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Super XE Game Machine

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Curt Vendel (www.atarimuseum.com) today released a 1988 very interesting document regarding Super XE Game Machine, a super Atari 8-bit machine with 65C816 16-bit cpu, enhanced graphics and sounds, XE backwards compatibility.

 

Super XE.pdf

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Is this the fabled Project Mirai or is this something completely different? It seems like Atari Corp never could really figure out what it wanted to do for the 16 bit era.

 

Nintendo had a vision for its 16 bit system, Sega had a vision, NEC had a vision...Christ, even SNK had an idea of pumping out an expensive arcade machine in a box as it’s 16 bit entry? But the Tremiels? They pissed away an entire generation on napkinwaffe that went no where.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Edited by empsolo
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Is this the fabled Project Mirai or is this something completely different? It seems like Atari Corp never could really figure out what it wanted to do for the 16 bit era.

Nintendo had a vision for its 16 bit system, Sega had a vision, NEC had a vision...Christ, even SNK had an idea of pumping out an expensive arcade machine in a box as it’s 16 bit entry? But the Tremiels? They pissed away an entire generation on napkinwaffe that went no where.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

 

It would be bloody lovely if it was the Mirai.

 

You've got to hand it to Atari.

 

Even after all these years, there still seems nothing but pure speculation surrounding that Mirai casing.

 

 

People speculating it was planned to house the SNK Neo Geo chipset..

 

The ST Console aka Project Robin or ST+

(Engineers and project names )

 

 

Or something previously unknown.

 

If it was this, it'd put all the speculation to rest.

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This would have been very nice to see...in 1985. Exactly when did they think that this would be ready for market and to whom did they expect to sell it? Still, this is the first that I've seen that the XEGS (or whatever this is) wasn't just a one-off to repackage and utilize existing A8 overstock. And I've always wondered if Atari was considering a "POKEY II" or something like it in the face of the AMY fiasco.

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I cannot open the pdf. It gets to 96% in IE and states it was interrupted.

 

Edge just hangs at the same spot.

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I cannot open the pdf. It gets to 96% in IE and states it was interrupted.

 

Edge just hangs at the same spot.

Just tested with Edge (I use Chrome) and it opens it.

53 downloads so I think PDF works.

Perhaps try with right click and Save.

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So, basically a A8 computer, with 320x192, 16-color back-ground graphics and with 4-color hardware Sprites, probably with multiple pallettes for those Sprites and a form of back-ground tiling built-in, with up to 32 colors allowed on-screen at any given time. Not quite (?) as powerful a Sprite engine as the A7800, but a major step up for the 8-bit computer line, comparative between an NES and a Master System, and yet better in some ways, given how late in 8-bit life it was planned. Of course, the 16-bit era was beginning. icon_wink.gif That would have been fun to develop for, if it was still as easily-accessible as a computer, as a show-case point-of-example of what the machines could do. Too late for the market, but would have been nice, especially in retrospect, for modern home brewers.

Edited by AtariNerd
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Timeout. The corners of this device mentions Ricoh? Was Atari considering on ordering 8-bit chips from Ricoh? The same supplier of 2A03 chips for the NES? That Ricoh? In 1988, during a world wide chip shortage? This Super XE raises a lot more questions than it appeared to previously.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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So, basically a A8 computer, with 320x192, 16-color back-ground graphics and with 4-color hardware Sprites, probably with multiple pallettes for those Sprites and a form of back-ground tiling built-in, with up to 32 colors allowed on-screen at any given time. Not quite (?) as powerful a Sprite engine as the A7800, but a major step up for the 8-bit computer line, comparative between an NES and a Master System, and yet better in some ways, given how late in 8-bit life it was planned. Of course, the 16-bit era was beginning. ;) That would have been fun to develop for, as a show-case point-of-example of what an 8-bit could have done. Too late for the market, but would have been nice, especially in retrospect, for modern home brewers.

 

You're forgetting about 4 colour 640x192 mode. So, something that could have been competitive with the IIGS...released three years later. Don't get me wrong -- I woud have loved to see this -- and would still love to see something produced off this now, but if Apple couldn't find a way to market and sell a 65C816 machine to a mass market in the late '80s, then who could? I'm sure that, even in mid-88, Atari could see that 65C816 was not the Wave of the Future.

 

Hm. I wonder if the DataQue people got something out of Atari Canada about this and designed their 65C816 board with this in mind...

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^Yeah, there would have been little chance of gaining market traction, but would have been fun to play with and familiar to the in-group crowd.

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Extracted the images and made a new PDF without the watermarks.

 

Edit: [changed my mind, attachment now removed]

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So the Super XE joins the likes of the Commodore C65, Sinclair Loki and LC3 as planned enhanced but never materialized half way house machines between the 8 and 16 bit machines.

 

And if it had been released no doubt would of joined the likes of the SAM Coupe and Amstrad GX4000 which both had some very impressive for 8 bit systems, games to their credit, but as history showed in Amstrad's case, still suffered an awful lot of ports that failed to use the extra hardware features.

 

 

A fantastic talking point in terms of yet more mystery Atari hardware ( i can see the various YT Channels covering this in great 'depth' in the weeks and months to come..they've wrung the drips out of the Jaguar Duo and Jaguar MK II of late...no real content, but speculation ahoy a plenty)..and one in which i hope more details come to light on.

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You're forgetting about 4 colour 640x192 mode. So, something that could have been competitive with the IIGS...released three years later. Don't get me wrong -- I woud have loved to see this -- and would still love to see something produced off this now, but if Apple couldn't find a way to market and sell a 65C816 machine to a mass market in the late '80s, then who could? I'm sure that, even in mid-88, Atari could see that 65C816 was not the Wave of the Future.

 

Steve Jobs purposely hobbled the IIgs so it didn't overshadow the Mac. The IIgs was in color and had some great sound, he did not want it to be faster than the Mac Plus.

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So the Super XE joins the likes of the Commodore C65, Sinclair Loki and LC3 as planned enhanced but never materialized half way house machines between the 8 and 16 bit machines.

And if it had been released no doubt would of joined the likes of the SAM Coupe and Amstrad GX4000 which both had some very impressive for 8 bit systems, games to their credit, but as history showed in Amstrad's case, still suffered an awful lot of ports that failed to use the extra hardware features.

A fantastic talking point in terms of yet more mystery Atari hardware ( i can see the various YT Channels covering this in great 'depth' in the weeks and months to come..they've wrung the drips out of the Jaguar Duo and Jaguar MK II of late...no real content, but speculation ahoy a plenty)..and one in which i hope more details come to light on.

Well, to be fair to Commodore (and I am never fair to Commodore), this little project is nowhere near as impressive, or tragic, as the Tucker 48 of the computer world. Besides that, a hundred(?) finished C65s dribbled out of Commodore Canada when it collapsed, so it’s not like the C65 is vapourware.

 

I can just see this small working group meeting in 1988:

 

“Okay, what’s the cost look like?”

 

“$$$$$$!!!”

 

“And projected sales?”

 

“c”

 

“Oh.” [end project]

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Steve Jobs purposely hobbled the IIgs so it didn't overshadow the Mac. The IIgs was in color and had some great sound, he did not want it to be faster than the Mac Plus.

Sure. And Apple priced it out of the market, even though it sold well enough at the beginning. Like I said, I dont think anyone had any idea what to do with 65C816, even though there was a market for it (albeit a small market) that existed through the 90s.

 

Okay, except maybe Nintendo.

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Only ever saw the C65 covered by ZZAP64 letters page here in the UK at the time, only heard a few hundred (200?) actually released many, many years later but until now didn't even know it was from Canada arm of Commodore, so appreciate the heads up.

 

Not aware of anything that ever used it, so to myself as a UK resident it seemed a huge waste of Commodore resources.

 

Not worthy of joining the CDTV and C64GS, not even the A600.

 

It just remained a rather pointless endeavour, though i was admittedly unfair on it to class it as vapourare.

 

:-)) Disclaimer to my FB observation Group..i researched lost C64 GAMES for GTW not Commodore hardware.:-))

Edited by Lost Dragon
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At the Toronto Pet Users Group show last December, I met with a few Commodore groupies who stated a solid and confirmed number of fifty C65 units sold/given away in the Toronto region. There were also units in various states of assembly that also made it out, so I’m suggesting 100 out of Canada, and certainly some may have been leaked in Europe, so 200 is certainly possible. I’ve only ever seen North American units up for sale (twice in fifteen years) though. The TPUG group seems like the best place to source one today, though the price would be north of 5K.

 

The TPUG members I talked with also said some local users have coded programs to use the C65’s native modes. All utilities, and no games from what I could tell.

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"napkinwaffe" LOL Funny.

 

Hmmm... Looking at Curt's Avatar, and then seeing this. Is Curt telling us something?

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Along with some of the main chips used in the 2600 and A8, Curt did manage to salvage some data tape-outs of a few experimental chips, that were worked on internally, but haven't physically materialized. including a combined ANTIC/GTIA (Keri) and the Silver and Gold chips, which were meant for the Sierra project, an early version of what later manifested as the Amiga. Wouldn't surprise me if Atari were pulling from previous research, rather than footing the bill to hire a designer and doing it all from scratch. icon_wink.gif

 

Would be nice to have the Keri and other main chips in smaller packages, at least, as Curt has queried doing. That could be somewhat expensive and modern processes are different, but older fabs exist, at lower densities, that might be willing to do the work for significantly less. Actually, I wonder, at those densities and with modern materials/equipment, how far that would be out of the clever hobbyist level. Still might take 10s-100ks of moola, but eh, do a chip like a Quad POKEY and people might be willing to invest.

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Along with some of the main chips used in the 2600 and A8, Curt did manage to salvage some data tape-outs of a few experimental chips, that were worked on internally, but haven't physically materialized. including a combined ANTIC/GTIA (Keri) and the Silver and Gold chips, which were meant for the Sierra project, an early version of what later manifested as the Amiga. Wouldn't surprise me if Atari were pulling from previous research, rather than footing the bill to hire a designer and doing it all from scratch. icon_wink.gif

 

Would be nice to have the Keri and other main chips in smaller packages, at least, as Curt has queried doing. That could be somewhat expensive and modern processes are different, but older fabs exist, at lower densities, that might be willing to do the work for significantly less. Actually, I wonder, at those densities and with modern materials/equipment, how far that would be out of the clever hobbyist level. Still might take 10s-100ks of moola, but eh, do a chip like a Quad POKEY and people might be willing to invest.

Probably be just easier to assemble all of the developments in the past 30 years — the DataQue 65c816 upgrade,VBXE, dual POKEY, etc — into a “super XEGS”. But getting software developed for it is the big problem, as we’ve seen with VBXE.

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LOL, i just l literally logged into AtariAge to post "Did Atari ever do any serious work to extend the Atari 8-bit chipset?", after having not been on here for months..

 

Besides this paper explaining the design.. and the Amy chip being made and 'bolted on', was there anything else like this to extend the A8 chipset capabilities, intended for mass production in the future? I assume everything just stopped when Miner and friends left?

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Probably be just easier to assemble all of the developments in the past 30 years — the DataQue 65c816 upgrade,VBXE, dual POKEY, etc — into a “super XEGS”. But getting software developed for it is the big problem, as we’ve seen with VBXE.

The VBXE is non Atari. That's a huge argue to not support it , if you want to have software running on stock hardware ;)

That "SUPER XE" studydesign conception? ... came 10 years too late, as it would have needed 3-5 years more to set a system to the real world.

Things would have been so little to change, to bring the Atari to the late 80s: Just changing the GTIA chip, allowing some additional sound channels (particular for bass sounds) , a dedicated memory for storing character data and moving objects.

In a "native mode" ANTIC could be used for DMA preparation and 1.79MHz (minus refresh cycles) had been available for calculations, as the Advanced "GTIA" would allow to turn ANTIC DMA OFF ...

The rest of the machine would have needed no changes.

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Would have been a neat trick if "ANTIC Banking" on the 130XE extended memory was enabled that the CPU was not halted by ANTIC anymore, since it is accessing extended RAM, not BASE RAM... But DLI's would probably still need to access to base RAM to change bytes here and there, but maybe the CPU could be 'less' interrupted for a static screen.

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So, basically a A8 computer, with 320x192, 16-color back-ground graphics and with 4-color hardware Sprites, probably with multiple pallettes for those Sprites and a form of back-ground tiling built-in, with up to 32 colors allowed on-screen at any given time. Not quite (?) as powerful a Sprite engine as the A7800, but a major step up for the 8-bit computer line, comparative between an NES and a Master System, and yet better in some ways, given how late in 8-bit life it was planned. Of course, the 16-bit era was beginning. icon_wink.gif That would have been fun to develop for, if it was still as easily-accessible as a computer, as a show-case point-of-example of what the machines could do. Too late for the market, but would have been nice, especially in retrospect, for modern home brewers.

We've got even better now with a VBXE & Rapidus combination. Too bad modern home brewers don't take more advantage. I'm getting Rapidus no matter what, because I can use it with some legacy software that needs a speed boost, but I'm still waiting on a "killer app" to jump on the bandwagon with the VBXE. And I think it can be done through the entire new 1088XEL kit to, if you want a new machine and not just an upgrade to old hardware.

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