Atari goes ethernet. Next stop MSX?

by snout on 11-11-2003, 15:53
Topic: Hardware
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A few weeks ago Chris Martin, a Texas Instruments engineer succeeded in creating an ethernet interface for Atari 8-bit computers, as other hobbyists had already done for Commodore 64. Using Contiki, it's possible to browse the internet, send and receive e-mail and use telnet, albeit with a lot of limitations and packetloss.

As for MSX, Uzix combined with FudeBrowZer (which seems to have quite some advantages compared to Contiki), Internestor or Internestor Lite already offer internet functionality for MSX, while Sunrise has been working on an MSX Ethernet Card for quite some time now. Maybe the experiences of the Atari and Commodore community can be of help in bringing Ethernet (and internet) to the MSX community.

Relevant link: Atari 8bit ethernet interface

Comments (17)

By Sander

Ambassador (1845)

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11-11-2003, 15:57

Please note that the Atari ethernet solutions is based on the Commodore design. I wonder what needs to be done to do the same for MSX.

By Sander

Ambassador (1845)

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11-11-2003, 16:04

And about the contiki page: They love to say that their browser doesn´t need external proxies to render the pages. They forgot to say however, that contiki doesn´t support images. And Fudebrowser does. I´m sure that when support for images is dropped in fudebrowser, it doesn´t need any proxy to prerender the pages. Although I´m not sure about this. The other question is: do we want a browser without support for images?

By anonymous

incognito ergo sum (109)

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11-11-2003, 16:09

Contiki...... I'm not impressed ^^;
And this ethernet-card, mwaaaahh... I'm not convinced yet.

By snout

Ascended (15187)

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11-11-2003, 17:03

Well, at least ethernet cards for Atari and C64 are cheap and publicly available, we can't say that about MSX yet :/

By snout

Ascended (15187)

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11-11-2003, 17:04

hmmm I might not be right about that 'publicly available' Wink

By Sander

Ambassador (1845)

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11-11-2003, 17:16

Well, it´s better than nothing.

By DarQ

Paragon (1038)

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11-11-2003, 20:16

aha! so sunrise is making an ethernetdevice.it would be much fun to use only the lowest levels of the OSI model for communication!!

By anonymous

incognito ergo sum (109)

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11-11-2003, 21:37

Have you been living in a cave? Sunrise has been working on that for ages already!

By Grauw

Ascended (8515)

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11-11-2003, 21:43

Ethernet card is very easy to develop, I think. The C64 one's design is probably just a C64 interface to some company's 8-bit Ethernet controller IC. If you take the design of the C64 ethernet card and reroute some wires to work on MSX, it will probably work.

The thing with the Sunrise Ethernet card is, it will not be a simple Ethernet card, but include an entire processor with its own memory and a complete TCP/IP stack, and perhaps even Z380-like features.

Imo this is very nice, but I would also appreciate a basic Ethernet card on a somewhat more short notice, for a cheap price.

~Grauw

By Grauw

Ascended (8515)

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11-11-2003, 22:09

Here is the pin layout of the EmbeddedEthernet.com board the C64 thing uses:

Vcc (input) +5v DC
GND (input) Ground
D7-D0 (input/output) CS8900A Data Bus
/AEN (input) CS8900A Address Enable (Active low) - Also referred to as /CHIPSEL (Chip Select)
/WR (input) CS8900A Write control (Active low)
/RD (input) CS8900A Read control (Active low)
IRQ (output) Interrrupt signalled by this pin going high (please read 'To Poll or not to poll' in the support section)
A3-A0 (input) CS8900A Address Bus

All these pins can as far as I can see directly be interfaced to MSX. It's just a matter of attaching this board on an MSX print, and laying down some wires. Oh, and ofcourse some logic which assures it only responds to a certain I/O range.

Hey, I think I'll order one of those ^_^.

~Grauw

By Grauw

Ascended (8515)

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11-11-2003, 22:10

Gah, $70... bit expensive -_-;; but ahwell, it's a little less in Euros.

~Grauw

By sunrise

Paragon (1091)

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11-11-2003, 22:18

I wonder why anybody sells nonsense about the Sunrise ethernetcard without studying what we are doing.
The chip chosen here for the ATARI is a good one, but what about speed, what about counting on a better graphic use. Does it need more memory also?
First of all the idea of our networkcard is from 2000, in that year zilog announced the evaluationboard of the ez80, but the board was launched in fact end 2001 at a seminair I visited in Bunnik. Further delay was caused by Texas Instrument that promised to launch a DSP that was suitable for our purpose, but it appeared that this chip never would be launched. So, finally begin this year we had all the chips we could combine and can get !
This all in contrast to e.g. padial's components. So we use ez80 not z380, cause it has more speed as a co-processor ,easier available.
If you want something easier than our ethernetcard consider the TMT CARTRIDGE.
And that is even mentioned for use on more computertype

By Grauw

Ascended (8515)

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11-11-2003, 22:21

But hm, the board doesn't support interrupt-driven control... Well, it does, but the ethernet controller's documentation say that the interrupt functionality breaks under heavy load. Now I wonder what heavy load is... the controller is a 10mbit one, and our internet-connection is 2mbit... Now if I request a page through the controller from the internet, and it comes through at full speed, will those 2 mbit be considered a 'heavy load'? Anyways maybe I should look out for some other 8-bit ethernet controllers before spending 70 dollars ^_^. There must be some more, as there are probably a lot of embedded 8-bit systems using Ethernet. Nevertheless, it's probably still nice even just as a proof of concept.

~Grauw

By Grauw

Ascended (8515)

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11-11-2003, 22:33

Sunrise, sorry, but I am not selling nonsense about the Sunrise Ethernet card at all. I do not understand why you get so defensive. It is a fact that your card does more than only offer 'plain' Ethernet, and I never claimed its design wasn't going to be very good. It is also a fact that development takes quite some time, as you mentioned it's an ongoing project since 2000 and I haven't heard anything like that it'll be finished soon. To me it would just be nice to have a small and simple Ethernet board for MSX, to experiment with. I have said this before and it is my own honest opinion, nothing wrong with that I hope.

By the way, one of the outcomes such a low-profile board for MSX that you especially should like is that chances are when the Sunrise Ethernet board is sold, some easily-adaptable software is already available. And as you know, software can make or break a good hardware product.

And no, I really do not consider TMT net as it is not Ethernet compatible, and that is a pre for me. Plus it does not offers the features (yet?) I require of a network card.

~Grauw.

By DarQ

Paragon (1038)

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11-11-2003, 22:45

TCP/IP built-in???? then it must be a flashable rom or it has to contain a ipv4 module too. a quick peek in the future tells us that ipv6 will be used within 5 years. we old msx-geeks will still be using that card by them. BTW: i don't live in a cave, but the fact that a card is being made somehow didn't reach my memory-archive.

By Grauw

Ascended (8515)

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11-11-2003, 22:54

DarQ: The Sunrise Ethernet card (please forgive any mistakes here) has a eZ80 processor and a fair amount of RAM and some FlashROM. This ROM will contain the TCP/IP stack which will do a lot of buffering and (pre-)processing, making TCP/IP accessible by the MSX at a fairly low cost of CPU-time. And what I have also heard is that, if the design would permit it, they will try to give the board co-processing abilities, or even similar abilities as Padial's Z380 has. I don't know how they decided on this though.

About IPv6, it's been around for a while already, and I unfortunately still don't see it used or offered a lot (even though I have it ^_^). My guess is that it will take some time before it becomes commonly used. But when the time is there, the FlashROM can probably be updated to add IPv6 functionality. And even if it can or is not, I am sure the card will offer low-level access functions so that software can implement it by itself.

And uh, Sunrise advertised with it on amongst others the latest Tilburg fair, and I have heard of it before then. There probably also has been some msx.org post about it at some time.

By sunrise

Paragon (1091)

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12-11-2003, 07:10

Grauw I was referring that starting the project costed some preparation and that time is not IMO the actual time we spent on development. And the EZ80 as DARQ said is used and z380.
But DARQ , full info is in a leaflet downloadable from our website , there you find detailed info as it is.