The MSXVR (MSX Virtualizer), coming from Spain, is currently in production after a pre-order campaign.
Its specs are absolutely estonishing. No FPGA choosen but virtualization on a raspberry pi 3B+ and a custom board.
After some FPGA prototypes, they came to the conclusion that it is more flexible and offer more performance improvements than an FPGA.
Look at power integration with the Raspberry, power/reset/pause buttons, real time clocks, audio system, 1920x1080x32bits graphics.
BlueMSX emulator, openMSX code.
The VR-DOS interacts with the machine (scripts, run apps) and is fully customizable through themes.
Programmation ASM native, Code-Editor, object oriented VR-Script, ...
This machine is genious.
Cherry MX keys, color personalization, exactly what could make a new Atom / BBC platform (and RiscOS).
C64. ZX Spectrum and CPC seems to already run on it.
VR-DOS introduction (see the flexibility)
VR-BASIC Introduction (see the program editor !!!)
Project story (translated)
Price: $400 (plastic molding is very very expensive).
From the team:
Probably all of these will be customizable:
- Approximately 400 units preordered
- The amount of units paid is inferior to the minimum needed to start production but Alberto de Hoyo has 100% confirmed that the project will go on and the computer will be produced
- A second batch is not guaranteed. Alberto has confirmed that they will produce a bit more units than those paid (there will be some stock left but not much)
- Preorder and first payment period will be extended one month (throughout October)
- Most chosen colour of the case: red, black and blue (in this order)
- Most chosen colour keyboard layout: 80% grey/black, 20% rest (black, white)
- "Anti-ghosting" keyboard
- Raspberry 4 is completely discarded (lots of issues) and will be not used for the MSXVR
- Preorders coming from everywhere (mostly from Spain, The Netherlands and Japan)
- Type of Cherry MX keyboard switches: blue or brown
- Design of cursors keys: PC or MSX alike (Sony HitBit)
- Colour of the cursors (they can be different from the colour of the case)
- Colour of the cartridge slot covers (they can be different from the colour of the case and even transparent)
- Security fuse ? (clarification from the MSXVR team needed!)
It is not only an emulator on Raspberry as many think.
- Cherry MX Brown: introduced in 1994, tactile and non-clicky switch. Great multi-purpose switch with good balance for gaming and typing
- Cherry MX Blue: more modern, introduced in 2007, tactile and clicky switch. Loudest of all of them and more suitable for typing (developers), great for confirming that you have pressed a key.
It seems that designer Alberto del Hoyo is using a Spanish 2D/3D game engine called "NLKEngine" developed by the studio he created "NerLaska".
This technology allows rapid development on several platforms. Perhaps the base of VR-SCRIPT too ?
We see it in the multi-windowing of the videos where the engine uses a virtual resolution and a real one with scaling.
Weekly Bulletin #1
Some Questions & Answers by Alberto:
An Atom / BBC / Master emulator would be good on this machine. Could also use the MSX MegaFlashRom SSC + SD programmable cartridge.
- On which API is the emulator running?
Emulator is running in a C++ engine. This engine was started in 1998 by me. It is multiplatform. Raspberry Layer - Graphics: OpenGL, Sound: OpenAL/ALSA.
- Why is there a 12v 10A psu?
RPI3B+ is very restrictive with amperage. We have 4 usb ports. We have cartridge slots that can support other protocols like I2C and USB too. We have the DB37 I/O interface. We can NOT be tight fisted with the power supply.
- How do the VR-DOS and VR-BASIC books and service manuals look like? Are they finished?
At this moment this books/manual are not printed so I can’t take photos. All them are A5 books. They are at this moment is Spanish. Service manual will be the first to be translated to English. VR-BASIC has currently 262 pages (90%). VR-DOS has 118 pages (60%). VR-SCRIPT has only some pages and a huge index to be completed (1%), SERVICE MANUAL has 60 pages and I don’t think the completed version will have more than 100. This Service Manual shows the user how to keep in good condition the computer, warnings & guarantee, elements of the computer and an introduction of several parts of the software/features on this machine.
NOTE: Books (VR-BASIC, VR-DOS, VR-SCRIPT) are an extra ítem that we would want to offer next year, so, they are not our priority now because they won’t be included in the computer package. Is not the case of the SERVICE MANUAL, that it has high priority.
- Can we get images and videos of the internal hardware?This PCB is the last revision. We will need another one. Final PCB will be color Black. This PCB has arrived this morning and needs a little soldering work. When we will have all ready, I will update the image.
- Is all the promised software in release candidate phase?
About software. We have done a lot of things but there are some things better finished/tested than others. We can consider that we have some apps in release candidate and other ones in beta.
To us the most important apps that should work in the initial STAGE are: VR-OS and system tools, VR-DOS, VR-BASIC, VR-SCRIPT.
So, computer must be operative, safe and give full MSX operatibility. To explain al the software/tools and his status, I will need to create a list and estimate a % to be RC. I will prepare it, give me some days, please.
- What about boot time?
Currently is 14 seconds .. since you press POWER ON Button until you can write in the VR-DOS.
We can improve this time, but really, is not our priority. One time the computer is ON, you don’t need to worry about this anymore and sincereslly, this time is really nothing.
- How will we be able to update MSXVR, is there an online update mechanism or do we need to remove the sd-card and write a new image?
The system update is just pressing a UI button or using a VR-DOS command. Of course, you can DOWNLOAD the last image file and burn it, but this is not necessary. If you corrupt your SD or similar, you can create another SD with the image file. If you don’t want or you don’t know how to do this things, we will offer SD’s with an image included.
- I read the sd-card is ‘internal’ so can it even be removed without opening the case (which would break the warranty).
Yes. SD card connector is in the back of the computer. You can extract/put SDs without problems and you don't need to break the warranty.
- Will the network connection be available to the MSX? through UNAPI? Or is it only available through emulated ObsoNet like in the HispaMSX BBS video?
At this moment only OBSONET was implemented. The RTL8019 emulation is not perfect but it works more or less correctly, so you can use INTERNESTOR LITE / UNAPI tools like you can see in the video to use Network connection in your MSX Virtualized machine.
- In tour videos I see that MSXVR in MSX mode extends the border to fill the 16:9 screen whilst maintaining aspect ratio in the main part. It is visible as a typical dark blue, light blue combo (aka color 15,4,7) is shown. Then there is a lot of light blue in the screen. Personally I would prefer it if those borders were black. Make it look more like a real MSX in a 4:3 screen would look like). Is that going to be an option?
Yes. You can configure that. In fact, that color is the “border” screen, but we can force a fixed border color (I will add this to the TODO list). You can modify by default what video aspect that you want, at this moment: 1x, 2x, 3x, ORIGINAL, EXPANDED
- Talking about screens and resolution. What resolutions will VR-OS support (I have a 2560x1440 screen for example) and can will we be able to adjust how VROS is shown size wise. So I mean will it support scaling like MacOS or Windows? If it uses fixed sizes for menu fonts, buttons etc. it can become unreadable on high resolution screens.
You have a lot of choices available, until 1920x1080. But is not convenient due to the huge use of the VRAM, but! You can. We recommend (by default) the 800x600. Of course, if you choose 1920x1080, you will see all very little.
- How is scaling of the MSX display achieved? Is it comparable to ‘Simple’ scaler in openMSX? Are different schakers available (personally I prefer Simple though).
You have: 1x, 2x, 3x, ORIGINAL and EXPANDED. ORIGINAL is trying to adapt maximal possible without lose the aspect ratio. EXPANDED use all your monitor resolution. Adding this, you have an scaline filter (shaders) configurable to have a better retro experiencie in HDMI monitors.
- On the point of storage, will MSX part of MSXVR have Nextor kernel and van we assign one or multiple partitions to the MSX from the sd-card? Or is there maybe a second sd-card slot? Or do we go through an emulated SD cartridge as with ObsoNET?
You can share one of the MSXVR drives in a MSX Virtualized machine. This can be possible using a driver device called “VRTunnel”
VRTunnel capture MSXDOS/MSXBASIC/NEXTOR calls and creates a fake to serve the new VR Drives, so, you can have FAT32 in the MSXDOS or NEXTOR, for example.
You can share drive folders, if you share a root folder, you will have all the drive available.
You can map this drive folder in the MSXDOS as a drive from A: to H:
NOTE: "VRTunnel" is in BETA but it is working pretty well.
Im asking if it would be a good idea to associate (Raspberry + bare metal Mini-OS + Free 3D engine + DOS + Acorn emulator) ?
Would be the same to port Atom emulator under Raspberry Pi Risc OS ?