The Ultimate Amiga 500 Talk

Amiga Hardware Design And Programming

The Amiga was one of the most powerful and wide srpead computers in the late 80’s. This talk explains its hardware design and programming.

The Amiga 1000 appeared in 1985 and was followed by the Amiga 500 a few years later, which had the same design concept but was a little bit more powerful. The hardware design was highly sophisticated and powerful and was years ahead to other computers at the time then.
Equipped with the Motorola 68000 Microprocessor as the CPU which was internally a full 32 bit processor and several additional co-processors for various complex DMA tasks it was perfect for graphics-intensive software.

This talk explains the hardware in detail, how all those processors interacted and how it was programmed.

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➤Speaker: rahra
➤EventID: 7468
➤Event: 32th Chaos Communication Congress [32c3] of the Chaos Computer Club [CCC]
➤Location: Congress Centrum Hamburg (CCH); Am Dammtor; Marseiller Straße; 20355 Hamburg; Germany
➤Language: english
➤Begin: Sun, 12/27/2015 18:30:00 +01:00
➤License: CC-by

Retro Freak, first thoughts

So I apparently have more time to spare, so lets get this one out of the way, the Retro Freak!

The Retro Freak in the wild!

The Retro Freak in the wild!

I saw these originally for demo during an Electronic and game show in Hong Kong.  A vendor in Taiwan who claimed to be the manufacturer was willing to sell the units to me (in bulk mind you!) these units for $160 USD in qty 15-100.  So it was a LOT more than I was willing to spend as this is no doubt an expensive retro console to device.  And much to my surprise I’ve seen them out in retail world for sale with prices ranging from ¥18,000 to ¥24,480.  And that was a major surprise.

So I bought one retail for the price I had been quoted back in the autumn.

The exciting box!

The exciting box!

As you can see this is the box.  And yes that is the bed in the house I’m currently renting.  Such a festive background.

And for those who love this kind of thing, here is the back of the box:

Back

Back

Once I purchased it, and they counted the cash it was opened up, and they put their store chop on it.  Unfortuantly they used crap ink, and I have to dig out the receipt.  But it was the cheapest price, which put it at $150 USD (before the 8% tax).

Opening the box

Opening the box

Opening the box, and we get that made in China feel.  The box is cheap, but hell I didn’t pay for a box, I paid for…

the dull console

the dull console

The most utterly dull and uninspiring console ever.  The plastic feels VERY cheap too.  Holding something like a Mega Drive (Genesis), or a Super Famicom feels so solid.  And the SONY gear is top notch.  This is just featureless dull soft gray plastic.  And not even a logo, or any real surface features save a power LED.  It just feels cheap.

Now one interesting thing, is that the majority of the body is actually the cartridge reader.  You have the ability to flip it over, and slide out the actual console, which is much smaller, and cast in the same dull and cheap plastic.

The actual console

The actual console

The console has 2 USB ports for 2 controllers.  I haven’t seen any USB SEGA controllers (what the hell are they doing?  Is there that much money in Gundam VR, and Pinchino?)  But there is lots of knock off Nintendo USB controllers.  I have some to test later that I scored for 700 YEN.

Console underside

Console underside

Flipping it over, reveals that it is made in China, and it is made by Cyber Gadget, out of Japan.

Turning the unit on, doesn’t reveal any fancy startup screen or logo, just a language selection.  There is online help, but of course its in Japanese.

HELP!

HELP!

I am still not sure if you can just plug and play cartridges at will.  It also doesn’t like it if you just power it off abruptly.

Because it was getting late, I slapped in the only Mega Drive game I bought so far on this trip, Air Diver

Air Diver

Air Diver

It detected just fine, and I was able to play without issues.

Playing the game was much like the real thing, and you can add all kinds of screen filters, and other things to make your LCD TV behave like a CRT including overscan, and some saturation if you go further into the video settings.

The bundled controller is more SNES+WiiU feel to it.  Again I am just bummed out there is no SEGA knockoff stuff.

The good part is that it supports a crazy amount of formats!

  • Mega Drive
  • Famicom
  • Super Famicom
  • Game Boy
  • Game Boy Colour
  • Game Boy Advanced
  • PC-Engine

Which is pretty cool.  I always wonder why nobody has approached SEGA on licensing the BIOS for the MEGA-CD, or the 32x.  Naturally SONY wasn’t too thrilled about emulation of the Play Station 1 from a long time ago.

So the plus is that this does a LOT of emulation for the buck, if you want to read your own cartridges.  The practical side says that they have all been downloaded and converted ages ago and are trivial to find online.  It isn’t as cool as the actual hardware, but considering it is new it is much cheaper than buying and recapping a bunch of machines.

And honestly, you would probably prefer the retrode 2, which is a USB peripheral to read Mega Drive, and Super Famicom (Gensis and Super Nintendo).

While the Retro Freak does read many more formats it is better suited to someone who “just wants the damned thing to work!”  And it succeeds in being a magical box you can slap the cartridge into, and start playing.

And regarding what is under the hood, regarding the software license:

RetroFreak uses source code from the following open source projects:

  • VBA-M (both primary SVN and VBA-Next fork)
  • Genesis Plus GX
  • FCEU (FCEU-Next fork)
  • SNES9x (SNES9x-Next fork)
  • Mednafen

And of course a fork of the Linux kernel.

Merry Christmas from Japan!

So yeah, I’ve been crazy busy this holiday season, between work and vacation so updates have . well not been forth coming.

I wanted to touch on old StarWars games for the new movie, and even got to play Star Wars on a x68000!  If it were the 80’s I would super recommend one.  But in this day/age it’s plagued by poor draw distances, poor wire frame 3d, and just poor game play.  It is probably more of a fault with the arcade version that was revolutionary for it’s time, then it rotted and was ported out.  Something like Frontier puts Star Wars to shame on low grade 68000 based hardware.

But the sound, sure was awesome!

I also want to do some passable review of the retro freak!  I picked up one for about $150 USD. It is expensive, there is no doubt about that, and it is emulation.  I also picked up a NES on a chip console clone for about $13 USD.  At the same time I can score a MegaDrive for about 30-40 USD, and 25-30 for a SNES.  Which brings me to an interesting observation:

There is next to NO Mega Drive stuff.  There is far more Saturn, and very few Dreamcast, but I’s seen maybe 15 Mega Drive carts.  Meanwhile I’ve found Famicom/Super Famicom stuff almost everywhere I look.  My favorite is the local chain “Book Off” that almost always has a nice retro section, along with used PS1, PS2, PS3 and PS4 stuff.

Otherwise, I have horrible to non existent internet in the house I rented (it is like the yacht in Hong Kong from a few years back), so I’ve been forced to spend my time in internet cafes for 12+ hours a day.

Oh yeah, Tokyo is just like London.  After 6pm, everyone goes home, the stores close, and there is nothing open.  After 10 the trains stop and that is that.

While I’m on the subject of living in the future, and working physically wherever, the Microsoft Surface is a HORRIBLE HORRIBLE thing.  Granted I didn’t pay for this one, but it’s wifi chip is utter crap, it is prone to locking hard, and the kickstand and detachable keyboard is a JOKE.  I know Balmer wanted in on the iPad action, and then the Surface RT, eventually became just another PC, but damn a laptop this is not.  The only nice thing I can say is that it boots fast.  Which is something you’ll be doing lots of.  The fan is noisy and distracting, the display is OK, but nothing fancy in this modern age.

I currently had to go out and buy 2 USB Ethernet adapters and bridge the cafe’s internet so I could connect this POS.  I give the Microsoft Surface Pro v3 a 1/5*.  AVOID DO NOT BUY.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

In the “neato” section, I did find an eval copy of Citrix.  And a NIB quality box of Postal 2!  I didn’t know there was any updates so that was a surprise.  But now I see it is on sale over on Steam, for $7.50 Hong Kong Dollars.  I would do some give away but I also found out that my account got converted. YAY.

steam is now in HKD

Steam is now priced in Hong Kong Dollars!

Which means I cannot give anything away as apparently I now live in a poorer area and get subsidized games. I guess that is to make up for censored and restricted catalogs.

So yeah, I am alive.

And MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!

Crazy to think that 2016 is literally around the corner!

Mainframe (s390 Linux) Moon Buggy

Linux/s390

Linux/s390

For all you mainframe/Qemu fan’s I came across the ‘QEMU Advent Calendar‘, which includes Moon Buggy on s390!

Moon-buggy is an ascii art game styled after moon-patrol.

Since I do get people always requesting something to run on the Qemu s390 emulation, here you go!  And for Windows users, I packed it up somewhat to make it somewhat easy to run with the image files, emulator and ansicon as moon.7z .

Just unpack and run “run32.cmd” for the 32bit ansicon, or “run64.cmd” for the 64bit ansicon.

Confusion & MDL Zork

I don’t know how I missed this, but there is a MDL interpreter that can run MDL Zork!

This Zork created December 2, 2015.
West of House
This is an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door.
There is a small mailbox here.
A rubber mat saying ‘Welcome to Zork!’ lies by the door.
“DONE”
> open mailbox
Opening the mailbox reveals a leaflet.
> take leaflet
Taken.
> read leaflet
WELCOME TO ZORK
ZORK is a game of adventure, danger, and low cunning. In it you
will explore some of the most amazing territory ever seen by mortal
man. Hardened adventurers have run screaming from the terrors
contained within!

In ZORK the intrepid explorer delves into the forgotten secrets
of a lost labyrinth deep in the bowels of the earth, searching for
vast treasures long hidden from prying eyes, treasures guarded by
fearsome monsters and diabolical traps!

No PDP-10 should be without one!

ZORK was created at the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science, by
Tim Anderson, Marc Blank, Bruce Daniels, and Dave Lebling. It was
inspired by the ADVENTURE game of Crowther and Woods, and the long
tradition of fantasy and science fiction adventure. ZORK is written
in MDL (alias MUDDLE).

On-line information may be available using the HELP and INFO
commands (most systems).

Direct inquiries, comments, etc. by Net mail to ZORK@MIT-DMS.

(c) Copyright 1978,1979 Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
All rights reserved.

>

How is that for cool?  The MDL interpreter is called Confusion by Matthew T. Russotto, and can be found here.  There is even a port to Windows, by  David Kinder back in 2009!

I don’t know how I missed it, but this is as close as you can get to the original 1979 experience.

Speaking of which, gunkies should be on faster hardware, and the DNS records should be updated by the time you read this.

Quake on HPPA (Gecko) NeXTSTEP

So forever ago I had done a super bare port of Quake to NeXTSTEP.  It was based on a copy of UAE 0.6.0 source code that included hooks for NeXTSTEP.  So seizing on this I built a shaky framework and amazingly got it to work.  Well work enough I had trouble with the mouse part, and never did get around to fixing it, but I kicked it out into the world.  And amazingly the HPPA cross compiled version that I compiled but never tested runs!

My whole misadventure is on nextcomputers.org, and blakespot has a blog about finding the gecko and it’s 32bit video modes here.

The Infocom Cabinet

You haven't played Planetfall??

What? You haven’t played Planetfall??

 

Over on archive.org:

A collection of digitized scans from a large cache of documents related to the game publisher Infocom, Inc. of Cambridge, MA. Assembled by Steven Meretzky of Infocom.

During his time at Infocom, Steve Meretzky meticulously gathered thousands of pages of notes, journals, maps, memos, forms and other printable materials related to all aspects of Infocom, and kept them in his basement for decades. During the GET LAMP production, Jason Scott scanned in roughly 9,000 pages of these documents across a number of months, borrowing the materials from Steve and scanning them as quickly as possible, at around 600dpi. From these scans, a portion was used in the GET LAMP movie to illustrate various scenes and descriptions by interviewees.

Pretty cool!

Includes detailed information on the Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, Planetfall parts 1 & part 2, Stationfall, Zork Zero, Leather Gods of Phobos, production schedules and ZIL the interpretive language.   And other goodies!

Great thanks to Steven Meretzky for being a hoarder (aka archiver) and Jason Scott for being a bigger hoarder, and digitizer sharing everything for all!

Snoopy – a basic packet sniffer for Windows

(this is a guest post by Tenox)

A few days ago I wrote a basic packet sniffer / analyzer for Windows for fun. I was working with raw sockets for another application and out of curiosity winged a small packet sniffer in just 200 lines of code. I actually used it already several times to resolve some firewall port blocking issues, instead of spinning up Wireshark, so I decided to release it to public.

The good:

  • Portable, a single, tiny exe
  • Easy to use
  • Doesn’t install any driver like libpcap
  • Extensible, just 200 lines of simple code

The bad:

  • It’s very basic and doesn’t allow anything outside of simple unicast TCP, UDP and ICMP, most importantly layer 2, broadcasts, multicasts, etc are out of question
  • Currently it doesn’t directly support filtering, however you can just pipe it to findstr to filter for anything you want

Raw socket limitations are possibly the biggest issue, but if you just want to find out simple stuff like traffic going to a given port or ip address it’s a perfect little handy dandy tool to carry around.

To use snoopy you specific IP address of the interface on which you want to listen:

snoopy1There also is a verbose mode which shows some more detailed protocol information:

snoopy2Today I decode ICMP message types, TCP flags, sequence, ack and window numbers and DSCP, ECN, TTL and Dont Fragment flags for IP. I’m thinking of embedding /etc/protocols and /etc/services in a .h file to resolve them on the fly.

Bug reports and suggestions most welcome!

Available here: http://www.tenox.net/out#snoopy

 

OpenNT – Windows NT 4.5

(This is a guest post from Tenox)

Just stumbled across this: someone has forked Windows NT 4.0 and created an open source version of it. But wait, forked what? Windows source code doesn’t live on Github. Is it ReactOS? No! Upon some digging, it was apparently born from the leaked source code of NT4.0, some W2K bits and 2003 WRK.

Enter NT version 4.5:

NT45Test-2015-04-27-18-20-37More screenshots here: http://www.opennt.net/projects/opennt/wiki/Screenshots

The main project site: http://www.opennt.net/

Looking at activity the project seems to be alive and well. There is some background information and discussion going on BetaArchive for those interested.

I wonder what Microsoft has to say about this 🙂

NVIDIA GRID – GPU Virtualization under Windows

(this is a guest post by Tenox)

I spent a day evaluating NVIDIA GRID K1 card, which is a GPU for high end, graphics intensive desktop virtualization (VDI) deployments. Otherwise called vGPU. What does it actually mean?

gridk1As you can see on the stock photo, the card doesn’t have VGA, HDMI, DVI, DP or any video output port what so ever. The output happens purely through Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) extension called RemoteFX. On VMware and Citrix it works little bit different but I will be covering Windows / Hyper-v installation only.

The GRID K1 is somewhat similar to Quadro card so the driver is not your usual GeForce package, but the experience is quite similar nevertheless. Upon installation you see 4 different physical GPUs in Device manager:

grid1This works similarly to having multiple CPU cores that show up as separate processors in the OS. Here is a first fun fact: you can’t actually use any of these directly, as they simply have no output port and can’t display any graphics… Instead, you have to use Hyper-v with RemoteFX extension:

grid2Then for each guest machine, you add a RemoteFX graphics card as hardware:

grid3In order to use RemoteFX you need to Remote Desktop (RDP) to the guest machine. The protocol is fortunately available since version 7.1 so even Windows 7 can use it. However only Enterprise editions of Windows support it.

Inside the guest VM you see a virtual RemoteFX Display Adapter in the Device Manager:

grid4And as you can see Direct3D is available and enabled. Note that this is over RDP to a VM! The VM’s console curiously displays following message:

grid5Hard to show on static screenshots, but I have to say that RemoteFX user experience is noticeably better compared to a regular RDP. Everything works smoother and faster, scrolling pages, moving windows is a snap. You can play videos / YouTube, etc. But I was more interested in real use case which are high end 3D applications. So I proceeded to install Steam…

remotefx2Yes! this is GTA V running over Remote Desktop in a VM!

remotefx3The frame rate sucks quite considerably, even in safe mode, but it was playable and quite responsive (no lag). I actually spent couple of hours going through it and except for low FPS had no issues.

I also spun up this Wyse Thin Client terminal:

20151111_215651146_iOSdisconnected my RDP session and reconnected from the terminal… poof the game was still going:

20151111_232610662_iOSI even got sound out of the little thing.

I suspect that the low FPS is rather to do with small GPU horse power and vRAM assigned rather that with remote viewing or NVIDIA itself. Unfortunately in Hyper-v it’s impossible to control or fine tune assignment of GPU resources to a particular VM beyond simple on/off switch. The K1 card supports 32 users, so I was only getting 1/32th power and RAM. Perhaps I could have spawned 32 VMs with GTA. Or Call Of Duty multiplayer….

In ending notes I have to conclude that this is a rather interesting technology. According to NVIDIA, Cloud is future of Gaming. In fact they already have cloud game streaming service:

http://shield.nvidia.com/game-streaming-with-geforce-now

Beware of campers who now will be able to disconnect from online games for months at a time.