A micro-controller for the retro enthusiast

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JudgeBeeb
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A micro-controller for the retro enthusiast

Post by JudgeBeeb » Sat Aug 25, 2018 10:21 am

Found this interesting crowd-funded project. It''s a micro-controller which can be programmed in 6502, Z80 or 68000 assembler.

I'm not entirely sure why I (or indeed anyone) would need such a thing. Also, it appears to be somewhat more risky than other projects I have backed. But rightly or wrongly, I have decided to give it a punt.

https://www.crowdsupply.com/chips4makers/retro-uc
There is so much wonder in the universe; why should you want to imagine that there is more?

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Elminster
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Re: A micro-controller for the retro enthusiast

Post by Elminster » Sat Aug 25, 2018 10:29 am

Interesting. Well spotted.

While it is 10 times the price of buying a new 6502 I have often wanted to use a particular micro controller but don’t get time to learn its programming languages. So a 6502 with a lot of I/o puns could be useful. Will have a more detailed look later.

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pau1ie
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Re: A micro-controller for the retro enthusiast

Post by pau1ie » Sat Sep 08, 2018 7:49 pm

Elminster wrote:
Sat Aug 25, 2018 10:29 am
a lot of I/o puns could be useful.
Trying to think if an I/O pun...

Sorry. Made me smile!
I'm working on http://bbcmicro.co.uk

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BigEd
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Re: A micro-controller for the retro enthusiast

Post by BigEd » Sun Sep 09, 2018 7:39 am

It's an interesting experiment in small-scale custom IC production - despite using free tools and free engineering effort, it aims to raise $20k for a production run. It might be that the retro-computing fanbase is large enough to support custom ICs: time will tell. It's very encouraging that the RC2014 effort is, apparently, popular enough to make a living on.

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Elminster
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Re: A micro-controller for the retro enthusiast

Post by Elminster » Mon Oct 01, 2018 5:41 pm

I am used to Kickstarter where it says at the top whether it is an ‘all or nothing project’, can’t see what this one is. But it has only taken $900 in last 4 weeks. Looks unlikely it will hit target unless a massive surge.

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JudgeBeeb
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Re: A micro-controller for the retro enthusiast

Post by JudgeBeeb » Mon Oct 01, 2018 5:55 pm

Elminster wrote:
Mon Oct 01, 2018 5:41 pm
I am used to Kickstarter where it says at the top whether it is an ‘all or nothing project’, can’t see what this one is.
Crowd Supply wrote:If the project does not reach its funding goal, you WILL NOT be charged.
(https://www.crowdsupply.com/guide/supporting-projects)
Elminster wrote:
Mon Oct 01, 2018 5:41 pm
But it has only taken $900 in last 4 weeks. Looks unlikely it will hit target unless a massive surge.
I agree, it is pretty much dead.
There is so much wonder in the universe; why should you want to imagine that there is more?

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sweh
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Re: A micro-controller for the retro enthusiast

Post by sweh » Mon Oct 01, 2018 6:51 pm

pau1ie wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 7:49 pm
Elminster wrote:
Sat Aug 25, 2018 10:29 am
a lot of I/o puns could be useful.
Trying to think if an I/O pun...

Sorry. Made me smile!
You plug your I/O in
Your I/O out
In Out
In Out
You blow the dirt right out
You clean the dirty contacts
And you turn it on
That's what it's all about!

Oh, the dirty contacts
Oh the dirty contacts
Oh the dirty contacts
Clean them, try them
Pray it works.
Rgds
Stephen

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Elminster
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Re: A micro-controller for the retro enthusiast

Post by Elminster » Mon Oct 01, 2018 7:18 pm

I suspect it would get better funding with more puns.

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dgrubb
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Re: A micro-controller for the retro enthusiast

Post by dgrubb » Tue Oct 02, 2018 4:03 pm

It's really cool, but I'm not sure I understand the practical advantage of making it a dedicated ASIC. Why not just use an FPGA/CPLD and load it with the core you desire to use?

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JudgeBeeb
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Re: A micro-controller for the retro enthusiast

Post by JudgeBeeb » Tue Oct 02, 2018 4:11 pm

dgrubb wrote:
Tue Oct 02, 2018 4:03 pm
It's really cool, but I'm not sure I understand the practical advantage of making it a dedicated ASIC. Why not just use an FPGA/CPLD and load it with the core you desire to use?
It's a 5V device; which makes it ideal for retro-enthusiasts (i.e. the very people it is targeting). If you used an FPGA you'd have to mess around with level-shifters.

Having said that, a small Lattice FPGA with level-shifters, a 3.3V voltage regulator and associated passives on a DIP sized break-out board would still be a fraction of the cost.
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BigEd
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Re: A micro-controller for the retro enthusiast

Post by BigEd » Tue Oct 02, 2018 9:17 pm

It's really a proof of concept, to see what can be done, and at what cost, and how much interest there is in buying devices on this basis. So, if it works out, and if it gets the support, the really interesting one will be the next one, or the one after that. But if it doesn't get the support, there mightn't be another one.

There are some people who'd really like new 5V parts, and there are some people who really prefer custom silicon to programmable logic, and there are some people who'd really like a novel retro chip. But how many, and how much would they pay? That's the question. It's never going to be as cheap as a chip made by the tens of thousands.

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Re: A micro-controller for the retro enthusiast

Post by cmorley » Tue Oct 02, 2018 9:44 pm

I'd like to see a small FPGA ~2000 LUTs combined with a small cortex M? ARM processor 48 or 72Mhz job and 5v tolerant I/O. That would be excellent down at the price of the Altera Intel MAX10s ~£3-5 a pop.

So basically a cross between a MAX10 and an STM32. No stupid soft cores!

That would be super useful for retro projects.
Last edited by cmorley on Tue Oct 02, 2018 9:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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