Sunday, August 04


Daily News Stuff 3 August 2019

One Law Part Two Edition

Tech News

Retrocomputing Journal

I'm picking up my developer board for the A750 project today.  My brother, who does this sort of nonsense for a living, added it to his latest parts order to save me on shipping which was nearly as much as the board.

Speaking of nearly as much as the board, the NuXT is a new XT - IBM PC XT, that is.

It has an NEC V20 CPU, which can run both 8088 and 8080 code (so you can boot regular CP/M) at up to 9.55MHz.  832K main memory, a 256K VGA or 512K SVGA card, optional 8087 coprocessor, serial and floppy controllers, and a Compact Flash slot to substitute for a hard drive.

It is hand-assembled and costs $340, but it does pop into any standard microATX case.

Genuine 8088s are still available today - as are Z80s, 6502s, and with a little searching, 6809s as well - but they're not cheap compared to their modern equivalents.  $10-$15 a piece, where in that same price range you can get something that not only runs at 100 times the clock speed, but has everything on that motherboard built in and also running 100 times faster.

Well, the developer kit was $40, but for just the chip it's $11.  And US$3.30 in volume.

I found another Amiga-on-a-chip too, the Microchip SAMA5 family.  It's cheap. starting at A$9.84 with external memory or A$14.86 with 16MB built in, and it has crazy 2D video capabilities, with overlays within overlays and all sorts of blending modes.  Two problems: No internal flash so it needs a boot ROM (like the RZ/A1 series), and worse, it's only available in BGA so it would be a real pain to prototype.

The developer kit is $150, which slots geometrically in between the little Nucleo board I already bought for the H750 ($40) and the spartan but nonetheless rather expensive kit for the RZ/A1 ($750). 

Compared to the Nucleo board, though, the SAMA5 board has 128 times as much flash and 256 times the RAM, so you can see where some of that money went.  The only problem is that it has too much memory.  I want to keep things simple, and 256MB of RAM is not conducive to simplicity.

Video of the Day

A simple old-school square-wave electronic keyboard, with a quick demo of how PWM changes the sound of the wave.  I'm planning to use wavetables on the A750, so you can have any basic wave shape you want, but then on top of that it will have programmable AM, FM, and PWM effects.  Output will be through the built-in 12-bit DAC, so it won't be CD quality, but it will do.

Disclaimer: One law for left and right alike, that forbids them equally from posting memes that don't suck.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 01:53 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
Post contains 892 words, total size 8 kb.

1 "But it also means AMD is driving these CPUs way beyond their sweet spot. More than doubling the power usage for just 15% more peek performance seems crazy."
I've read that TSMC's 7nm process is optimized for low-power chips.  I guess nobody's got a high-power process at low node size.

Posted by: Rick C at Sunday, August 04 2019 03:09 AM (Iwkd4)

2 That's also true of 14nm, even after Intel's spent years tweaking it.  The 9900k draws a ton of power at its full rated speed, but is pretty efficient of you clock it down just a little.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Sunday, August 04 2019 03:48 AM (PiXy!)

3 I'm waiting for them to make Unicode Turing-complete, so self-aware emoji can hack your Google Fridge and burn your house down. I think that's scheduled for the 14.0 release. Meanwhile, the Unicode Consortium wants you to know that they're serious people doing serious things.


Posted by: J Greely at Sunday, August 04 2019 11:25 AM (ZlYZd)

4 I wonder if that twitter-lock thing is looking for an exact image checksum.   That is, change a few pixels to slightly different colors, will it prevent you from being locked (until they update their algorithms)?

Could be entertaining if a ton of people posted very slightly different versions of the picture.
I would think if you used a library it would take VERY little time to write a program to do it for you.

Posted by: Rick C at Sunday, August 04 2019 02:01 PM (Iwkd4)

5 If you follow the links, several people tried lightly-modified images and still got banned. Coincidentally, Facebook just open-sourced the tool they use to detect disapproved images...


Posted by: J Greely at Sunday, August 04 2019 05:11 PM (ZlYZd)

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Apple pies are delicious. But never mind apple pies. What colour is a green orange?

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