Being somewhere north of 30 years of age, I grew up with 8-bit machines. I owned a Microbee 128K machine.
I still have the machine actually. It was great. I was thinking about it recently when a friend was telling me about a C64 emulator he was writing. I was thinking that it would be great to create a new 8-bit machine out of modern components. It could probably be built very cheaply too! So anyway, I'm introducing project uWasp.
Here is the idea. I want to do a new Z80-based machine (similar to the Microbee but not compatible) with modern features. Here is a list:
- EZ80 processor from Zilog
- AVR-based peripheral sub-systems.
- Video Framebuffer
- VGA out
- Stereo sound
- USB keyboard
There are two cool things with this project. Firstly the cost. I can get a EZ80 for $13 and a bunch of ATMega chips for $4 each. I can even get 512Kbyte SRAMs for $4 each! Secondly, the firmware of the AVRs is obviously upgradeable. This means I can implement a GPU(Video) and APU (Audio) on separate AVRs with upgradable features. For example, the in version 1 of the GPU I might implement a command called CLEAR_SCREEN which clears video RAM to a given value without any EZ80 involvement. Version 2 could add filled rectangles and Bit Blits. I guess the AVR chips are "Firmware Accelerators" :-)