Author Topic: X-MEM, a new memory expansion for all CPC.  (Read 111837 times)

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Offline SyX

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Re: X-MEM, a new memory expansion for all CPC.
« Reply #175 on: 20:19, 12 June 14 »
So unlike we assumed in the thread linked above, this hardware bug persists on the Plus?
When i wrote about "those faulty CPCs", i was talking about the ones where ROM 7 can not be disabled. This theme has been discussed to death, my CRTC 4 can not disable it and my multicrtc neither (i think originally was a CRTC 0), but in my CPC+ can.

I thought ROMDIS had been fixed for the CPC6128plus, hasn't it?Sure, Vortex and Dobbertin also used the "lower ROM number" workaround at least as an option, but not much software will get fixed after 30 years (though arguably most of us know CPC MC down to opcode level and your program will come to help :) ).
I don't understand that obssesion for putting Parados in slot 7, when in slot 6 works perfectly fine too and not take any extra byte.

Sure in old rom boards, losing one slot because Amsdos can not be disabled could annoy to our perfectionist soul... but TotO had a great idea of putting the firmware in that position and now we don't lose any rom expansion page.

With respect to the software not fixed yet, if somebody finds a program, that doesn't work in his CPC configuration and need a fix, he should ask nicely in the forum for a fixed version.

For the people fixing those, it's a question of priorities. The last weeks i have been patching utopia, cpm+, bonniedos, ... make a RAM Disk (based in CPM+ code for being shared between CPM and Basic), a HELP rsx that look in the 32 rom slots, ... looking games as APB for CPC-Power, ...

Things & problems that appears in my way and need to be fixed.

For example when a new game appears or i discover an interesting program, i usually convert it to use in my favourite CPC configuration (6128 | CRTC 4 | Parados in slot 6 | 3" 1/2 B Drive) and write to the author for fixing in future versions. I don't share those because looks i'm the only person with this configuration, and even when i have published those, never had feedback in the spanish forums.

The fix for using B drive and reinitialize all the roms is so easy like this (taken again from the pacman source code... use the source Luke :P):
Code: [Select]
    ; Save number of disk drive used to load the program
    LD   HL,(AMSDOS_RESERVED_AREA)
    LD   A,(HL)
    LD   (.sm_floppy_drive + 1),A
   
    LD   C,$FF                  ; Disable roms
    LD   HL,.real_start         ; Real program start address
    CALL MC_START_PROGRAM       ; Run program

.real_start
    CALL TXT_VDU_DISABLE        ; Hide initialize roms messages
    CALL KL_ROM_WALK            ; Initialize all the roms (not everybody has Parados in 7)
    CALL TXT_VDU_ENABLE         ; Unhide firmware messages
   
    ; When Amsdos is initialized, the default disk drive is 0. Because that
    ; we need to restore the number of the drive used to load the program.
.sm_floppy_drive
    LD   A,0
    LD   HL,(AMSDOS_RESERVED_AREA)
    LD   (HL),A

Offline TotO

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Re: X-MEM, a new memory expansion for all CPC.
« Reply #176 on: 20:24, 12 June 14 »
I am your... Compiler!  :-\  (rooooo-chhhhhhh)


« Last Edit: 20:26, 12 June 14 by TotO »
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Offline CraigsBar

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Re: X-MEM, a new memory expansion for all CPC.
« Reply #177 on: 20:38, 12 June 14 »
OK, this will be my last post on the matter of Disabling the internal Amsdos with an external Slot 7 parados.


Of my machines....


both 6128 pluses are fine with external slot 7 parados and work (as we know they do)
interestingly my UK cpc 6128 works as detailled . External slot 7 has no effect, Amsdos is initialised (as expected) however my Schneider CPC 6128 works in the same way as the plus. in that an external slot 7 disables amsdos and uses parados instead.


I now cannot wait to get my hands on the X-Mem I have ordered to see if that exhibits the same functionality as the Symbiface.


I hope it does :)


I'll now rest on this topic. I think it's safe to say that SOME cpc's can disable the internal rom 7 to use parados without hacks... and some can't :)


I am lucky enough to have 2 cpc 6128's  one that does and one that doesn't, Oh and 2 6128pluses both that do.


I also have a 464 plus when I next get to the UK to pick it up, I believe that will also work this way, once the rest of the Floppy interface is added.


Thanks


Craig
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Offline OCT

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Re: Overriding internal/cartridged ROM 7
« Reply #178 on: 18:10, 13 June 14 »
OK, this will be my last post on the matter of Disabling the internal Amsdos with an external Slot 7 parados.


Of my machines....


both 6128 pluses are fine with external slot 7 parados and work (as we know they do)
interestingly my UK cpc 6128 works as detailled . External slot 7 has no effect, Amsdos is initialised (as expected) however my Schneider CPC 6128 works in the same way as the plus. in that an external slot 7 disables amsdos and uses parados instead.


I now cannot wait to get my hands on the X-Mem I have ordered to see if that exhibits the same functionality as the Symbiface.


I hope it does :)
Thanks for the confirmation. :) At a minimum, there should be one more post from you (no matter the first sentence ;) ) when you've actually received the X-MEM as I'll probably have to hold my order until we know this works in spite of TotO's (somewhat surprising) opposition to the idea (of using what is clearly a feature of some CPCs at least).

BTW (@SyX, and thanks for the code!), no "obsession" at all, but slot 7 is known to be needed (hopefully CraigsBar will be able to report this works, with commands for "turning it off and on again" :D ) at least for the DOSes which won't play nicely in slot 6 (or when applications can't be easily convinced of finding them there).
« Last Edit: 18:12, 13 June 14 by OCT »

Offline CraigsBar

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Re: X-MEM, a new memory expansion for all CPC.
« Reply #179 on: 18:17, 13 June 14 »
Thanks for the confirmation. :) At a minimum, there should be one more post from you (no matter the first sentence ;) )
Ok one more when I get the X-mem then. No worries. Or is that 2 more, does this one count
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Offline Maniac

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Re: X-MEM, a new memory expansion for all CPC.
« Reply #180 on: 18:29, 13 June 14 »
Received mine today! Extremely impressed with build quality and ease of use. I can't recommend it highly enough! Now to load up my ROM images!!

Offline TotO

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Re: X-MEM, a new memory expansion for all CPC.
« Reply #181 on: 18:34, 13 June 14 »
@CraigsBar : The X-MEM allows more RAM/ROM features than the Symbiface, but can't replace it fully as it not manage Mouse/HDD/RTC.
But, SymbOS run fine on all CPCs using it. :)

@OCT : You can forget. The ROM7 have to be provided by the floppy disc controller expansion.
X-MEM allows a highest level of compatibility, because it respect the AMSTRAD hardware design. (that is part of)
If you want to use Parados w/o hacking your PLUS, like SyX said, you can put it at ROM 6, has he use it like that w/o problem since years.
You should use an alternative ROM board too. Now... I'm always waiting the list of the ROMs that not work in this case... Thank you. :)

« Last Edit: 09:47, 14 June 14 by TotO »
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Offline TotO

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Re: X-MEM, a new memory expansion for all CPC.
« Reply #182 on: 09:54, 14 June 14 »
Thank you for your feedback Maniac!
Have fun with it. :)
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Offline OCT

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Re: X-MEM, a new memory expansion for all CPC.
« Reply #183 on: 10:08, 14 June 14 »
@OCT : You can forget. The ROM7 have to be provided by the floppy controller. That all. Is difficult to understand?
X-MEM allows a highest level of compatibility than all existing boards, because it respect the AMSTRAD CPC hardware design.
If you want to use Parados, like SyX said, you should put it at ROM 6.
Not sure what got you on the wrong foot here - except that I hadn't been around for a while and hence would not know of an earlier debate in a different thread.

Now I've been fixing electronics and reading circuit diagrams (as well as Amstrad history) for a sufficient number of decades to know that electrically and logically it can be put anywhere on the bus just like any other ROM, except for a subset of CPCs that treat 7 incoherently due to what looks more like a fluke than a design decision (the Plus puts both in the cartridge and the original 464 externally anyway).
In addition to "your customers" who say they hope X-MEM will work like the MegaFlash in that respect (Maniac might be the first to find out), authorities concur: ;)
The FDC functionality is just 16K preferably in ROM slot 7
We may of course agree to disagree without any need for decapitations, :o the year not being around 1790.

By the way, how does one (safely) replace a ROM 0 through X-MEM for that matter (e.g. to temporarily turn a 6128 into a 464, or vice versa) ?
I suppose the method might be different from the one outlined below:
SyX do a great work on the FW3.x !
Now, it's possible to use a simple CALL from the BASIC to program any ROM and we no more need to turn the hard switch ON/OFF on each programming. (it's use is more like a floppy disc now)

10 MEMORY &3FFF:LOAD"MYROM.ROM"
20 CALL &B8DD,&4000,1,256        (,256 is optional)

Now, MYROM is written at ROM 1 using a 256bytes page.

10 MEMORY &3FFF:LOAD"BLANK.ROM"
20 FOR i = 1 TO 31
30 CALL &B8DD,&4000,i
40 NEXT i

The ROM Board is now cleaned.

Offline TotO

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Re: X-MEM, a new memory expansion for all CPC.
« Reply #184 on: 12:49, 14 June 14 »
The "fluke" is the 6128 PLUS supporting the ROM 7 replacement. Why I will have to manage an exception?
It's a false problem.Where is the list of the programs that cause problems is Parados on ROM 6 ? (3rd time)

The X-MEM had never been planed to support the Megaflash technical choices. The ROM part is based on my CTC-AY bootable cartridge work.
If you are aware about all the electronic things, I can only suggest you to socket your ROM or build your own expansion. :) 


By the way, how does one (safely) replace a ROM 0 through X-MEM for that matter (e.g. to temporarily turn a 6128 into a 464, or vice versa) ?
I suppose the method might be different from the one outlined below:
The save way to write ROMs on the X-MEM is to set the bit5 to 1.
ROM 0 -> ROM 64
LOWER -> ROM 71

« Last Edit: 15:38, 14 June 14 by TotO »
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Offline CraigsBar

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Re: X-MEM, a new memory expansion for all CPC.
« Reply #185 on: 16:14, 14 June 14 »
Brunword Rom module does not like a disc Rom in anywhere other than 7. Xexor works best with Parados in 7. Some multiface tape to disc transfers reset Rom 7 so don't work on a Parados format disc with Parados in 6. And anyway..... If you have a Cpc that can disable slot 7 and thus free up 6 for something else then why should this not be available. If the theory is that only some owners could use it, then why bother writing 128k disc software at all. Because 464 user cannot use it. The argument is the same. We should never design software or hardware for the lowest common denominator.
« Last Edit: 16:20, 14 June 14 by CraigsBar »
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Offline TotO

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Re: X-MEM, a new memory expansion for all CPC.
« Reply #186 on: 17:38, 14 June 14 »
Thank you for your software list answer.  8)
I'm confidant that is possible to fix that to no more get issues with them.

You have to understand that is more important to have the possibility to manage the LOWER ROM than the ROM 7 to be compatible with all CPC.
To unify them, handling features on some and not others it definitively a bad choice.

About the comparison between 64k and 128k CPC, the argument is false as the X-MEM goal was to make them all 512K Ready to avoid the past problems. Contrary, allowing some CPC to use custom ROM7 and other not IS exactly the same problem.
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Offline Maniac

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Re: X-MEM, a new memory expansion for all CPC.
« Reply #187 on: 19:12, 14 June 14 »
I've successfully installed and uninstalled ROM images to the X-MEM and found it very easy. Other tools such as ROMAN don't seem to work when installing ROMS but quite honestly I'm not fussed about that! Having never used/owned a MegaFlash I can't comment on how it compares but it does what I need it to and I can now easily access my HXC manager software via an RSX.

Re Parados and ROM7 I can see how that would be useful as I have my physical ROM in a board by Siren Software from 20+ years ago connected to my 6128+. However in support of TotO; I work in IT and sometimes you have to strike a balance between functionality and features. TotO is kind of damn if he implements ROM7 functionality and damn if he doesn't. For those users where it wouldn't work he'd end up with complaints that his board doesn't work when in reality it's an issue with the CPC itself - not great from reputation point of view.

Offline dcdrac

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Re: X-MEM, a new memory expansion for all CPC.
« Reply #188 on: 20:30, 14 June 14 »
For those of us who not installed ROMs can you provide some guidance

Offline Gryzor

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Re: X-MEM, a new memory expansion for all CPC.
« Reply #189 on: 21:03, 14 June 14 »
I'm expecting some downtime from work this week, hope my X-MEM arrives so I can toy around with it!

Offline TotO

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Re: X-MEM, a new memory expansion for all CPC.
« Reply #190 on: 10:36, 15 June 14 »
For those of us who not installed ROMs can you provide some guidance
The X-MEM board is provided with a notice and a floppy disc including tools and examples.
You can download them at the bottom of this page: X-MEM Board - Cent Pour Cent

Code: [Select]
SIDE A:
- README  .TXT   : This file.
- GETSTART.TXT   : Text version of the CPC X-MEM Get Started! notice.
- INIT    .      : Erase all the X-MEM ROMs. Should keep the systems ROMs if needed.
- INSTALL .      : Install the system ROMs (FW3.14, FW3.14 EXP, BASIC 1.1) and optionally CP/M.
- EDITOR  .      : X-MEM editing tool v1.0. Allow to explore the ROM content and update them.
- FLASHER .      : X-MEM flashing tool v1.6. Allow to copy ROMs from floppy or RAM drive, to ROMs.
- MONITOR .      : X-MEM monitoring tool v1.4. Allow to visually check the ROMs integrity.
- RESCUE  .      : Disable all the X-MEM ROMs. needed is a bad ROM/flashing avoid to boot the CPC.
- EXRAM1  .BAS   : RAM example. Display the Video Gate Array (64K) and the CPU (512K) memory.
- EXROM1  .BAS   : ROM example. Use the FW3.14 |FLASH RSX for writing the wished ROM.
- EXROM2  .BAS   : ROM example. Use the OvL! BURNX.ROM |BURN RSX for writing the wished ROM.

SIDE B:
- README  .TXT   : This file.
- GETSTART.TXT   : Text version of the CPC X-MEM Get Started! notice.
- INSTALL .      : Install the originals CPC system ROMs. (FW1.0, BASIC1.0 or FW3.0, BASIC1.1)

For example, under the FLASHER tool, the commands:
- DIR or DIR ROM will list the files from the current drive/user
- A: or B: or C: (ram drive) will change the current drive
- "FLASH 5" will ask for a rom-file to burn into the ROM 5 slot
- "BACK 5" will backup the ROM 5 slot to the floppy drive
- "DEL 5" will delete the ROM 5 slot
...

No more difficult to use. :)

« Last Edit: 10:40, 15 June 14 by TotO »
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Offline CraigsBar

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Re: X-MEM, a new memory expansion for all CPC.
« Reply #191 on: 00:10, 17 June 14 »
Eagerly awaiting my x-mem, I plan on using it on my new 464plus, depending on when either or both get here either with the internal disc interface and ram upgrades or without.



I guess I can always use my DIY Parados cart with the x-mem, and the issue will be solved.


Regards


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Offline dcdrac

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Re: X-MEM, a new memory expansion for all CPC.
« Reply #192 on: 01:42, 17 June 14 »
I have Parados on cart would it be best to use that with it?

Offline Gryzor

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Re: X-MEM, a new memory expansion for all CPC.
« Reply #193 on: 09:53, 19 June 14 »
Yesssssssss my board is here, woo-hoo!!! Solid little thing, can't wait to try it...

3.14, here I come! (it's nice that there's a program to install this automatically :) )

Offline arnoldemu

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Re: X-MEM, a new memory expansion for all CPC.
« Reply #194 on: 11:33, 19 June 14 »
Question, If I make a "cart" game (compatible with cpc) and write it to the x-mem, writing the new "lower" rom and some expansion roms, is it still possible to rescue it with "rescue"?

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Offline TotO

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Re: X-MEM, a new memory expansion for all CPC.
« Reply #195 on: 13:22, 19 June 14 »
Question, If I make a "cart" game (compatible with cpc) and write it to the x-mem, writing the new "lower" rom and some expansion roms, is it still possible to rescue it with "rescue"?
The RESCUE program don't unset LOWER and ROM0, as they should be needed to boot from the X-MEM. (assuming they are well written)
If you plane to override them and you are not sure about your boot code, you should use the jumper to disable all ROMs.
Then, using FLASHER to write it again with your fixed code or simply by running again the INSTALL process to restore FW3.14.
No worry, you will not brick the board.  ;D 

« Last Edit: 15:20, 19 June 14 by TotO »
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Offline TFM

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Re: X-MEM, a new memory expansion for all CPC.
« Reply #196 on: 22:34, 19 June 14 »
The X-MEM runs like a Charm. Kudos to TotO and SyX. Gentlemen you did a very well job.  :) :) :)
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Offline Neil79

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Re: X-MEM, a new memory expansion for all CPC.
« Reply #197 on: 21:46, 20 June 14 »
Can the X-Mem improve performance as I note some slow downs in Dizzy and games like Ikari Warriors when a grenade blows up a bunker
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Offline Gryzor

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Re: X-MEM, a new memory expansion for all CPC.
« Reply #198 on: 22:02, 20 June 14 »
How could it? It doesn't have a CPU or something...

Offline dcdrac

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Re: X-MEM, a new memory expansion for all CPC.
« Reply #199 on: 18:20, 22 June 14 »
Will cartridge roms work with this without the presence of an ACID chip?