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New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy

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First post, by hard1k

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Hello everyone,

So I'm delighted to present you another sound card project that we've already developed till the prototype stage: AWE64 Legacy

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Project team: Alex_NsD, CoolTweak, H_Rush, hard1k
Logo: mrDraud

Our project is inspired by this one made by anthony, but has gone a little further.
So, to sum up, it's a newly designed sound card built up from scratch, based on the original chipset of the 2nd gen Creative SB AWE64 Value (CT4520): Creative CT8920-NBQ chip and Creative CT1972-UAS/EMU8011-01 WaveROM.

New and reworked features include:
1. The onboard 28 MB of RAM - basically, it is an integrated SIMMConn Value (credits: Xu Wang aka SIMMConn) with an integrated 32Mb SIMM72.
2. True Yamaha OPL3 chipset (YMF262+YAC512) - the schematics were borrowed from the Resound OPL3 card (credits: TexElec). We still have to find the best way to make this function work along with the integrated CQM disabled/moved to 0x398h, we hope to get some assistance from you guys who wrote in this thread.
3. Intelligent MPU-401 onboard - it is an integrated HardMPU (credits: ab0tj).
4. Waveblaster header.
5. Routable MIDI Inputs/Outputs between both CT8920 / HardMPU parts and the Waveblaster header / MIDI pins of the gameport.
6. Redesigned analog part.
7. Onboard S/PDIF RCA output with onboard level convertor.
8. AWE64 Gold-styled 2xRCA analog output.
9. AC97 Front panel header.
10. The board complies with ISA Half-Size measures: 185 х 120 mm.
11. PCB has 6 layers with separate Analog and Digital planes. Power supply has its own layer.

FIRST MAJOR UPDATE (19/08/19)

SECOND MAJOR UPDATE (15/09/19)

QUESTIONNAIRE ON ADDITIONAL FEATURES - CLOSED ON SEP 15

Summary of the current progress and features:

IMPLEMENTED & TESTED
ALL BASIC FUNCTIONS
CT8920+EMU8011
SIMMCONN+SIMM72
WAVEBLASTER HEADER (IN PARALLEL WITH LINE-IN)
2xRCA OUT
OPL3 (YMF262+YAC512, IN PARALLEL WITH CD-IN)

IMPLEMENTED, BUT NOT TESTED YET
GAMEPORT
S/PDIF OUT
INTERNAL MPC HEADER FOR CD-IN
INTERNAL MPC HEADER FOR LINE-OUT
INTERNAL 2-PIN HEADER FOR SPK-IN (PCSPK)
FRONT PANEL CONNECTORS HEADER (AC97 PINOUT, MIC IN AND SPK OUT MOVED THERE FROM THE MAIN BRACKET)
INTELLIGENT MPU-401 ONBOARD, HARDMPU DESIGN (CREDITS: ab0tj)
SWITCHES/JUMPERS TO CHOOSE THE ROUTING OF THE MIDI OUTPUT FROM BETWEEN BOTH CT8920 / HARDMPU PART AND WAVEBLASTER HEADER / GAMEPORT MIDI PINS
SWITCHES/JUMPERS TO DISABLE THE OPL3, HARDMPU (AND CHOOSE ITS IRQ / IO PORT)
FREE SPACE ON THE PCB FOR SOME ADDITIONAL STAND OFFS FOR THE DAUGHTERBOARD
TB RIO COMPATIBILITY
JP2 (MFBEN) FROM THE ORIGINAL CT4520
REASSIGNED PARALLEL INPUT PAIRS: CD-IN + WAVEBLASTER; LINE-IN + OPL3

HELP NEEDED
RESOURCE MAP (EEPROM FIRMWARE) FOR CQM AT 0x398H

DISCARDED DUE TO HIGH COMPLEXITY / LACK OF INTEREST / USELESSNESS
NEW S/PDIF IMPLEMENTATION
NEW ROM
ADDITIONAL WAVEBLASTER HEADER
MEDIATRIX 3D-XG STYLE FOR WAVEBLASTER HEADER ANALOG SIGNAL ROUTING (DB60XG COMPATIBLE)
LED
Last edited by hard1k on 2019-11-13, 10:02. Edited 3 times in total.

New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy
Please have a look at my wishlist (hosted at Amibay)

Reply 2 of 443, by dreamblaster

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Wow ! this looks amazing !
what a wonderful project !!

Visit http://www.serdashop.com for retro sound cards, video converters, ...
OPL2LPT, OPL3LPT, X2, S2, S2P, MCE2VGA, ... many projects !
Special vogons LPT bundle : https://www.serdashop.com/Parallel-port-retro-sound-bundle
Thanks for your support !

Reply 3 of 443, by Tiido

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For OPL3 ports move, try to make a new PnP EEPROM with OPL3 given ideal IO location you desire and acceptable IO locations that also don't contain 388. Hopefully Creative's utils respect the EEPROM settings. Windows definitely will.

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 11 of 443, by xjas

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This is pretty neat! Nice looking prototype. The fact that this could fit in a slim PC without the bulk of an AWE64+SIMMCONN+SIMM is a big plus. Rear-bracket MIDI connectors (even if on a breakout cable) would be beneficial, IMHO - a lot of people are still gonna want to run an MT32, SC-55, etc. on these (including me.)

On that note I run a lot of MIDI gear in my music studio off an AWE64. Hit me up if you need info/testing of MIDI stuff on original hardware.

twitch.tv/oldskooljay - playing the obscure, forgotten & weird - most Tuesdays & Thursdays @ 6:30 PM PDT. Bonus streams elsewhen!

Reply 12 of 443, by hasnopants

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Good luck, looks awesome!

Current Systems:
DIP40|8088|640K|HERCULESGB102|PCSPKR
S7|P233MMX|128M|S3ViRGEDX/DM3D|SB16
S370|P600MMX|1G|SIS630/DM3DIIX2|SBLIVE!5.1
S775|P43.4|2G|6800GS|SBAUDIGY

Reply 13 of 443, by bregolin

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Great work, keep it up! Definitely interested

IBM Aptiva 2162 - P55 166 MMX, 32MB, CS4237B + Wavetable, ATI Mach64 2MB / Win98SE
Custom PIII 750, 64MB, SB AWE64, Voodoo 3 3000 AGP / Win98SE
Sony Vaio z505 SuperSlim - PIII 550, 192MB, YMF744, NeoMagic 256AV+ / Win98SE

Reply 14 of 443, by BloodyCactus

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Are there many CT8920 chips in the supply chain?

--/\-[ Stu : Bloody Cactus :: http://kråketær.com :: http://mega-tokyo.com ]-/\--

Reply 16 of 443, by derSammler

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So you are destroying existing AWE64 cards to build your custom ones? Not sure about others, but in my opinion, it's completely pointless to destroy real retro hardware for a modern replacement.

Reply 17 of 443, by keropi

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jm2c, I don't think that harvesting AWE64 Values is that terrible... they are re-incarnated to something better plus there is a bazillion of them. You can't really buy those Creative ICs, basically it's the only way.

🎵Link to buy a PCMIDI mpu
🎧Orpheus soundcard project
💻WTB Amstrad PC7486SLC-33 system

Reply 18 of 443, by hard1k

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Exactly. Moreover, we don't expect to build more than 30 cards given their very high overall cost, so it will be a very niche product for those who just think that a regular AWE64 is simply not enough. And very few original cards will get cannibalized on the way, and those will be the cheapest and most common ones - in my book it's a better destiny for them than just get recycled after being stored/listed on some local classifieds for ages.

New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy
Please have a look at my wishlist (hosted at Amibay)

Reply 19 of 443, by 640K!enough

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derSammler wrote:

So you are destroying existing AWE64 cards to build your custom ones? Not sure about others, but in my opinion, it's completely pointless to destroy real retro hardware for a modern replacement.

If they end up with a superior result, where is the great harm in the effort? It's not like they are destroying some ultra-rare, high-end hardware; it's just a fairly common, base-model Creative card. If they can de-activate or supplement the CQM with genuine OPL3 and also manage quieter output, it's already a net gain.

If Creative weren't so apathetic or openly hostile toward community projects, there may have been other options. As it stands, they were left with no choice. It will be too expensive for me, but I still applaud the effort. It can be a great educational or professional development experience to undertake something like this.