[Coco] A new CoCo? - was [Re: Coco Digest, Vol 12, Issue 31]
keeper63 at cox.net
Sun Oct 10 20:49:08 EDT 2004
Part of me wants to say PC hardware isn't difficult to interface with,
part of me wants to say it is. When ISA (and EISA) was the standard, it
was fairly easy to interface hardware to the PC. With PCI, it becomes
more difficult, simply because of the speed issues. USB isn't hard to
interface with (there are many manufacturers of USB interface chips, and
plenty of info on how to use them), nor is the parallel port (though
this port is slowly dropping away, too).
You are right about the compact size for controller applications, but if
this is what you want to do, then you are better off as the designer
sticking with a real microcontroller for the task (since it would be
much smaller and less power hungry). If you need monitoring or graphical
output, interface the uC with a real computer via USB or a serial link.
The problem with building a "new coco" is the amount of money you would
outlay, that you would never be able to recoup because the user base
would be so small. Is it a computer, or a controller? Many designers
would ask if it was a controller, why all the extra (video, sound)
hardware? Why pay for that?
Sticking with a software only solution, based on GPL'd open source,
would ensure the legacy of the CoCo through the generations, as the base
system would get ported to new hardware platforms (hmm, it would be
interesting to see a CoCo based on a Dreamcast, for instance - or on a
cluster!). Plus, the software is free to download, develop on, and
develop for. In a way, such a system could (in theory) bring easy to use
computing back to the masses - rather than the mishmash a lot of people
put up with. As their skills advance, the computer could automatically
grow with them.
Emulation is only an option where backwards compatibilty is desired.
Yes, there is a ton of great software out there from the ages (ie,
Dungeons of Daggorath, Gates of Delerium, CoCo Max, etc) - but why not
instead write new software to take advantage of the new hardware? I
think some level of compatibility should be kept for normal BASIC code
(that is, code that doesn't use ML routines and such). Emulate the rest
- basing the new box off of Linux and X (or SVGAlib) - MESS would work
perfectly for this task, if that is desired.
In fact, that would be one way to "rebuild" the CoCo for modern
hardware: a Knoppix-like live-CD that boots into MESS - of course, you
run into the ROM distribution issue (which is another strike against
emulation - not everyone can legally have the ROMs).
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