Sep 212016
 

Probably you have read it on this page before: one of the main components of the Amstrad CPC, the Gate Array aka Amstrad 40010, was decapped and high resolution photos were shot from the internals of this integrated circuit. Finally, Gerald found some time to reverse engineer the schematics of the Gate Array and released them in the CPCWiki forums. With the schematics it is possible to better understand what’s happening inside, find eventually existing hardware tricks / bugs and finally build a replacement of course.

Ash Evans has already “ported” the schematics to Verilog, so it is possible to use it in your own CPLD or FPGA designs.

Amstrad-40010-612px-am2_metal

Thanks a lot for your work to reverse engineer the last integrated circuit (for the classic Amstrad CPC), which can help us to preserve the Amstrad CPCs for the future :-)!

May 112016
 

During the last years we saw a lot of hardware expansions for the Amstrad CPC. Most of them were the usual expansions like more RAM, ROM or storage. But finally, thanks to Duke, the Amstrad CPC gets an Wifi expansion, which you can use to connect to the internet. It is possible to send HTTP requests and it also starts a web server (on the on board Wifi microcontroller), where you can change some of the settings.
Besides the Wifi connectivity it also features a ROM board and a SD card slot for storage. The SD card will also be supported directly by replacing ROM 7 (AMSDOS), so you can use software, which don’t use direct FDC access directly from the SD card.

Here is the video of the current version of the Wifi expansion:

If you are interested in ordering a board or just want more information about the expansion board, head over to Duke’s homepage.

Apr 182016
 

Do you know the Visual6502 project? The 6502 CPU was decapped and reverse engineered to retrieve more information about the way it works and get a better emulation. On the page you will also find an emulator, which shows you how the CPU works on the chip level. Well, why speaking about this project? Because it is about getting information by reverse engineering the chip and that’s what happened to the Gate Array aka “Amstrad 40010” and some other chips. Robcfg sent some of them to Sean Riddle who was kindly enough to decap the chips and provided the photos. The Gate Array is a custom made chip by Amstrad, which provides e.g. clock frequencies or the colour information for the CRTC. With the photos it is possible to do a reverse engineering and hopefully extract a schematic of it. Maybe it is possible to build a replacement in the future, too.

Amstrad-40010-612px-am2_metal

If you want to help or want more information about it, have a look at the thread in the CPCWiki forums.

Nov 172015
 

Does your Amstrad CPC work correctly or do you have stability issues? Not sure? Well, then you can at least check the RAM of your CPC with Geralds new RAM tester. To run this program on classic CPCs (464, 664, 6128), you will need a LowerROM board or an X-MEM memory expansion in boot mode. Use the .bin file in this configuration.
If you want to run it on an Amstrad Plus or an Amstrad GX4000, you will need a C4CPC cartridge and use the .bin or .cpr file with it.

If the RAM is ok, you will see the following image (green bars at the side of the screen):

RamOk

If something is wrong, you will see a red bar at the side of the screen:

Ram4LsbBad

You can download the binaries at the end of this news and discuss it in the CPCWiki forums.

If you need to check your systems memory without having an expansion board, you can also use Nilquaders memory check utility.

Oct 172015
 

Do you know the MIST-FPGA board? No? It is intended to rebuild old computer systems and consoles with it. I use the term “rebuild” because it fits better in combination with a FPGA than “emulate”, because there is no program running within the FPGA, but it is real hardware which is running. Confused :-)? Anyway, the name MIST is a combination of Amiga and Atari ST, and of course, both systems are already running on the systems together with a lot of other computer and console systems, too (e.g. Nintendo NES, Commodore 64, PC Engine, etc.). Since some time, there is also an Amstrad CPC core available for the MIST-FPGA board and it was released in version r004.7.2 some days ago. The new version features some bugfixes and support for the R-Type remake by Easter Egg. So if you own a MIST-FPGA board, give it a try. You can find more information about the installation of the Amstrad CPC core and the binaries on the MIST-FPGA GitHub page.

mist_board

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