ObsoNET: ethernet for MSX

by Latok on 15-08-2004, 11:05
Topic: Hardware
Languages:

Source: MSX Mailinglist

It has been talked about quite a lot in the past. Wouldn't it be great to have an ethernet card for MSX so you can integrate your beloved computer in your home network and be able to surf the internet in a very easy way? So far we've seen an exotic ethernet card on a photo from a Japanese fair, we all know Sunrise is busy developing an ethernet card built around an eZ80 CPU, but as of yet, ethernet cartridges for MSX have not been on sale.

This might change in the very near future though. Two well known MSX developers have announced the development of ObsoNET, an ethernet card for MSX. Daniel Berdugo (hardware design and manufacturing) and Nestor Soriano (software) are responsible for this new project. At this moment, a hardware prototype is already available and software is currently being written.

ObsoNET will be a 10Base-T card, Konami cartridge sized and with a RJ45 connector. It will have a BIOS with routines to send and receive packets and it will also hold routines for basic configuration tasks. The BIOS will be stored on a flash memory, so it will be easily updateable. There will be enough free space on the flash memory so an adapted DOS2 or any other useful software application can be installed on it in the future.

An adapted version of Internestor Lite is being made at the moment, which will be compatible with the existing version at the IP and higher levels. The ObsoNET team are hoping for an initial release of 20 cards on the next Barcelona meeting on the 31st of October. The price is not yet set, but the device will probably cost around 40 euros.

Comments (42)

By wolf_

Ambassador_ (9470)

wolf_'s picture

15-08-2004, 11:11

nice nice! maybe it's an idea to add some RAM for random usage if they're soldering anyway.. Smile

By Grauw

Prophet (2740)

Grauw's picture

15-08-2004, 11:27

Great! I'll definately buy one.

By Sonic_aka_T

Enlighted (4130)

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15-08-2004, 12:32

Nice initiative! Finally we can have multiplayer games too ^_^

By pitpan

Prophet (2772)

pitpan's picture

15-08-2004, 12:53

For multiplayer games you do not need an Ethernet. The JoyNet (Konami's F1 3D Spirit cable) should be enough.

Anyway, a Ethernet for MSX is a very cool thing! It opens new doors for the MSX. Keep working, Daniel and Nestor! Good luck!

By GuyveR800

Prophet (3974)

GuyveR800's picture

15-08-2004, 13:13

I'll definitely buy one too!
Hey Grauw, then we could start working on a HTML/CSS browser! ^_^

/me needs a larger network switch ^^;

And YEAH, online multiplayer games!

The problem with joynet is YOU ACTUALLY HAVE TO BE IN THE SAME ROOM!
So you can only play games like that on meetings, or if you have a lot of friends living in your neigbourhood that also have MSX.

I'm very excited about this Smile

By MSX Resource Center

Paladin (985)

MSX Resource Center's picture

15-08-2004, 13:14

Maybe one of the other members of the English team could be so kind as to rewrite parts like "There has been seen" and 'There will be developed"?

By [D-Tail]

Ascended (8210)

[D-Tail]'s picture

15-08-2004, 13:28

I edited it. I think it's better this way Wink

By [D-Tail]

Ascended (8210)

[D-Tail]'s picture

15-08-2004, 13:29

Latok has the problem of speaking very Dutch-English...

By [D-Tail]

Ascended (8210)

[D-Tail]'s picture

15-08-2004, 13:30

Uh, forgot the Tongue Wink

By GuyveR800

Prophet (3974)

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15-08-2004, 13:31

Dunglish Tongue

By snout

Ambassador (14810)

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15-08-2004, 13:31

lol.. I think Latok just wasn't as awake as of yet. I think I just edited your edit though. God, don't you just love the way we co-operate at the MRC? Smile Eitherway: you got the message, didn't you, Ballarena? Smile

By Sander

Ambassador (1690)

Sander's picture

15-08-2004, 13:36

And mine was lost in the process. Still, I edited yours Snout. 'cause the words "ethernetcard" and "homenetwork" needed some space..

By snout

Ambassador (14810)

snout's picture

15-08-2004, 13:39

New at the MRC: Newsposts change 100 times a day!

Nah, really.. lets get the discussion back on the ObsoNET topic. About 40 bucks for an ethernet cartridge for MSX. Sweet deal!

By [D-Tail]

Ascended (8210)

[D-Tail]'s picture

15-08-2004, 13:40

uhhh... snout! InterNestor Lite is already existing! An adapted version of InterNestor Lite is being made! Not an adapted version of InterNestor (of which the full name is InterNestor Suite). Change pleeeeeeeeaaaaaaaze Wink

By Sander

Ambassador (1690)

Sander's picture

15-08-2004, 13:41

Yeah! cool news indeed. I wonder about the design and the performance of this card. Any specs yet?

By Sander

Ambassador (1690)

Sander's picture

15-08-2004, 13:44

D-xheure: My fault.

By [D-Tail]

Ascended (8210)

[D-Tail]'s picture

15-08-2004, 13:45

snout, you rule.

By [D-Tail]

Ascended (8210)

[D-Tail]'s picture

15-08-2004, 13:45

ah well, the other sander rules as well Smile

By snout

Ambassador (14810)

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15-08-2004, 13:48

To the visitors: usually we have these kind of discussions on our internal messaging board Smile

Konamiman: I probably won't go to Barcelona on October 31st, but euhrm.. any idea if and when the non-Spanish MSX users can start (pre)ordering the cart?

By Grauw

Prophet (2740)

Grauw's picture

15-08-2004, 15:00

Hey Grauw, then we could start working on a HTML/CSS browser! ^_^
*kwijl* ;p

By konamiman

Paladin (817)

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15-08-2004, 15:28

Wow! In a matter of hours we have 13 pre-buyers! We defintively were not expecting this! (O.o!)

About pre-ordering, please wait a little while we plan something. About specs, the card is basically a RTL8019AS controller with its 32 registers mapped to 32 addresses of the card slot, and a 512K Flash ROM for the card BIOS (maybe in future releases the card will have a Flash with smaller size, but always at least 64K).

By snout

Ambassador (14810)

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15-08-2004, 15:48

What are the estimated transfer speeds that can be reached with ObsoNET?

By konamiman

Paladin (817)

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15-08-2004, 16:00

Transfer speeds? Dunno... until we test it we can't know it.

And well, another interisting point: I hope that NOW, people will really start to develop some applications for InterNestor Lite. ;-)

By wolf_

Ambassador_ (9470)

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15-08-2004, 16:22

Konamiman: is it possible to add some mem.mapper to the thing? (4mb orso)

By MSX Resource Center

Paladin (985)

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15-08-2004, 16:35

Nice Smile And the price is also good ....

By konamiman

Paladin (817)

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15-08-2004, 17:00

Wolf, please calm down... ObsoNET will NOT have a memory mapper :-)

But you have a 512K Flash ROM that you can fill as you want (the card BIOS will use only about 2K).

By karloch

Paragon (1799)

karloch's picture

15-08-2004, 17:13

And well, another interisting point: I hope that NOW, people will really start to develop some applications for InterNestor Lite. ;-)Let's hope so Smile

By Henk

Expert (107)

Henk's picture

15-08-2004, 17:22

I am curious how the usage of this device will have effect on the total MSX performance.

By Grauw

Prophet (2740)

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15-08-2004, 18:08

Henk: I think it will be comparable with an RS232 interface.

About transfer speed: there is only so much data a Z80 can process . I'd say (very rough estimate coming up ;p) with an efficiently coded protocol you should be able to reach 50kb/s... But in practice it will be less, I think. Again, take a look at how fast Internestor Suite is with an RS232 (konamiman?), and then this will probably be comparable.

konamiman: yes, I hope you will set up some pre-ordering thing (also for interested people outside Spain).

Could you give some preliminary specs? I assume it will generate interrupts, won't it? Will it buffer packets and then pass them through in one go or do it byte-by-byte just like RS232? The latter would be a bit slower because the Z80 can't use block-level instructions and has to handle more interrupts, so that would be kind of neat, but OTOH an RS232 doesn't buffer either and I would already be happy enough with that functionality Smile.

~Grauw

By Grauw

Prophet (2740)

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15-08-2004, 18:10

Another thing: will the I/O be port-based or memory-based?

By sunrise

Paragon (1091)

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15-08-2004, 18:25

Yes I think it will be compatible. And I would suggest to join forces here.
Since we have exactly the ethernet controller in mind RTL8019 AS as well as the flash part.
As stated by BIFI we are working on the memorymapper part of it
Our extra's are laying in the speed with ez80 as co processor and thus the mapper part.
As the already work is done as regards the Rtl8019AS why should we waist time to do that part again and basically the same idea sharing also.
But Konamiman , could you send more details .
I think we can manage a considerable selling and I do know where I can a lot of RTL 8019 AS chips without desoldering from an ISA-card

By konamiman

Paladin (817)

konamiman's picture

15-08-2004, 18:28

The goal when designing ObsoNET was to keep it as simpler (an thus cheaper) as possible, so the only "intelligence" of the card is the one provided by the RTL8019AS ethernet controller. The card has the 32 register of this controller mapped on the memory space of the card (BTW they are duplicated, accessible on both page 1 and page 2), and it is the job of the BIOS to send/receive packets and to perform configuration tasks, by accessing these registers. For curious ones, read the controller datasheet, it is available on Realtek web.

About buffering and I/O: The RTL has an internal 16K RAM to store incoming packets; they are automatically enqueued as they arrive and there are ways to detect buffer overflow (the outgoing packets must be first stored also in RAM, BTW). The buffer read and write is done sequentially through one of the registers, so indeed the performance could be comparable to the one of the RS232, I think.

About pre-ordering: since it seems that the initial release will be too small, we must decide whethter to priorize the people having shown its interest by internet, or the people coming to the Barcelona meeting. Let me ask Daniel, he is away right now.

By sunrise

Paragon (1091)

sunrise's picture

15-08-2004, 18:41

I would like that you give a reaction to my post Konamiman
I might consider to redraw our project unless people know for sure that the want more speed and ram

By Grauw

Prophet (2740)

Grauw's picture

15-08-2004, 18:43

The goal when designing ObsoNET was to keep it as simpler (an thus cheaper) as possible, so the only "intelligence" of the card is the one provided by the RTL8019AS ethernet controller.
I agree on that. It allows for a fast development cycle.

The card has the 32 register of this controller mapped on the memory space of the card (BTW they are duplicated, accessible on both page 1 and page 2), and it is the job of the BIOS to send/receive packets and to perform configuration tasks, by accessing these registers.
Maybe you could use a trick like Sunrise uses in their IDE interface - map the data read and write registers to a whole range of addresses (in this case, say 2k, which should cover 1500 bytes). That way, the LDIR instruction can be used for transferring data!

Lemme quote from the Sunrise IDE spec:
"Because the Data Register is 16 bit long, it is mapped in the following way: each word in the address space #7C00-#7DFF is mapped onto the Data Register. For example, if you want to write a word to the Data Register you can write it to address #7C00/1 or to address #7C02/3 or to address #7C04/5, etc. This has the following advantage: when reading or writing sectors from/to disk, 256 words (=512 bytes=the lenght of a sector) should be read from/written to the Data Register. Because the Data Register is mapped onto the whole address space from #7C00-#7DFF, it is possible to use a single LDIR instruction for the whole transfer operation."

It would be great if you could realize that.

For curious ones, read the controller datasheet, it is available on Realtek web.
Will do! (although after reading it it will probably become even harder to be patient! Smile)

About buffering and I/O: The RTL has an internal 16K RAM to store incoming packets; they are automatically enqueued as they arrive and there are ways to detect buffer overflow (the outgoing packets must be first stored also in RAM, BTW). The buffer read and write is done sequentially through one of the registers, so indeed the performance could be comparable to the one of the RS232, I think.
This sounds great. As an RS232 doesn't do much buffering at all, it should be considerably faster, because reading out the received data can be done on a block (1500-byte) level instead of byte-per-byte, for each of which a seperate interrupt would have to be generated.

~Grauw

By Grauw

Prophet (2740)

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15-08-2004, 19:50

Whoever removed my second post: please fix my first post by placing a [ /quote ] after "...these registers."

By konamiman

Paladin (817)

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15-08-2004, 20:53

Sunrise: sorry, we posted at the same time so I didn't see your post.

Please send me an email with your proposals so we can discuss about it.

By Latok

msx guru (3268)

Latok's picture

15-08-2004, 22:17

About my language....hehehe.....Indeed, I was just awake and in a hurry. Still, I did reread my posting once or twice. Aaaaaaah, my english just sucks. Fortunately, we have some brilliant english writing MRC crewmembers Tongue

O, and erhm....I WANT TO BUY ONE!!!!!! Smile Smile Smile Put me on the list!!! Don't care what list, put me on it Tongue

By Ivan

Ascended (8977)

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15-08-2004, 23:09

I'm expecting that F1 Spirit multiplayer version Smile

By ro

Prophet (3692)

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16-08-2004, 08:09

FINALLY some real porn to download to our MSX Tongue

By Grauw

Prophet (2740)

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16-08-2004, 12:36

If I create an XHTML/CSS browser it will automatically block all porn, just to spite you! ;p

By konamiman

Paladin (817)

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16-08-2004, 20:32

Right now I have succesfully sent an ARP reply packet to a Win XP box (it has been cached), and the reception seems to work well too! :-)

By snout

Ambassador (14810)

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16-08-2004, 21:23

It's a historical moment, Konamiman! Smile

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