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New retro computer in development C256 Gen X

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For anyone that hasn't seen my post about the C256 FMX in the Commodore 8-bit section, I wanted to show the next evolution of the C256 coming out soon from Foenix Retro Systems:

 

C256 Foenix Gen X

 

Figured this was a more appropriate section of the forum for this new version.

 

Note: I don't have anything to do with this project other than purchasing the hardware and learning to use it of course. Just trying to spread the word a bit.

 

If you have some time and want to learn a bit more, Stefany goes into a bit more detail about the Gen X

 

Here are a few answers to questions people will have from my previous post about the original C256:

 

Cost will be $599.99 (based on the website) fully assembled. The CPU module (extra beyond the onboard 65C816) price will vary.  I've decided on the $99.99 MC68SEC000 for myself to start with.

 

There will be a $499.99 version that will require some assembly (no soldering of course).

 

This is a new (retro) platform. It's not designed to be something like the Mega65 that will run existing Commodore 64 software or that sort of thing.

 

Obviously this will not be for everyone, especially due to the cost.

 

And finally, here is a link to their store

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Here is a link to the presentation that was given at VCF West (2021) for this project: 

 

Please keep in mind some of the prices I've listed in my first post have changed since then but I can't go back and edit them now. Have a look at the store if you want to get the current pricing.

 

 

Here is a nice pic of the A2560U (User) version that is going to be shipping out shortly. It contains one FPGA and a real MC68SEC000 at 20 Mhz on the right side:

 

IMG_20210918_032232.jpg

 

And here is a pic of the C256U (User) version that includes one FPGA and a real WDC65C816 running at 14 Mhz on the right side:

 

IMG_20210918_032009.jpg

 

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Stefany unveiled her new machine live on VCF East this morning, the A2560K (about the same size as the Amiga 600). You can get the price in the shop:

 

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IMG_20211010_045314.jpg

 

IMG_20211010_045329.jpg

 

IMG_20211010_045351.jpg

 

IMG_20211010_045403.jpg

 

 

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Holy Moly! For those who don't want to click, the base price is 949 USD. I don't quite get if you're guaranteed a 68040 or will have to stick with a 68020 for that price but perhaps it doesn't matter much. I wonder where they source 80 GB IDE drives, some new old stock? Also I would think either memory card or perhaps a fast SSD was the choice today. Although an old mechanical drive is retro and suitable, that aspect only rarely tends to be important for new products.

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3 hours ago, carlsson said:

Holy Moly! For those who don't want to click, the base price is 949 USD. I don't quite get if you're guaranteed a 68040 or will have to stick with a 68020 for that price but perhaps it doesn't matter much. I wonder where they source 80 GB IDE drives, some new old stock? Also I would think either memory card or perhaps a fast SSD was the choice today. Although an old mechanical drive is retro and suitable, that aspect only rarely tends to be important for new products.

 

Yeah ha ha sticker shock! The 68040 comes with it. I think maybe she didn't update the webpage (yes confirmed on her Twitter feed). This machine isn't obviously for someone who wants to just play games, there is the much cheaper U version with the 65C816 or 68000 if you want to just mess around.  Remember, this isn't supposed to be a modern computer, it's a new Retro computer ;)

 

It already has an SD card slot you can use for a modern convenience. You can choose which of the 3 you want to use for storage. I picked up a brand new 80 GB IDE from Amazon to use on my U version.

 

Maybe you can ask your questions on Twitter Stefany Allaire (@StefanyAllaire) / Twitter if you use that, I don't myself of course.

 

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I didn't go for the A2560K version since I'm already invested in the 65C816 with the FMX version, but decided to go with a GenX. I'll just get a nice PS2 keyboard to use with it like I already do with the C256 U.

 

With the GenX version, I'll be able to use the built-in 65C816 and then add another CPU type (like the 68040 or i486DX2) later on if I so desire.

 

 

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Yeah, I see that the A2560 Foenix U/U+ base model with 20 MHz 68000 is only $300 for the main board, no peripherals.

 

So there are basically two lines of computers offered, the 8/16 bit C256 and the 16/32 bit A2560? I'm not in the market for neither, but I notice there seems to be a shipload of options regarding CPU, configurations, peripherals etc, to the point that even browsing the website trying to get a grasp what is what takes a dedicated mindset.

 

(Yes, I am on Twitter but I have no intention reaching out to the manufacturer through social media)

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2 hours ago, carlsson said:

Yeah, I see that the A2560 Foenix U/U+ base model with 20 MHz 68000 is only $300 for the main board, no peripherals.

 

So there are basically two lines of computers offered, the 8/16 bit C256 and the 16/32 bit A2560? I'm not in the market for neither, but I notice there seems to be a shipload of options regarding CPU, configurations, peripherals etc, to the point that even browsing the website trying to get a grasp what is what takes a dedicated mindset.

 

(Yes, I am on Twitter but I have no intention reaching out to the manufacturer through social media)

 

Right, the C256 series is just the 65C816. It turns into a GenX which is still 65C816 but with the option of adding an additional CPU type such a 68K etc.

 

The A2560 line is just pure 68000 (series) with the K version being the one with the dedicated real keyboard. The A25060X version is like the GenX, minus the built-in 65C816.

 

And then there are the 2 U versions for each CPU (65C816/68000) in 2 or 4 MB (U+) configs.

 

The C series was supposed to be like an extension of the Commodore line (beyond a C128) and of course the A series is something from the Amiga line.

 

Remember folks, the whole point of these computers was to try and bring back the enjoyment people had in the 80's or 90's when they were trying to learn to use/program a computer. She was hoping people would do new things that haven't been done before on the existing hardware. Of course, for these, obviously a bit of extra free cash and the desire needs to be there :)

 

 

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Here is a quick video Stefany uploaded that shows a close-up of the keyboard, PCB etc. from the A2560K:

 

You can actually see a clear pic of the PCB on her Twitter, but I can't figure out how to link it here. I think Twitter made some changes on their end.

 

If you didn't already see her presentation from VCF East on Sunday, here is the link. You can see the A2560K info at the end of her time slot.

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So the A2560K uses a 68040V which is a 3.3V equivalent of the 68LC040 aka no FPU.

The CPU board extensions for the others use a 68EC040 so no FPU and no MMU (not that for the Amiga the MMU did anything) or a 68EC030 (also no MMU but then again ....), dunno, way back then the FPU versions were the more popular.
 

EDIT: wrt the 68040 the website also uses the notation 25/50 (due to BCLK/PCLK split) which almost makes one believe it was like a DX2-66 when in fact it was not and had been discussed http://milan.kovac.cc/atari/040CLOCK.TXT  ( https://www.nxp.com/docs/en/reference-manual/MC68040UM.pdf so you can find page 10-4 with the reference and all the timing) .... why bother!!!! Just say [email protected] or [email protected]

 

 

 

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There’s an FPU in the FPGA (GABE). Are you asking a question? Or just pointing something out?

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Pointing something out, given it's not cheap to begin with why not spend 30-40US$ more for the full CPU? (ebay prices mind you)

 

And a 68040V in FE package ( 68040fe25v ) is about 10-15US$ eBay prices which may mean dealing with some fakes [I have no clue where she sources hers so I can't comment on actual costs to her] ... 

 

 

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8 hours ago, phoenixdownita said:

Pointing something out, given it's not cheap to begin with why not spend 30-40US$ more for the full CPU? (ebay prices mind you)

 

And a 68040V in FE package ( 68040fe25v ) is about 10-15US$ eBay prices which may mean dealing with some fakes [I have no clue where she sources hers so I can't comment on actual costs to her] ... 

 

 

I'm not really qualified to answer these questions. I do know the A2560K will ship with MC68040RC25V installed and she is going to test the MC68040RC40V to make sure it works. But those are over $320 for the 40 Mhz version.

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10 hours ago, sm3 said:

I'm not really qualified to answer these questions. I do know the A2560K will ship with MC68040RC25V installed and she is going to test the MC68040RC40V to make sure it works. But those are over $320 for the 40 Mhz version.

It's her system so ultimately her choice but given the 040V has no FPU at that point a MC68LC060RC50 would have been a better choice imho, cheaper too and it's a 3.3V part.

Again eBay prices, not sure where she sources this stuff.

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1 hour ago, phoenixdownita said:

It's her system so ultimately her choice but given the 040V has no FPU at that point a MC68LC060RC50 would have been a better choice imho, cheaper too and it's a 3.3V part.

Again eBay prices, not sure where she sources this stuff.

There is already an FPU in the design, it’s part of the FPGA. I’m sure she had her reasons for choosing what she has.

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1 hour ago, sm3 said:

There is already an FPU in the design, it’s part of the FPGA. I’m sure she had her reasons for choosing what she has.

I was simply stating that given she's going for an FPU-less 040 may as well consider the FPU-less 060 which seems to cost less (at least on eBay prices) but she may have her reasons for the choice she made, a full fledged 060 costs an arm and a leg but the LC and the EC variants are much cheaper.

 

The presence of the FPGA based FPU is useful in that it can be used by any processor one ends up purchasing and so that portion of the code would work no matter what (a whole library could be built on top of it and be made available for all the supported CPU-boards if needs be [in the end it's a bunch of mem writes and mem reads to the mem mapped registers of the FPU written for the appropriate processor and not special opcodes in the codeflow]).

 

The FPGA FPU seems to implement add/sub/mul/div only very similar to the full 040 which though also had sqrt and abs ( http://marc.retronik.fr/motorola/68K/68040-68060/MC68040_Floating-Point_Support_Package_[Motorola_1991_8p].pdf ) I wouldn't be surprised they are faster in her implementation though given the 30+y since the 040 launch.

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Stefany will be hosting a live Q&A tonight on YouTube for anyone that has questions regarding the A2560K. It shows for me as 9 PM EDT.

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Quote

This is the beginning of a New Era... where there was conformity and oppression, now there will be freedom and creativity... This is the renaissance of a lost generation... This is the rebirth of the Gen X.

What a load of rubbish 🤭

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2 hours ago, Arnuphis said:

Another interesting product now priced beyond interest.

Yes, this product (A2560K) isn't intended for everyone of course and she makes that fact well known. Most folks will be fine with a U or U+ (4 MB RAM). It has most of the features of the expensive version, minus stuff like a floppy drive, real keyboard, dual SID sockets, midi ports and that sort of thing.

 

I'm not buying an A2560K either ;) But I do have a 68K U and a GenX on order.

 

I encourage anyone that is curious or wants to know why the stuff is so expensive to join the live Q&A tonight on YouTube and find out direct from the A2560K creator.

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