VOGONS


First post, by Hamby

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Putting this in hardware because... it's hardware. And technically, it's old. As RMC points out near the end, the hardware's been out for a long time.
It's an FPGA computer that takes dozens of cores, turning it into everything from a specific arcade machine into a C64, Atari 800, Mac Plus, Amiga, 486 PC (even runs Windows 95), and many others.

Struggling to get a vintage motherboard working so I can run old software on old hardware, this is starting to look good. And having wasted nearly the same cost as this device on dead hardware, it becomes even more tempting to me.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5yPbzD-W-I

Reply 1 of 13, by jheronimus

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Honestly curious: what’s the advantage over DOSBox?

My Telegram blog about retro hardware (in Russian)

Pentium 133, 32 MB RAM, S3 Trio64V+, Crystal 4232, Dreamblaster X2 and Roland MT-32
Pentium III 1000, 512 MB RAM, Voodoo 5 5500 AGP, SB Live 5.1, SB32 CT3930, Gravis Ultrasound Max rev2.1

Reply 3 of 13, by mothergoose729

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jheronimus wrote:

Honestly curious: what’s the advantage over DOSBox?

The mister uses a Altera Cyclone V SE FPGA. If programmed correctly, the chip can function clock-for-clock like a real 486. Similar chips have been used to create hardware clones of home consoles like the Analogue NT Mini. Compared to software emulation, an FPGA is hardware emulation, which means it be much more accurate when it comes to things like timing.

Reply 4 of 13, by jheronimus

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This is an interesting demo.

MT-32 sounds a bit off — sometimes the timing is wrong, sometimes it sounds like the instruments on the background are kind of garbled. The other issue is that currently it doesn't seem to reach even 486-DX2 levels of performance. But it sure is impressive for such a small device.

If it could reach the performance of at least Pentium 166 (and maybe implement the first Voodoo) it could be an awesome alternative to your typical tower PC. Someone could probably provide an unofficial image with Windows 95 and all necessary software and you would get the closest this to a NES Mini-like device 😀

My Telegram blog about retro hardware (in Russian)

Pentium 133, 32 MB RAM, S3 Trio64V+, Crystal 4232, Dreamblaster X2 and Roland MT-32
Pentium III 1000, 512 MB RAM, Voodoo 5 5500 AGP, SB Live 5.1, SB32 CT3930, Gravis Ultrasound Max rev2.1

Reply 5 of 13, by matze79

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The FPGA AO486 does not have any L1 Cache and therefore sucks a lot.
Its impressive but only like a 486 without any Cache 😉

Ancient FPGAs are by no means the future of retro but things will improve..
I`m pretty sure some day we will see newly made FPGA 486 Systems.

Also the ZET CPU looks pretty nice but it seems development is stalled.

https://dosreloaded.de - The German Retro DOS PC Community
https://www.retroianer.de - under constructing since ever

Co2 - for a endless Summer

Reply 6 of 13, by imi

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I think it certainly has it's place in preservation and making it more accessible, but it doesn't have the appeal of getting old hardware up and running and there is no emulating that and you can't just simply replicate analog parts of the hardware I guess ^^

Reply 7 of 13, by matze79

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I`m pretty sure some day a 386 Mainboard with a FPGA will apear or a 486 😉

Look at all the Homebrew Stuff, newly made GUS Cards, new SB Compatibles.. who imagined that ?
Dozen of Homebrew CPUs, SBCs, IO Cards...

https://dosreloaded.de - The German Retro DOS PC Community
https://www.retroianer.de - under constructing since ever

Co2 - for a endless Summer

Reply 8 of 13, by Tiido

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386 and 486 mainboards with FPGAs on them are in my todo list 🤣.

T-04YBSC, a new YMF71x based sound card & Official VOGONS thread about it
Newly made 4MB 60ns 30pin SIMMs ~
mida sa loed ? nagunii aru ei saa 😜

Reply 9 of 13, by mothergoose729

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jheronimus wrote:

This is an interesting demo.

MT-32 sounds a bit off — sometimes the timing is wrong, sometimes it sounds like the instruments on the background are kind of garbled. The other issue is that currently it doesn't seem to reach even 486-DX2 levels of performance. But it sure is impressive for such a small device.

If it could reach the performance of at least Pentium 166 (and maybe implement the first Voodoo) it could be an awesome alternative to your typical tower PC. Someone could probably provide an unofficial image with Windows 95 and all necessary software and you would get the closest this to a NES Mini-like device 😀

FPGAs are not powerful enough for that kind of complexity yet. It will be a generation or two before we see that level of performance. The MT32 emulation can probably be fixed in a future update though.

Another cool thing about FPGAs is that they can interact electrically with other circuits. It would be really expensive (each FPGA chip by itself is over 100$), but in theory you could recreate addon cards and peripherals from retro computers and stitch them together, using real cache cache chips and DSPs and stuff.

Reply 10 of 13, by shiva2004

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Hamby wrote:
jheronimus wrote:

Honestly curious: what’s the advantage over DOSBox?

It's not software emulation, it's functioning as the original hardware.
That's the best I can describe.

I don't agree with that, perhaps if you have a 100% confirmed equivalent of all components in VHDL, if not it's emulation all the same, just using hardware instead of software.
I agree that it can be much more convenient, but to me it isn't more "genuine".

Reply 11 of 13, by Jonas-fr

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For anyone that may have missed the news, the latest ao486 core ipdate (from few days ago) just brought a massive speed improvement (4×) !! Now Doom is really playable. This Mister thing is getting more interesting day after day ! I'll try to setup a dev workstation (VB3 under Win3.11) to see how it goes; it would be fun to work under Win3.11 on a FPGA !

The only thing missing for now is a ISA port extension to be able to hook real sound card directly to the FPGA !

Reply 12 of 13, by Horun

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Very nice. It could be a good alternative to DosBOX but is not a direct replacement for true old hardware (neither is DoxBox). No matter how advanced it gets, there are many who will still want the real vintage hardware. just my opinion. Please keep us updated as things progress. Thanks !

Hate posting a reply and have to edit it because it made no sense 😁 First computer was an IBM 3270 workstation with CGA monitor. 🤣 Second computer a 286 12Mhz with real IDE drive ! After that came 386, 486, Pentium, P.Pro and everything after....

Reply 13 of 13, by darry

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Horun wrote on 2020-08-21, 01:29:

Very nice. It could be a good alternative to DosBOX but is not a direct replacement for true old hardware (neither is DoxBox). No matter how advanced it gets, there are many who will still want the real vintage hardware. just my opinion. Please keep us updated as things progress. Thanks !

For everyone considering both an OSSC for the hardware they have and a MISTer for the stuff they do not, OSSC Pro might be a great 2-in-1 solution .

According to https://videogameperfection.com/2020/01/18/os … -pro-is-coming/

"Since the OSSC Pro is based around the same Cyclone 5 architecture, it can also be used in this way. Imagine, OSSC Pro could upscale your favourite, original consoles that you have owned since your childhood, while running highly accurate FPGA based simulations of other systems you don’t have the space for in your setup. The possibilities are nearly limitless. Given that OSSC Pro shares the same FPGA, porting over cores from MISTer should be easy."