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HiassofT

TurboFreezer XL/XE 2011 preorder starts now

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I'm glad to announce that the new TurboFreezer 2011, winner of the ABBUC hardware contest, can now be preordered from ABBUC.

 

Please note: preorder ends on November 20th 2011 and the final price may vary slightly - it'll be within +/- 5 EUR of the current estimate, depending on the number of units in the current production run and the final prices of the parts.

 

The TurboFreezer is equipped with an exchangable adapter board (one for XL computers with a PBI interface, one for XE computers with ECI/cart interface) which can also be ordered separately - so you can order, for example, one TurboFreezer XL (including XL adapter) and a separate XE adapter board.

 

The current estimated prices for ABBUC members are:

 

TurboFreezer with XL adapter: 57,50 EUR (+/- 5 EUR)

TurboFreezer with XE adapter: 60 EUR (+/- 5 EUR)

additional XL adapter: 7,50 EUR

additional XE adapter: 10 EUR

 

If you are not an ABBUC member, add 5 EUR for each TurboFreezer and 1,50 EUR for each additional adapter board, or join ABBUC now.

 

Please send your orders by email to Wolfgang Burger: atari <at> unitybox <dot> de, with the subject "TurboFreezer order". Include the number of XL / XE TurboFreezers, and optionally the number of XL / XE adapter boards, your full name and shipping address, and your ABBUC member number, if you have one, so you'll be charged the ABBUC member price.

 

After the end of the preorder phase we'll send you an email with the final price, including shipping costs, please pay within 1 week so we can start ordering the parts (payment will be possible via money transfer to a German bank account and via PayPal).

 

Shipment will start when the units are assembled and tested. We'll process the orders in sequence, so the earlier you order the earlier you'll receive your TurboFreezer. We can't promise if shipment will start this year, it's more likely that the first units will be shipped in January 2012.

 

Here are the main features of the new TurboFreezer:

 

- completely new hardware design, total of 1MB flash and 1MB battery backed RAM, both XL and XE adapter boards are equipped with a pass-through PBI connector (XE adapter also contains a cartridge slot)

 

- Freezer function: stop/resume a program at any time, save/load snapshots to/from TurboFreezer RAM / ramdisk / disk / tape. Built-in, enhanced, debugger. Stereo Pokey systems are now supported, too.

 

- Oldrunner mode: integrated OldOS

 

- 512k battery-backed ramdisk, 100% PORTB compatible

 

- CartrdigeEmulation: can use up to 960k flash and 384k RAM to run 8k, 16k and OSS carts. Supports new SDX (same banking as Ultimate1MB, up to 512k max.) plus "stacked" carts running from the CartEmu (so you can run SDX and MAC/65 from the TurboFreezer). Added AtariMax 8Mbit (1MB) compatible banking (up to 960kB) and new 8k + RAM banking (main 8k bank at $A000, optional 8k RAM bank at $8000).

 

More detailled information can be found in the current draft of the German manual. An English manual will follow later, for now have some fun with Google translate or have a look at the quite old English manual for the TurboFreezer 2005.

 

Here are some pictures of the prototype with the XL adapter board:

 

Plugged into my 800XL:

post-9299-0-70123800-1320173512_thumb.jpg

front view:

post-9299-0-90569900-1320173521_thumb.jpg

side view:

post-9299-0-05204700-1320173528_thumb.jpg

 

so long,

 

Hias

Edited by HiassofT
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Hello Hias-

 

Looks very nice, and I'm glad I waited for this version. A few questions:

 

Is there a list of compatible or non-compatible devices -- i.e. mostly PBI drives. IDE+2 mainly.

 

Will it look like the prototype? (Very nice case, I think.)

 

Gold or solder contacts on XL & XE adapters?

 

Great work!

 

-Larry

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Hi Larry!

 

Looks very nice, and I'm glad I waited for this version.

Thanks a lot!

 

Is there a list of compatible or non-compatible devices -- i.e. mostly PBI drives. IDE+2 mainly.

 

Will it look like the prototype? (Very nice case, I think.)

 

Gold or solder contacts on XL & XE adapters?

At this year's Fujiama I tested compatibility with the IDE+ interface and it worked fine. A few times I also had both the old and the new Freezer attached (for debugging the new Freezer using the old one) and it worked without any issues (of course you can't have both Freezers active at the same time, but using the debugger of one Freezer to test the CartEmu of the other Freezer works).

 

This XL prototype already has the final versions of the PCBs and the case. Only changes will be a nicer label and (if everything works as expected) a nice, larger cap for the Freezer button.

 

The PBI pass-through connector is currently covered with chemical tin, I'll ask Wolfram (mega-hz, he's responsible for PCB and case) if it's also possible to get gold contacts.

 

so long,

 

Hias

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And Mail adress bounced back? Only me?

 

I used this email address "atari <at> unitybox <dot> de" and I did not get undelivered email notice. I hope that is the correct address.

 

 

Best regards

Robert Miller

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@Robert Miller

 

Hey! Why do you tink TopicStarter uses the 'scrambled' format of an e-mail adres?! To prevent search engines finding the e-mail adress and uses the e-mail address for commercial purpouse (= spam!). He is doing that with a reason, and now you are providing that particular e-mail address here without the scrambling?

 

Nice!

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I'm VERY interested too. But I need to know for sure that this works with The BlackBox. If they will I'll order a nice batch of these TurboFreezers ;)

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What is The difference to the last version?

The new TurboFreezer is a completely new design, the CPLD on the old version was discontinued so we choose a different, larger one, started completely from scratch and added several new features:

 

The old Freezer had 512k Flash and 128k RAM, new one has 1024k Flash and 1024k RAM. Half of the RAM is used by the RamDisk, other half by the Freezer software and Cartridge Emulation. Standard split of the second half is 128k for the Freezer and 384k for the CartEmu. This means you can store a snapshot in Freezer RAM and still have 384k for the CartEmu (actually the CartEmu can access up to 480k RAM, but then you can't store snapshots to the Freezer RAM anymore).

 

Since the RAM is now equipped with a battery backup, your snapshot in Freezer RAM will be preserved if you power down your computer. For example: play a game, when you get tired save a snapshot to Freezer RAM and power off your computer, some time later power on again, load the snapshot within seconds and continue playing. Same goes for the RamDisk, contents are preserved during power-off.

 

Due to the battery backup you can now use the Cartridge Emulation from RAM just like from Flash. With the benefit of being able to patch single bytes just using the Freezer Debugger or any other tool, since it's RAM not flash. Can be handy when developing/testing cartridge based software.

 

The new "8k+RAM" mode is intended for cart-based software that needs more RAM without having to rely on a (internal) RamDisk, like for example Jon's GUI (I implemented this mode after a discussion with Jon).

 

For developers: this mode is fully configurable, you have independent bank- and enable registers for the "main" block at $A000 and the RAM block at $8000. You can even map RAM bank X to $A000 and RAM bank Y to $8000 if you like, this can be handy to fast-copy contents from one RAM bank to another. Another feature that's not possible with real carts: when you press the Reset key on your Atari the RAM bank at $8000 is automatically unmapped to prevent corruption, for example the OS initializing its graphics 0 screen at $9C20-$9FFF.

 

In the old Freezer the CartEmu was controlled by accessing various addresses from $D500 to $D58B (and $D5E0-$D5EF for SDX) and you couldn't read back the current config, as the PLD had no connection to the databus. The new Freezer uses a few registers at $D590-$D596 (and another one at $D5E0 for SDX) which are all read/write. So you can do, for example a simple "INC $D590" to switch to the next bank.

 

Support for the AtariMax 8Mbit mode (bank select via $D500-$D57F, disable via $D580-$D58F) means you can use existing AtariMax images or use the MaxFlash software on the PC to easily create images yourself. There's one drawback, though: there are only 960k available, the last 64k of the flash are used by the Freezer software and CartEmu config. So images needing the full 1024k (like Space Harrier, for example) won't work. But if you limit yourself to 960k in MaxFlash studio everything's fine.

 

SDX: the old Freezer only supported it's native bank-switching mode and a special version of SDX had to be built (the new Freezer still has support for this old mode so you can use all your older images). The new Freezer uses the same bankswitching as the Ultimate1MB and also supports stacked carts from the CartEmu. Only thing that doesn't work 100% is running SDX from the Freezer and having a real cart in your cartslot: the SDX from the Freezer takes precedence over the real cart, but doesn't have the possiblity to switch this cart off to access the RAM at $A000.

 

The old Freezer didn't signal the presence of a cart via TRIG3 / $D013, so some bankswitching cartridges, like Basic XE, didn't work correctly from the cartemu and had to be patched. The new Freezer now emulates this behaviour, so no need for patching.

 

The Freezer function is almost identical to the old one except for two changes:

 

You can control, with a switch, if you have a stereo pokey Atari or a stock, single pokey Atari. The Freezer then correctly shadowes either $D200-$D21F or $D200-$D20F (of course also emulating the incomplete address decoding, so that registers repeat either at $D220, $D240, ... or $D210, $D220, ...).

 

The other change was slightly trickier: a few programs, like Galaxian, sometimes failed to freeze and resume correctly. I tracked down what was causing the issue and then had to modify the freezer control state machine in the PLD: The Freezer hooks into the 6502 interrupt vectors, if you press the freezer button and $FFF8-$FFFF is accessed in two succesive cycles, the freezer activates: it maps in it's RAM and ROM and "bends" the interrupt vector (actually only the high-byte of the vector) to a NOP-slide page. The problem with now was: If the Freezer was activated during an IRQ or NMI and you had an NMI a little bit later, when the CPU was still running the NOP slide, before it had a chance to disable NMIs, the CPU would process this NMI but the memory from $0000-$3FFF now wasn't the original Atari memory anymore but the freezer RAM/ROM. As you can imagine, this can lead to all kinds of "funny" effects. The new Freezer solves this problem by introducing a new "starting up" state, where it bends the interrupt vectors to a page full of RTIs. As this issue can only occur with NMIs (IRQs are blocked if the CPU is executing an interrupt routine), which are edge-triggered, this effectively solves the problem.

 

I also implemented some extensions to the Freezer software / debugger: you now have full control over PORTB in the debugger, using the PB command, so you can access the OS ROM, Basic and SelfTest. The old Freezer had all these permanently switched off so you could only "see" the Atari RAM. Another new feature is the "printer log": you can log all debugger output to a printer (or, if using SIO2PC, capture the printer output in a file), and also have a "comment" function to add arbitrary text to the log (just type ";my comment" and you have this line in your log). As these are software-only features, they will also be available for the old Freezer through the next sofware update.

 

Some "cosmetic" changes: several people wanted a pass-through PBI connector, and a case instead of a bare PCB, so we respected their wishes. The old Freezer also had a jumper for controlling "flash write enable" (mainly because of the costs, the old switches were rather expensive), the new Freezer now uses switches for all user-controls (including 2 new switches, one for the RamDisk, the other one for mono/stereo Pokey).

 

Several people also complained that the old XE Freezer was laying flat on the table (extending for quite a bit to the back) instead of "standing" behind the Atari. I also didn't like this too much (although it was a minor issue to me, as I really hate the XEs, mainly for their keyboard, and only use XLs) and as we also wanted a pass-through PBI for the XL version a single Freezer with exchangable adapters was just natural. BTW: inside the case there's a stack of 2 PCBs, as we also wanted to avoid using multilayer PCBs - they are quite expensive and it's difficult to "patch" them if we discovered errors in the layout (such things happen quite often during development :)

 

And Mail adress bounced back? Only me?

Strange... It worked for me yesterday, and other people seemed to have success, too. What error message did you get?

 

so long,

 

Hias

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I'm VERY interested too. But I need to know for sure that this works with The BlackBox. If they will I'll order a nice batch of these TurboFreezers ;)

I don't have a blackbox, and I think Wolfram doesn't have one either. The old Freezer worked fine with the BlackBox (at least several people told me so :), so I'd expect the new Freezer to work correctly, too.

 

I'll try to find out if we can do some testing (BlackBoxes are kind of rare...)

 

so long,

 

Hias

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Thanks Hias for the explanation. Looking forward... :) Placed my preorder... :D This time for the XL version as my last Turbo Freezer was for my XE. ;)

 

Btw. I can only tell everybody that the Freezer is top technology and looks very professional. I used it to mainly debug Metagallactic Llamas. ;)

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Could you show or link us to picture(s) of the XL and XE adapters (without the freezer plugged in)?

 

Looks like this could well take the place of the Ram 320XE or Ram 512XE (can't remember where the amount stood).

 

-Larry

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Could you show or link us to picture(s) of the XL and XE adapters (without the freezer plugged in)?

Here's a picture of the final XL version and of the XE prototype (we had the pins on the cart connector in the wrong order, but this is fixed in the final version):

post-9299-0-10381100-1320241284_thumb.jpg

In the top-left corner of the XE adapter there's a solder-jumper field so that you can route the additional ECI signals (D1xx, HALT) which are not present on the PBI to the 3 unused PBI pins, if you like (default is original PBI layout with NC pins). BTW: in the final XE version we moved the position of this jumper-field slightly so there's more distance to the cart connector.

 

We also made provisions so that you can install the plastic part covering the cartridge port of the XL computers on the adapter board, so that carts requiring the two "noses" on the cart port to unlock their slider can be easily used.. This part isn't included with the board, so you have to find one yourself, for example take one from a dead XL. If installed it looks like this:

post-9299-0-04876800-1320241292_thumb.jpg

 

If you like you can also use the bare XE adapter board as a simple ECI-PBI converter for the XEs.

 

Looks like this could well take the place of the Ram320 XE or Ram512 XE (can't remember where that stood).

For some part, at least. The ramdisk feature on the TurboFreezer is just a small addon, we didn't care about various ramdisk modes or separate ANTIC access. From my experience with my 512k SRAM upgrade most people only used the 512k mode and some of them didn't even install jumpers/switches to configure the modes or disable it. I also couldn't squeeze any more logic into the CPLD, so it's just this single 512k mode with an on/off switch.

 

But it should be noted that the TurboFreezer correctly emulates the data-direction register of the PIA so you can disable single bits by configuring them as inputs (with the Debugger, for example), this works until the next reset.

 

so long,

 

Hias

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@yell0w_lantern

 

From what I understand it is a rather XE compatible memory expansion yes. Since Hiassoft is referring to his SRAM upgrade... I understand it works just like that, with perhaps some very slight incompatibilities.

 

I'm very excited about this. I made my order just a few minutes ago :D

 

That will be some happy Atari in a few months!

 

Greetz

M.

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Can the ram be used by the CPU to run larger programs?

Yes, exactly. You can use the 512k RAM upgrade (ramdisk is a slightly wrong term...) to run demos like Numen (requiring a 256k upgrade / total of 320k) etc. Or you can use it as a ramdisk with DOS, just like all other RAM upgrades.

 

From what I understand it is a rather XE compatible memory expansion yes. Since Hiassoft is referring to his SRAM upgrade... I understand it works just like that, with perhaps some very slight incompatibilities.

There's a very small issue, which is also mentioned in the manual:

 

If you have an internal memory upgrade which supports separate ANTIC access (for example a stock 130XE) and setup PORTB for ANTIC only access (i.e. PB4=high, PB5=low) then ANTIC will access the internal memory upgrade, not the memory upgrade on the TurboFreezer. There's not much I can do about this, but fortunately it's not a big issue. Most software detects and uses memory upgrades correctly, so they don't suffer from this problem (we tested lots of programs and all worked well). If you run into a program that has issues with it you have 2 options: either disable the internal upgrade (for example using a switch in the PB4/5 lines from the PIA, requires soldering) or disable the memory upgrade on the TurboFreezer (no soldering required, switch is already there :)

 

so long,

 

Hias

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Thanks for the additional pics. I've pre-ordered an XL and an XE model.

 

(Hiassoft said:)

> The PBI pass-through connector is currently covered with chemical tin, I'll ask Wolfram (mega-hz, he's responsible for PCB and case) if it's also possible to get gold contacts. <

 

I hope that you can offer gold contacts. My experience with the "chemical tin" is that in some cases it *peels off.* I've never had that happen with gold. To me at least it's worth the cost for the better material.

 

One last question (I think) ;-) For a 600XL, will the ramdisk back-fill the missing 48K, or does the 600XL need to be brought up to 64K first?

 

-Larry

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Will the TurboFreezer work together with QMEG OS?

Sure. A short note on compatibility:

 

If you disable Cartridge Emulation, Ramdisk and OldOs the TurboFreezer is completely "invisible" from the Atari, until you press the Freezer button. At this time the TurboFreezer intercepts the interrupt vectors, maps in it's RAM and ROM (from $0000-$3FFF) and uses $D7xx for Freezer RAM/ROM bank-select and control. After you exit from the Freezer it becomes "invisible" again.

 

I hope that you can offer gold contacts. My experience with the "chemical tin" is that in some cases it *peels off.* I've never had that happen with gold. To me at least it's worth the cost for the better material.

I'll have to talk with Wolfram about this. Looks like we can get gold contacts, too, but we haven't tried this before (it's always risky to make changes shortly before the final production run without doing extensive tests), and it'll add some 1,5-2 EUR per adapter board and Freezer.

 

One last question (I think) ;-) For a 600XL, will the ramdisk back-fill the missing 48K, or does the 600XL need to be brought up to 64K first?

No, the ramdisk is only mapped to $4000-$7FFF. So with a 16k Atari you'll have a total of 528k - 16k base memory and 512k extended memory at $4000.

 

so long,

 

Hias

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