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pixelmischief

Why More than 128K?

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2 hours ago, pixelmischief said:

Other than the Numen demo, is there any real reason to have more than 128K.  I admit to being only an intermediate participant in the Atari ecosystem, but I do flatter myself that I play just about everything that comes out on the platform.  Why so much RAM?  What can I do with 1MB that I can't do with 128K?

It all depends at the angle / purpose you look at it. Or, said differently, what you are expecting to extract from your retro-experience.

 

As for me, I always enjoyed the computational performance / optimization side of it, definitely more than the gaming side... I see the gaming side childish (but not in a bad way, because I can see gaming work today that is simply f-AMAZING, like Prince of Persia, etc.)

 

And if you are more inclined for the optimization side, then you will be more into programming, and once there you will appreciate EVERYY improvement in storage, speed, display and editing facilities, productive operating environments (SDX), etc. for those times where you want to enjoy coding directly on the hardware, outside of the Emulation / PC tools, for instance.

 

There are several examples, of the above. For instance, SDX advanced type-command allows for using ALL of your available extended memory to display LARGE text / document files, and navigate them back and forth very easily.... that is great for source codes, manuals, readmes, etc. You can even ser memory consumed on screen! 

 

At other times, you just wonder how much extra work or juice the platform could have given you with the right SW tools. And now I know, for instance,  I could have easily gone (at least) through first year of Engineering college if I had the tight SW for this platform !!! So much peft on the table !!!

 

SDX is simply a MASTER-PIECE of design and implementation. It is a total tour-de-force on our platform. Just the fact that runs  on Atari as it does, seals the deal for me. Like nothing lout there on the 8-bit arena!

 

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

Edited by Faicuai
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IMO the "Killer app" for > 128KB was always ramdisk. That's what we used it for back in the day most often, and it's still useful in specific circumstances. There are a few scattered games that take advantage of it (some great ones even) but they are all very recent in the life of 8bits and came long after the memory was available in hardware. Taking a quick look, there are 14 games in the Homesoft collection that use 320K - many didn't originally, but are adaptations to prevent disk swaps.

 

It sounds as if you are rejecting replies that were made as not good enough for you. This is why the thread quickly escalated into unproductive slinging. People are volunteering opinions, and when someone invalidates a personal opinion in strong terms, that can easily lead to being upset.

 

Also, don't discount the desire of people to do things just because of the tinker and "can it be done" aspect. I have one 800 that has just about everything you can put in it installed. I rarely use any of that capability (I mostly use my 1088XEL), but I like that I have it. It doesn't have to be rational or practical for me to enjoy it.

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Killer App is always going to be personal preference, but Bomb Jack and TLW are major reasons I went with more than 128k.  I like the TLW as a writing environment because it offers no distractions, I can't multitask and check the web, or play a game, etc...  Sure that's just a discipline thing, but it helps me out.  Plus it lets me combine 2 hobbies, writing short sci-fi and my Atari.

 

Space Harrier is also killer, and as previously mentioned I think you need 1 Meg if you don't have a cart that can handled it.

 

 

 

 

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At the end of the day, it's true that an 8bit machine can't directly access such vast amounts of memory and I'm sure to some people that fact may beg the question 'why bother'.

 

But considering memory banking and even memory access via DMA controllers, there's vast benifits to such large amounts of memory. I know the A8 line relies heavily on memory banking, my C64 makes use of the REU's DMA chip to give the VIC-II essentially it's own memory making it unnessecary to halt the processor in the event of the VIC-II demanding a vast amount of data in relation to games and applications coded to take advantage of it (something rising in popularity with the advent of the 1541 UII+ and Ultimate 64). As others have stated, I also make use of my 16MB REU as a ramdisk using ramDOS II along with JiffyDOS. Not only are the speeds amazing, but it's actually really handy to have such temporary storage - With the ability to use the ram disk as I would on my Amiga.

 

In fact I have two 16MB ram disks on my C64 with the ability to auto load software into the ram disk on boot, really handy when coding. Even my two virtual 1541's have 40k of memory each via virtual ramboards.

 

If you can't see past modern gear, than you're never going to understand the point. The simple fact is: We do it because now we can, as in the day we either didn't have the technology available to do so or the technology was just way to expensive to justify.

Edited by Mazzspeed
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For me personally, the RAMdisk is *the* killer app for the Atari 8 bit machines. It is something I use every week, even in 2021. Several decades of use = killer app IMO.
 

In the latter part of the 1980s it was very nice to use BASIC XE with 128KB and have ~96KB usable by BASIC. I got all sorts of use out of that.

 

RAM upgrades are as simple as plugging in @tf_hh’s SysCheck into the PBI/ECI. The Antonia is very simple, too, especially if your machine is socketed. It is kind of like upgrading an old car, at least to me. Which reminds me, I have an Antonia 4MB upgrade sitting about three feet from me that I need to install. 
 

And Atari Blast is simply a phenomenal 8 bit game. It would have just been mind melting if it had come out in 1983 with the XL machines. 

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the problem with all the bigger memory, more advanced video, faster processors now is the same problem Atari had back in the day, It's easier to write software for highest common denominator.  When Atari came out with the 130XE there were already so many 64k not many software houses took advantage of the extra memory. Only one game I can think of at the time was 'the Brundles' that had a 130xe version. Even that game also had a 64k version too.

Another problem is programming is in Assembler you really got to know how to take advantage of the new stuff. That usually entails getting the info from whom ever created the addon or extension who may or may not be too forthcoming.

 

Now there is one killer app that could take advantage of all that extra memory, a multitasking kernel or desktop. 

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18 minutes ago, hloberg said:

Now there is one killer app that could take advantage of all that extra memory, a multitasking kernel or desktop. 

A7fWjTZ.png

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There were games that would load extra levels and data in if the memory allowed, and some made it so you didn't have shuffle disks in and out of your drive. All of those were killer at the time too!

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Allows you to play dumps of large bankswitched cartridge games like Commando, Karateka, BattleZone, etc from floppy or HDD.  SDX is badass.  Extended RAM and a PBI IDE controller make this machine much more versatile.  

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I'm still getting used to the A8. But another handy example of additional memory is I can load Turbo Macro Pro into the REU to keep the full 64k of memory available for assembly coding on the C64.

 

Which means I can just jump in and out of TMP as needed..

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Personally I do not want to get into the main argument.

 

I'm not one for all that extra RAM. It can be useful in certain circumstances, but I have not come up against those. And any demos that use more, I will just watch them on YouTube.

 

That being said, if people want to have massive RAM expansions, then good for them, they can do what they like.

 

When games developers develop for the Atari, I think that 64K is a good baseline to use. I think that all code that needs above 64K should be adjustable, in the sense that it should check to see what is available and modify the experience accordingly.

 

If a developer wants to go for a 1M development, then so be it, good for them for producing something for the Atari.

 

is there a killer app for bigger memories, not for me, but I can't speak for everyone.

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3 hours ago, adam242 said:

AtariBlast! is a pretty good argument for extended memory.

 

Video.  As a fellow gamer, this is very convincing. This might be your 'killer app', pixelmischief.

Of course AtariBlast!

It's the only game that makes the A8 looking like a next generation computer, just by the used memory. 

 

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5 hours ago, pixelmischief said:

C'mon guys.  Even if you told me that The Last Word REQUIRES the extra memory, I would still argue that a Word Processor on an 8-Bit system can not be considered a "killer app".  I'm looking for something that needs the memory and is an experience or capability that makes getting the memory an exciting proposition.

There is no reason on earth that a word processor cannot be considered a 'killer app', regardless of whether you think TLW represents such a thing. A lot of users would consider productivity software unexciting by definition, but you asked for applications which make the extra memory worth having. WordStar was a killer app in the day. People are getting excited now about running it under CP/M on their Ataris via FujiNet.

 

You seem intent on just moving the goalposts a bit further apart every time something is suggested which might conceivably fit the bill.

Edited by flashjazzcat
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There are some good games that need >128KB to run in XEX format (but CAR versions need 64KB only).

Atari Blast!

Bomb Jack

Commando

Mean 18

Space Harrier

 

There are some other good games that necessarily need >128KB to run, CAR versions don't exists:

Duszpasterz Jan Rzygon

Letter Scrabble

Pang

 

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In the same way you can never have too much horsepower, you can also never have too much memory...

 

...Just ask Bill Gates. What did he say again?

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53 minutes ago, flashjazzcat said:

You seem intent on just moving the goalposts a bit further apart every time something is suggested which might conceivably fit the bill.

I think you miss the point here - read the first post of pixelmischief: "(...) I play just about everything that comes out on the platform (...)" - he's a gamer, what he wanted was a kind of answer that was provided by Philsan, not "The Last Word" as an answer.

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More RAM has always been "king" on these machines especially if you write software, even on my 48K 800 I found

it wasn't always enough and made an extra 4K cartridge to go in the Right slot, a place to put debuggers.

 

On the 130XE RAM Disk, I also wrote disk copy utilities to do single pass copies on single density disks, 2 passes

on enhanced and double density disks (all those previous disk swaps :( ) made backing up work disks to much

lees of a pain.

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2 hours ago, +Adam+ said:

I think you miss the point here - read the first post of pixelmischief: "(...) I play just about everything that comes out on the platform (...)" - he's a gamer, what he wanted was a kind of answer that was provided by Philsan, not "The Last Word" as an answer.

I don't think I'm missing the point at all; I'm directly addressing the assertion that 'a Word Processor on an 8-Bit system can not be considered a "killer app"'. I happen to disagree, and do so without claiming that the example presented (TLW) is said 'killer app'. If he's interested soley in games, why does he rephrase the question in post #4 as 'What is the "killer app" for 256K, 320K, or 1MB?' One can hardly blame anyone for suggesting a word processor or spreadsheet in response to that.

 

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7 hours ago, Mazzspeed said:

A7fWjTZ.png

and that works how? If it is a multitasking OS then, yes, very good reason to get 1mb.

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8 hours ago, hloberg said:

the problem with all the bigger memory, more advanced video, faster processors now is the same problem Atari had back in the day, It's easier to write software for highest common denominator.  When Atari came out with the 130XE there were already so many 64k not many software houses took advantage of the extra memory. Only one game I can think of at the time was 'the Brundles' that had a 130xe version. Even that game also had a 64k version too.

Another problem is programming is in Assembler you really got to know how to take advantage of the new stuff. That usually entails getting the info from whom ever created the addon or extension who may or may not be too forthcoming.

 

Now there is one killer app that could take advantage of all that extra memory, a multitasking kernel or desktop. 

I just used your post as a starting point @hloberg, besides just other legacy software that uses more memory. This post is also for @pixelmischief 's questions as to software or "killer app." which has mostly been pointed out, and depends on what you do with the computer. If Bomb Jack/Jake or Yie-Ar Kung Fu,  aren't killer apps game-wise, as most else can be obtained in a format for use with 64K machines, then there is no "killer app" game for you. If productivity and programming are not what you use your 8-bit for, then there is no "killer app" for you. If a piece of legacy software below is not a "killer app" for you, than there extended memory features for you are moot and extended memory is not for you. But there is plenty of stuff for me, including everything below, that makes extended memory a MUST HAVE for me. Otherwise, pixelmischief, 128K is more than enough for you.

 

Other stuff besides Brundles that took advantage of 128K: Alternate Reality: The Dungeon checked for and used up to 128K available ram for less disk loading and up to 4 drives for less disk swapping (only the character disk need be swapped after the initial load and all the disk sides needed for game play are in the drives). Bismark (mostly undocumented but I found it in a Datasoft catalog description of the game) has enhanced features for 128K machines. Datasoft's 221 Baker St. has digital sound enhancement for 128K machines. Quest Probe graphic text adventures have added animation sequences for 128K machines. Mostly unadvertised but documented in the manuals, most of the latest version of Syanpse's Syn-series applications like Syncalc and Synfile look for and use extended memory for both 800 Axlon extended memory and XE compatible extended memory. Xlent Software's Printware series including Page Designer, Rubber Stamp, Megafont II+ and Typesetter used extra ram for documents in ram and increasing the layout window area allowing for much higher resolution graphics and icons on the page. PaperClip and Atari Writer among some other WP's use the extended ram, but TLW puts the most to use and uses it better.

 

SDX can be configured to use all extended ram in many different ways, You can even have different HD partiions set up with different config and batch files to set up the memory and what you want to use it for depending on what you intend to do in that particular session (U1MB and Incognito, etc. make this even better and easier with different profiles and HDD boot redirection). And of course some programming languages make it easier to use extended ram like Basic XE and Action!.

Edited by Gunstar

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20 minutes ago, hloberg said:

and that works how? If it is a multitasking OS then, yes, very good reason to get 1mb.

Maybe someday Jon ( @flashjazzcat ) will be able to finish it, but just the fact that it exists in the current state shows the potential of these machines when programmed by the masters. 

 

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1 minute ago, DrVenkman said:

Maybe someday Jon ( @flashjazzcat ) will be able to finish it, but just the fact that it exists in the current state shows the potential of these machines when programmed by the masters. 

 

yes, if these take advantage of more memory that would be a killer app for 1mb or so memory.

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Fun fact about AtariBlast! is that if programmed to a 1MB AtariMax cart (or equivalent workalike such as ultimate cart) it will actually run on a 16KB 600XL. 🖖  (not sure about 16KB 400?) All the extra game data being in banked ROM instead of extended RAM...

 

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1 hour ago, hloberg said:

If it is a multitasking OS then, yes, very good reason to get 1mb.

It's a pre-emptively multitasking graphical OS capable of running sixteen concurrent processes. Not really a compelling argument for 1MB until it's finished and usable, but it's built into almost every U1MB board. :)

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41 minutes ago, flashjazzcat said:

It's a pre-emptively multitasking graphical OS capable of running sixteen concurrent processes. Not really a compelling argument for 1MB until it's finished and usable, but it's built into almost every U1MB board. :)

Finished that could be a good argument for the U1MB.

I remember back to MSDOS days. For a long time there wasn't much of a argument for more than 640k. Oh, an occasional program might use more memory but nothing really stood out. That was until QEMM. QEMM was a memory management program that created windows where you could run multiple DOS programs at once. You could compile in one window, link in another, edit in another and test in yet another. For a DOS programmer it was a dream come true. And the more memory you had the more windows you could open.

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