1chipMSX Western Edition news

by wolf_ on 29-01-2008, 21:10
Topic: MSX Revival
Languages:

It's been a while since we heard news about the Western Edition of the 1chipMSX. Finally, after a long deafening silence Bazix has sent out a mailing with news regarding their efforts to bring this Western Edition to us. The main aspects of this mailing were the following:

Earlier this month a meeting between representatives of MSX Association, ESE Artists Factory and Bazix took place in Tokyo, Japan. During this meeting, the status and future of the Western 1chipMSX Project was discussed. As we already knew, several changes have taken place in the organizations of the parties involved - especially in the organization of D4 Enterprise, the Japanese company that produced the 1chipMSX for the Japanese market. As D4E focuses more and more on digital software distribution, it didn't seem probable for this company to become responsible for the Western 1chipMSX after all, so Bazix came to the conclusion that it would be better to focus on production of the Western 1chipMSX elsewhere.

Together with MSX Association and ESE Artists Factory Bazix have discussed the changes that have to be made to make the 1chipMSX suitable for commercial distribution on the Western market, as well as some possible improvements compared to the Japanese version. Next, they have started looking around for companies that can produce the Western 1chipMSX. In the coming weeks, Bazix expect to receive several quotes which will be compared and discussed with their Japanese partners. They will also try to investigate the effect of some of the discussed improvements to the 1chipMSX design on production costs. After carefully weighing all options they will select a final design for the Western 1chipMSX.

www.msx.org/filesfolder/onechipmsx.gif

On the new website www.onechipmsx.com Bazix will soon launch a blog on which the process of the Western 1chipMSX project can be followed. Naturally, Bazix will also keep informing their customers via their 1chipMSX mailinglist. As an added bonus, people who have pre-ordered the 1chipMSX in the past will get priority treatment over those who didn't as soon as the ordering period for the Western 1chipMSX opens. But of course, also people who didn't pre-order will get their chance to obtain a One Chip MSX when it becomes available.

Relevant link: Bazix

Comments (58)

By J-War

Champion (411)

J-War's picture

29-01-2008, 21:11

ok !

By glaucus

Resident (50)

glaucus's picture

29-01-2008, 21:38

YAHOOLOL!LOL!LOL!LOL!

By dvik

Prophet (2176)

dvik's picture

29-01-2008, 22:21

Is there any way to buy a japanese version trhough Basix? Since I live in the US I'm more interested in a Japanese version because of e.g. power compability.

By spl

Paragon (1461)

spl's picture

29-01-2008, 23:06

dvik, I have a Japanese version (I couldn't wait more)... and it works both 125 and 220V. It has "dual" power supply.

By dvik

Prophet (2176)

dvik's picture

29-01-2008, 23:12

Nice, was it hard to get? I suppose I can look at some auction sites if Bazix doesn't sell them (would be easier if they do though Smile )

By spl

Paragon (1461)

spl's picture

29-01-2008, 23:27

Ask on karoshi forums Smile

By snout

Ascended (15187)

snout's picture

30-01-2008, 00:09

Dvik: Bazix is not to distribute the Japanese One Chip MSX at all, but as you probably know some people are importing it on small scale. The Western One Chip MSX will, naturally, also support 110-240V though...

By Ivan

Ascended (9014)

Ivan's picture

30-01-2008, 00:19

This is the neverending story! oO I will wait anyway.

By dvik

Prophet (2176)

dvik's picture

30-01-2008, 00:23

Thanks snout. I think you mentioned that you couldn't sell the Japanese version before but I wasn't sure or if it had changed. The good thing with waiting for a European version is that the manuals will be a bit easier to read. And if it supports 110V it will work just fine here Smile

By mjgsantos

Expert (93)

mjgsantos's picture

30-01-2008, 00:48

Oh boy oh boy oh boy!!!! Can't wait to have it, since Ademir killed the MSX-UNI project!

By Yukio

Paragon (1541)

Yukio's picture

30-01-2008, 01:36

Ok, Music Module (MSX-AUDIO would be better) support would be great! Also imagine if their made a MSX2/2+ version with 2 MB Mapped RAM.Since the MSX2+ was only released on Japan, it would be interesting for customers to have a hardware offering a more advanced MSX model. Otherwise it would be easier to stick to the old (used) computers on the Market!

SCC is popular, but I really don't know how this made the list to the original One Chip MSX.

By Yukio

Paragon (1541)

Yukio's picture

30-01-2008, 01:42

Does anyone know if the MSX2+ standard dictates a Floppy Disk driver unit? If this is not necessary, it would be a matter of better colors and possible the addiction of hardware scroll.

A MSX2/2+ with 128+64KB VRAM would be great! Imagine the side effects of this expansion with the extra Memory Mapper support!

Probably the 'only thing' that the One Chip MSX could provide that previous users still don't use ... the EXTRA 64KB RAM bank!

By cax

Prophet (3720)

cax's picture

30-01-2008, 09:07

Yukio, OCM's FPGA source can be relatively easy modified to have more RAM or VRAM, but having advanced hardware support may require more gates than its FPGA has.

That's why I think western OCM should use FPGA with more gates, and it's the most important thing to make it success. These days bigger FPGA should be cheaper.

By Manuel

Ascended (14788)

Manuel's picture

30-01-2008, 09:08

Most important improvement would indeed be a bigger FPGA, so that it can be extended more in the future. The FPGA in the Japanese OCM is almost full (and you can't fill it up for 100% either).

By Arjan

Paladin (697)

Arjan's picture

30-01-2008, 09:58

My suggestions:
-bigger FPGA
-single (stereo) audio output connection
-ethernet
-better USB support

By snout

Ascended (15187)

snout's picture

30-01-2008, 12:11

Bigger FPGA is indeed not a problem, but AFAIK (and correct me if I'm wrong) pin-compatible the Altera Cyclone EP1C12Q240C8N is as big as it gets. We have expressed our wishes to get a larger FPGA, but on the other hand all parties involved would like to keep the changes to the PCB/casing to a minimum.

Arjan: what do you mean with a single stereo output connection? As there's two cinch connectors right now already... would you prefer minijack?

By Arjan

Paladin (697)

Arjan's picture

30-01-2008, 14:53

The EP1C12Q240C8N isn't available in a compatible package?

Yeah I'd prefer a minijack over 2 cinch connectors. Do you know of any reason why 2 cinch connectors are used instead of a minijack plug?

By wolf_

Ambassador_ (9712)

wolf_'s picture

30-01-2008, 14:59

You see those 2 cinches as 2x mono audio out, and thus you may wonder whether a stereo mini jack makes more sense. However, it's just how you program those cinches.. perhaps a different VHDL implementation would make the minijack option pointless again.

By dhau

Paragon (1535)

dhau's picture

30-01-2008, 19:31

I just got my japanese OCM from rklok, works great, and shipping to Canada was nice and cheap.

By cax

Prophet (3720)

cax's picture

30-01-2008, 21:36

Aren't Cyclone II or III family chips (I mean EP2CxxQ240C8N or EP3CxxQ240C8N, where xx can be 16,20,25 or 40) compatible with Cyclone EP1C12Q240C8N ?

Or maybe there exist compatible non-Altera chips ?

By the way, is it possible to make Altera chip replaceable using socket ? Today you can install only 12K or 25K LE (~40$), in a year price of a 40K LE (~100$) may drop and you will be able to replace it...

Update: I've checked on www.buyaltera.com, and now I see that Cyclone/II/III families of chips have different number of I/O pins, so without board redesign we are doomed to get 12K LE chip again, even when 12K and 20K or 25K chip costs are almost the same... but doing this will be totally wrong !

By snout

Ascended (15187)

snout's picture

30-01-2008, 22:16

cax: to reduce production cost, Cyclone I, II and II series are not pin-compatible. They might be (backwords) compatible in other aspects (e.g. code for Cyclone 1 might easily be compiled on Cyclone II), but not when it comes to pin-compatibility.

How easily the OCM PCB can be adapted to support Cyclone II or III with more Logical Elements and what its effect would be on production costs (and compatibility with the Japanese OCM) is beyond my technical knowledge. If there is high demand for more Logical Elements we could at least investigate the possibilities though. The best way to inform Bazix on the changes you would like to see to the OCM (and the suggestions you might have on how to actually implement them) is by e-mail. Although we do read these reactions it's harder to keep track of these than to those that are submitted to us by mail.

By rklok

Champion (280)

rklok's picture

30-01-2008, 22:44

If anyone is interested I still can get the Japanese version for 199,- (incl shipping europe)

bye
RKLOK

mail : rvdko54@hetnet.nl

By cax

Prophet (3720)

cax's picture

30-01-2008, 23:32

I've checked the number of I/O pins for each Altera Cyclone/II/III chip, and almost all of them (except single pair) have different number of pins, even if they have the same package !!! Are really chips with different number of pins incompatible between them ? How can it be that the whole line of chips of the same company is like this ???

By Ivan

Ascended (9014)

Ivan's picture

30-01-2008, 23:45

How can it be that the whole line of chips of the same company is like this ???Yes... what a shame!

By PAC

Guardian (4894)

PAC's picture

31-01-2008, 00:32

Months ago I read in a interview (Retro News) that the initial batch of Western OCM was 500 units (the current OCM). After, for a lot of users was impossible to book one unit. CryingCryingCrying
I don't know how many MSX users there are out of Japan and althought I pre-ordered the 1st and 2nd OCM (I hope soon the 3th one), I would like that the maximum people can buy this new MSX.

Snout: Are 500 units enough?

Thank you for suggest new specs for OCM.
Wink

By Sama

Ambassador (2060)

Sama's picture

31-01-2008, 01:21

The limit of 500 had to do with the limits we had to cope with due to our cooperation with another producing company. This time, we're likely to have more freedom, so I don't think you will have to worry Smile.

By snout

Ascended (15187)

snout's picture

31-01-2008, 01:56

Altera chose to cut costs and make the new generation of chips cheaper by not worrying about pin-compatibility. I guess there's a lot to say for both options.

By Manuel

Ascended (14788)

Manuel's picture

31-01-2008, 09:18

To reconfirm what I said: I think it's very clear that 12K LE's is quite minimal and any bigger size (especially at the same cost) would be very preferable. Snout: please ask the technical guys to investigate the consequences of choosing a bigger FPGA. Maybe it's not all that bad.

By Hydlide

Master (171)

Hydlide's picture

31-01-2008, 10:31

Bigger FPGA is nice and all, but there's hardly any development on the current 1chipMSX. So, current practice doesn't justify spending more money on a larger FPGA chip.
I'd rather see the current hardware 1chipMSX VHDL expanded to the MSX2+ standard at high speed and quite a bit of RAM.

By snout

Ascended (15187)

snout's picture

31-01-2008, 10:35

Manuel: Larger FPGA is high on our list of "would be very nice"-alterations to the OCM, so we will certainly investigate the possibilities.

By Hydlide

Master (171)

Hydlide's picture

31-01-2008, 10:58

I just talked with another MSX fan here and especially about this:
"As D4E focuses more and more on digital software distribution, it didn't seem probable for this company to become responsible for the Western 1chipMSX after all, so Bazix came to the conclusion that it would be better to focus on production of the Western 1chipMSX elsewhere."

We actually thought this could be an opportunity. Build the 1chipMSX with an interface to the D4E (or for europe Woomb?) portals to buy programs online! *that* would make the whole 1chipMSX apparatus incredibly interesting. Maybe even profitable for all parties.

By snout

Ascended (15187)

snout's picture

31-01-2008, 12:36

Hydlide - that plan has indeed been on the table for quite a while already - and it's not unlikely that it will be realized in EGG/WOOMB in the future. The fact that D4E will not produce the Western OCMs does not affect this.

By sinus

Expert (72)

sinus's picture

31-01-2008, 13:18

I see in this an opportunity to make this OCM a truly 2nd generation one. Bigger FPGA, that is. In this sense it would be a real improvement over the previous version, and may even be attractive to those who got the previous OCM & those who would like to make it compatible with non-MSX systems.

I think "westerners", among others, proved their development skills & motivations, now it's a matter of time, so bigger FPGA seems justified. Compatibility with MSX generations 3 (MSX2+) & 4 (TR) is in many people's minds: for some it may be hard to consider OCM a "generation 5(...) MSX hardware" till compatibility with previous generations is not reached. Well, let's avoid this recurrent MSX definition issue, messed with the FPGA definition it quickly becomes mind blowing. This long await would turn into a real advantage if updated technologies could be included into this OCM version, otherwise it would just be a waist.

Second thing, the link with Woomb software: Ok for running Woomb software under Windows, but something should definitely be done to make them run on OCM too! Even if not running on previous MSX generations for any reason. Bazix & Woomb activities would certainly benefit from this bridge. Otherwise, where would be the coherence in this interesting business? What is to be hoped? But I know, there may be partner companies involved and agreements sometimes go against logic.

Anyway, best wishes to all.

By Bastiaan

Champion (331)

Bastiaan's picture

31-01-2008, 17:25

just an idea of someone without PCB developing knowledge: keep the original PCB, but without the altera (but with a socket/connector), and than have a sub PCB with a bigger Altera chip?

-my 2 cents-

By msxrestarter

Master (222)

msxrestarter's picture

31-01-2008, 17:54

I would like the OCM to be able to run all the existing software, not just msx1&2. If this means it needs another FPGA to meet the msx2+ and turbo-r standards I definitely vote for a bigger FGPA Tongue

By mjgsantos

Expert (93)

mjgsantos's picture

31-01-2008, 20:31

What is this expansion board that appears on the ESE Factory site?
babelfish.altavista.com/babelfish/trurl_pagecontent?lp=ja_en&trurl=http%3a%2f%2fwww.hat.hi-ho.ne.jp%2ftujikawa%2fesepld%2fesemsx2%2fsshot23.jpg
Wasn't it supposed to be an expansion? Can this board solve the problem with the small number of gates?
link:http://www.hat.hi-ho.ne.jp/tujikawa/esepld/esemsx2/pict1.html

By dhau

Paragon (1535)

dhau's picture

31-01-2008, 20:32

I have a sad feeling that "western ocm" will never materialize.

By snout

Ascended (15187)

snout's picture

31-01-2008, 20:49

mjgsantos: The picture you linked to is an early prototype of the OCM, which consisted out of an I/O board and an extension board. At the time, the OCM was still based on Xilinx FPGA chips as opposed to Altera. AFAIK it is still possible to use an OCM as an extension to another OCM -- but that would be quite a costly way to get more LE's Wink

By mjgsantos

Expert (93)

mjgsantos's picture

31-01-2008, 20:54

Ah.. ok. But what are those pins that looks like an IDE connector in the middle of the board?

By Bart

Paragon (1423)

Bart's picture

31-01-2008, 21:45

Actually a newly produced 1chipMSX (or will you guys call it OneChipMSX? You can ofcourse as it'll be your own product) is even better then a new batch of RoHS compliant Japanese versions. The D4E version is already more or less 'outdated' and a new version can, as Manual is suggesting, be fitted with better a FPGA and other improvements. How about Bazix' starts a discussion with the community -before- anything is produced to see which wishes can be honored?

By wolf_

Ambassador_ (9712)

wolf_'s picture

31-01-2008, 21:56

1cM or OCM, it's all kinda mixed-up here, the JP box says 1chipMSX .. Tongue

By Yukio

Paragon (1541)

Yukio's picture

31-01-2008, 22:15

'I have a sad feeling that "western ocm" will never materialize.'

Of course it could be materialized! It would "only" requires someone with 100% to 120% Skill on materializations ... Or just someone with some spare Million Euros$$$!

Sure, mixing stuff ... Like a MSX 2 Plus would be very nice!
Two PLUS stuff!!!

If even the 'rumored' games for MSX2 and up are starting to materialize there should be some hope for the 'OCM' .

By dhau

Paragon (1535)

dhau's picture

31-01-2008, 22:30

PCB redesign will cost money, producing PCB and soldering chips will cost money, and the smaller is the order, the more is the cost per unit.

By Yukio

Paragon (1541)

Yukio's picture

31-01-2008, 22:50

5000 units.
5000 x 200 = 1 000 000

It would be difficulty if it required something like 50 000 units!
Imagine $10 000 000.

By jltursan

Prophet (2115)

jltursan's picture

31-01-2008, 22:55

Dhau has exposed crystal clear the problem here, I'm afraid a new design is highly improbable as this time the japanese market (and the biggest one) would be left apart and sadly the rest of the world can't be compared to the asian market in terms of MSX. There's no profit on create a "high-spec" european OCM or at least is a riskier operation than with the original OCM... Sad

By Yukio

Paragon (1541)

Yukio's picture

31-01-2008, 23:02

Because of it there is the "need" (urge) of Venture Capital ... It is normal to use 1-5 Million per fiscal year as Venture Capital for Joint Ventures! Like Japanese ASCII Corp in the old times ...

It wasn't uncommon to find enterprise's from time to time!
A single new game for a currently console would consume around 20 million per project. Compared to this even the release of 50.000 'console' units for small scale projects is not that expensive ...

By snout

Ascended (15187)

snout's picture

31-01-2008, 23:56

Like all projects, there will most certainly be a "go/no-go" moment in this project as well. Making things work out fine financially is definitely going to be a challenge. Based on the experience with the Japanese OCM and our estimations of how many Western OCMs can be sold it was concluded that it's certainly not impossible and all parties involved are determined to give it everything they've got to make it happen. By making an improved OCM, the device can also be marketed in Japan as a new, limited edition, increasing its potential and production volume - hence reducing cost per unit. You won't hear me say that it's going to be easy, though...

By Hydlide

Master (171)

Hydlide's picture

01-02-2008, 10:37

Isn't it possible to pitch the 1chipMSX to a more generic market? I could see quite some itnerests from schools and hobbyists learning to develop in VHDL. And having a ready sample in the MSX implementation, they have a nice starter point. Sell the barebone unit as generic VHDL/FPGA platform. Or sell it as a generic retro platform which also does MSX. I mean, there are quite a few Z80 based machines which could be implemented. And sell the casing seperatly, maybe.

just thinking aloud. Murdoch

By snout

Ascended (15187)

snout's picture

01-02-2008, 14:50

Thanks for thinking along, Hydlide! Actually, we have already put some efforts in getting the FPGA/VHDL/PLD-community to know about the OCM and received quite a bit of interest from there. If and when the Western OCM situation comes more concrete, we'll certainly try and bring it under their attention again.

By AuroraMSX

Paragon (1900)

AuroraMSX's picture

03-02-2008, 11:16

Ah.. ok. But what are those pins that looks like an IDE connector in the middle of the board?The small PCB is a so-called 'bond-out' board. All of the FPGAs pins are wired to those connectors, so you can easily access them for (hardware) debugging.

By Edwin

Paragon (1182)

Edwin's picture

03-02-2008, 11:40

I still believe it would be helpful if the machine could appeal to a wider audience. I think the best way to achieve that is still to break up the board into two separate pieces. One with the FPGA and the basic connectors you'd want for all machines. And an IO board that connects to one side with the specialised slots, necessary external chips and other stuff. It would require a complete redesign though, but the market potential is a lot bigger.

Another though is that it might be useful to integrate the USB blaster chip on the board. That way there is no hassle with buying a special cable and a standard USB cable can be used.

By cax

Prophet (3720)

cax's picture

03-02-2008, 14:02

Edwin, what you are talking about is called Development Board and OCM already was relatively easy ported to a number of such boards. All they miss now is cartridge slot, which is not a must for most of the people who either didn't keep their cartridges or didn't ever see a cartridge (like 99% of MSX users in USSR). So just buy yourself a 150$ devboard and voila.

By Edwin

Paragon (1182)

Edwin's picture

03-02-2008, 19:22

You're somewhat optimistic there. Unless you're a student, you'll pay a great deal more for a decent dev board that can handle the msx code. And even when you have one of those, it's still not up and running. Porting of the code from one board to another requires more knowledge than most are willing to learn. And you should not underestimate the need for a cartridge slot in a machine that has no disk drive. That's exactly why the 1chipMSX works so well. The only problem with it is the size of the target audience. And that can be fixed by splitting the board. And as a bonus you can have several machines with limited additional cost.

By cax

Prophet (3720)

cax's picture

04-02-2008, 10:43

Edwin, I was talking about specific 150$ board for which OCM already was ported, with SD drive on it, so it's not diskless.
So all you need is to buy the board and put the OCM code on it.

And if you can find somewhere or make cartridge port yourself, just connect it to this board, that's all.

By Nautilus

Expert (74)

Nautilus's picture

04-02-2008, 16:44

Preinstalled SymbOS?! Haha, just kidding.

By Yukio

Paragon (1541)

Yukio's picture

06-02-2008, 20:42

If you wanted to add support for a old computer system that has lots of potential and software. It would be possible to implement 286/386 support on the 1ChipMSX, imagine running FreeDOS applications direct from the SD/MMC cards ... Sure that a old (used) Personal Computer system is already cheaper than a brand new board!

Anyway, it would be cool to have a nice DEV board that could be direct plugged into the Television monitor and has support for memory card. It is even possible to run GNU/Linux on this thing! Imagine compiling console applications using structured computer languages.

Another feature that should be useful in the future is WiFi connection, since there is already some projects on various places around the world that uses this type of connection for Internet users.

By OeiOeiVogeltje

Paragon (1209)

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29-01-2012, 19:05

LOL

By snout

Ascended (15187)

snout's picture

29-01-2012, 20:47

Painful memories, this. :/

My MSX profile