Last update: 05/07/00
The MSX future.
MMSX is the contraction of Modular MSX, a new project neccesary to open the MSX system to the future, until now all the MSX expansion depends on old 8 bits systems, you could be using a videoprocessor at 40 Mhz, ,but because the slow speed of the system where it is used you did not get the powerful of that chipp. Even you had a hard disk controller with the best features, but because of the slow speed of the MSX you could not get the half of speed that controller can work.
This is finished, the MMSX has born to close a stage and start a new one, for first time the old part is non used and we make a new system based on a 32 bits processor, Z380, eight slots of different kinds the classical eight bits slot, the three new 16 bits slots and a new 32 bits slot with PDS to alocate future CPU boards with Zilog and compatible processors.
The project is based on the economy, nobody desire to acquire a new product if it has a very expensive price, we need to establish a system which can compete with the PC system, and quality, we want to offer a maximum guarantee product, in the level of compatibility as the time of machine work without damage, under this rules Padial develope all his products.
Fortunately the 2000 year has come with a lot of advances in the MMSX, and the system is almost finished, we have avaliable commercial versions of the Z380 board and 32 bits slotexpander. The MMSX is now real and we have good programmers collaborating with a big effort for the success of a rational system, it is possible to afirm with security that this is the best way for enlarge the MSX life at least several years more.
In the technical part we must say that MMSX is not a new MSX generation, is a new way to understand a computer, it is composed by differente modules, all of them assembled in cards inserted in 32 bits slotexpander, with this method we get a no dependency in a concrete board, we can interchange and update our computer very easily, changing only the board we want to updare, the system is composed by the new slotexpander, very know from MSX magazines articles, in this web you have the internal schema. In other hand there are another boards saying the real possibilities of the new system.
The new CPU board will be based as we have refered in a Zilog Z380 in the 18 Mhz version, this processor offers an inequal relation quality/cost, its price is around 5000 pts and it offers a total compatibility with Z80 processors, it has new useful operations like division and multiplication, it works internally at 32 bits with a 16 bits data bus, it is capable to direct 4 Gb linear, it has a 18 Mhz speed (it is prepared for the future 100 mhz Z380 MPU) with an easy programation and effective.
Of course, we want to offer a trustworthy board, not a simple Z380, so we will assemble with the Z380 a kit of coprocessors ready to support the Z380 increasing its good features, it will have a cache for internal operations, an I/O dual biport included for increase very much the performance. And it will have a set of support processors to control the slots and one BIOS with internal controls, not a concrete BASIC or a DOS to be opened for future versions of DOS and BASIC, acording to the times. The Z380 has a new extended BASIC commands and a complete BIOS.
The Z380 board has a dual connection, 8 bits for use it as an acellerator in old MSX computers and 32 bits connection for PDS slot in a 32 bits slotexpander, this is the best way to use Z380. We want to install in an external module a paralell port with input and output capacity so we could use printers, scanners...
This board is designed in paper, we will use a Texas Instruments VDP, a 3D chip and one chip which offers 16 bits colours, this board will be compatible with old Yamaha videochips, including V9990, this is possible thanks to Z8 chip, this made a compatible VDP board ready to launch our MSX to new features like 3D programming, Internet and other graphic aplications.
This board would be prepared for a 16 bits slot, it would work with an own clock, a VGA conector, we do not thing in using the usual SCART televisions because there are new resolution modes with high definition and 24 bits palettes not suported by SCART systems, we will use the SVGA monitor standard. The VRAM will be at least of 1 Mb RAM to see high resolution modes. This board also has an MPEG, JPG decoder chip and DVD support.
This is a new interface ready and functional, this is the last function that MMSX needs, it has one PSG chip which controls MSX serial ports and sound, not only this, this interface has a sound mixer so you can mix all the sound cards plugged in the slotexpander, it is a stereo chip, and it includes amplifier and volume, and finally you have a Z8 controlling PC serial pheripericals, like mouse or modem.
This interface has two normal serial conectors and one PS/2 conector, you can use the serial conector for PC or MSX mouse, joysticks, etc. It has one stereo jack and a new conector for Audio CD-Rom, compatible with all audio cables from CD-Rom. The PSG chip is the well know AY 38910.
SOUND CARD (DSP):
We only missed this detail, a complete sound system for the MMSX, DSP is a programmable processor in a high level labnguaje -C- and it can emulate the function of different processors, as many as instructions process speed, Padial has choosen a Texas DSP capable to process 2 GIPS (Giga of instructions per second) that lets the possibility of emulating all the MSX sound chips, from PSG to OPL4, it has a big memory and data connections, so it is easy to add new posibilities respect to the OPL4, just like sampling, MIDI, etc.
The DSP possibilities are virtually unlimited, and it can offer new features, we can enjoy in another DSP board with a complete controller board (SCSI, IDE, USB...), so in the future we can have all that we need with a DSP.
It is evident that we have not to depend in old MSX pheripericals, and because it is neccesary to use massive production pheripericals, we have seen accurate to develope a PC keyboard interface to use the IBM standard keyboards, a PC keyboard, this interface is ready and avaliable in our club.
The PC Keyb.interface is an 8 bits card, it has a programmed Z8 in different versions acording to the different PC keyboard versions, we use the major part of the PC keys with an identical distribution to the MSX normal keyboard, with the same function keys distribution (F1-F5 and with SHIFT F6-F10), the numeric keyboard is used and keys like ESC, CTRL or PAUSE offer the same function in the MSX, and other keys like ALT-GR or ALT change to be GRAPH and CODE, be prepared to use a PC keyboard on your MSX is very easy.
This keyboard could be programmed, so you can do a special function (like SHIFT+F1) in a non used key, you can order it to Padial and they will make that. And now it is full compatible with all MSX computers and PC keyboards, it includes two connectors, one minidin and normal DIN.
It is with no doubts, the main part of the MMSX system, without it, we could not make truth the MMSX project, the slotexpander have being changed trought different versions, from the primitive old four slots expander to the new eight slotexpander, the new eight slotexpander have different versions, the first one was totally made by 8 bits slots and a slow controller, without leds and jumpers to control it, the second one added a new control processor and a new jumper to invert the slots sequence, in the third version we added eight leds to check the different slots, and eight jumpers to enable or close a slot so we could disconect one cartridge and no get out it from the slotexpander, in the current verstion it has eight slots, four 8 bits slots, three 16 bits slots add one 32 bits slot with PDS, designed to alocate the new Z380 board, the hearth of the new MMSX, this slotexpander has a new slot controller able to inhabilitate slots, only at data level, so you can use the I/O, you can use in fact, the SCC without executing the game or Music Module, very useful. It has buffers to eliminate I/O conflicts.
The classic 32 bits slotexpander has a new competitor, the 4 Evolucion, this slotexpander is designed for getting the best performance in the MMSX system, it has a 8 bits compatibility, but it is clear that 4 evolucion is oriented to the old MSX system independence, it has 4 system slots and two PDS slots, one of them for the Z380 CPU and the another one to a complex GSA (Advanced Slot Generator), featured for advanced characteristics like DMA (direct memory access in data transfers), linear, 4 Mb slots and a very high speed ready to explode to the maximum all the 16/32 bits cards and devices like DVD players.
The steps have been made, the future only depends on the MSX users, this is a expensive project because the high prices of chips, conectors and processors programation, we are trying to make a unexpensive project to be sure of its success, without sales there is no sense, this is destinated to the users, and of course we will try to be a good welcome project in the MSX world, open to a future until now inexistent...the 32 bits.