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oddemann

What would a true 16 bit TI 99 be like?

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I was looking at ...

 

 

And listening to his view of the TI and the possibilities that was in the 16 bit CPU, It makes me wonder. WHAT IF... What if they did a real 16 bit motherboard, what could the TI have done then or be like? I know of the 16 bit being "butchered" down to 8 bit and just making it work, to get it out the door. I understand that this was a good shortcut to make something fast, for the marked. If they had to redesign the motherboard to work as a 16 bit motherboard, there would have been a very different inside. And a lot of stuff would have been not working for the redesigned TI. A lot of new stuff would have to be made to work with a 16 bit TI. I think if they JUST redesigned the TI motherboard to ba a true 16 bit, it would have been a great upgrade, on its own, or?

So... having read and understand that most possibly, ALL the "big wigs" on the TI, they reside in this "halls". So question to the ones knowing so much more about what is under the "hood" of the TI and how (possibly) a true 16 bit TI would be like.

"How would a true 16 bit TI 99 be? What is your thinking? How realistic is it to do, today? Just a Classic99-16bit emulator? What would have needed to be made to make it work?"

Also... What would be different or even very different? I understand that the TI BASIC and EX BASIC might have been very different. But what would a true TI 99 16 bit computer be like. What would be more or less the same?

And... many are making stuff for the TI. Is there anyone who have looked into doing a total redesign and making it a true 16 bit computer? I understand that all of the sudden all the software would be out the window. So I guess that is the biggest reason for not redesigning the TI.

I understand that IF the TI had been made as a true 16 bit, they would have been many years in front of the rest. But as he is saying in the video, the licencing and close control is maybe the biggest down fall for the TI.

The reason I am thinking about this, is that I see hardware and software being develop for the TI, today. And it is impressive what people are making the TI do!

Personally I am thinking about something that would make the TI wireless and makes a connection from modern stuff down to the TI via wireless. Wireless joystick. Wireless signal to smart TV. There is a lot that can be used if there was a wireless "middleman" between the TI and the modern world. All kind of cables would not be a problem. Imagine the TI printing out on a modern laser printer! Maybe a modern PEB box, with a kinda Raspberry PI as the brain, or maybe there has to be made a TI Translator PEB - "The TITPEB", that has all kinds of different ways of transporting information from the modern world to the TI and from the TO to the modern equipment and use it (Bluetooth, USB, USB C and other connections). With all the modern cards in it. I know that this is just a mindless dream. I understand that there might be some difficult limitations on the old TI. But, I am inspired, when I see what is being made today for the old TI.

When I see all this, being made and created here, I think - "WOW, imagine what MORE can be made for the TI!" The new "IC" for new monitors is one project that is impressing. And the RXB, but not to forget the C99. A great emulator to keep evolving and making new stuff for the TI.

The TI is OLD, but it can STILL hold it's own!

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16 minutes ago, oddemann said:

I was looking at ...

 

 

And listening to his view of the TI and the possibilities that was in the 16 bit CPU, It makes me wonder. WHAT IF... What if they did a real 16 bit motherboard, what could the TI have done then or be like? I know of the 16 bit being "butchered" down to 8 bit and just making it work, to get it out the door. I understand that this was a good shortcut to make something fast, for the marked. If they had to redesign the motherboard to work as a 16 bit motherboard, there would have been a very different inside. And a lot of stuff would have been not working for the redesigned TI. A lot of new stuff would have to be made to work with a 16 bit TI. I think if they JUST redesigned the TI motherboard to ba a true 16 bit, it would have been a great upgrade, on its own, or?

So... having read and understand that most possibly, ALL the "big wigs" on the TI, they reside in this "halls". So question to the ones knowing so much more about what is under the "hood" of the TI and how (possibly) a true 16 bit TI would be like.

"How would a true 16 bit TI 99 be? What is your thinking? How realistic is it to do, today? Just a Classic99-16bit emulator? What would have needed to be made to make it work?"

Also... What would be different or even very different? I understand that the TI BASIC and EX BASIC might have been very different. But what would a true TI 99 16 bit computer be like. What would be more or less the same?

And... many are making stuff for the TI. Is there anyone who have looked into doing a total redesign and making it a true 16 bit computer? I understand that all of the sudden all the software would be out the window. So I guess that is the biggest reason for not redesigning the TI.

I understand that IF the TI had been made as a true 16 bit, they would have been many years in front of the rest. But as he is saying in the video, the licencing and close control is maybe the biggest down fall for the TI.

The reason I am thinking about this, is that I see hardware and software being develop for the TI, today. And it is impressive what people are making the TI do!

Personally I am thinking about something that would make the TI wireless and makes a connection from modern stuff down to the TI via wireless. Wireless joystick. Wireless signal to smart TV. There is a lot that can be used if there was a wireless "middleman" between the TI and the modern world. All kind of cables would not be a problem. Imagine the TI printing out on a modern laser printer! Maybe a modern PEB box, with a kinda Raspberry PI as the brain, or maybe there has to be made a TI Translator PEB - "The TITPEB", that has all kinds of different ways of transporting information from the modern world to the TI and from the TO to the modern equipment and use it (Bluetooth, USB, USB C and other connections). With all the modern cards in it. I know that this is just a mindless dream. I understand that there might be some difficult limitations on the old TI. But, I am inspired, when I see what is being made today for the old TI.

When I see all this, being made and created here, I think - "WOW, imagine what MORE can be made for the TI!" The new "IC" for new monitors is one project that is impressing. And the RXB, but not to forget the C99. A great emulator to keep evolving and making new stuff for the TI.

The TI is OLD, but it can STILL hold it's own!

I wrote a simple comment that this guy that made this Youtube video, is mostly a idiot!

Edited by RXB
missing text
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@oddemann

we learn more of the story every year, this is what happened:

 

The TMS9940 was supposed to be the home computer CPU. It was so awful, buggy, and behind schedule, that it had to be killed. The home computer team was prototyping with a 9900, and that had to be shoved into the home computer. 
 

The 9995 was a superior design, and it filled the slot for a 40-pin, 8-bit data bus CPU. It outperformed the 9900. The 98/8 and Geneve 9640 showed speed, plus decent and good software compatibility. 
 

The TMS99000s were never used in a consumer product by TI, but Cortex showed what it could do. It combined the improvements of the 9995, an external 16 bit bus, and double the speed.

 

But even a 9900 on a proper 16-bit board is nice and can be built compatible with most software. 

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There has been a lot of discussion and speculation around the "what if" of the 99/4A.  A little searching on the forums should provide you with a few hours of reading.

 

IMO, a flawless 99/4A implementation would not have made any difference as far as the future of the computer was concerned.  TI messed up the execution of being a player in that market by trying to keep everything closed, the licensing, and other such factors.  Even IBM got greedy and screwed up with the closed nature of the PS/2, despite having TI as an example of "what not to do", just a few years earlier.

 

As for an actual 99/4A being produced that does not have the blunders and flaws, you probably won't ever see it since it would be a one-off system.  Some people have created neat systems around the 9995, 99010, etc., and while they do have some software compatibility, they are not 100% compatible, and they are still one-off systems.

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It's already a true 16-bit system in the sense that all internal RAM and ROM is on the 16-bit bus. I guess expanding the internal RAM to something like 32 KiB would have made a difference, but it would also have made the machine more expensive. Without expanded RAM, I don't think a redesign that made the 16-bit bus available throughout the machine would have made a lot of difference to common users like me back in the days.  

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What Rasmus said about expensive RAM is true.  Although the ironic thing is, just a year or so later than the TI/994 was designed , RAM prices started to fall.  Consumer prices for RAM in 1979 was like £250 for 16KB.   As for the "What if" I think you are asking would it perform better? Most likely.  But probably not excessively better.  For that you'd need to bin the 9900 and commit to another CPU.  

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I’ve created several “true” 16 bit versions of the TI99/4A in my FPGA designs. The 99105 CPU based version was my first venture into

this direction - RAM, ROM, cartridge memory all are 16-bit wide in that design. It is about 7 times faster than the TMS9900 based normal computer, but as I wanted to be able run existing software the video subsystem still is 9918-like and using a 8-bit bus, as are the GROMs.

 

Thus going 16-bit would have gained you more speed. But arguably a much bigger speed boost would have been reached by just dropping the GROMs and GPL stuff altogether and using bigger normal ROMs and  machine code for the Basic etc. Dropping the GROMs would have destroyed their closed ecosystem model and increasing size of normal ROM could have increased the cost of the system (I assume the GROMs at least were cheap for TI).

 

The plain vanilla 9900 is a pretty slow CPU even over 16 bit bus. Having said that I do wish they had provided a bit more 16-bit wide RAM. For instance using four 2114 static RAMs (also used in the VIC20 around the same time) would have provided a whopping 2 kilobytes of 16-bit wide RAM.

 

Like @matthew180 and others said, the other decisions they made were the ones which killed the system, not crippling the system to access a lot of its memory and peripherals over an 8 bit bus, although that certainly did not help.

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Dear speccery,

 

You wrote as follows:

Quote

... For instance using four 2114 static RAMs (also used in the VIC20 around the same time) would have provided a whopping 2 kilobytes of 16-bit wide RAM.

 

For a hardware project I would like to replace the two MCM6810P static RAMs of the TI (http://www.mainbyte.com/ti99/hardware/chips/ram.html) with RAM chips, which have more memory. Unfortunately, each 2114 static RAM has got 18 pins (https://www.amiga-stuff.com/hardware/1kx4-sram.html) in comparison with the 24 pins of the MCM6810P. Now, TI had left the possibility open to use up to 1 kilobyte of RAM as scratchpad RAM according to following link: http://www.unige.ch/medecine/nouspikel/ti99/architec.htm. Do you know, which RAM chip I could use to replace each of the two MCM6810P static RAMs very easily?

Edited by MueThor
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IIRC, there is a kit somewhere (check MainByte for "32K on the 16-bit bus" project), and I would be surprised if Thierry didn't do the project his own way as well.  The project ends up being more involved than most people anticipate (hardware usually is), and you will need good desoldering skills (and soldering skills, but desoldering is 4x harder than soldering).  Somewhere there is also a kit to replace the ROM, which uses a PCB that fits the 90-degree orientation of the ROMs, and probably replaces the SRAM too, but I don't recall.

 

You will also end up with a 1-off computer and broken compatibility with some software because suddenly on your computer all the scratch-pad will be decoded.  There is no software that will take advantage of the extra memory, and it will not make the system magically any faster, so ask yourself if the mod is worth the effort, i.e. if you are going to write your own software to use the extra RAM for your own enjoyment.

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Years ago I added 32K to the 16 bit bus. I think the instructions came via a user group newsletter and they are probably the same as Matthew mentions above. As I remember there were 4 chips; 2-32K memory chips and 2 logic chips, plus a bunch of wires connecting everything. I installed a switch to restore the wait states for the rare cases where that is desireable.

This works fine and usually speeds up assembly programs a noticeable amount. Spad13 MK 2 is much peppier. I don't think this does anything to the scratchpad ram. In any case, I never noticed any compatibility issues.

I was hoping for a big boost in XB speed, but that is virtually the same, only around 1% faster.

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52 minutes ago, senior_falcon said:

Years ago I added 32K to the 16 bit bus. I think the instructions came via a user group newsletter and they are probably the same as Matthew mentions above. As I remember there were 4 chips; 2-32K memory chips and 2 logic chips, plus a bunch of wires connecting everything. I installed a switch to restore the wait states for the rare cases where that is desireable.

This works fine and usually speeds up assembly programs a noticeable amount. Spad13 MK 2 is much peppier. I don't think this does anything to the scratchpad ram. In any case, I never noticed any compatibility issues.

I was hoping for a big boost in XB speed, but that is virtually the same, only around 1% faster.

I did the same, with the same results. Took a couple of tries, about four hours each. In addition to the speed, which is nice*, assembly programming is easier because you're not scratching (get it?) for a few bytes in PAD for one more work space or one more critical loop. But then, I'm only programming for my own entertainment, and am not worried about optimizing for stock consoles.  

 

*I feel faintly ridiculous spending time on projects like this, given that this 8 year old laptop runs a clock 1000 times faster with four cores, 64 bit words, hardware floating point, 500,000 times the memory, 700,000 times the mass storage (relative to floppy storage), etc. 

 

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15 minutes ago, Reciprocating Bill said:

I did the same, with the same results. Took a couple of tries, about four hours each. In addition to the speed, which is nice*, assembly programming is easier because you're not scratching (get it?) for a few bytes in PAD for one more work space or one more critical loop. But then, I'm only programming for my own entertainment, and am not worried about optimizing for stock consoles.  

 

*I feel faintly ridiculous spending time on projects like this, given that this 8 year old laptop runs a clock 1000 times faster with four cores, 64 bit words, hardware floating point, 500,000 times the memory, 700,000 times the mass storage (relative to floppy storage), etc. 

 

All true, but I bet the TI99 is at least 1000 times cooler.

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I think that, today the tall wall to jump over is that there is not that much drive to make stuff something slightly better and the tales wall is the eco-system would not support even slightly better TI.

And then we have the computer power we have in the modern computer, to much hassel.

But it is interesting to read what people think could have been and what is tested and tried. And maybe the best way to do something like this is to make a emulator to simulate a slightly better TI. And maybe easier to convert old stuff to that. At least one would not use years to figure out all the hardware. But, even an emulator would still make it not work with old software. Maybe the most important thing... It would then not be the TI 99/4A.

But I learn more about the TI and at least it dos not cost and dos not take time to imagine - "what if".

So if I understand the "better TI", there would have to be many changes, to make it work as a true 16 bit. I almost hear a "Amiga way", where one could add age appropriate IC to take care of picture and sound stuff, because there would be so many changes. And... was there other stuff to support a HOLE true 16 bit TI motherboard, at that time?

I also read that some of the stuff they did in the TI to make it work, is pretty smart.

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