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CPUs used in 70s, 80s, and early 90s synths and samplers

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Aside from the neat cross-over between classic computers and synths with people like Bil Herd and Bob Yannes, I find it interesting to see how some of our favorite CPUs crop up here and there in the music industry. So I started making a list of synths and samplers that made use of various old-skool CPUs.

 

To start things off, here's a list of what I've been able to find so far. Feel free to correct any errors you might spot:

 

Roland Jupiter 8 Z80
Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 & 10 Z80
Sequential Circuits Prophet 600 Z80
Roland MC4 Z80
Ensoniq EPS-16 68000
E-mu 4060 Z80
Roland MSQ700 Z80
Oberheim OB-8 Z80
MemoryMoog Z80
Emulator I and II Z80
Akai 2700 Z80
E-mu SP-1200 Z80
E-mu Drumulator Z80
Sequential Circuits Drumtraks Z80
Fairlight CMI series II 6800
Fairlight CMI series IIx 6809
Oberheim Xpander 6809
Oberheim Matrix 6809
PPG Wave 2.x 6809
PPG Waverterm A 6809
Ensoniq SDP-1 6809
Ensoniq ESQ1 6809
Ensoniq SQ80 6809
Fairlight CMI series III 68000 and 6809
Quasar M8 6800

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Cool topic! Not sure what the CPU is and couldn't find it through a quick search online but I've got to open it up again sometime in the future - Roland S50 Digital Sampling Workstation - which makes for a great MIDI controller I might add!

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Cool topic! Not sure what the CPU is and couldn't find it through a quick search online but I've got to open it up again sometime in the future - Roland S50 Digital Sampling Workstation - which makes for a great MIDI controller I might add!

 

Its the i8095-90, which is part of the Intel 8096 family.

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Cool topic! Not sure what the CPU is and couldn't find it through a quick search online but I've got to open it up again sometime in the future - Roland S50 Digital Sampling Workstation - which makes for a great MIDI controller I might add!

Heh, cool! I have an Ensoniq EPS (totally primitive as a sampler these days). I use it as a MIDI board since it has nice keys and really good aftertouch control.

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Given its unit price, I would have expected to see at least one 6502 in there, but perhaps the Z80 dropped in price and for some applications is easier to interface. I'm not sure how complex software those synths need to run, if they need a certain register width etc that would make Zilog and Motorola particularly useful.

 

Korg Poly-61 has two NEC D8049C which is a variant of the Intel 8048 family. The Poly-6 uses the same chip.

Korg Poly-800 uses the Intel 8050, which I think is related.

Korg DW-8000 has a Hitachi HD63b03X - appears to be related to the Hitachi 6303, thus also Motorola 6803.

Korg M1 as well as 01/W have a NEC V50.

 

Roland Juno-106 has a NEC D7811G which might be more of a custom MCU of its own. I think the Juno-66 does too.

Roland Alpha Juno 1 is credted with an Intel 8032AH (part of the Intel MCS-51 family).

 

Yamaha DX-5 supposedly has a variant of the 6809, while the DX-100 has a Hitachi 63803XP.

The best known DX-7 has according to Wikipedia a custom YM21280 operator chip, but the service manual mentions a 6805S sub-CPU handling the keyboard.

Edited by carlsson

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Given its unit price, I would have expected to see at least one 6502 in there, but perhaps the Z80 dropped in price and for some applications is easier to interface. I'm not sure how complex software those synths need to run, if they need a certain register width etc that would make Zilog and Motorola particularly useful.

 

Korg Poly-61 has two NEC D8049C which is a variant of the Intel 8048 family. The Poly-6 uses the same chip.

Korg Poly-800 uses the Intel 8050, which I think is related.

Korg DW-8000 has a Hitachi HD63b03X - appears to be related to the Hitachi 6303, thus also Motorola 6803.

Korg M1 as well as 01/W have a NEC V50.

 

Roland Juno-106 has a NEC D7811G which might be more of a custom MCU of its own. I think the Juno-66 does too.

Roland Alpha Juno 1 is credted with an Intel 8032AH (part of the Intel MCS-51 family).

 

Yamaha DX-5 supposedly has a variant of the 6809, while the DX-100 has a Hitachi 63803XP.

The best known DX-7 has according to Wikipedia a custom YM21280 operator chip, but the service manual mentions a 6805S sub-CPU handling the keyboard.

I was wondering what was in the Korg M1. A buddy of mine put the M1 sequencer through hell. He did that Amiga mod composing thing where you fill in pretty much every blank moment to maximize the amount of stuff you can pack into the sequence. Once he filled in the 8th and last track, you could just barely hear the M1 beginning to slow down. The poor CPU was sweating under the load of it all. Pretty amazing what it's capable of, considering the year it was released.

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I know this topic is a bit aged, but still very cool... Don't forget the "Casio CZ Synthesizer" which also used the "NEC D7811g" processor to manage 8 voices via "Phase Distortion".

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On 7/12/2016 at 7:45 PM, GroovyBee said:

 

Its the i8095-90, which is part of the Intel 8096 family.

I’m currently working on an i8096 emulator, so I can run my Roland W-30 (which is from a hardware perspective part of Roland’s S series, but with a better sequencer software) ROM.

 

 

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