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RAM DISK - Interest check

RAM DISKS - Interest check  

43 members have voted

  1. 1. If someone was to come out with a NEW version of a Horizon RAM Disk would you be interested in purchasing one?

  2. 2. If someone was to come out with a NEW version of the Super AMS card would you be interested in purchasing one?

  3. 3. What format would you prefer?

    • Sidecar Design
    • Card in the P-Box
    • Other (if checked, post a message for clarification)
      0
  4. 4. How much memory do you think a card like this should have?

  5. 5. How much would you be willing to spend for an assembled product?

  6. 6. Would a BONUS option make you more willing to purchase one?

    • YES
    • NO
    • IF yes, speech internal, but nothing else.
    • IF yes, a real time clock, but nothing else.
    • If yes, both speech internal & a real time clock
    • Just keep the cost down and give me the memory only.


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The TI-99/4A is NOT dead, in fact more people are coming back all the time. We have HDX's, F18A's, 80 track mods, but it's beginning to look like the time is ripe for a RAM disk or paged memory that is affordable and easy to obtain. A possible web browser is also on the horizon that would require lots of memory to display page data, other projects are showing a need as well. What kind of interest is out there? Let us know what you think! :)

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A large capacity RAM disk would be fantastic. Who is willing to design it is a different matter entirely unfortunately. Not many of us have the technical knowledge for such a project...

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A large capacity RAM disk would be fantastic. Who is willing to design it is a different matter entirely unfortunately. Not many of us have the technical knowledge for such a project...

 

I have faith! There are lot's of talented people here. Hopefully there will be enough expressed desire for someone(s) to take on the project. If not a totally up-to-date modern design, a clone of existing hardware might suffice.

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There's already a large capacity ramdisk out there. The Horizon 4000, I have one in my TI & one in my Geneve. They can go up to 8 meg with a single layer of 512k chips. My Geneve's ramdisk is split, so I have two 3.2 meg disks on one card (3.2 meg is the maximum capacity for the Geneve). My TI has 2 layers of 128k chips for a total of 4 meg.

 

The 512k chips are available for about 6 bucks, so that's $12 a meg, not bad. You could probably make an 8 meg card for a total of about $120 in parts. Maybe Bud would be interested in making another run of boards, or he might be willing to let us use the design and let us do our own run of boards.

 

Seems the simplest solution.

 

Gazoo

Edited by Gazoo
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There's already a large capacity ramdisk out there. The Horizon 4000, I have one in my TI & one in my Geneve. They can go up to 8 meg with a single layer of 512k chips. My Geneve's ramdisk is split, so I have two 3.2 meg disks on one card (3.2 meg is the maximum capacity for the Geneve). My TI has 2 layers of 128k chips for a total of 4 meg.

 

The 512k chips are available for about 6 bucks, so that's $12 a meg, not bad. You could probably make an 8 meg card for a total of about $120 in parts. Maybe Bud would be interested in making another run of boards, or he might be willing to let us use the design and let us do our own run of boards.

 

Seems the simplest solution.

 

Gazoo

 

An 8 meg card? Oooooh, this opens up massive potential! :)

 

Could those of you who have one PLEASE post a message or two about what software you use on them, how you use it and how to access or save to it. If us "cardless masses" could get a clearer picture of the capabilities and benefits, I'm sure more people would get interested and sign up for one. I see this like the F18A or HDX, once you understand it, it's heck of a lot easier to justify and purchase.

 

Something like this WOULD take the TI to a whole new level in software, possibly even a first person shooter type game, but certainly a text based browser would be feasible, not to mention other stuff I've not even thought of. Also, since this is an existing design, I'm sure the politics of coding for it would be avoided as well.

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Sadly there is not much software out there that uses the large Horizon 4000 Ramdisks, which also had RAMBO built-in.

 

Back when they were produced, programmers at the time could not figure out management wise how to handle the 8k banking of >6000 Space that Rambo supplied, as such only 3 programs were written that used it, two of which OPA produced themselves.

 

AMS design was much better, with allowing any page to be switch not just the >6000 space, but it did not have ramdisk features, just large program space, and again only a few programs were written to use it.

 

The problem at time memory was very costly back then, it is infact alot cheaper now to produce a large ramdisk or ams card, then it was back when they were being run off, plus it seems now there is more people willing to learn assembly and program for ti99 now then there was back then.

 

It also would help to have a new macro-assembler/linker written that would remove the need to think about bank-switching, you could just write a program fully, and the assembler/complier/linker would handle the bank-switching logic and code for you, we had started working on one for ti99 back when AMS was thought it, but it was never finished sadly.

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An 8 meg card? Oooooh, this opens up massive potential! :)

 

Could those of you who have one PLEASE post a message or two about what software you use on them, how you use it and how to access or save to it. If us "cardless masses" could get a clearer picture of the capabilities and benefits, I'm sure more people would get interested and sign up for one. I see this like the F18A or HDX, once you understand it, it's heck of a lot easier to justify and purchase.

 

Something like this WOULD take the TI to a whole new level in software, possibly even a first person shooter type game, but certainly a text based browser would be feasible, not to mention other stuff I've not even thought of. Also, since this is an existing design, I'm sure the politics of coding for it would be avoided as well.

 

The current ROS allows for you to use 10 drives of 3200 sectors each (or 800k each) for an 8 meg ramdisk. ALL of your programs and data will most likely fit in this space, unless you have a lot of source code files, as some of us do. You can select any number or letter from 1 to Z to access these disks. eg: DSK1. , DSKZ. The ramdisk is battery backed, so you don't lose the data when it's powered down.

 

I'd like to see the Ros rewritten in Hard Drive format, as I think it's a much easier format to work with. Maybe someone will do that. :)

 

Gazoo

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It is project for sure I going to finish this year, releasing ROS9 with that feature and more.

 

Recently I already started updating my main website, o-p-a.biz in preparing the ground work for some 30th releases this year, so stay tuned! :)

 


I'd like to see the Ros rewritten in Hard Drive format, as I think it's a much easier format to work with. Maybe someone will do that. :)

 

Gazoo

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MATTHEW!

I'm getting excited here! Now add $10.00 for the PCB, and whatever for your time and effort to assemble it. I know the quality of your work, you'll not release anything that is sub-par. I know it'll work! I'll buy! +1

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I could always turn the Quest images into a set of Gerbers for you. . .and at some point I plan to do a small run of Thierry's HyperAMS board (16 Meg of bank-switched goodness in the PEB).

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I could always turn the Quest images into a set of Gerbers for you. . .and at some point I plan to do a small run of Thierry's HyperAMS board (16 Meg of bank-switched goodness in the PEB).

 

This sounds good too. I would like to see ONE solution decided upon and become available. The one design option would give the person that steps up to the plate to make them an opportunity to get a little something back for their time and effort. The one option would also ensure compatibility on all future software and probably make potential buyers feel more comfortable.

Being pragmatic here, the design with the lowest unit cost would be make it a more attractive and viable alternative to a larger user base and give the manufacturer another incentive to make them. Of course the more of them out there, the more software will be written for them as well.

In the end it may just be a race to the finish.

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A RAM Disk is a battery-backed storage device that goes into the PEB. The TI thinks it is a regular Disk Drive as far as accessing the data on it is concerned, but it does not require that a Disk Controller be present to operate it--it is controlled by its own DSR. Because it is always present, it allows programs saved on it to be loaded quite quickly. It is also very good for program developers, as they can assemble and test programs using it as the file load/save location. This process also runs faster than with a disk. Note you still have to keep backup copies of your files on a regular disk, just to protect against file corruption on the RAM Disk caused by low battery conditions or the occasional ungraceful power-down happening at exactly the moment you were saving something.

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A RAM Disk is a battery-backed storage device that goes into the PEB.

 

Note you still have to keep backup copies of your files on a regular disk, just to protect against file corruption on the RAM Disk caused by low battery conditions or the occasional ungraceful power-down happening at exactly the moment you were saving something.

 

About this, if anyone out out there decides to design a modern version of this device, may I suggest a power socket on the back of the card to facilitate continual power and to 'float' a backup battery like a couple of on-board NiMH cells in case of power failure.

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This might not be the proper place to ask this question, but.....

 

Where can I buy a RAM disk? I would prefer a period one as opposed to a repro/modern one. Maybe neither of these are available?

 

If anyone could put a link below that would be much appreciated.

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The Horizon RAM Disks show up on eBay pretty regularly (once every month or two), as they sold a lot of them back in the day. Most of the other RAM disks from back then are pretty hard to find, although they do come up for sale once in a while (and the Myarc 512K memory card does show up a lot lately--but it isn't battery backed, so you lose your data on shut down unless you've got an external power supply on it). Others were the German HRD-16, the CorComp 512K card, the Foundation 128K card, the MorningStar 128K card, the DataBioTics Grand RAM, and the RAVE Memory Card, off the top of my head, as I may have missed a couple.

 

The clone of the Quest RAM Disk is ready for me to order some boards and build one to see if I got the layout right. Those will be available this summer if nothing turns up problem-wise.

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The clone of the Quest RAM Disk is ready for me to order some boards and build one to see if I got the layout right. Those will be available this summer if nothing turns up problem-wise.

 

Is this before or after the Myarc DSDD 80 track clone?

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Ok, guys,

 

I don't know any of the named RAM-Disk solutions. Where or what are the differences, the (dis-)advantages?

 

But I wonder why there are so many different products. For me a RAM-Disk should be used as a single, solid, non removable, drive with nonvolatile (no batteries), adequate sized memory (those drives should not be used for archiving). Thats all. No complicated, complex and sophisticated configuration options. No needs for special software to format them. Just like an SSD. Plugging it in the PE-Box, switch on, and use it with a nice and short device name. It would be nice if it is possible to place more than one of those RAM-Disks in a PE-Box. The maximum of config to do should be to set the CRU basis address with DIP-Switches.

 

So, if there are such kind of devices out there, we don't do anything. But if not, I'm interested in a development and building of this kind of hardware, not in buying it. (Where is the "I want one" button?)

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None of the RAM Disks for the TI was built using non-volatile memory back in the day, mainly because it was too expensive to use a lot of it back then. Regular RAM chips could even be a problem in the numbers needed for a RAM Disk. With that, the options were batteries or an external power supply feeding the card. The Quest RAM Disk provides 512K of battery-backed RAM and is functionally similar to the Horizon RAM Disk. I have permission from the original designer to replicate these. The Horizon RAM Disks come in sizes as small as 180K (earliest revision boards) up to 8MB (final revision boards with an additional capacity modification done to them). These are also battery-backed--and I've talked to the owner of the IP on these boards to see if I can get permission to make new ones--but that negotiation is still in process. Only about 150 of the final revision boards were made. If I do get permission to use the Horizon design, TheInsaneMultitasker and I have some ideas on a future development path for it. The HRD-16 is a German variant of the Horizon designed to work alone as a standard RAM Disk or in conjunction with the SGCPU as a 16-bit RAM Disk. It is possible to use multiple copies of any of the RAM Disks identified so far in the PEB--and it is even possible to mix-and-match them, as they can be set to a handful of different CRU addresses. All of them are seen by the system as regular disks once the DSRs are loaded and the initial drive assignment/formatting is done.

 

The other RAM Disk types mentioned in my earlier post operated somewhat different from the Horizon family (and its derivatives as identified above), and were as a rule much less common (the Quest and the HRD-16, while being Horizon variants, are also quite rare overall).

 

@Omega, this one is effectively ready to go now, I just have to get the time to order some for testing. It is in the queue right behind the PEB splitter boards (I've ordered some test articles of those now).

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