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ATARI 65XEM + AMY CHIP - CURT'S UPDATE


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#51 tschak909 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 5, 2017 11:31 AM

I know the Synergy (and its direct ancestor, the Crumar GDS), very well, if anyone has questions about it.

 

-Thom



#52 Level42 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 6, 2017 5:47 PM

actually there would still be all that minus the ST and probably even more including the Atari AMYGA, short for AMY and Graphics Architecture... lol

Maybe Epyx' Handy would have landed in hands that would have done a better job of marketing it...

O well....all in the past now....

Edited by Level42, Wed Dec 6, 2017 5:48 PM.


#53 Lynxpro OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Dec 8, 2017 9:49 PM

Found this...

 

InfoWorld - Jan 28, 1985 - Page 16

 

U8y6NH7.png

 

This might suggest that instead of Atari selling the AMY chip technology to Sight & Sound, that perhaps instead the technology was 'shared' with them in order for them to write a music application for the upcoming 65XEM release. Now if I let my imagination play out, what if after Atari abandoned the idea of releasing the 65XEM, Sight & Sound decided to implement their own version of the chip in a new MIDI product they were developing. If Atari had shared all of the details pertaining to the AMY chip hardware, it might not have been too difficult for someone like Billings to create his own version. And of course if Atari found out, that would be grounds for a lawsuit.

 

Now please keep in mind that this is only an 'imagined' scenario, and could very well be entirely wrong.

 

- Michael

 

I'd like to know why Atari Corp didn't like one of the other chips that Atari Inc Advanced Research designed....the RAINBOW graphics chip. Maybe it's been awhile since I read up on it but I thought it was more powerful than the TTL/Atari Corp. SHIFTER.



#54 Lynxpro OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Dec 8, 2017 9:57 PM

Hi... I've always been curious about the "AMY" sound chip and how it works; particularly how it may sound so tonight I did a couple of hours of research on it just browsing around online and made pdf files out of every website that mention the AMY chip or that's closely related. Found out that the tech comes from or is inspired by, based on, or influenced by a music synthesizer  called the "Hall Alles (Alice) Synthesizer" created by "Bell Labs".. More details can be found on the pdf and other files I've been collecting/downloading where as I haven't read through all of them yet. It would be nice to see this chip on an fpga fully functioning or greatly improved upon. I hope all of this helps out for what it's worth. Below are a couple of YouTube featuring the "Alles Synthesizer" demonstrated. Now that doesn't mean that the AMY chip will sound similar where as there's probably a lot of added features on the Alles. It does however give an idea of possible sound range of some sort the AMY might can do minus the effects and what-have-you... The Alles was a 16bit hardware made public around 1977 (see YouTube) thus could be affordably made into a chip by 82/83; in AMY's case, around $8 a chip. Whatever the case, the Alles by Bell Labs is the mojo behind the inspired tech for the AMY sound processor. What would be interesting is finding the spec sheets on the Alles synthesizer... You find that and you'll get a logistic of what the design philosophy for the AMY was about by comparing the two techs.

 

 

 

I could swear Atari Inc's - it could've been Atari Coin Division - memo from early 1984 estimated the AMY's chip cost at $4. That's that chip itself and not any other controller chip. Some of the documentation I've seen had an Intel chip as a controller for it. Kinda like how many arcade boards had a 6502 or a Z80 controlling other sound chips.

 

Another casualty of Atari Corp "owning" the AMY was that Atari Coin/Games shelved their plans to use the AMY in their arcade games and pivoted to the YM2151. Yamaha wouldn't sell Atari Corp - or any other home computer company deemed a "competitor to Yamaha's own computer ambitions - the YM2151, which is another reason why the ST got the shoddy YM2149 instead.

 

Atari Coin/Games also lost out on the licensing agreement to use the Amiga Lorraine chipset in their arcade games when Commodore stole Amiga Corp away from Atari Inc. Had Warner been more aggressive in defending their interests in the Atari Inc remnants that they folded into Atari Coin/Games, that entity could've ended up with both the 7800 and the Amiga. Which would've been very interesting...imagine a "Tengen" 7800 and Amiga. Maybe they could've driven TTL/Atari Corp into the ground and then bought them up in bankruptcy while excising all of Atari Inc's burdensome debt that TTL/Atari Corp assumed. Steve Ross and James Morgan could've out-Tramiel'ed Jack at his own game had they wanted to...



#55 Level42 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 9, 2017 11:45 AM

OK, the Tramiels weren't the brightest in technological sense, but you can bet a pretty nice amount on the fact that they were smart enough include some nice articles in the contract that Warner and/or Atari Games weren't allowed to sell any consoles or homecoomputers anymore....

#56 philipj OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Dec 11, 2017 1:26 AM

 

I could swear Atari Inc's - it could've been Atari Coin Division - memo from early 1984 estimated the AMY's chip cost at $4. That's that chip itself and not any other controller chip. Some of the documentation I've seen had an Intel chip as a controller for it. Kinda like how many arcade boards had a 6502 or a Z80 controlling other sound chips.

 

Another casualty of Atari Corp "owning" the AMY was that Atari Coin/Games shelved their plans to use the AMY in their arcade games and pivoted to the YM2151. Yamaha wouldn't sell Atari Corp - or any other home computer company deemed a "competitor to Yamaha's own computer ambitions - the YM2151, which is another reason why the ST got the shoddy YM2149 instead.

 

Atari Coin/Games also lost out on the licensing agreement to use the Amiga Lorraine chipset in their arcade games when Commodore stole Amiga Corp away from Atari Inc. Had Warner been more aggressive in defending their interests in the Atari Inc remnants that they folded into Atari Coin/Games, that entity could've ended up with both the 7800 and the Amiga. Which would've been very interesting...imagine a "Tengen" 7800 and Amiga. Maybe they could've driven TTL/Atari Corp into the ground and then bought them up in bankruptcy while excising all of Atari Inc's burdensome debt that TTL/Atari Corp assumed. Steve Ross and James Morgan could've out-Tramiel'ed Jack at his own game had they wanted to...

 

Yea it is kind of a shame the AMY didn't make it to the arcade machines... It would've helped giving a leg up in solidifying the sound chip. I would've loved to see something better in the 7800 myself. There's just a lot of stuff Atari really didn't seem to have the foresight on some things at the time of their. I know sometimes with companies there can be a lack of or even a breakdown in communication of multiple things rather it's ideas or missed opportunities that can fly right over people's head without them even knowing. Or sometimes people can know things and not fully realize the full reach of the information they have in their hands; much of that requires a level of wisdom beyond just the business aspect of things. I think of Steve Jobs and he seemed very connected to his audience of buyers, but was a complete douchebag with how he treated his employees in his early days; but as he got older he not only ran treated his employees better, he still knew how to release a good product better than his competitors.

 

I found another related video, which I think is very note worthy to post being that the song seems significant in history... This time it's a composition using, not the "Synergy Synth" but the original Bell Labs "Alles Synthesizer" composed by Don Slepian, who was the music composer at Bell Labs. The graphics was added by the YouTube author "Stuart Diamond"... I'll add the full YouTube description below:

 

 

 

Algorithms of Time is Stuart Diamond’s visualization to Don Slepian’s classic “Sea of Bliss”. Computer music was born back in 1958 in Max Mathew’s sound lab, at what was then the Bell Telephone Labs research center in Murray Hill, New Jersey. From 1979 through 1981, Don Slepian was “Artist In Residence” at the Labs. Most of his time then was spent working with the Bell Labs Digital Synthesizer, also known as the Alles Machine (pronounced “Alice”), named after its designer Hal Alles. The Alles Machine was disassembled in 1981, with Sea of Bliss the only full length piece of music ever realized on it. Sea of Bliss was very influential work when it was first released, impacting what was to become Ambient, New Age and Meditative music. Quite an accomplishment. It was recently re-released in vinyl.



#57 philipj OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 5, 2018 4:33 PM

Just revisiting this old topic... Here's an article about the "Synergy Keyboard" I just googled and thought suitable for this topic. This keyboard is probably the closes you'll get to what the Amy chip might actually sound like minus a few bells and whistles.

 

 

http://www.vintagesy...isc/synergy.php



#58 DrVenkman OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 5, 2018 4:47 PM

All this talk of vapor ware ... One of the Antic Podcast interview episodes (the one with John Palevich) discusses both AMY and RAINBOW. Neither were real production hardware. And evidently, IIRC, Amy never even made it to real silicon. 

 

https://ataripodcast...blue-c-compiler



#59 _The Doctor__ OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 5, 2018 5:26 PM

Amy was a working project, the few chips (on ceramic, and that means silicone also btw)  that were produced... each had different problems, this was a problem due to manufacture and complexity. It would have been sorted out had Atari chosen to try again with a little more money and perhaps a different manufacturer for the chips. Add to that the problem of having one more chip for video, and possibly splitting up the sound chip because the first try at it failed (rather than letting someone else try to produce it) meant added cost, the whole group of ideas end up in the can...  short sighted and honestly, imho a rash decision. They could have done this a step at a time, which was an idea... there was no one fault in each chip, so you get a response of it doesn't work... but because each failed differently.. you know it was not a failure of the chip itself but rather manufacture. If it was the design itself all would have failed the same way... but whatever. Of course it didn't make it to production.. but it wasn't exactly 'vaporware' in the sense that it was just an idea that never happened like so many other things.


Edited by _The Doctor__, Mon Mar 5, 2018 5:26 PM.


#60 DrVenkman OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 5, 2018 5:38 PM

Amy was a working project, the few chips (on ceramic, and that means silicone also btw)  that were produced... each had different problems...

 

Well, what Palevich says in the interview I linked above (FFW to about 1:02:45 or so) was that the project state was 3 wire-wrapped boards hooked together, consisting of discrete logic. That worked. But the masked logic chip design had flaws and didn't work, and they ran out of money to figure out why. That sounds less like a bug in manufacturing than like a design/CAD issue trying to translate the wire-wraps and schematics to silicon.  It's 35 years after the fact or more now and it doesn't really matter. It never existed as a real product. Call it whatever you want. *Shrug*

 

But all of that goes to show that Atari's coin-op estimates of $4 each in volume were guesses at best.



#61 _The Doctor__ OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 6, 2018 10:34 AM

Atari just 'guessed' about all the prices? There were ball park figures... but hey call it what you will.

The chips exist but failed in different ways... while there could have been mix ups in the submissions... it still doesn't change that fact. Different modes of failure from the same submissions doesn't make sense! Who bungled? Maybe both!

We all know it wasn't a delivered product or we'd all have them! What is this? Straw men on fire?

This is getting to the heart what went wrong, and who knows maybe the proto-types will be used to fix it one day. Before the next negative shot about why would we... maybe because we can? or taking care of unfinished business? or maybe it would be freakin' nice or awesome. It's fun or interesting! This is why individuals share what's known and hope for the best.



#62 philipj OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 6, 2018 3:29 PM

Well for me I was just curious about the AMY chip and decided to do some quick research on it, found a bunch of stuff about it and found it suitable to post in this topic. Just putting the found information out for others to see. Being a music composer myself, I found it interesting that "Bell Labs" was at the origin of this AMY chip concept, it would've blown the sid chip off of the map in comparison. I like music and I remembered running into the website was posted by Curt Vendel posted some years back was just curious about the chip.



#63 _The Doctor__ OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 6, 2018 3:57 PM

Always hoping it would be attempted again, with the way things are done today, what was complex then should be childs play today, even if something is incorrect in the paperwork, you would think it would be easily sorted with the people and tools available today



#64 kheller2 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Mar 7, 2018 1:31 PM

Read http://www.digitpres...chip2_notes.pdf

Discusses some of the issues of the fabricated test chips, errors, translation errors etc..



#65 _The Doctor__ OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Mar 7, 2018 8:24 PM

Thank you for digging that up! Thank you!



#66 Bryan OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Mar 7, 2018 9:18 PM

Just putting the found information out for others to see. Being a music composer myself, I found it interesting that "Bell Labs" was at the origin of this AMY chip concept, it would've blown the sid chip off of the map in comparison.

 

Was SID really the target? It can do some neat things, but it isn't a hard chip to beat if you're starting from scratch. We had 8-channel Yamaha FM chips by then that Atari Games was using in coin-ops. Maybe AMY would have been better, but it sounds like it was either too ambitious or no one was really willing to spend the money to fix its problems.



#67 _The Doctor__ OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Mar 7, 2018 10:02 PM

AMY was indeed better,  It should have been good to go at rev 2 but it looks like the 10% reduction and re submission fail was more than anyone could swallow and spend the money on  yet again... Tramiel could have done it, but he didn't want to spend a nickle on anything... it didn't help he got rid of most working on it either. who wants a kludge to work around those introduced errors? Should have done a third try and it would have been right... nope try to work around the issues... can't? sh*t can it.


Edited by _The Doctor__, Wed Mar 7, 2018 10:07 PM.


#68 Bryan OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Mar 7, 2018 10:08 PM

I don't get too sentimental about it because it wasn't really an Atari chip to begin with.

 

Somewhere I read that Yamaha wasn't interested in selling its FM sound chips to Atari once they heard that the ST would include MIDI ports and might compete with their sequencers.



#69 _The Doctor__ OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 8, 2018 12:45 AM

I don't get too sentimental about it because it wasn't really an Atari chip to begin with.

 

Somewhere I read that Yamaha wasn't interested in selling its FM sound chips to Atari once they heard that the ST would include MIDI ports and might compete with their sequencers.

You would be correct about the Yamaha ST MIDI conflict, but AMY was an Atari chip working in consideration with Bell labs etc etc.


Edited by _The Doctor__, Thu Mar 8, 2018 12:46 AM.


#70 tschak909 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 8, 2018 1:25 AM

I owned and used a DK Synergy for some time in the early 1990s. It was an absolutely gorgeous sounding synthesizer, especially if you took the time to _really_ dig into its voice architecture. It was harder to program than a DX7 (and a DX7 was a pain in the ass), but you were rewarded with very fine grained additive control, creating very subtle additive timbres...Most Synergy owners didn't bother going beyond the standard voice carts, because the software required a CP/M based machine to run the voicing software (ported over from the Crumar GDS, which was used to bring up the Synergy), this was most commonly a KAYPRO II, although any Bigboard CP/M based machine would work in theory.)

 

It would have been great to have seen a DK Synergy in single chip form, which was really what AMY was attempting to be.

 

-Thom



#71 tschak909 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 8, 2018 1:27 AM

<-- a full DK Synergy II setup with a Kaypro running the voicing software.

 

-Thom






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