Orbit update

Orbit update

by Meits on 16-11-2015, 14:40
Topic: Hardware
Tags: Orbit, Worp3
Languages:

A few times earlier MRC mentioned WORP3's project Orbit. Take a look here, here and here. As you can see the other news posts are quite soms years ago which might be the reason you forgot about it or might have thought it had died a slow death like some other projects sadly did.
Luckily for the musical enthousiasts in our scene, not in this case. You must understand that this huge project is done as a hobby and most of you know that the older one gets, the more obligations demand one's scarce free time. WORP3 just never has had the intention to abandon this trip into the unknown.

Orbit has easily reached the point of no return. Many physical parts are ready now. Thanks to that, a lot of specs became available as well. Please take your time to read with awe what the five prototypes will look like.

  • Wide input power port 10 to 26V
  • One standard MSX compatible nine pins joystick port
  • Four seperated MIDI output ports
  • One MIDI input port
  • SD Card slot up to high speed (SDHC/SDSC up to 25MB/s) with dual color activity led
  • Internal clock chip (RTC) with battery backup
  • FPGA dual boot size configuration flash
  • 1 Gigabyte main memory in a 32 bits configuration running at 800MT/s
  • 256 Megabyte video memory in a 32 bits configuration running at 800MT/s
  • HDMI v1.3 video output port up to 1080P 60 Hz with CEC, HDCP and surround sound support
  • Full MSX compatible 5V cartridge slot
  • RGB color led inside power switch
  • Full and half size mSATA 3 slot
  • Full and half size mini PCI express v1 x1 slot
  • High speed bi-directional 1.25 Gbps I/O extender port (can be used for future MSX cartridge extender slots)
  • USB 2.x port with internal four ports hub including 500mA power supply per port
  • Hardware audio decoder with MP3 support
  • Hardware audio codec with internal processing (filter, 7B Equalizer, level control, etc.)
  • Stereo headphone output port (3.5mm jack)
  • Stereo audio output port (cinch connectors)
  • Stereo audio input port (cinch connectors)

As the above describes the five prototypes it's not clear yet how the final version will compare to that. This will eventually become clear when WORP3 has perfected the internal architecture. The specs of the final version will of course depend on the demand by the scene, the price tag and the possibilities.

Next to the points mentioned above, WORP3 wants to mention that the ultimate goal is performance over 100% MSX compatibility. For example, some scene demos showcasing effects in search for the boundries of the VDP might not be shown as the coder intended. The reason is that Orbit is simply too fast for these kinds of effects.

Curious as we were, we wanted to know more than the above. First of all we asked how Orbit handles the issue called ROMs. The ROMs responsible for the running of an MSX machine are still copyrighted. At this moment this is still a topic at the WORP3 head quarters but at first the existing ROMs will be used. There's still the possibility WORP3 designs new ROMs from scratch. ROMs can be loaded to RAM and don't have to be flashed to a flashROM.
Secondly there is the horrible noise acompanying the audio on almost every MSX. This should be totally non-existant as it is designed on a totally different way than your average MSX.
The third and last scoop we were told until now is that the HDMI output will carry surround audio.

Who of you can still wait until this beast will finally be released in all its sheer brute MSX force?

Media browser (8)

  • Orbit update
  • Orbit update
  • Orbit update
  • Orbit update
  • Orbit update
  • Orbit update
  • Orbit update
  • Orbit update

Comments (37)

By Omega

Master (155)

Omega's picture

16-11-2015, 16:04

These guys need to be awarded a medal for doing such a complex project! Smile

One question I have: what kind of OS would run on it? I don't think you can run traditional MSX bioses and take advantage of such hardware at the same time, probably it would take modifications to have them run at all. Unless the hardware presents itself as a traditional 8 bit architecture, which would defeat the purpose..

By syn

Paragon (1670)

syn's picture

17-11-2015, 11:40

I kinda forgot about this project, very nice to see some update! From what I read, this is almost everything that I want for a new MSX:

- Small form factor
- USB
- MIDI
- HDMI

I like the audio part with all the connectors and stuff, + overall the specs are awesome! Big smile

I have some questions:

- The Orbit has USB, would it support USB-over-Midi? I noticed a lot of newer midi equipement don't have conventional MIDI ports anymore, especially lower budget midi controllers/keyboards etc.
- What soundchips are you planning to include in the default setup? or is this one of the things that you are still leaving open to be decided later on?
- How is the surround sound "created"? one soundchip per speaker/channel?
- About the internal processing: Is this on the "master" bus/output or will it be possible to do this per sound chip?
- I assume the FPGA will be updateble, will this be opensource or will you guys be holding the reigns on this one? I just ask this out of curiousity, I am totally unfamiliar with FPGA programming anyway.

By Grauw

Enlighted (6538)

Grauw's picture

17-11-2015, 01:30

I think most MIDI equipment still has DIN MIDI plugs, or comes with breakout cables. The only one with USB MIDI exclusively that comes to mind is the CME X-KEY, you’d have to route that one through a PC or an iConnect MIDI (not an insurmountable problem), but otherwise it’s still a prevalent connection. So although MIDI over USB would be nice, it’s not necessary I think.

Btw, although I love the MIDI support, isn’t four outputs a bit much? Seems to me it eats board / case space, while you can easily daisy chain MIDI or use a splitter if you need to talk to more devices at once. I think one input and output would be sufficient, maybe a through… And use the freed up space to have a second joystick port.

And great to hear about the noise-free audio path.

By syn

Paragon (1670)

syn's picture

17-11-2015, 11:43

I was actually thinking of that CME because you talked about it (you recommended me that one on irc a year ago or so because I was looking for a smaller keyboard) and i was looking at the specs the other day and noticed lack of MIDI out Big smile

Anyway dunno i just checked on some big dutch webshop (the one where wolf_ works Tongue ) using the search filters. When searching for midi controllers section, only 18 out of 94 are listed of having MIDI out (I was looking at some devices to use for in DAW software, and was just curious about the connectors and noticed the discrepancy, although I havent clicked on any of them to check whether they offer breakout cables for DIN plugs.). But for MIDI keyboard the difference isnt that big (82 out of 132).

I share your feelings regarding Orbits amount of MIDI outputs, only because I personally don't own/use midi devices (other than midi keyboard). I am interested in using the orbit as a midi instrument though so that is why I asked about the midi-over-usb)

By Meits

Scribe (4768)

Meits's picture

17-11-2015, 09:17

I haven't checked, but maybe he wants to have multiple different MSX MIDI interfaces on board? Let's see if he replies Smile

By janghang

Expert (112)

janghang's picture

17-11-2015, 09:36

This is really an amazing project. When I got to know this project a few years ago, i thought it would not be possible. Now it looks like they will release the first product very soon.

By ren

Paladin (1005)

ren's picture

17-11-2015, 11:33

I'm agreeing with what's already said above regarding the MIDI ports, and a second joystick port.
Having all this MIDI support makes it quite a specific machine already. I reckon most users won't have a use for it, let alone will ever use *all* of it? (But it made me wonder if I'm missing something here?.. Smile)

Having only one joystick port seems like a missed opportunity to me. (But perhaps fitting if the machine is more targeted towards creation, as opposed to gaming?) (Any 'official' words/statement regarding the philosophy behind this device?)

Is all audio/video (output) processing done in FPGA, or is there also some dedicated hardware involved?

引用:

Next to the points mentioned above WORP3 wants to mention that the ultimate goal is performance over 100% MSX compatibility. For example, some scene demos showcasing effects in search for the boundries of the VDP might not be shown as the coder intended. The reason is that Orbit is simply too fast for these kinds of effects.

Hmm.. Also feels somewhat like a missed opportunity.. Couldn't it be possible to put the device in a slower operating mode, so this might be achievable?

Anyway, cool to see an update, good luck with the (final?) steps towards realizing the prototypes!


(edit: although this device might also make it possible to realize a 2nd joystick port via USB??)

(@Meits a link to the news on the Worp site is missing? http://worp3.com/MainPage.php?id=News&newsid=106#ShowItem :))

By WORP3

Paladin (762)

WORP3's picture

17-11-2015, 12:06

@Syn, yes it should be possible to support a USB to MIDI port although it's not on the priority list so it could take some time before a fitting driver will be available. But the hardware is there so it's all of matter of writing more software which is the same for the additional game port using USB.

@Ren, software that generation visual effects by using non documented effects of specific chips isn't really on my support list as this will take up resources that can be used for more interesting features. Probably it's just some demo's which will be effected by this.

MIDI ports, mmm a lot of discussion about these four simple ports. I've added the four ports because if you have multiple synths it's always a pain in the but when trying to chain them together using MIDI thru. Using four ports allows you to use four x 16 independence channels which improves the possibility's of selecting different instruments on different synths. Also there will be less problems with the limited bandwidth.
How these ports will be ported to specific MSX MIDI interfaces is something we will tackle at a later time because it's much more important to get it all working. But there are all kind of possibilities to give support for older midi interfaces.

When we receive the new mainboards, we will first start verifying it and assemble all of the PCB components where after we can build the first five proto's. After that it's writing software, a lot of software.

By gdx

Paragon (1756)

gdx's picture

17-11-2015, 14:07

引用:

Full MSX compatible 5V cartridge slot

Why not put the +12V and -12V?

By WORP3

Paladin (762)

WORP3's picture

17-11-2015, 14:30

gdx wrote:
引用:

Full MSX compatible 5V cartridge slot

Why not put the +12V and -12V?

With compatible 5V I mean it has 5V logic not some 3.3V. Off-coarse it has also the +5V,-12V and the 12V power supply Smile

By Denus

Expert (120)

Denus's picture

18-11-2015, 01:01

I can't wait!

By hit9918

Prophet (2685)

hit9918's picture

18-11-2015, 09:55

if you care about software
S1995 chipset is better than PCI express

S1995 is the amazing new chipset for best MSX slots
makes original slots with superfast z80
and with the cycles configurable it makes SPEEDSLOT
who knows maybe some existing cartridges can go somewhat faster

every slot got own write buffer
a transfer slot->slot goes at peak rate like slot->fastRAM, the dream MSX
original slot goes 1 meg per second, more than enough for the streams of a musical MSX

make a moonsound that doesnt crack when uploading digi stream.
or maybe just a TurboR DAC. But the GT equippment, coz timer interrupt is mandatory for software DMA business.

1 gig RAM? with port F8..FB gigamapper.

when a "32bit pipelined cpu" was planned...
then an R800 that takes two opcode bytes in one cycle is a little project.
16bit read with the IX prefix
16bit read with the EXX instruction
the alternate register set in 1 cycle, what a dream MSX. The unzip will be loving it.

ok maybe it dont work when crossing a 32bit word, but 3 out of 4 times it works.
maybe that plot can be done to 16bit data loads, too. the push pop call ret orgy.
prepare it to work with wait tables to make z80 cycle timing.

about joysticks, could one maybe have a dongle on a midi port.

By WORP3

Paladin (762)

WORP3's picture

18-11-2015, 12:53

@hit9918, you think way to much in MSX terms. Using any of this old principles inside a new architecture will only slow it down. You are talking about 1MByte per second while Orbit has a theoretically memory bandwidth of 3.2GByte per second :-)

By anonymous

incognito ergo sum (109)

anonymous's picture

18-11-2015, 13:21

" WORP3 wants to mention that the ultimate goal is performance over 100% MSX compatibility. "

oO

And furthermore:

  • No second joystick port.
  • Useless additional MIDI ports.
  • Lots of huge power with no MSX specs at all to take advantage of it (where is this new MSX specification or Technical Hand Book where every single detail is defined, described and standardized?).
  • No standard composite or RGB analog video output?
  • No MSX-alike cursor keys.

Sorry. This thing is not for me. If I can't get a real 100% compatible MSX working yet in 2015, I just prefer to use OpenMSX on a Raspberry PI 2. After all, what you are describing seems like a simple PC, not a MSX machine.

By anonymous

incognito ergo sum (109)

anonymous's picture

18-11-2015, 13:24

WORP3 wrote:

@hit9918, you think way to much in MSX terms.

IMHO you think way to much in PC terms.
Why do you have such a need of power and speed for a MSX machine? Just get a PC instead!

MSX is a different concept.

By syn

Paragon (1670)

syn's picture

18-11-2015, 13:42

Why are you asking for technical hand book and talking about msx specifications etc? this is not an official MSX 3 or something (will there ever be one?), this is a hobby project suiting the creators needs/designs/wishes. A device that is obviously aimed towards music creation, based on MSX technology. I assume this is out of love for our msx system.

They could have created a music device not based on msx system, that would not have helped the MSX scene in any way whatsoever.

Now they make a musical device that is ALSO useful to a LOT of msx users. I for one am totally excited about this project.

By anonymous

incognito ergo sum (109)

anonymous's picture

18-11-2015, 14:12

Exactly what syn says... A music computer with MSX compatibility... If you don't like it that the creator thought of MSX compatibility, well too bad for you Wink

By WORP3

Paladin (762)

WORP3's picture

18-11-2015, 16:37

Just what syn and Meits is saying, it's a new system designed so it can be useful for a lot of things/persons but it origin lies by the musicians. Although it's MSX compatible it's a lot more then that. If you only want a MSX and keep running the old stuff, this system is not for you and you should buy an old system or a newer one chip MSX clone.
Also like meits already did mention, it not even sure that this setup will be the final version but the first five proto's. It could be that it will be sold as is, or that we design a complete other housing, specific for the MSX users or musicians. We first have to create all of the buildings blocks, os en programs/apps.

By Grauw

Enlighted (6538)

Grauw's picture

18-11-2015, 16:44

@WORP3 If you really like multiple MIDI I/Os, MSX-MIDI devices can be on two sets of I/O ports (internal E8H-EFH / external E0H-E2H), so if you have two MIDI IN and two MIDI OUT ports in stead of 1-4, two can be accessed on the internal I/O ports and the other two on the external ones. Also, for Synthesix I have much more use for MIDI IN devices than for MIDI OUT, so it also strikes a better balance for me.

But also consider, if you have a need for more than 1 MIDI IN and OUT, you can always insert a MIDI cartridge, plenty of them around. I think that’s a better solution personally.

By WORP3

Paladin (762)

WORP3's picture

18-11-2015, 17:32

@Grauw, I will take a look at it later in the project on how i will map different MSX ports to the Orbit MIDI peripherals, all kind off support can be implemented. Unfortunately all of the excising ports om the back are designed as output ports. Only the one on the front is an input port. So going for two output and two input isn't something that can be accomplished with the current setup. Maybe in combination with a usb to MIDI in/out something can be arranged.
Using MSX cartridges is always an option Smile

By Lord_Zett

Paladin (807)

Lord_Zett's picture

18-11-2015, 18:22

i dont use midi, but sirs of worp3 i love a computer with msx as base. msx is a good concept and when i talked to them last nijmegen it was great to see ppl go outside the box!

cant wait to see how you solve the software gui/basic!

i love basic.

By WORP3

Paladin (762)

WORP3's picture

18-11-2015, 19:43

Lord_Zett wrote:

i dont use midi, but sirs of worp3 i love a computer with msx as base. msx is a good concept and when i talked to them last nijmegen it was great to see ppl go outside the box!

cant wait to see how you solve the software gui/basic!

i love basic.

Thanks lord_zett, appreciate it Smile2

By hit9918

Prophet (2685)

hit9918's picture

18-11-2015, 23:14

@WORP3, @meits,
better than "A music computer with MSX compatibility" would be "a fast MSX for the music".

The whole thing again is the endless hardware feature list with no software.
But instead my usual softwaremans talk about, I put it in a new way:
The dream monster is lesser than a TurboR.
Same story as seen on the OCM.
The dreams remain numbers on paper.

And now for the constructive part. The board is done and the fpga empty.
The first thing I would run for is the fast z80 and compatible slot.
Plug a NEOS and make the fast z80 with compatible slot.
How to make a slot wait circuit for a fast clocked z80, OCM folks and diskrete folks maybe are interested, too.

oh and by the way, who told that music needs 3.2 gigabyte per second?
44khz 16bit stereo is 176 kilo byte per second, a fraction of the bandwidth of the original slot that has a meg per second.
The TurboR GT has digital audio DMA like Amiga except NOBODY CODED IT.
Unlike the moonsound it can play realtime processed streams, but AGAIN NO SOFTWARE.

dat case is cool, and if it would be a TurboR GT and not lesser as usual,
I guess quite some audience would be interested?

By hit9918

Prophet (2685)

hit9918's picture

19-11-2015, 01:12

The thing I am hunting for.
Is contemporary usage on the MSX.
Not on the nvidia, but on the MSX.
If you look at the usual iphone kick scroller. That is just a bit vertical roll register on the MSX.
The latest post xerox gui era goes on the MSX!
Throw in some screenswitching and multitasking.

The stuff I am doing with p3bios. Is not the usual thing of "new OS". Which typicaly as first step throws out the sysarea.
Keep booting with all the diskROMs. All in all it is not the big list of new things. Similar attitude as towards hardware.
Instead it is removal of showstoppers.
Prime example the enaslt page 0, rather than being of a big list of novum features it is "what MSX always badly needed since day 1".
Whole new big things is enabled by just removal of showstoppers.

similar, when I see WORP3, I can't help but go "why not first make it a TurboR".
dat whole hardware topic, really, by far the #1 is "a fast z80 with compatible slots".

with cpu manupulating sound (samples),
with sinus samples on the moonsound and then use it as synthesizer,
with interrupt rates above the usual monitor hz,
who knows what crazy stuff one can do to sound.

1 gig RAM. yep, with gigamapper port F8...FB. Dat gonna give some space for the lookup tables Big smile

Also, a fast z80 speeds up the unzip etc etc etc.

By SonyTEL

Supporter (15)

SonyTEL's picture

19-11-2015, 01:49

It lacks the RJ45 Ethernet jack!

By WORP3

Paladin (762)

WORP3's picture

19-11-2015, 11:26

hit9918 wrote:

The dreams remain numbers on paper.

it's not only on paper. The hardware for the first proto's are almost complete.

hit9918 wrote:

How to make a slot wait circuit for a fast clocked z80, OCM folks and discrete folks maybe are interested, too.

Accessing a MSX cartridge won't be any faster then what is described inside the MSX specification.

hit9918 wrote:

oh and by the way, who told that music needs 3.2 gigabyte per second?

I didn't, i said that the memory has a theoretically bandwidth of 3.2GB/s

hit9918 wrote:

The TurboR GT has digital audio DMA like Amiga except NOBODY CODED IT.

MSX Never had any DMA inside it, it has a audio DAC but that was all.

hit9918 wrote:

dat case is cool, and if it would be a TurboR GT and not lesser as usual,I guess quite some audience would be interested?

Thanks and it will be at least a TurboR but trying to make a new system that hos some more potential and which is able to connect to more up to date hardware will require some big changes that can't be done by just sticking with the same architecture.

By Manuel

Ascended (13684)

Manuel's picture

19-11-2015, 20:34

When Panasonic (?) created the turboR. they added a bloody fast CPU, but made sure that the machine also remained (almost) fully MSX compatible. (They did quite some effort to make slowdowns in certain modes and other things to keep things really compatible. Not to mention the built in Z80...) Are you trying to achieve something similar? So, even faster CPU, but still MSX compatible, similar to turboR?

By WORP3

Paladin (762)

WORP3's picture

19-11-2015, 21:11

Manuel wrote:

When Panasonic (?) created the turboR. they added a bloody fast CPU, but made sure that the machine also remained (almost) fully MSX compatible. (They did quite some effort to make slowdowns in certain modes and other things to keep things really compatible. Not to mention the built in Z80...) Are you trying to achieve something similar? So, even faster CPU, but still MSX compatible, similar to turboR?

Indeed, it will have a lot faster CPU but without the additional old z80.

By Lord_Zett

Paladin (807)

Lord_Zett's picture

19-11-2015, 22:00

its a great idea. unlike the ocm its a big step in the future. not back in time. compatible and using the spirit of a good thing is great.
lots of things of the msx i always wanted on a more modern system.

By hit9918

Prophet (2685)

hit9918's picture

20-11-2015, 07:56

WOPR3 wrote:

Thanks and it will be at least a TurboR

Ok, now thing starts to sound good!
When it is a TR, then some of the audience might stop talking about some joystick thingy and suddenly just want it Smile

WORP3 wrote:

but trying to make a new system that hos some more potential and which is able to connect to more up to date hardware will require some big changes that can't be done by just sticking with the same architecture.

ok it cant hurt to have a PCI slot but I hope you make the TurboR because there are issues with the MSX3 part.
oops Big smile
for example it is bad to add a new random 32bit transfer instruction to the spec just because it fits your fpga situation of the day.
it is better when the fpga trick of the day makes the compatible z80 LDIR instruction faster.

with "DMA" I meant software DMA with interrupt. Let's just call this software DMA on the MSX.
timer interrupt, get next byte from the stream and put it on the TurboR DAC -> digi sound.

By zPasi

Champion (260)

zPasi's picture

21-11-2015, 17:59

An impressive project!

However I wonder, how much can the design be altered and still considered a true MSX? I mean, does this "feel" more genuine than an emulator running on a PI, or even on a PC?

But anyway, still very interesting and I bet many of us MSX enthusiast would definitely want to have one.

By Daemos

Paragon (1649)

Daemos's picture

27-11-2015, 19:33

Worp is thinking far ahead and yet gets understood. A very interesting project. I hope it will receive a nice demo at the Nijmegen fair Smile thumbs up.

By Meits

Scribe (4768)

Meits's picture

27-11-2015, 23:23

zPasi wrote:

However I wonder, how much can the design be altered and still considered a true MSX?

No one said it'd be a true MSX. It's not even the primary aim... It'll be as compatible with MSX as possible without doing harm to its performance... So every MSX software running flawlesly on it is a nice bonus...
If you want to stay close to MSX, a One Chip MSX or a Zemmix Neo is your thing... Otherwise a good ol' real MSX would do... This is something new with a touch of old...

By Meits

Scribe (4768)

Meits's picture

27-11-2015, 23:26

For the guys without facebook, here's the latest picture he took:

By Lord_Zett

Paladin (807)

Lord_Zett's picture

29-11-2015, 19:05

nice! that pcb is a lot of work!

By Meits

Scribe (4768)

Meits's picture

29-11-2015, 23:05

When you look at it, indeed... This doesn't take shape by itself... Quite some craftmanship... You have to think of every detail before you can start assembling it. The internals and the externals. If everything fits at the end, you did something quite well Smile

By WORP3

Paladin (762)

WORP3's picture

29-11-2015, 23:11

Lord_Zett wrote:

nice! that pcb is a lot of work!

Indeed and don't forget you only looking at one of the 8 layers Smile

My MSX profile