Discussion:
Web Browser -> Apple II VGA -> Accelerator -> Bus --> 65C832
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Anthony Ortiz
2017-07-20 16:00:44 UTC
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I was dreaming about how nice it would be to have a graphical web-browser on an Apple II, but that would require a decent enough resolution to be able to display it, at the very minimum VGA. Second-Sight produced something like this but it never caught on and from what I've read the results weren't that great and it had issues; if someone has anything to add regarding Second-Sight I am all ears as I am very much interested in how it works and whether it was a quality product. Anyway, I was dreaming about how nice a VGA card for the Apple II would be, but the processor on the Apple II is not fast enough to make this a pleasant experience; no way would you be able to run, say, Wolfenstein 3D or Doom. That had me thinking that it would be nice to have an accelerator card for the Apple II, something similar to the TransWarp but faster since multi-media applications (such as a web-browser) are pretty demanding; perhaps something around 100mhz. So I'm dreaming of a 100mhz accelerator card for the II, but all that speed would be useless if it has to access RAM and the video card at 1mhz. That got me thinking that perhaps the accelerator can host its own RAM, completely replacing the II's motherboard RAM, so that full speed can be achieved at all times except video access which is still a problem. That got me dreaming about an external bus that can connect these modern high-speed peripheral cards (Accelerator, VGA card, perhaps an updated Uthernet card, etc...) together similar to the way an SLI cable connects GeForce cards together for SLI. So I'm dreaming about how these modern cards can plug into the Apple II slots for power and utilize the external SLI-Style bus for communicating with each other at high speed when I realize that the 8-bit CPU (or 16 65C816) may be insufficient for our modern sensibilities, so now I'm dreaming of a 32-bit 65C832...
STYNX
2017-07-20 17:54:28 UTC
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regarding VGA:

I suspect you want to have at least 640x400px resolution with 16 colors?

The Video Overlay card offered such a mode without the need to implement a new Graphics chip. The VGC offers 640x200px with a single bank of 32k ram. The VOC added the option to switch a second bank of 32k every line to allow 640x400px interlaced graphics. Its the same method used with the //e to get DHR. Apple implemented a headless IIgs on a card (VOC) to do this :-P
Im baffled, why apple did not include this mode into the stock IIgs, since it does only need to with in and out a second memory bank (that is already present on the MB) ... it might be possible to to a mod on the MB to switch the 1Mhz 64k //e banks every odd frame (25/30hz) if the video cycle is active. It would definitely be interesting to try.

Using an advanced Accelerator that generates VGA as well, 640x400 in color would be easily doable with complete backwards compatibility.

-Jonas
Anthony Ortiz
2017-07-20 18:41:21 UTC
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I dreamed in error... my new improved dream calls for Voodoo 1 card capabilities which are 640x480 and 800x600 16-bit color graphics acceleration w/ 2MB onboard RAM and OpenGL support.
barrym95838
2017-07-20 19:04:11 UTC
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Post by Anthony Ortiz
I dreamed in error... my new improved dream calls for Voodoo 1 card
capabilities which are 640x480 and 800x600 16-bit color graphics
acceleration w/ 2MB onboard RAM and OpenGL support.
Could this be a satisfactory "upgrade" path for you?



Mike B.
Anthony Ortiz
2017-07-20 19:48:27 UTC
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Although it's pretty cool, it's based on software emulation. What I'm dreaming about (and again, it's just a dream as many others have dreamed) is actually extending the hardware capabilities of the Apple II to bring it into the modern era.
g***@sasktel.net
2017-07-20 19:58:45 UTC
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Post by Anthony Ortiz
Although it's pretty cool, it's based on software emulation. What I'm dreaming about (and again, it's just a dream as many others have dreamed) is actually extending the hardware capabilities of the Apple II to bring it into the modern era.
I find it funny that no one is dreaming about using a modern PC or Mac with all its memory/video/etc and replacing the Intel processor with a 6502 or 65c02 processor instead. After all it is only once chip compared to many add-ons.
Anthony Ortiz
2017-07-20 20:17:12 UTC
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Post by g***@sasktel.net
I find it funny that no one is dreaming about using a modern PC or Mac with all its memory/video/etc and replacing the Intel processor with a 6502 or 65c02 processor instead. After all it is only once chip compared to many add-ons.
That is essentially the dream except that you can't just plug a 6502 into a modern motherboard; everything has to be built around the particular CPU. Also, the 6502 is woefully inadequate for modern development purposes as it's an 8-bit CPU with many architectural limitations; we'd need a 32/64 bit version of the chip with many additional capabilities plus a bus to accommodate modern expansion. You'd also have to provide hardware/software backwards compatibility. It would also preferably be housed inside an actual Apple II case.
barrym95838
2017-07-20 20:22:46 UTC
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Post by g***@sasktel.net
...
I find it funny that no one is dreaming about using a modern PC or Mac with
all its memory/video/etc and replacing the Intel processor with a 6502 or
65c02 processor instead. After all it is only once chip compared to many
add-ons.
Even if you could get a 65xx to run at 1 GHz, your machine code would be
constantly thrashing itself trying to form 32-bit (or wider) addresses.

Mike B.
James Davis
2017-07-21 16:39:16 UTC
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Look at the Applied Engineering RGB (piggyback) Card for the RAMworks III. It has two different IBM PC compatible video outputs in addition to Apple II compatible RGB output.
James Davis
2017-07-22 01:18:06 UTC
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Oops, got that backward (and not RamWorks III but RamWorks, but works on 1, 2, and 3, IIRC):

Look at the Applied Engineering (piggyback) Card: "RGB for RamWorks® including ColorLink™ and Digital Prism™." It has an IBM PC compatible DB-9 RGB video output in addition to two different (one Analog and one Digital) Apple compatible DB-15 outputs.

The PC output has this pinout configuration:

Pin/Function:
1 = Ground
2 = Ground
3 = Red
4 = Green
5 = Blue
6 = Intensity
7 = No Connection
8 = Horizontal Synchronization
9 = Vertical Synchronization

Drawings are on page 13 of the manual (uploaded to Asimov earlier this year or end of last year) <ftp://public.asimov.net/pub/apple_II/documentation/hardware/video/AE%20RGB%20for%20RamWorks,%20ColorLink%20and%20Digital%20Prism,%20v1,01.zip>.

You would need an RGB to VGA converter.
Anthony Ortiz
2017-07-22 01:53:18 UTC
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Post by James Davis
Look at the Applied Engineering (piggyback) Card: "RGB for RamWorks® including ColorLink™ and Digital Prism™." It has an IBM PC compatible DB-9 RGB video output in addition to two different (one Analog and one Digital) Apple compatible DB-15 outputs.
1 = Ground
2 = Ground
3 = Red
4 = Green
5 = Blue
6 = Intensity
7 = No Connection
8 = Horizontal Synchronization
9 = Vertical Synchronization
Drawings are on page 13 of the manual (uploaded to Asimov earlier this year or end of last year) <ftp://public.asimov.net/pub/apple_II/documentation/hardware/video/AE%20RGB%20for%20RamWorks,%20ColorLink%20and%20Digital%20Prism,%20v1,01.zip>.
You would need an RGB to VGA converter.
That will allow a connection to a VGA monitor, but it won't allow for VGA display capabilities (ie. enhanced resolution, colors, etc...)
James Davis
2017-07-22 05:46:06 UTC
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Post by Anthony Ortiz
That will allow a connection to a VGA monitor, but it won't allow for VGA display capabilities (ie. enhanced resolution, colors, etc...)
I think you're dreaming of the Apple IIgs, the Apple Macintosh line of computers, and the Apple iPhone, just like Steve Jobs did. The dream would not be an Apple II/II+/IIe (a Steve Wozniak machine). The original VisiCalc did it in software by panning the screen to look at the whole spreadsheet one screen at a time. You could do it in hardware as an Apple II Peripheral Slot Expansion Card, by making the card a modern computer (Windows IBM PC or Linux machine {A2pi} or a MicroController), controlled by the Apple II, and connecting the VGA through the card. All of that has already been done!
Anthony Ortiz
2017-07-22 13:30:30 UTC
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Post by James Davis
I think you're dreaming of the Apple IIgs, the Apple Macintosh line of computers, and the Apple iPhone, just like Steve Jobs did. The dream would not be an Apple II/II+/IIe (a Steve Wozniak machine). The original VisiCalc did it in software by panning the screen to look at the whole spreadsheet one screen at a time. You could do it in hardware as an Apple II Peripheral Slot Expansion Card, by making the card a modern computer (Windows IBM PC or Linux machine {A2pi} or a MicroController), controlled by the Apple II, and connecting the VGA through the card. All of that has already been done!
Not the IIgs as it has none of the capabilities I described. If the dream were to ever become a reality it would start, of course, in the form of peripheral cards and a high-speed bus as I described. Theoretically it's all possible, but it will never be more than a dream unless people are willing to put in their pound of flesh.
Anthony Ortiz
2017-07-22 14:01:41 UTC
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Post by Anthony Ortiz
Not the IIgs as it has none of the capabilities I described. If the dream were to ever become a reality it would start, of course, in the form of peripheral cards and a high-speed bus as I described. Theoretically it's all possible, but it will never be more than a dream unless people are willing to put in their pound of flesh.
Speaking of pound of flesh, I'm putting in a mere ounce's worth by studying the feasibility of creating a processor that can run at more modern speeds, much faster than the transwarp and current FPGA designs allow. I've ordered the parts and will create a test to see what kind of speeds I can achieve; WDC65C832, this one's for you!
Charlie
2017-07-22 15:52:42 UTC
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Post by Anthony Ortiz
I was dreaming about how nice it would be to have a graphical web-browser on an Apple II, but that would require a decent enough resolution to be able to display it, at the very minimum VGA. Second-Sight produced something like this but it never caught on and from what I've read the results weren't that great and it had issues; if someone has anything to add regarding Second-Sight I am all ears as I am very much interested in how it works and whether it was a quality product. Anyway, I was dreaming about how nice a VGA card for the Apple II would be, but the processor on the Apple II is not fast enough to make this a pleasant experience; no way would you be able to run, say, Wolfenstein 3D or Doom. That had me thinking that it would be nice to have an accelerator card for the Apple II, something similar to the TransWarp but faster since multi-media applications (such as a web-browser) are pretty demanding; perhaps something around 100mhz. So I'm dreaming of a 100mhz accelerator ca
rd for the II, but all that speed would be useless if it has to access RAM and the video card at 1mhz. That got me thinking that perhaps the accelerator can host its own RAM, completely replacing the II's motherboard RAM, so that full speed can be achieved at all times except video access which is still a problem. That got me dreaming about an external bus that can connect these modern high-speed peripheral cards (Accelerator, VGA card, perhaps an updated Uthernet card, etc...) together similar to the way an SLI cable connects GeForce cards together for SLI. So I'm dreaming about how these modern cards can plug into the Apple II slots for power and utilize the external SLI-Style bus for communicating with each other at high speed when I realize that the 8-bit CPU (or 16 65C816) may be insufficient for our modern sensibilities, so now I'm dreaming of a 32-bit 65C832...

Dreaming is fun. :-)

Seriously though, some of what you are dreaming of could be accomplished
with the Carte Blanche II card where VGA output is already done (for the
standard Apple II modes) and expanding that to new modes would not be
terribly difficult.

For your 65c832 you would have to write your own core for the FPGA on
the Carte Blanche II. That's a lot of work but not impossible. The
DRAM is 100 MHz max so it just makes your specs (the FPGA can go faster).

Incidentally WDC has a core for the 65c816 if you are willing to scale
back your dream a bit.

http://www.westerndesigncenter.com/wdc/cores.cfm

There is enough DRAM on the Carte Blanche II to handle all of the Apple
IIgs (no need for caching) with enough left over for a frame buffer for
your new graphics modes.

The Carte Blanche II also contains a number of other 'modern' connectors:

USB2
HDMI
Micro SD card
PCIe x8
JTAG
48 Pin ZIF DIP
Stereo Audio

http://www.applelogic.org/CarteBlancheII.html

Of course you have to do the work of writing the code to put it all
together.
The hardest part though might be talking someone into selling you a
Carte Blanche II card.

Charlie
Anthony Ortiz
2017-07-22 16:11:40 UTC
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Post by Anthony Ortiz
Post by Anthony Ortiz
I was dreaming about how nice it would be to have a graphical web-browser on an Apple II, but that would require a decent enough resolution to be able to display it, at the very minimum VGA. Second-Sight produced something like this but it never caught on and from what I've read the results weren't that great and it had issues; if someone has anything to add regarding Second-Sight I am all ears as I am very much interested in how it works and whether it was a quality product. Anyway, I was dreaming about how nice a VGA card for the Apple II would be, but the processor on the Apple II is not fast enough to make this a pleasant experience; no way would you be able to run, say, Wolfenstein 3D or Doom. That had me thinking that it would be nice to have an accelerator card for the Apple II, something similar to the TransWarp but faster since multi-media applications (such as a web-browser) are pretty demanding; perhaps something around 100mhz. So I'm dreaming of a 100mhz accelerator ca
rd for the II, but all that speed would be useless if it has to access RAM and the video card at 1mhz. That got me thinking that perhaps the accelerator can host its own RAM, completely replacing the II's motherboard RAM, so that full speed can be achieved at all times except video access which is still a problem. That got me dreaming about an external bus that can connect these modern high-speed peripheral cards (Accelerator, VGA card, perhaps an updated Uthernet card, etc...) together similar to the way an SLI cable connects GeForce cards together for SLI. So I'm dreaming about how these modern cards can plug into the Apple II slots for power and utilize the external SLI-Style bus for communicating with each other at high speed when I realize that the 8-bit CPU (or 16 65C816) may be insufficient for our modern sensibilities, so now I'm dreaming of a 32-bit 65C832...
Dreaming is fun. :-)
Seriously though, some of what you are dreaming of could be accomplished
with the Carte Blanche II card where VGA output is already done (for the
standard Apple II modes) and expanding that to new modes would not be
terribly difficult.
For your 65c832 you would have to write your own core for the FPGA on
the Carte Blanche II. That's a lot of work but not impossible. The
DRAM is 100 MHz max so it just makes your specs (the FPGA can go faster).
Incidentally WDC has a core for the 65c816 if you are willing to scale
back your dream a bit.
http://www.westerndesigncenter.com/wdc/cores.cfm
There is enough DRAM on the Carte Blanche II to handle all of the Apple
IIgs (no need for caching) with enough left over for a frame buffer for
your new graphics modes.
USB2
HDMI
Micro SD card
PCIe x8
JTAG
48 Pin ZIF DIP
Stereo Audio
http://www.applelogic.org/CarteBlancheII.html
Of course you have to do the work of writing the code to put it all
together.
The hardest part though might be talking someone into selling you a
Carte Blanche II card.
Charlie
Agreed, I've looked at the carte blanche and it looks great for this type of prototyping but it's impossible to find one for sale, and it's also limited to fpga speeds. I'm currently looking to see if I can get something faster so we'll see!
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