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What is the installed VBXE base in 2017?


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#51 Sheddy OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Dec 3, 2017 4:25 AM

Then VBXE really is the missing link between the A8 machines and the Amiga. :)
And POKEY sounds AMAZING in that demo.


It's a lot more powerful than an Amiga. More like the missing link between Amiga AGA and Nvidia!
IMO it's best thought of as its own totally separate thing. Making full use of the VBXE is nothing like programming the Atari. Totally different art assets required too. The Atari "host" is mostly irrelevant at that point, and it wouldn't matter much what computer make or model of computer it is in. IE a VBXE core in a ZX Spectrum could do something identical if there was a version made for it.
We're very lucky to have it though, and if people want to program VBXE that's great of course.

#52 Heaven/TQA OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Dec 3, 2017 10:46 AM

It's a lot more powerful than an Amiga. More like the missing link between Amiga AGA and Nvidia!
IMO it's best thought of as its own totally separate thing. Making full use of the VBXE is nothing like programming the Atari. Totally different art assets required too. The Atari "host" is mostly irrelevant at that point, and it wouldn't matter much what computer make or model of computer it is in. IE a VBXE core in a ZX Spectrum could do something identical if there was a version made for it.
We're very lucky to have it though, and if people want to program VBXE that's great of course.


Yeah that what I run into it.... the art assets take same amount of mem like on PC (as its an 320x256x256 Display or 640x) where the mighty 1,79 MHz 6502 struggles to shuffle in or even loading stuff from disk... thats not well thought from the core devs.

What could help is same as on Atari Lynx some hardware depacker for art assets...

The Lynx is well balanced system even its an 6502 and 64k but Blitter is powerful and has depacking of data build in and the 160x102 fits still to the 4mhz 6502 plus FPU.

Thats why the assets in my demo have a lot of blank pixels or are computed.

#53 Gunstar OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Dec 3, 2017 2:38 PM

It seems to me that the VBXE and Rapidus are both needed to maximize the VBXE then...



#54 flashjazzcat ONLINE  

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Posted Sun Dec 3, 2017 2:43 PM

HDDs (of vastly underutilised capacity) can load data at 64KB/s. How fast does it need to be? :)



#55 Gunstar OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Dec 3, 2017 3:20 PM

HDDs (of vastly underutilised capacity) can load data at 64KB/s. How fast does it need to be? :)

At least 30fps fast, for full-motion video, right? :P


Edited by Gunstar, Sun Dec 3, 2017 3:22 PM.


#56 flashjazzcat ONLINE  

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Posted Sun Dec 3, 2017 4:00 PM

At least 30fps fast, for full-motion video, right? :P

 

Phaeron has already done 60fps full motion video with a hard disk and no VBXE at all. :)



#57 Mathy ONLINE  

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Posted Sun Dec 3, 2017 4:45 PM

Hello David

 

On a completely different note, ComputerEyes VBXE would be very cool. Niche, but cool.

 

Cool enough to stop global warming...

 

@Whoever is going to turn this into reality: ME WANT!!!!

 

Sincerely

 

Mathy



#58 Mathy ONLINE  

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Posted Sun Dec 3, 2017 4:51 PM

Hello guys

 

HDDs (of vastly underutilised capacity) can load data at 64KB/s. How fast does it need to be? :)

 

A CD or DVD would probably be about as fast.  The big advantage of an optical disk is that you can easily replace one for the other.  Just burn all the stuff you need for one game on one disk.  No need for a complete file system, just shovel in the data.

 

Sincerely

 

Mathy



#59 Heaven/TQA OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Dec 4, 2017 1:28 AM

HDDs (of vastly underutilised capacity) can load data at 64KB/s. How fast does it need to be? :)

 

 

true.... ;)

 

but on stock 1050? ;)



#60 flashjazzcat ONLINE  

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Posted Mon Dec 4, 2017 1:48 AM

Well quite, but if you bought VBXE already, invest in a hard disk solution as well. :)

Edited by flashjazzcat, Mon Dec 4, 2017 1:48 AM.


#61 Gunstar OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Dec 4, 2017 8:55 AM

 

Phaeron has already done 60fps full motion video with a hard disk and no VBXE at all. :)

I'm referring to something with MUCH more color depth and MUCH higher resolution, and MUCH longer.



#62 flashjazzcat ONLINE  

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Posted Mon Dec 4, 2017 9:18 AM

I'm referring to something with MUCH more color depth and MUCH higher resolution, and MUCH longer.

 
Right, well: a SIDE2 can theoretically fill all of the VBXE VRAM in around ten seconds. Like I said: how fast does it need to be?

EDIT: Regarding video playback specifically, Rapidus has a DMA port which I guess would prove invaluable if any hardware ever takes advantage of it. :)

Edited by flashjazzcat, Mon Dec 4, 2017 9:29 AM.


#63 phaeron OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 5, 2017 12:35 AM

Length already isn't a problem for streaming video, the existing video player hack is already limited only by media size.

 

Bandwidth is the big problem for streaming VBXE video. The video player hack pulls data off the IDE bus at 509KB/sec. The problem is that the only way to get data from the IDE device onto the VBXE would be to copy it with the CPU. That's absolutely the wrong way to use the VBXE as the VBXE can only reach its full potential when it is not dependent on the CPU. Max speed that the 6502 can copy into VBXE is ~250KB/sec; targeting higher resolution/depth with half the data rate won't work without compression, and decompression would have to be done by the blitter. I'm skeptical that the blitter can handle compression good enough to hit quality/size ratio. I've done video compression in this ballpark before, but it was with a 33MHz 68000 and not a simple blitter. In the mean time, the existing video player hack is totally uncompressed, so it has no compression artifacts whatsoever.

 

In general, streaming tons of raw or nearly raw data isn't a very good use of VBXE, compared to enhanced productivity (multicolor 80-column) or enhanced game graphics. The blitter is fast enough to easily emulate a scrolling tilemap and sprites and it is sorely underused in existing VBXE software. VBXE being an internal add-on makes it relatively inaccessible, though, compared to a cartridge or PBI add-on.



#64 Matej OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 5, 2017 3:41 PM

I have Apple 2GS and Atari with Rapidus+VBXE+Ultimate 1MB is almost same...So now question is.How hard will be port some games from A2GS to our Atari?There are some cool games (ST/Amiga like) on it.We see ports from BBC Electron, C64 even Z80 ZX Spectrum on our Atari.Why not 65c816 Apple?Also want to see VBXE paint and sprite maker too...I want to do pixelart.I plan to have VBXE maybe Rapidus too.We need more games/demos/apps using 65c816/vbxe.Its great HW.

#65 Gunstar OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 5, 2017 4:01 PM

If you want it about the same as a 2GS (actually I think the VBXE graphics are far better than 2GS graphics aren't they?), and get ported 2GS games, then the Rapidus isn't a maybe for you, unless you are holding out for the F7 Turbo external version. Of course a VBXE only to start or at all can definitely still cover your pixel art ambitions, and I think, far better than a IIGS regardless of a 65c816.


Edited by Gunstar, Tue Dec 5, 2017 4:03 PM.


#66 davidcalgary29 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 5, 2017 4:12 PM

It's a lot more powerful than an Amiga. More like the missing link between Amiga AGA and Nvidia!
IMO it's best thought of as its own totally separate thing. Making full use of the VBXE is nothing like programming the Atari. Totally different art assets required too. The Atari "host" is mostly irrelevant at that point, and it wouldn't matter much what computer make or model of computer it is in. IE a VBXE core in a ZX Spectrum could do something identical if there was a version made for it.
We're very lucky to have it though, and if people want to program VBXE that's great of course.

 

But how DO you make full use of VBXE? Has anyone published a blog or tutorial for doing just this?



#67 Xebec OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 5, 2017 8:14 PM

VBXE is akin to the AGA upgrade on the Amiga - it doesn't totally replace the original chipset..

 

..

 

VBXE - useful on NTSC systems or should only really be installed on PAL?  



#68 davidcalgary29 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 5, 2017 11:53 PM

VBXE is akin to the AGA upgrade on the Amiga - it doesn't totally replace the original chipset..
 
..
 
VBXE - useful on NTSC systems or should only really be installed on PAL?

Im not surrendering this to the PAL world! With the exception of Night Driver and some demos, most VBXE programs work fine on my NTSC machine (thanks again, flashjazzcat!). I ooh and ahh every time I play Heartlight. :)

And I am very excited about trying out The Last Word. I just bought a PS/2 keyboard to use with TKII, so good word processing times are coming.

#69 Xebec OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 6, 2017 6:51 AM

Im not surrendering this to the PAL world! With the exception of Night Driver and some demos, most VBXE programs work fine on my NTSC machine (thanks again, flashjazzcat!). I ooh and ahh every time I play Heartlight. :)

And I am very excited about trying out The Last Word. I just bought a PS/2 keyboard to use with TKII, so good word processing times are coming.

 

Lol :).   The demos are what I want to see..   I have a system that is psuedo-PAL -- just the ANTIC swap and it works with my monitor..  colors pallette is probably off a bit but it seems to work for games like the Last V8 .. (you can finally play now :) ).

 

Yeah i'll have to order one of these and find someone to install it..  



#70 slx OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Dec 28, 2017 5:40 PM

 

Interesting. Do you feel that VBXE is the line in the sand which divides A8 machines from  frankenputers or FGPA systems? Does this also apply to upgrades of other components such as POKEY, with a theoretically stable AMY? And Lotharek's Rapidus cards (and I can't wait for that external unit!). Not trying to stir up trouble here -- I'm genuinely interested in this . :)

 

I suppose the dividing line for me is stuff that could reasonably have been done functionally in the 80s/90s. I don't think it's a sharp line as I have put SMD-based stuff in my Ataris. Maybe VBXE changing the signature visual output feels like more of a change than just adding RAM or speed. I do in no  way advocate against VBXE, it's just not something that appeals to me. The rather high price might also contribute to my not even giving it a try.



#71 talanthalus OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jan 5, 2018 8:54 AM

I've *finally* got access to a VBXE-modded machine thanks to the efforts of the amazing flashjazzcat. This really is an impressive upgrade, and, I'm curious -- now that it's been around for almost a decade, how widely has it dispersed through the A8 community? Does anyone have a rough guess as to how many units have been sold?

 

I haven't made any of these modifications to my systems yet.  They've been in boxes for a little over two decades, so I'm just now getting around to sorting things out and deciding what I might want to do.  I have a 1200XL, 130XE, four 800XL (one needs work), and two 400s, and only one of those has an upgrade (Newell 256k ram upgrade) done to it so far back when it was practically still new.  If I get back into this enough, I'll possibly modify one 800XL all the way, but right now, I'm just sorting through the best direction to take to get up and running, online again, and make sure I can preserve everything I had on various sizes of floppy disks.  



#72 Geister OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jan 6, 2018 9:54 PM

I first heard about the VBXE and Rapidus from watching FlashJazzCat's and The Modern Atari 8-bit Computer's channel.  These upgrades got me interested in revisiting the 8-bit world again.  Many thanks to Flash for answering my dumb questions.  I have a lot of catching up to do.

 

At the time I decided to give up my 8-bit computer, I had a 130XE with a 256K MIO and a 20 meg hard disk.  I got the MIO for demo-ing it at the 4th Atari Computer fair in the Allentown Hilton back in 84 or 85.  It was shipped to me with a 5 meg Hollywood block of a hard disk, but I wanted to demonstrate the MIO as an easy upgrade so I bought the 20 meg drive at the show and demonstrated installing and formatting it, then copying floppy after floppy up to the drive.  When that started to lose interest, I got the idea of embarrassing the ST demo'ers that were loading hi-res pictures as quickly as they could.  Dozens of them, one after another from a single 31/2 inch floppy.

 

I loaded dozens of nice graphic images from the club disks (did I mention I was the librarian for Abe's Aces at the time) onto the new hard drive and and when I couldn't match the speed of the ST, I cheated and started loading them from a ram disk faster than the ST could load pictures.  There was a lot of interest from the 8-bit side as they enjoyed seeing the 130XE drubbing the ST in a head to head contest, and so did I!

 

So what's the point of the story above?  When Jack Tramiel took over Atari and announced that his new computer was not going to be backwards compatible to the 8-bit, I was furious.  How dare he bring his Commodore people to Atari and make plans to bin the 8-bits?  I was a total Atari fan-boy at the time and I hated the Commodore computer and felt that the Amiga was the future of Atari, at least on a conceptual basis.  What I really wanted though was an Atari IIGS.  I wanted backwards compatibility and new graphics and sound modes to make that upstart C64 look like the piece of junk I was sure it was.  I drew a line in the sand at anything that wasn't backwards compatible.  

 

Why hadn't Atari brought out all those wonderful 1400 series models they promised?  Why wasn't the Maria chip from the 7800 somehow being grafted into the 8-bits?  I wanted more colors and higher resolutions from Atari but I still wanted to be able to run my 8-bit software.  I mean I started with a 400 computer, and maxed out the ram and installed a B-Key keyboard.  I upgraded to an 800 and added an 810 disk drive. I bought an 800XL and a 1050 drive and bought then bought a doubler chip for the drive and made my own Rambo upgrade to add 256K memory.  This followed by a 130XE and the MIO and hard drive. 

 

My 8-bit was getting more and more powerful and yet it was still my 8-bit Atari.  The only thing I wasn't getting was a faster system with high-res  graphics. Why couldn't this go on forever?  By this time I had PCs also and had gone from 286's to 486's and graphic cards that went from CGA to SVGA, and I was getting pulled away from the Atari by the amazing graphics and sound of DOOM and Quake.  I wondered why I could upgrade these PC's and still play old style games on the newer models.  It was because backwards compatibility was important and doable on PC's that could be incrementally upgraded.  We could have had that if a standard expansion bus had been developed for the Atari line.  The PBI bus could have been that bus, but the 1450XLD that would have made it a standard never got made.  A 1450XLD would have been our Apple II and could have been the basis for CPU and GPU upgrades that would have made this discussion about drawing lines in the sand about what is and isn't an Atari moot.

 

We could have NVidia and AMD fighting over who has the best next graphic card for the 65864 CPU based Atari and you wouldn't think twice about whether it draws a line in the sand or not.  It would still be an Atari, just...better!  And it would still be backwards compatible.  Yeah, there have been watersheds in PC development that broke backwards compatibility, but people do things like keep an older PC for games that require some specific piece of hardware.

 

As I've become less of a fan-boy and just a fan of 8-bit computers, I still want that Atari IIGS that never was, (I also want a C64 and an Apple IIGS) and that's why the VBXE is so interesting to me.  It's a chance to revisit what might have been if time, and Warner Communications (and Tramiel) hadn't done the dirt they did to a nice old computer line and we'd still be using it today.

 

In truth, the only thing that I tended to draw a line in the sand over is FPGA based clones of the Atari.  When the Modern 8-bit Atari user demoed an FPGA clone on his channel I asked why you would want that when you could put a 65816 in a REAL Atari.  I didn't realize that the Rapidus and VBXE were actually created on FPGAs and that the EclaireXL probably already had a 65816 core and maybe even a VBXE core as well.  Considering that the Eclaire has no actual Atari parts in it, would you draw a line in the sand over using one, or only if it had the upgrade cores also?  Having thought more about it, I think the FPGA based computer is a good idea, because the original Atari's won't last forever.  Maybe it's a non-issue because who's going to want an original or clone once us old farts all die off?   

 

Well, I've rambled on enough for one night, time for Gramps to get to bed.



#73 jmccorm OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jan 7, 2018 5:26 PM

Have VBXE emulate Maria, Susy, Tom, or some **ATARI** tech. You'll get tons more support.
Personally, I'd buy one now if more software supported it. But most feel it's not "Atari" enough.

 

I wonder if there are any good things to steal on the coin-op side? (Realistically, of course. We're not talking I, Robot polygon hardware or of Major Havoc's vector graphics.) Unfortunately, as an Atari 8-bit owner, aside from those, I don't think the regular Atari raster coin-op started to impress me until it went 16-bit and 68000 in... 1984 under Atari Games?

 

Also wanted to point out that Altirra makes the installed base much higher than # sold, in case someone is looking to actually publish for the platform.

 

PS: Would totally love to program and play on a vector CRT platform that had screen protection.


Edited by jmccorm, Sun Jan 7, 2018 6:07 PM.


#74 VladR OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jan 7, 2018 8:13 PM

But how DO you make full use of VBXE? Has anyone published a blog or tutorial for doing just this?

I'd be very happy to create a blog for that, if someone was willing to temporarily lend me their Rapidus+VBXE (if it's unused, this would make it a much better use), so I could experiment with it.

 

The process is simple, really : you start experimenting, benchmark all choke points, all basic operations and then just go with the fastest ones. Just keep iterating.

 

I've been doing something similar with Atari Jaguar last year. There's no tutorials for what I'm doing there (HiRes flatshading and texturing at 60 fps), but through trial&error, the R&D will get you there, eventually.



#75 davidcalgary29 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 24, 2018 10:54 PM

I first heard about the VBXE and Rapidus from watching FlashJazzCat's and The Modern Atari 8-bit Computer's channel.  These upgrades got me interested in revisiting the 8-bit world again.  Many thanks to Flash for answering my dumb questions.  I have a lot of catching up to do.
 
At the time I decided to give up my 8-bit computer, I had a 130XE with a 256K MIO and a 20 meg hard disk.  I got the MIO for demo-ing it at the 4th Atari Computer fair in the Allentown Hilton back in 84 or 85.  It was shipped to me with a 5 meg Hollywood block of a hard disk, but I wanted to demonstrate the MIO as an easy upgrade so I bought the 20 meg drive at the show and demonstrated installing and formatting it, then copying floppy after floppy up to the drive.  When that started to lose interest, I got the idea of embarrassing the ST demo'ers that were loading hi-res pictures as quickly as they could.  Dozens of them, one after another from a single 31/2 inch floppy.
 
I loaded dozens of nice graphic images from the club disks (did I mention I was the librarian for Abe's Aces at the time) onto the new hard drive and and when I couldn't match the speed of the ST, I cheated and started loading them from a ram disk faster than the ST could load pictures.  There was a lot of interest from the 8-bit side as they enjoyed seeing the 130XE drubbing the ST in a head to head contest, and so did I!
 
So what's the point of the story above?  When Jack Tramiel took over Atari and announced that his new computer was not going to be backwards compatible to the 8-bit, I was furious.  How dare he bring his Commodore people to Atari and make plans to bin the 8-bits?  I was a total Atari fan-boy at the time and I hated the Commodore computer and felt that the Amiga was the future of Atari, at least on a conceptual basis.  What I really wanted though was an Atari IIGS.  I wanted backwards compatibility and new graphics and sound modes to make that upstart C64 look like the piece of junk I was sure it was.  I drew a line in the sand at anything that wasn't backwards compatible.  
 
Why hadn't Atari brought out all those wonderful 1400 series models they promised?  Why wasn't the Maria chip from the 7800 somehow being grafted into the 8-bits?  I wanted more colors and higher resolutions from Atari but I still wanted to be able to run my 8-bit software.  I mean I started with a 400 computer, and maxed out the ram and installed a B-Key keyboard.  I upgraded to an 800 and added an 810 disk drive. I bought an 800XL and a 1050 drive and bought then bought a doubler chip for the drive and made my own Rambo upgrade to add 256K memory.  This followed by a 130XE and the MIO and hard drive. 
 
My 8-bit was getting more and more powerful and yet it was still my 8-bit Atari.  The only thing I wasn't getting was a faster system with high-res  graphics. Why couldn't this go on forever?  By this time I had PCs also and had gone from 286's to 486's and graphic cards that went from CGA to SVGA, and I was getting pulled away from the Atari by the amazing graphics and sound of DOOM and Quake.  I wondered why I could upgrade these PC's and still play old style games on the newer models.  It was because backwards compatibility was important and doable on PC's that could be incrementally upgraded.  We could have had that if a standard expansion bus had been developed for the Atari line.  The PBI bus could have been that bus, but the 1450XLD that would have made it a standard never got made.  A 1450XLD would have been our Apple II and could have been the basis for CPU and GPU upgrades that would have made this discussion about drawing lines in the sand about what is and isn't an Atari moot.
 
We could have NVidia and AMD fighting over who has the best next graphic card for the 65864 CPU based Atari and you wouldn't think twice about whether it draws a line in the sand or not.  It would still be an Atari, just...better!  And it would still be backwards compatible.  Yeah, there have been watersheds in PC development that broke backwards compatibility, but people do things like keep an older PC for games that require some specific piece of hardware.
 
As I've become less of a fan-boy and just a fan of 8-bit computers, I still want that Atari IIGS that never was, (I also want a C64 and an Apple IIGS) and that's why the VBXE is so interesting to me.  It's a chance to revisit what might have been if time, and Warner Communications (and Tramiel) hadn't done the dirt they did to a nice old computer line and we'd still be using it today.
 
In truth, the only thing that I tended to draw a line in the sand over is FPGA based clones of the Atari.  When the Modern 8-bit Atari user demoed an FPGA clone on his channel I asked why you would want that when you could put a 65816 in a REAL Atari.  I didn't realize that the Rapidus and VBXE were actually created on FPGAs and that the EclaireXL probably already had a 65816 core and maybe even a VBXE core as well.  Considering that the Eclaire has no actual Atari parts in it, would you draw a line in the sand over using one, or only if it had the upgrade cores also?  Having thought more about it, I think the FPGA based computer is a good idea, because the original Atari's won't last forever.  Maybe it's a non-issue because who's going to want an original or clone once us old farts all die off?   
 
Well, I've rambled on enough for one night, time for Gramps to get to bed.


Ah, a kindred spirit. I refused to move on to the ST line after Atari killed my dream machine, the 65XEM. My only regret in the ‘90s, when I *temporarily* stopped using the A8, was failing to keep up with the European scene.
I think we should start a hard drive thread. What kind did you or do you have?




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