One Chip MSX1 on sale soon?

by snout on 16-04-2005, 15:08
Topic: MSX Revival
Languages:

ag0ny has just submitted a very interesting post to his weblog, stating the One Chip MSX1 might go on sale any time now. As an exta bonus, several images of the One Chip MSX1 with an ObsoNET cartridge connected to it in action can be found right here. Quoting a 9 page article from ASCII's upcoming MSX Magazine 3, ag0ny revealed the following specs of the One Chip MSX1:

  • The heart of the One Chip MSX1 is an Altera Cyclone EP1C12 FPGA chip containing 12060 logic elements.
  • There's a configuration ROM from which the FPGA code is loaded when switched on
  • 32 MB SDRAM
  • 2 MSX cartridge slots, 2 MSX joystick connectors, 1 SD Memory card slot, 2 USB connectors, 1 PS/2 keyboard connector
  • A/V connectors: S-VHS, composite video (RCA), audio (2 x RCA), VGA

These specifications are very much in line with the specifications we revealed in October 2004.

The FPGA chip comes loaded with an MSX1 configuration: Z80A emulation, 32Kb ROM (ROM images can be loaded from the SD Memory slot), 64Kb RAM, 16Kb VRAM, TMS9918A emulation (VDP), AY-3-8910 (PSG), SCC and YM2413 (FM-PAC) emulations. It looks like the SD Memory card can be used as a disk drive. An upgrade to full MSX2 compatibility is to be expected in the near future, while One Chip MSX1 owners can make their own alterations to the FPGA code using the free FPGA programming software Quartus II Web Edition, provided that a special cable to program the FPGA chip is available.

Ag0ny assumes the sale of the One Chip MSX1 might start as soon as today, offering only the One Chip MSX1 board without any casing. Interestingly, various other sources recently reported the One Chip MSX1 would not be finished on the MSX fair in Akihabara, Tokyo on May 8th. Although we can't confirm it right now, these sources give us reason to believe the One Chip MSX1 will go on sale on a somewhat later date. As soon as we find out more information on the launch of the One Chip MSX1 we'll get back to you for sure!

Relevant link: Ag0ny's weblog

Comments (48)

By anonymous

incognito ergo sum (109)

anonymous's picture

16-04-2005, 15:16

Ag0ny assumes the sale of the One Chip MSX1 might start as soon as today, offering only the One Chip MSX1 board without any casing. Interestingly, various other sources recently reported the One Chip MSX1 would not be finished on the MSX fair in Akihabara, Tokyo on May 8th. Although we can't confirm it right now, these sources give us reason to believe the One Chip MSX1 will go on sale on a somewhat later date.

You're completely right. I've been talking on the phone with the MSX Association just now, and they have confirmed that:

1) It is NOT being sold today
2) The release date has not been decided yet

It was my fault, for believing what a not-so-credible source told me. Wink

By snout

Ascended (15188)

snout's picture

16-04-2005, 15:18

Not a problem at all, Ag0ny.. your post contains a lot of valuable information nonetheless. Besides, this reaction saves me a mail/call to MSXA ^_^. Thanks for clearing things up this soon.

By [D-Tail]

Ascended (8231)

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16-04-2005, 15:56

WOEI! Can't wait till its release date Smile

By Grauw

Enlighted (7248)

Grauw's picture

16-04-2005, 16:11

On a sidenote, wouldn’t it have been nicer to instead of basically integrally quoting Agony’s web log, to instead give a short summary and link to it and telling people to look there for more information?

By snout

Ascended (15188)

snout's picture

16-04-2005, 16:24

Err, no, that doesn't fit in our big masterplan!

By Bart

Paragon (1423)

Bart's picture

16-04-2005, 16:46

I like the KnightRider leds!!!! (check the MP4 movie)

By Grauw

Enlighted (7248)

Grauw's picture

16-04-2005, 17:54

I hope that was supposed to be funny.

By snout

Ascended (15188)

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16-04-2005, 17:55

me too.

By Grauw

Enlighted (7248)

Grauw's picture

16-04-2005, 18:08

Whatever. You never listen to whatever suggestion I make, lately.

By snout

Ascended (15188)

snout's picture

16-04-2005, 18:22

Aww come on, you know that's not true. The point is that I'm deeply disappointed in the negativism of some members of the MSX community these days, and how others let their opinions get affected by that. I think it's absurd that one of the first things you apparantly think after reading this post is 'hey, snout quotes a lot of text from ag0ny's website, what would be behind all that?'. I think it's sad, even. As if I never quoted texts on the MRC before.

I don't think about every letter I write on the MRC. I don't want to have to think about that either. But explaining time and time again that the MRC is a hobby website doesn't seem to help at all, so I didn't even bother this time. If you want to search some secret, hidden message behind everything I write on the MRC, then there's apparently very litte I can do about it. I can't help but wonder though, did you read the MCCM with the same conspiracy-mindset as you are apparently reading the MRC?

If you really want to know: One of the reasons I posted/quoted this much on the One Chip MSX1 is because this post gets translated to Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese (and in the future Russian and who knows what other languages), making the information available to all our visitors who will not always be capable of understanding the original English source. As ag0ny's website clearly states 'Permission granted to use any of the contents of this site (programs, source code, pictures, information, etc) for any purpose' and his text was quite compact and good already, I took the liberty of not editing a lot. If anyone should make a problem out of that, it should be ag0ny, not you, imho.

By Sander

Ambassador (1827)

Sander's picture

16-04-2005, 18:23

I think everybody understand that the MRC will publish most details of something as important the one chip MSX. We have been publishing about it from the beginning. Besides, we give Ag0ny all the credit he deserves. He knows that and he's not nagging about it. "Whouldn't it be nicer if" is a phrase that might be applied to some other things too....

I whould appreciate it if you send your remarks and suggestions, instead of constantly criticizing this place. Remarks are helpful and they will help the MRC to make it even better. But I get the feeling that some people just only post remarks for the remarks. The forum is in my personal opinion the place were we can discuss about the MRC. But not in every post on the frontpage. Am I the only one who sees it this way?

By Grauw

Enlighted (7248)

Grauw's picture

16-04-2005, 18:56

Please, then just approach remarks I make seriously instead of suggesting that I am thinking of conspiracy theories and spreading FUD (a word you have kindly adopted lately). Such answers are highly annoying, and an insulting of my intelligence.

Example of this:
If you want to search some secret, hidden message behind everything I write on the MRC, then there's apparently very litte I can do about it. I can't help but wonder though, did you read the MCCM with the same conspiracy-mindset as you are apparently reading the MRC?

This makes me want to scream: GET A FUCKING CLUE, READ WHAT I WRITE, NOT WHAT YOU THINK I WROTE.

I have ag0ny’s homepage in my RSS feed, and I read the news there before I read it here. When I came here, I noticed that it pretty much said everything ag0ny’s page said as well. I would prefer it to be different, that is, merely a summary striking the most important and interesting points and referencing to the original post for the full details.

This is how a games blog I read works (joystiq.com), and it works really well. Not only gives it the author more credit (after all, it is ag0ny who published the information, on his page) and the visitor more incentive to visit the page of the author, it also gives the important information in relatively compact bits to the reader, and he (or she) can then decide to read the full details on a per-post basis.

Now if you see that as terribly negative critisism damaging the reputation of the MRC into eternity, that is your fucking problem.

Instead of causing me to be annoyed by your fucking stupid responses every time lately, over and again, I would rather have you take what I say seriously, and not personally. Not having to write page-long responses to justify my perfectly valid remarks which you may or may not agree with but for some reason are always taken wrongly by you guys will be a relief too.

Bah. You really have a tendency to piss me off lately. Believe me, THERE IS NO CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE MRC. Or at least I am not part of it, so don’t presume I am.

~Grauw

By snout

Ascended (15188)

snout's picture

16-04-2005, 19:09

...and I didn't even use FUD in this discussion as of yet! Tongue

Grauw, I hope you can understand that in the light of several things that have happened on (and around) the MRC in the past few months that I (and other MRC admins) can be a bit edgy every now and then. I was indeed reading something in your post which wasn't there, making the same mistake I'm accusing others of. My apologies. The part after the 'If you really want to know...' still stands, however, as the reason why I posted the lot as a newspost on the MRC.

By Grauw

Enlighted (7248)

Grauw's picture

16-04-2005, 19:34

Sure, I believe that instantly. But the phrase "If anyone should make a problem out of that, it should be ag0ny, not you, imho" is off, because it was not about supposedly uninvitedly taking content from ag0ny’s site, but against the form of newsposts when quoting from a source. I hope that amongst all, my point still got through.

We were friends in the past, and I hope we still are. I for one don’t see why we shouldn’t. So let’s not spoil that with misunderstandings or being on edge.

~Grauw

By snout

Ascended (15188)

snout's picture

16-04-2005, 19:37

Cheers, Grauw. Your point did come through. Most of the times I try to make things as compact as possible, or to add some extra information to it (combining several sources if available). I hope you can live with an exception every now and then ^_^.

As for the friendship: no worries on that one, I owe you a beer now, though Wink

By Grauw

Enlighted (7248)

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16-04-2005, 19:38

Ok Smile.

By wolf_

Ambassador_ (9673)

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16-04-2005, 19:46

That beer is probably a part of the devcon-aftertalk/drink in the cafe, like last-time.., rite snout? Smile

By snout

Ascended (15188)

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16-04-2005, 19:48

Are you pushing me into giving another spontaneous round of drinks already? Tongue

By snout

Ascended (15188)

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16-04-2005, 19:48

but, after this shake and make-up, perhaps it's best to stick to the OneChipMSX1 topic from here on Wink

By wolf_

Ambassador_ (9673)

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16-04-2005, 19:58

ok,

Well, I dunno what to think about it yet, as long as that 1cm isn't more advanced than my current MSX, I don't see much use in getting one for myself.
Perhaps in the future -when the 1cm is a succes- there'll be more powerful FPGA's to be included in the next gen msx'es .. but then we're having various 'standards' again.. the 1cm and the 1cm+ orso. Does this mean the 1cm becomes what the msx1 became at the release of the msx2?
So, in short: history repeats itself: the first model isn't that powerful and the possible next models (1cm+) will be in charge, leaving 1cm owners with a system that's not majorly supported anymore.
At the moment a tR is still the best MSX you can get (2nd hand).. and I don't see a consumer-prize FPGA to take that torch over for a while..

all IMHO, worth 2ct. ofcourse ^_^

By snout

Ascended (15188)

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16-04-2005, 20:03

I personally feel like the One Chip MSX1 is a proof-of-concept machine, and a 'gift' to the existing MSX community. It certainly isn't the end of the line yet Wink

By wolf_

Ambassador_ (9673)

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16-04-2005, 20:07

That's what I thought ^_^ ... so if it isn't the end-of-line.. then that means more powerful FPGA's will show up?

That does result in different 1cm models and thus in different platforms/users/developers.. or can the current 1cm then be 'updated' somehow? (like: pop-out current FPGA, plug-in new FPGA)

By snout

Ascended (15188)

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16-04-2005, 20:10

Well, the FPGA design is flexible, but has its limitations. I don't know how far the first 1chipMSX can be stretched when it comes to performance and features, though. If a new 1chipMSX model will appear, I expect it to be backwards compatible though, (also when it comes to FPGA code), in true MSX spirit and tradition.

By wolf_

Ambassador_ (9673)

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16-04-2005, 20:15

Ofcourse it would be backwards compatible, I wouldn't have thought otherwise. The issue here is that eventually one would prefer a *way* improved performance in order to really speak of a 'new' MSX .., sofar the 1cm doesn't seem to deliver that performance.. It could deliver in the future, with a better FPGA.
My question is: can you upgrade the first-generation of 1cm's with a better FPGA (DIY, or by hiring some technician), or do we eventually end-up with different 1cm models? ( -> different userbase/developers etc. )

By Grauw

Enlighted (7248)

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16-04-2005, 20:33

I would very much like to have new hardware. Especially as small as that, and with the cool ability to make my own modifications and tweaks. So for me, it is a must-buy ^_^.

~Grauw

By anonymous

incognito ergo sum (109)

anonymous's picture

16-04-2005, 22:01

wolf_:

I don't think the word "standards" applies to this concept anymore. The 1-chip-MSX will be launched as a new generation of MSX computers, while in fact it's much more than that. I think it's going to be a new generation of consumer-oriented hardware. If successful, it might change the way developers work with computers.

On this board the line between hardware and software is blurred because the user can update the contents of the FPGA. The result is that the 1-chip-MSX doesn't belong to any MSX generation as we know them. We won't be classifying these computers based on what hardware they have, but on what hardware could be implemented on them. It's like the RAM memory in your computer: what is loaded on it right now? A game? A development environment? A business application? Is the RAM in your computer any of those? It IS neither, but it can CONTAIN any of them in order to allow your computer to perform any of these tasks: play a game, develop an application, write a spreadsheet.

The 1-chip-MSX works in the same way, but at the hardware level. You don't have a CPU, VDP or PSG anymore. Instead, you have a single FPGA chip that "contains" these chips, in the same way that RAM memory contains programs. What hardware is implemented on the FPGA depends on what code you load on it. Initially this board will ship as an MSX1, but it can be anything that fits in those 12060 logic elements: a Commodore 64, a NES, the Bionic Commando arcade, an MSX2 with a SID sound chip instead of a PSG, etc... This, of course, as long as someone cares to learn VHDL and implement those. And there are already many people doing that: http://www.opencores.org

I said before that this might change the way developers work. At this point it should be clear why. Until now, they were writing software FOR the hardware, but now, since we can change what's in the FPGA, developers can "write hardware" for the software. Let me explain that:

Imagine that you're coding a game for this platform. It's a 3D game, so it requires some heavy calculations that a Z80 won't be able to handle. As long as there are enough free logic elements in the FPGA, you could design a circuit to do these calculations in hardware. You would write that circuit in VHDL and integrate it with the MSX VHDL code. Then, when your game is finished, you would distribute the code for YOUR MODIFIED MSX and the game code.

Or, let's say that your application would benefit from running on a dual-Z80 MSX: since a Z80 can be implemented in as little as 3000-4000 logic elements (see "Implementations results" at http://www.cast-inc.com/cores/cz80cpu/index.shtml), you might very well make a bit of space by removing the SCC code, add some logic to control the second CPU, and then bundle that "hardware code" with your "software code".

So, going back to "standards", MY OPINION is that as soon as we start writing our own hardware (just as we write our own software today), the concept of writing software for a given hardware configuration will look as outdated as the pre-electronic era computers that were built to do a single task.

But, of course, for this to happen, FPGAs have to evolve a lot. Modern CPUs contain millions of transistors, while the biggest (and most expensive) FPGAs can hold up to 200.000 logic elements at frequencies up to a few hundred Mhz. FPGAs won't be replacing your Pentium 4 anytime soon.

I agree with what snout said about the 1-chip-MSX being a proof-of-concept machine. If it is successful, more powerful models will follow. But I won't see them as just MSX computers, that would mean putting artificial limits on what these things can do.

Like "static hardware" VS "dynamic hardware".

Shit, this is the longest comment I've ever written. I really should give up coffee.

By wolf_

Ambassador_ (9673)

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16-04-2005, 22:33

yes.. well.., I know ^_^ .. I already knew the idea of writing hardware, but it didn't exactly answer my question. (thanks for the trouble to write that txt tho Smile )

My question was not 'what is FPGA?', but it was: what happens when faster FPGA's show-up? Can we replace them ourself? Can they be replaced at all? No matter how free a developer is with FPGA, you're still facing a performance-limit. And that performance will be enough to emulate an msx1 and some extra goodies now .. but eventually ppl want to have more power, and no matter how you re-write the current FPGA, once you've reached the limits, you're done for. Eventually you want a faster FPGA to reach performance levels that are beyond those of a turbo R with a 'software version' of a moonsound and g9k.

FPGA's which will happily perform like such a machine are likely to show-up in the next few years .. and: "what happens then?" is my question.
Can we plug a new FPGA chip on the first-gen 1cm? Or must we buy a complete new '1cm'-system them? (new motherboard, fpga cpu, case, connections, everything.. just a new machine..)
In the latter case: how can we expect all ppl to 'upgrade' ? result: different platforms.. it's not about the term 'platform' now, but when there are ppl with a 'slow' FPGA and ppl with a 'fast' FPGA, then there are simple 2 platforms. And the old platform can't run the new stuff.. simply not enough performance from the old FPGA.

So.. really, my question is very simple: can we eventually upgrade to a new FPGA?

By anonymous

incognito ergo sum (109)

anonymous's picture

16-04-2005, 22:57

The Altera chip is soldered to the board, so no, you cannot replace it.

But would you want to? This board will be sold for around 10.000 yen. It will be at least one or two years until a better one is released (if ever), so why would you waste your time and money upgrading an old board when you can buy a new one for less money?

And yes, there are faster and bigger FPGAs right now. I guess you could solder one of those on the 1-chip-MSX board, but then you would be developing for a system that only you would be using.

By snout

Ascended (15188)

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16-04-2005, 23:01

It's a question that can't be answered at the moment. Nobody can look into the future, you know... Wink

Still, even when only the FPGA chip has to be replaced in order to upgrade, probably not everybody will upgrade. As with conventional systems (MSX1, MSX2, 2+, turboR), there comes a point where a (complete/partial) hardware upgrade is inevitable. FPGA is, however, a -lot- more flexible than the conventional predecessors.

Assuming the FPGA chip is (currently?) the most expensive part of the ~€100,- system by far, one can even question if and how much financial gain there is in keeping the door open for replacing the FPGA chip. (Especially if making that possible means increasing the price of the complete system, whilst limiting the options you have for future system).

By wolf_

Ambassador_ (9673)

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16-04-2005, 23:10

10000 yen... 72 euro...

Well, I doubt the current 1cm performance would be something I'd pay that for. That's my main arguement. If a follow-up 1cm would run circles around a tR with many extra goodies then I'd consider it really interesting. For now I see the 1cm mainly as a boosted msx1 ... :\

Ahwell, let's first wait a bit more.. who knows.. Smile

By Samor

Paragon (1984)

Samor's picture

16-04-2005, 23:40

why is there an SCC built-in? Doesn't sound logical to me;
the SCC was never part of the hardware specs; if you want to use one, you plug it in (which, I hope, would work); it's a 1-chip msx, not a zemmix Wink
Aside from that, SCC, isn't that Konami's thing? But apparantly they're including and selling it as an MSX hardware feature... I find that odd.

By wolf_

Ambassador_ (9673)

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16-04-2005, 23:47

But then again .. the SCC is nothing more or less than some waveplayer... not something Konami invented. Smile
Anyone could code a waveplayer and include some dirtyness regarding bitdepths etc. If you make sure it listens to Konami games that try to access their own SCC, then you've got yourself an SCC-clone.

By Samor

Paragon (1984)

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17-04-2005, 10:57

hm. but still, I hope it's possible to use real SCC's....

By snout

Ascended (15188)

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17-04-2005, 13:01

Of course it is, as the One Chip MSX1 has 2 fully MSX compatible cartridge slots Wink.

By iamweasel2

Champion (473)

iamweasel2's picture

17-04-2005, 15:24

Well, I expect they release it as a MSX2 at least.
And they could add nice things that would enhance the MSX without going into much trouble:

1) option to turn in/turn off (via software) the speed limit of the vdp, making it work as fast as the FPGA can allow. Of course, the default would be the normal behaviour of vdp.
2) add a IDE to it, they could make an agreement with Sunrise in order to use their BIOS if they don't want to write their own. Or an disk drive interface, but I prefer the IDE. :-)
3) a fast z80, please. :-)

I think things like this aren't that hard to add (I'm not talking about v9938, of course) and would give a great value to OCM.

By snout

Ascended (15188)

snout's picture

17-04-2005, 15:59

indeed, those would be great features. As MSXA/ASCII already hinted they will release MSX2 compatible FPGA code in the future, I don't worry too much about that. Question is how far the first 1chipMSX can be stretched beyond that. On the other hand, speeding up the Z80, VDP and implementing an ADVRAM trick should not take too much hassle, I suppose Wink

By pitpan

Prophet (3131)

pitpan's picture

17-04-2005, 18:27

You are missing the only important question: has it got a cassette port? ;-)

By Samor

Paragon (1984)

Samor's picture

17-04-2005, 19:05

still though, I have doubts about the SCC emulation; the amount of stuff that can be programmed in is limited, right? well, then, why emulate a chip that is mostly used in the cartridges itself? It seems like a waste of valuable space to me. As, no offence, but about the only *legal* program (yes, there are a few more, I know) that profits from this is Fony's Demo Disk 1 or something Wink
Aside from that, the SCC is AFAIK not a part of the MSX standard even. It's just odd to include it. But oh well...

By mars2000you

Enlighted (5304)

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17-04-2005, 19:10

Just a guess ... Until now, Konami is now officially involved in this project ... that's maybe an indication that they have taken an interesting secret decision and that SCC emulation was especially required to satisfy Konami and get it involved in the project .... Of course, Konami won't react ! Tongue

By mars2000you

Enlighted (5304)

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17-04-2005, 19:11

Correction :

Until now, Konami is NOT officially involved in this project

By mars2000you

Enlighted (5304)

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17-04-2005, 19:13

And maybe in a second step the come-back of the secret features of the VDP 9948 (not only the screen 9, but the secret CD-ROM support Tongue)

By mars2000you

Enlighted (5304)

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17-04-2005, 19:18

>You are missing the only important question: has it got a cassette port? ;-)

As it is not a One Chip Turbo-R, it should have a cassette port Tongue

By wolf_

Ambassador_ (9673)

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17-04-2005, 20:07

pff.. uh .. are casette-players still being made anno 2005? Smile

By Manuel

Ascended (14374)

Manuel's picture

17-04-2005, 22:15

Don't forget that LOADS of MGS musics also use the SCC! Smile Quite legally.

By KNM

Master (168)

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18-04-2005, 09:32

This thing will be AMAZING !!! And,according to pitpan,a cassette port could make the 1CM the - almost - Perfect Machine! Tongue

By msd

Paragon (1341)

msd's picture

18-04-2005, 10:21

cas port? why the all the fuss about it. Why would you use it?

By TobiFlex

Supporter (8)

TobiFlex's picture

18-04-2005, 23:03

Hi,
where I can get a developer board. I would like transfer my Amstrad CPC6128-Core form the C-One into the 1-chip-MSX Board.
http://c64upgra.de/c-one/
The Turbo and CloneCPC Core are ready. But it looks like the C-One is dead.
I have nomore fun with the C-One. I hope the 1 Chip MSX will bee my next love.
TobiFlex

By spacemoai1973

Expert (96)

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16-04-2016, 14:49

Nice Cool

My MSX profile