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Embrance



Joined: 14 Mar 2004
Posts: 116
Location: Greece
Embrance
It was something I wanted to do for the last year, and I just did it.
I got Pico Edition v2 (http://www.xgamestation.com/view_product.php?id=34)
Post 03 Aug 2007, 22:32
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Maverick



Joined: 07 Aug 2006
Posts: 251
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Maverick
This is the real thing!
Post 04 Aug 2007, 05:45
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bogdanontanu



Joined: 07 Jan 2004
Posts: 403
Location: Sol. Earth. Europe. Romania. Bucuresti
bogdanontanu
To Maverick:

Yes but Very Happy

How do you handle the price of the software: 2,000 per each PC ?
Post 04 Aug 2007, 09:46
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Maverick



Joined: 07 Aug 2006
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Maverick
Altera Quartus II Web Edition is free and almost full featured! Smile

Can you see the abyss of hacking fun between a great FPGA and that stupid 8bit microcontroller wannabe-fun thingy? Wink

XGameStation is a nice idea implemented in the worst way just because Andre wanted easy money IMHO (he started saying he would have used an FPGA, but then chose the ea$y route).

I think every coder in this forum, since we're low level programmers, would fall in love when he'd met an FPGA and even forget assembly programming for a very long while Smile (until he finishes his first CPU hardware model and then has to code in asm for it, of course Wink ).

Back to Verilog development. Razz
Post 04 Aug 2007, 10:54
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Embrance



Joined: 14 Mar 2004
Posts: 116
Location: Greece
Embrance
Well the thing is,I wanna learn more stuff on how hardware works,and lol,I dont plan on giving lots of $k for this,so the XGS or their HYDRA is ok for me. Yes,I will tell you a secret BUT please do not post it to any othe forum and keep it secret! I will make the next PSP! I will calll it... EP!

Embrance Portable!!! lol
Post 04 Aug 2007, 11:17
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Maverick



Joined: 07 Aug 2006
Posts: 251
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Maverick
If you want to make the next PSP, you need an FPGA!

The XGS, with its PIC on steroid 8bit microcontroller, a very very poor computing platform, will not be the next PSP simply because it's already the XGS.

Believe me, if you want to *create* something, you need an FPGA! It's like a custom chip you design by yourself!

And at $150 price, the board I mentioned is a steal. I also own a $999 board which in my opinion is not worth the $150 one, for XGS-like purposes that is (it's a PCI board, so it's very worth for other stuff though).
Post 04 Aug 2007, 13:25
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DustWolf



Joined: 26 Jan 2006
Posts: 373
Location: Ljubljana, Slovenia
DustWolf
Maverick wrote:
Believe me, if you want to *create* something, you need an FPGA! It's like a custom chip you design by yourself!


How good are those lately anyway? Last I recall, the FPGAs were very expensive (and if you wanted to buy one you had to get 50), took 2 hours to burn a new configuration and only supported a limited number of burns.

If that's still that you might as well stick to protoboard.
Post 04 Aug 2007, 14:27
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Maverick



Joined: 07 Aug 2006
Posts: 251
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Maverick
The board I mentioned mounts a Cyclone II, now there's also the III but no such cheap board with VGA connector, etc.. at least yet, hence I "promoted" that other, older, board. I also have this Cyclone III board, but although it has more RAM, etc.. it's not got multimedia I/Os, so it's pretty uninteresting for who wants to experiment or get fun.

Anyway, FPGA's have evolved with incredible speed, it's a completely different world from the one you described. They support infinite burns (RAM based interconnessions) and programming can be done in the sub-second range (configuration is lost when power is turned off, so you need a serial EEPROM or a microcontroller, maybe reading from a MMC/SD card! Of course you can program them also with your PC, via JTAG port, for development, test, etc..). There are also Flash-memory-based FPGA's by Atmel, but they're less performant and less dense and more expensive anyway.

Check here, you can buy even just ONE chip from Altera, if you know how to solder it and place the few glue components required (mostly decoupling capacitors, some power rails, and of course you'll need also some very simple JTAG interface to ease development/test sessions).
I have already bought from them, and I can witness the service is excellent (goes through DigiKey, btw).

I'm awaiting for the EP3C40Q240 chips to be available, because although I have a reflow oven, etc.. I still don't feel very comfortable with BGA's. The EP3C40 is the biggest Cyclone III available in PQFP package, with 240 pins (most of which are usable).

Protoboard.. I plan to make one such board and sell it through my company site and eBay in some months, if you're interested I will notify you then. I'm thinking along the lines of a "all I/Os, no perhiperals" main board, and then many modular other boards that connect providing audio, video, USB, Ethernet, etc.. to quickly prototypize a design.

The EP3C25 is around $40 for a 1 quantity (much cheaper for large quantities), but with such a chip you can already do A LOT of serious stuff, like (just estimating here) embedding two or three full Amiga1200s if the design is optimized. Of course, the real power and the real fun comes with original designs. You can make a 64bit RISC CPU for sure, with clock speeds in the low hundreds MHz, connect straight with DDR3 SDRAM and the PCI bus, etc..
The much more expensive EP3C120 you see is a big big chip and price on FPGA's increases exponentially with number of available cells. Not worth unless you absolutely need it. Five EP3C25 cost half of one EP3C120 and most of the times you can do the same (if not more, due to the higher pin count, where applicable of course) things.

It's not an ASIC but it's the thing that comes closest to it, and it's not too distant, like in the past, either, performance and number-of-gates and final -product price wise (of course ASIC development is ultraexpensive).

Also - the development tools you'll get used to - are more or less the same used to do ASIC development, so it's an excellent way to practice the art before you get the luck to make a real custom chip.

A final advice: as "programming language" (HDL - Hardware Description Language) you'll have to choose VHDL or Verilog, ponder your choice well, and invest in your knowledge and experience. I've chosen Verilog hands off, but to each one its own.

This site is a good beginners' resource:

http://www.fpga4fun.com

Have fun!
Post 04 Aug 2007, 15:15
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Embrance



Joined: 14 Mar 2004
Posts: 116
Location: Greece
Embrance
The thing is,I want to learn,but I dont know a single sh*t about these kind of stuff so XGS seemed a good choice.And to show how much of a noob I am,I dont even know what FPGA is.
Post 04 Aug 2007, 18:14
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Maverick



Joined: 07 Aug 2006
Posts: 251
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Maverick
Don't you know that Wikipedia is your friend?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FPGA

It's always good to start from there when you want to explore a new world.

_________________
Greets,
Fabio
Post 05 Aug 2007, 08:45
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DustWolf



Joined: 26 Jan 2006
Posts: 373
Location: Ljubljana, Slovenia
DustWolf
Maverick, that sounds pretty awesome. 40$ is well within what I'd fiddle with.

Have you any links to the software that typically works with these things?

Also, more on the hypothetical and debatable side... what do you think would be the best (read: easiest) communications protocol to use with a FPGA-based thingie to make a FPGA chip or two suitable as a data processing acceleration board on a modern PC?

*sigh* I miss ISA.
Post 05 Aug 2007, 13:50
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Embrance



Joined: 14 Mar 2004
Posts: 116
Location: Greece
Embrance
I was wandering:
Is it possible to get a development board, and to it all that someone would want? Like making your own motherboard(sort of).
Like getting a board with nothing on it,adding 2 usb port,a ps/2 one and other stuff,then make a simple gfx card(on-board)to handle simple 2d stuff and thats it.

Also I was wandering hwo come the PSP(or other portable devices)are like 200usd a piece,while the development boards cost so much each.
Post 05 Aug 2007, 20:31
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Maverick



Joined: 07 Aug 2006
Posts: 251
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Maverick
DustWolf wrote:
Maverick, that sounds pretty awesome. 40$ is well within what I'd fiddle with.

You've to make a PCB board for the chip, solder it, etc..

Quote:
Have you any links to the software that typically works with these things?

Software? Sorry I don't think I understand the question. Here we are talking about FPGA, not CPU. What do you mean with software? If you mean development tools, then there's Altera Quartus II Web Edition (free) that you can download directly from the Altera site.

Quote:
Also, more on the hypothetical and debatable side... what do you think would be the best (read: easiest) communications protocol to use with a FPGA-based thingie to make a FPGA chip or two suitable as a data processing acceleration board on a modern PC?

*sigh* I miss ISA.

The PCI bus of course. Those FPGA's are very capable also of PCI Express.

Regards,
Fabio

_________________
Greets,
Fabio


Last edited by Maverick on 06 Aug 2007, 06:23; edited 1 time in total
Post 06 Aug 2007, 06:19
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Maverick



Joined: 07 Aug 2006
Posts: 251
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Maverick
Embrance wrote:
I was wandering:
Is it possible to get a development board, and to it all that someone would want? Like making your own motherboard(sort of).
Like getting a board with nothing on it,adding 2 usb port,a ps/2 one and other stuff,then make a simple gfx card(on-board)to handle simple 2d stuff and thats it.

That's my idea, as I wrote some posts ago. Razz Working on it.

Quote:
Also I was wandering hwo come the PSP(or other portable devices)are like 200usd a piece,while the development boards cost so much each.

Economy of scale?

Let away that with consoles it's quite common that the manufacturer makes the price even lower than costs (or so they want us to believe Wink ) to sell as many as possible.. the trick is that they later earn a royalty on each game sold.

_________________
Greets,
Fabio
Post 06 Aug 2007, 06:22
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TmX



Joined: 02 Mar 2006
Posts: 821
Location: Jakarta, Indonesia
TmX
Maverick wrote:

Can you see the abyss of hacking fun between a great FPGA and that stupid 8bit microcontroller wannabe-fun thingy? Wink


Now what's that ? AVR ? Laughing
Post 06 Aug 2007, 06:34
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Maverick



Joined: 07 Aug 2006
Posts: 251
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Maverick
The SX is a fast PIC16F clone, but still a 8bit toy. The FPGA is simply another universe, and many many universes separe the two. Smile
Post 06 Aug 2007, 09:37
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f0dder



Joined: 19 Feb 2004
Posts: 3170
Location: Denmark
f0dder
Maverick wrote:

but with such a chip you can already do A LOT of serious stuff, like (just estimating here) embedding two or three full Amiga1200s if the design is optimized.

http://home.hetnet.nl/~weeren001/ Very Happy
Post 06 Aug 2007, 10:15
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Maverick



Joined: 07 Aug 2006
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Maverick
Yeah, the MiniMig. Smile Even better, this one, and there's also another project I heard of, NatAmi.

Although who knows me knows I'm an Amiga die hard, I think there's no point in FPGA Amiga hardware emulation as long as there's still the real machine available.

Rather, someway following and continuing the original Amiga philosophy, new machines can be designed (as I see it, the missing evolutions of the Amiga line, like the AAA chipset and the Hombre project that never went into production, and beyond, i.e. totally original machines), and that's what I'm focusing on. Takes less effort and gives higher results, which is a nice bonus to the value of the project.
Post 06 Aug 2007, 10:44
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TmX



Joined: 02 Mar 2006
Posts: 821
Location: Jakarta, Indonesia
TmX
Maveric :
Do you know good (and also reasonable in price Very Happy) VHDL simulators ?
E.g : Active-HDL, Modelsim ?

Currently using VHDL Simili 3 Pro.
So many tools. So many FPGA vendor. Don't know which one to use ...
Post 12 Aug 2007, 09:47
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Maverick



Joined: 07 Aug 2006
Posts: 251
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Maverick
Sorry TmX, don't know, I'm all for Verilog.
Post 12 Aug 2007, 16:06
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