new GFX card

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By MagicBox

Master (198)

MagicBox's picture

11-09-2008, 23:59

For now I'm not even planning on selling anything just yet. One step at a time: Getting the thing worked out and working first Wink

If and when it is a viable piece of hardware only then I could even think about making complete kits for sale. My goal is not to make money here, my goal is the technical challenge, to design something that brings MSX computing visually to a new level while keeping a simple programming interface.

Still, the final design needs to be supported by the community if I ever want to start producing units. However, that's the awesomeness about FPGAs... no need to change hardware, can just update/optimize/rework designs. (Provided one doesn't run out of FPGA resources of the one used on the board).

By Salamander2

Expert (124)

Salamander2's picture

12-09-2008, 00:43


Perhaps a poll is needed to figure out what the most desired (game) screen architecture would be.

size of the sprites:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6wX7HwNhuQ

sprite/layer animantion:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzsfKmo9ow0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcrb3ExexxQ&feature=related

vram speed transfer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxHeSNUNFZc&feature=related

...some things like these ones. got the "spirit"?

By wolf_

Ambassador_ (9883)

wolf_'s picture

12-09-2008, 00:49

Could I ask that you think about this possibly being a cross project for at least the Spectrum, as well as the MSX.

Can a normal G9k work on a spectrum or cpc (optionally with a custom built converter or something, when that's needed) ?

By jltursan

Prophet (2530)

jltursan's picture

12-09-2008, 01:03

I know at least one project already developed for Spectrum (still not made public AFAIK) that interfaces a TMS9929 keeping the port architecture as close as possible to the MSX standard to ensure compatibility. The schematics did look very complex (at least to me Tongue)
I suposse that the more advanced VDP, the more difficult it's the interface (obviously); so I guess that a GFX9K interface must be a VERY complex device.
I agree with Trebmint, a multiplatform hardware would be great. Being a FPGA design I guess that, except the bus connector, a software swap could be enough to make it work with other machines, right?.

By RyJuZo

Master (236)

RyJuZo's picture

12-09-2008, 01:25

I know at least one project already developed for Spectrum (still not made public AFAIK) that interfaces a TMS9929 keeping the port architecture as close as possible to the MSX standard to ensure compatibility. The schematics did look very complex (at least to me Tongue)
I suposse that the more advanced VDP, the more difficult it's the interface (obviously); so I guess that a GFX9K interface must be a VERY complex device.
I agree with Trebmint, a multiplatform hardware would be great. Being a FPGA design I guess that, except the bus connector, a software swap could be enough to make it work with other machines, right?.

let's just focus on MSX first please...
afterall this is a MSX forum not spectrum...Tongue

By MagicBox

Master (198)

MagicBox's picture

12-09-2008, 08:56


Perhaps a poll is needed to figure out what the most desired (game) screen architecture would be.

size of the sprites:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6wX7HwNhuQ

---> Yes, quite possible, it's just a number of 16x16 sprites together. Due to 256 color sprites, you never need to overlay multiple sprites to get better sprite quality. This much looks like a 2x3 or 2x4 16x16 sprites. Due to size, the number of unique sprites reduces though. When looking at this video, there's like only 2 - 3 unique characters per level and animations aren't smooth. So yes, completely doable. Ofcourse with 1x 16x16 sprites you can make much more fluent animations before running out of sprite patterns.

sprite/layer animantion:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzsfKmo9ow0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcrb3ExexxQ&feature=related

----> No problem either, you'd achieve this with modifying the layer display offset to scroll. Update the nametable to animate the image on a layer.

vram speed transfer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxHeSNUNFZc&feature=related

----> That's also easily doable due to the circular virtual map (name table). There would be no full vram copy involved. You just modify the display offset (x direction) and meanwhile make sure you write a new tile column at the off-display area. After 8 display offset increases, that tile column comes into view. Since the map is circular, the map "wraps" around the end. (Much like V9938's vertical scroll). However, due to nature of pattern mode, updating 8 - 15 tiles in the map every 8 horizontal pixel scrolls is fast, very fast. Thus yes, using VDPX would allow you to make very fast horizontal scrollers and even allowing you to update the map as opposed to keep it static because otherwise there would be no time to update the incoming area.

...some things like these ones. got the "spirit"?

By ivke2006

Resident (53)

ivke2006's picture

12-09-2008, 10:16

Perhaps a poll is needed to figure out what the most desired (game) screen architecture would be.

Maybe you could define the requirements from which we could choose?

IMHO we (the scene incl. yourself) should first start with some high level requirements like:

1. costs < $ 50 (I think its very important it stays cheap!)
2. Design possible within xxx period of time
3. easy to program (even from basic)
4. fast v-ram copy(at least on V9990 level)
5. Powerful sprite engine
6. Game screenmode(s)
7. 16.7 M palette colours
8. (relative) high resolution screen(s)
9. etc

After defining the high level requirements we could go to in more detail. Your getting a general idea what people like during these forum discussions but you should have the best idea what is possible for a < $50 graphics card.

Also make it a MSX community development where possible. I think there are lot of people here that want to help. It will contribute to it's success!

By pitpan

Prophet (3140)

pitpan's picture

12-09-2008, 10:24

What would be easy (at least at logic level, probably not so easy at hardware level) is connecting a Sega Master System VDP to an MSX computer. It is a different evolution of the TMS9918 but, judging the results, is a good choice. The best point of this solution is that it includes backward compatibility with TMS9918 modes.

By ARTRAG

Enlighted (6515)

ARTRAG's picture

12-09-2008, 10:47

MagicBox

Apart the amusement in the technical challenge, you should think about your real chance of defining a new "standard".

If you want a large adoption of your HW (otherwise it will stay a wonderful toy on your desk to show to your friends) you should point to low price, high specs and aim to the largest public of developers.

HW without SW is nothing (look at TR and to v9990).

About specs, I would not not really care of the comparison with GFX9K, provided that:

1) your HW costs less that GPX9K (say 50$ as target price).
2) your can reach a larger public of developers (eg Brasil)

To this regard, MSX community is very small to be able to support a new HW.
IMHP you should think not only to MSX1-2-2+-TR compatibility also to Spectrum and CPC
Being a memory mapped device it would be possible to adapt it to both HWs with small modifications.

I know, having different flavours of one product reduces the economies of scale (rising the cost), but
It would be a cross platform HW like Symbos (apropos think to Symbos on your board running an MSX, Spectrum and CPC...)

An HW Esperanto for the 8bit retro funs ?

BTW, make it work first, and than we will see what to do of it Wink

By ARTRAG

Enlighted (6515)

ARTRAG's picture

12-09-2008, 10:58

[off topic]
I would have suggested to do a cross platform HW for CPC and spectrum
based on v9990 if this latter was not 1) out of production, 2) too expensive

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