GRONINGEN, July 11th, 2005 - The Dutch company Bazix, in co-operation with the Japanese companies ASCII and MSX Association, has started taking pre-orders on the One Chip MSX, a new computer system based on PLD technology. The core of the computer system is an Altera Cyclone FPGA chip, which can be reprogrammed to perform a wide variety of operations. The device comes with all I/O and A/V connectors needed to function as an ordinary home computer, either connected to a television or a VGA monitor.
By default, the One Chip MSX is configured as an MSX1 computer system. The MSX standard originates from a co-operation between ASCII and Microsoft, and was very popular in the eighties and early nineties. In this setting, all chips originally used in the MSX1 computer (Z80 CPU, TMS9918 VDP, etc.) are implemented in the Altera Cyclone FPGA chip, turning the One Chip MSX in a fully MSX1 compatible device. Out of the box, the One Chip computer can be used to play high quality retro games, but this is just a small part of its functionality.
As the One Chip MSX is a Programmable Logic Device, its functionality can easily be altered partially, or even completely, using so-called VHDL code. Bazix plans to release an MSX2 compliant upgrade in the future, but also expects enthusiasts to develop their own VHDL applications for the One Chip MSX in the future and exchange them using the internet. There already are many amateur FPGA/VHDL projects in development, such as implementations of Amiga, Apple II, Atari ST, Commodore 64 and Vic-20 computers.
Apart from being capable of operating as popular home computers and game consoles of the 20th century, the One Chip MSX can also be used to extend their capabilities, introducing new features or removing limitations. Once skilled enough, a VHDL developer could even develop his own computer system from scratch.
Originally developed by Microsoft, MSX-Basic has proven to be an exceptionally easy to understand programming language for beginners, as well as a great stepping stone for moving on to higher programming languages (such as Turbo Pascal, C, and even (Z80) assembly) or more complex computer systems. If MSX-BASIC programming loses its challenge, itfs possible to work with the VHDL code itself, altering the MSX exactly how one wishes or even creating a completely new system. The open VHDL structure of the One Chip MSX and the relatively simple hardware structure of the MSX1 platform introduce an entirely new educational aspect: it allows students to explore and understand the computerfs inner workings in detail. This encourages students to independently learn more about hardware, to change existing VHDL code and eventually even to design new features (for existing or non-existant chips) in VHDL.
The One Chip MSX Specifications are as follows:
Altera Cyclone EP1C12Q240C8 FPGA chip
32 MB SDRAM
SD/MMC card slot
MSX Cartridge slot
2 mono audio outputs
Composite video output
PS/2 keyboard connector
MSX Joystick port
FPGA I/O pin (40 pins and 10 pins)
As of today Bazix is accepting pre-orders for the One Chip MSX. In order to start commercial production, Bazix and ASCII have to gather over 5,000 pre-orders combined.
In Japan alone, ASCII have already sold 2,000 One Chip MSX computers. Until August 20th, 2005, the One Chip MSX can be pre-ordered at http://www.bazix.nl/onechipmsx.html for € 189,00 inc. VAT.
For more information, please visit the Bazix website at http://www.bazix.nl/ or contact us at the following address:
Hoge der A 30-2
9712 AE Groningen
*MSX is a trademark of MSX Association, represented by Bazix. Amiga, Apple, Atari, Atari ST, Commodore, Commodore 64 and Vic-20 are trademarks of their respective owners.