"Aleste 520EX" - does anyone ever heard about this computer??

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By Prodatron

Paragon (1402)

Prodatron's picture

03-08-2006, 15:23

On CPC Wiki someone added this new entry:

"There was one clone of CPC maden in Russia at 1994. Its name was Aleste 520EX.

Technical specs: Z80, 8MHz, 512KB, RTC, 320x200x16 and 640x200x4 colors with 512 palette, mouse, expansion slot, DMA. It was an all-in-one-box machine with an external 3.5" disk drive. It also sported an external 4-channel, 8-bits per channel sound card which plays s3m and stm files.

This two-faced machine runs all original CPC software (CPC+ too?) and also MSXDOS whith command line tools, C compiller and several windowed tools: text-editor, debugger, disk-editor. The computer has software emulator of MSX2 video controller and runs several MSX2 games. The clone used by MSX users and homebrewers."

The author also wrote in a forum these information about the MSX-side:

"For supporting MSX it has only 8MGH CPU and 4 bit per pixel grahics with 320x200. Format of pixels in byte was same like CPC (interleaved bits)
Memory mapper was maden with small PLD and had two modes. One was Amstrad mode and second MSX mapper mode.

For MSXDOS supporting there was MSX BIOS and MSX DISK BIOS ported to this platform. It was not in a flash the bioses downloaded from disk at boot time. Then MSX DOS w/o chages works fine. The problem was with several programs which uses direct access to mapper port. Litle hack make them workable too.

For MSX2 games there was maden 2KB game bios which emulated MSX graphics IC. It uses swap screens technique for rendering to back scren background then sprites. So at 8MGz of CPU the games was prity playeble. I played at:KingValleyII, VampireKiller, FireBird. BTW. The last game is vertical scroll but works fine to me."

I still can't believe, that such a machine existed, but could it be true?

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By mars2000you

Prophet (3624)

mars2000you's picture

03-08-2006, 16:20

Never heard of this computer ... even on the specialized Internet sites about the Russian computers, it is not mentioned ....but it could exist, as Russians were (and are still) experts to create clones.

Note also that some Arabic machines are simultaneously MSX2 and Mega Drive. So, a CPC + MSX2 is not impossible.

By PingPong

Prophet (2520)

PingPong's picture

03-08-2006, 16:53

On CPC Wiki someone added this new entry:

"There was one clone of CPC maden in Russia at 1994. Its name was Aleste 520EX.

Technical specs: Z80, 8MHz, 512KB, RTC, 320x200x16 and 640x200x4 colors with 512 palette, mouse, expansion slot, DMA. It was an all-in-one-box machine with an external 3.5" disk drive. It also sported an external 4-channel, 8-bits per channel sound card which plays s3m and stm files.

This two-faced machine runs all original CPC software (CPC+ too?) and also MSXDOS whith command line tools, C compiller and several windowed tools: text-editor, debugger, disk-editor. The computer has software emulator of MSX2 video controller and runs several MSX2 games. The clone used by MSX users and homebrewers."

The author also wrote in a forum these information about the MSX-side:

"For supporting MSX it has only 8MGH CPU and 4 bit per pixel grahics with 320x200. Format of pixels in byte was same like CPC (interleaved bits)
Memory mapper was maden with small PLD and had two modes. One was Amstrad mode and second MSX mapper mode.

For MSXDOS supporting there was MSX BIOS and MSX DISK BIOS ported to this platform. It was not in a flash the bioses downloaded from disk at boot time. Then MSX DOS w/o chages works fine. The problem was with several programs which uses direct access to mapper port. Litle hack make them workable too.

For MSX2 games there was maden 2KB game bios which emulated MSX graphics IC. It uses swap screens technique for rendering to back scren background then sprites. So at 8MGz of CPU the games was prity playeble. I played at:KingValleyII, VampireKiller, FireBird. BTW. The last game is vertical scroll but works fine to me."

I still can't believe, that such a machine existed, but could it be true?

IMHO, only a joke!

Try to emulate the VDC or VDP work with a 8mhz z80CPU, and let me know when you got it!.

It's simply ridiculus! Two considerations give the reason:

CPC works with monitor that are basically television set, so it's framerate would be 50/60hz.
Also the MSX2 VDP works at similar frequency.

What this mean? Mean that a IC that only process video image has to process every second this amount of data:

16Kbytes*50Hz = 800Kb/s on CPC
54Kbytes*50Hz = 2700Kb/s on MSX2

and we are considering pure memory I/O without any kind of other stuff that the real HW MUST DO!
in the case of MSX2 there are also command engine and sprite engine that are estremely heavy!

This is only to give you an idea of how is 'hard' the job of a video circuitry!

With same amount of data, and without any hw support, there is no z80 @8Mhz that can cope (FULLY USED, NOT SHARED WITH OTHER TASKS)with this.

In the forum there is also this citation: "About speed of MSX2, you are right. Long time everybody i russia try make hardware compat. with MSX it is too hard. Alesta's enginer measure Idle time for MSX2 games and secret was opened: VDP so cool and CPU does not used allot of time. Then designer make this crazy test try simulate VDP and load CPU for that time. Result have succes. And for 8MHz games works playeble. "

CPU does not used a lot of TIME? What are you saying? But if in the majority of situations the big limit is the load of z80 required to send vdp commands!

Games like Fantasm Soldier II run very slowly on a 3.5Mhz machine. But not because, most people thinks, of the slow vdp command engine, instead because the high amount of load requested to z80 that has to do everithing! Try at 7mhz and you will see. Even at 7Mhz the vdp is the same snail!

Try to ask to any emulator developer how in order of magnitude is heavy emulate the Video controller Hardware compared to the CPU emulation to have an idea!

Most important thing:

Almost all msx2 games DOES NOT USE BIOS FOR VIDEO SERVICES BECAUSE IT'S TOO SLOW!!! They instead access HW directly!.

How can they say that they wrote a 2KbBios to emulate the VDP???
What kind of games could run with a such videobios if any game does access vdp as it need without any standardization?

How about screen split and some other specific hw stuff?

How about 8 bit depth mode? (256 colors?)

By PingPong

Prophet (2520)

PingPong's picture

03-08-2006, 17:21

Another thing:

KV II, Vampire Killer, and Firebird are NOT SO VDP INTENSIVE. I thinking about the measurement of Z80-MSX2 Idle Time.

KV II & Vampire Killer does fill the VRAM only at screen change (they does not scroll). The rest of time they move the sprites on the screen
Firebird send for every line it's scroll the small amount of 128 bytes on screen 5. Not a big work.

I think they instead converted the games for aleste520EX emulating what does not exists in this computer. In this way they can achieve better results, but remember, in those games vdp command engine is almost not USED!

Try with games such as XAK Series, Fantasm Soldier, CoreDump and so on...

By Prodatron

Paragon (1402)

Prodatron's picture

03-08-2006, 17:35

I found this pages:
http://aleste520.narod.ru/
http://www.geocities.com/lglxndrv/

"MSX mode software:

MSXDOS
Aleste run pure MSXDOS system and most of CMD tools as well
C - compiller
Windowed applicetions: Text-editor, Debugger, Disk fixer, Disk edit
List of that programs are clone of MSX versions: NTOR, DBG, DiskFixer, DiskEdit Graphics tools: Viewer of pictures
Software for S3M and STM files: Player, Editor
MSX2 games with VDP emulator: VampireKiller, KingValley2, FireBird
"

What windowed application and s3m/stm MSX software could he mean?

Regarding the VDP emulator I completely agree with PingPong.

By jltursan

Paragon (1786)

jltursan's picture

03-08-2006, 19:33

What windowed application and s3m/stm MSX software could he mean?

Uh?, if I'm not wrong, there's no screamtracker clones running on MSX...
Something like FAC Soundtracker maybe?

By BiFi

Enlighted (4348)

BiFi's picture

03-08-2006, 19:48

KV II, Vampire Killer, and Firebird are NOT SO VDP INTENSIVE. I thinking about the measurement of Z80-MSX2 Idle Time.

KV II & Vampire Killer does fill the VRAM only at screen change (they does not scroll). The rest of time they move the sprites on the screen

King's Valley 2 (MSX2 version) not VDP intensive? Try getting a tool item in a well-filled screen of items. It'll flash all over.

Believe me, you'd prefer playing the MSX1 version instead Smile

By Valeriya

Resident (45)

Valeriya's picture

04-08-2006, 12:49

I know it for sure. It was real computer. It worked. It had scream tracker clone. And played STM or S3M files. It had list of that applications. The windowed mean - with GUI. And that is true that dynamic games aka Zanac, Aleste could not be playeble on Aleste 520EX. But Metal Gear, VampireKiller, and another from that list worked. And true that emulate MSX1 graphics modes more hard that MSX2 sreen 4,5,... That is why VDP emulator supports only that modes. Soon we will see photos, schematics and files at: aleste520.narod.ru

So. Another answer: Aleste had no special hardware for MSX, it had only mapper of MSX. All emulation was software maden.

By Valeriya

Resident (45)

Valeriya's picture

04-08-2006, 12:58

>16Kbytes*50Hz = 800Kb/s on CPC
>54Kbytes*50Hz = 2700Kb/s on MSX2

Answer simple: who said that CPU should do it each frame? It was not. CPU does it for two maybe more frames. But game was playble still. Many people played and pas KVII and VK and so on. The point was not that it worked same like MSX. It worked different - for example sprites not flash when was allot of them. Anyway result and project was amazing. Who else did it?

And Iagin for people who can;t believe: Yes the scream tracker's files which used only 4 chanels (not more) and with size is not more that 512KB played on Aleste w/o conversion. Sound same like at PC at that time. Sound litle bit better that COVOX with real DAC IC. Because volume of each sample multiplyed by analog schematic (not digital like with COVOX). COVOX has total 8 bits. Aleste 8 bits per channel and 6 bits per volume together 10 bit if summ only samples or 16 bits if summ with volume. Who else instead Amiga can do it at 1994?

Remember it was z80 cpu!

By mars2000you

Prophet (3624)

mars2000you's picture

04-08-2006, 13:41

Amazing ... Viewed from my personal perspective as blueMSX co-developer, we could say that it's a CPC machine with uncomplete MSX2 emulation ! Smile

By Valeriya

Resident (45)

Valeriya's picture

04-08-2006, 14:30

Probaly for all of you will be interesting to hear that I used computer which was designed and manufactured at Novosibirsk at 1991. It was ZX-spectrum clone and MSX mode. MSX mode have MSXBASIC, MSXDOS and command tools. No MSX games suport there. It was well designed had UKNC box housing ( like here http://rk86.com/frolov/uknc.htm )

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