per the Microbee?


https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Microbee-256TC-SE-Special-Edition-Computer-with-Single-drive/332699606762
http://www.microbeetechnology.com.au/store/256tc-se.html

Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: Duke on 11:32, 29 June 18
how about adding an 80Mhz coldfire or similar as per the Microbee?
Not sure what the advantage would be over the current setup?
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: remax on 11:35, 29 June 18
Probably about 320KB + 64KB baseram = 384KB total, maybe I can spare another 64 KB. Will see in the end how much is left.
FDC + disk drive will not be firmware compatible with gotek/flashfloppy/hxc, as it's very different implementation on the FDC level. No display (don't have any spare gpio).
WiFi for network, USB (wireless) for Keyboard & mouse.


How would it be plugged in the GX4000 ? Internally or Externally ?
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: Duke on 16:13, 29 June 18

How would it be plugged in the GX4000 ? Internally or Externally ?

It is mounted internally. I updated the first post with pictures of this.
First the Z80 cpu is unplugged, then you plug it into the galaxy board and the galaxy board into the z80 socket on the motherboard.
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: tjohnson on 17:42, 29 June 18
Got to say this is an excellent and exciting project for the amstrad community!

Sent from my E5823 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: MikeSDK on 16:35, 09 July 18
It is mounted internally. I updated the first post with pictures of this.
First the Z80 cpu is unplugged, then you plug it into the galaxy board and the galaxy board into the z80 socket on the motherboard.

I am of course intrigued, but I have a burning question: could you mount this internally in a regular 6128 as well or would it be too cramped with the keyboard right above it?
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: Duke on 16:43, 09 July 18
I am of course intrigued, but I have a burning question: could you mount this internally in a regular 6128 as well or would it be too cramped with the keyboard right above it?

It probably could (I did not check yet). I am worried the metalplate from the keyboard will impact the WiFi signal too much. It remains to be tested, as of now it sits in my 464, with wires all over so I am not testing it until I am done with debugging.
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: bazza_666 on 21:56, 09 July 18
Want one!!!!


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Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: Skunkfish on 23:44, 09 July 18
Very excited by this. Would it be controllable via a web interface like the M4 board? Fancy using my mobile phone as a .DSK/cart image selector...
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: Duke on 00:30, 10 July 18
Very excited by this. Would it be controllable via a web interface like the M4 board? Fancy using my mobile phone as a .DSK/cart image selector...
Yup, similar to M4.
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: Phantomz on 17:20, 10 July 18
@Duke (http://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=1624)

Nice work  8)

Looking forward to getting one of these in the future if you release them.  :)

Will it work ok with the C4CPC cart plugged in, I mean will they both work ok together, also what about the power supply needed, I know people needed o get a new power supply if they use the C4CPC in a GX4000.
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: ASiC on 19:35, 10 July 18

@Phantomz (http://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=1308)
Either you have a C4CPC or not, get rid off that nasty PSU and get yourself a new one!


Lots of GXs had died a painful death because of that piece of crap!



Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: Phantomz on 19:56, 10 July 18
@Phantomz (http://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=1308)
Either you have a C4CPC or not, get rid off that nasty PSU and get yourself a new one!


Lots of GXs had died a painful death because of that piece of crap!

@ASiC (http://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=22)

I've got a good power supply from RS Components for my GX4000 as soon as I got my C4CPC.

I'm asking if this new board might need a better supply than the original one for people that haven't got a C4CPC.

I'm also asking if this new board and the c4cpc will work ok together.

I hope that clears things up a little.  :D
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: Duke on 21:59, 10 July 18
@Duke (http://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=1624)

Nice work  8)

Looking forward to getting one of these in the future if you release them.  :)

Will it work ok with the C4CPC cart plugged in, I mean will they both work ok together, also what about the power supply needed, I know people needed o get a new power supply if they use the C4CPC in a GX4000.

Thanks. Yes it will work with C4CPC - at last I have one so I can test it!
A proper powersupply for GX4000 will be needed yes, I use a 5V 2A.
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: keith56 on 11:07, 11 July 18
Sounds like a great bit of kit, and will allow all the GX4000 owners to have the equivalent of a 6128+, which will be great for software developers like me who use DSK, and don't want to support 64k!

I know it's a stretch, but if it WERE possible to support a faster processor this would give a big performance boost to people with the V9990 external GPU, on my game, the 6mhz MSX saw a 33% speed increase, and the R800 had over 100% faster speed compared to the regular 4mhz MSX.

Really amazing stuff!
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: Gryzor on 11:16, 23 August 18
No news? :)
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: Duke on 00:19, 12 September 18
No news? :)
Gah sorry missed that :)
  No (well some but I can hardly remember where I was), too much real life stuff been going on, be back at it soon !
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: GUNHED on 17:07, 24 October 18
Well, since these new boards can emulate RAM and ROM ... Could it be doable to speed up the Z80 (and RAM and ROM access) to 8 Mhz or more? Of course the access of V-RAM (first 64 KB) would still need to run at 4 MHz in case they wont make more.

The GA, PSG, FDC, PIO all work with up to 6 MHz (in my case).


More power can't be a sin  ;)
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: Duke on 20:39, 25 October 18
Well, since these new boards can emulate RAM and ROM ... Could it be doable to speed up the Z80 (and RAM and ROM access) to 8 Mhz or more? Of course the access of V-RAM (first 64 KB) would still need to run at 4 MHz in case they wont make more.
I'll see what I can do when I resume the project. In theory you could use the ARM z80 emu (without syncing to the mb) in expanded mem at probably 50 times or more than the normal speed , but for the real z80 chip to see the new register values at return, memory reads from expanded mem would be needed (pops in usual speed).
There's some other option also to considerate.
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: GUNHED on 17:40, 26 December 18
Well, if you need a person to test the upcoming hardware, then let me know. I got a new unused GX4000 here just waiting to see the sun of sense coming up.  :) :) :)
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: Duke on 22:35, 26 December 18
Well, if you need a person to test the upcoming hardware, then let me know. I got a new unused GX4000 here just waiting to see the sun of sense coming up.  :) :) :)

Thanks. Starting get some energy and motivation back to continue the work on this, but right now I had a "great" idea for the M4 board, which I am gonna finish first :)
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: GUNHED on 19:39, 27 December 18
Yes, it's always better to finish things. Else it's easy to get lost with everything  ;) :)
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: genesis8 on 22:35, 29 April 19
I know you dont work much at the moment on it as you stated on spinpoint, but I am one more person to be very interested. The M4 is actually on my 6128+, the external version would replace it nicely, and the M4 would go to a 6128 soon connected on my main TV.
Title: Re: Galaxy & Zen80 boards
Post by: Fabrizio Radica on 01:01, 30 April 19
Hi Duke!
Want one!!!!!! :D
Your are the best :)