ARM7 co-processor developed for Beeb and Master computersBy Chris Williams. Published: 20th Oct 2005, 20:37:42 | Permalink | Printable
8bit dinosaurs meet modern day upstart grandchildThe ultimate upgrade for 8bit Acorn users has been unveiled: A 64MHz ARM 7 co-processor that uses the Tube interface. The kit, designed by Robert Sprowson, includes 16M SDRAM, 512K of Flash ROM and can be upgraded to 64M RAM and 4M Flash ROM. The design uses an Altera FPGA as the digital glue to bind the electronics together, and also features a serial port for debugging.
The Tube interface was originally developed so that a second processor, such as a Zilog Z80 or prototype ARM chip, could work alongside the native 2MHz 6502 CPU. The second processor would do all the hard work, leaving the 6502 to control the computer's IO and any attached devices. Acorn used the Tube interface in the 1980s to develop future ARM cores and the Archimedes range. Fittingly, today's ARM7 is a direct descendant of the original ARM1.
Seriously though, what can you use an 64MHz ARM7 for in a Beeb? "I guess to use a cliche 'it's limited only by your imagination'," replied Robert. Suggested projects include writing complex programs in BASIC as the co-processor is 128 times faster than the 6502 in terms of MIPS, writing a Z80 or 6502 emulator in ARM code, or using the device as an ARM7 development board.
He added: "Personally, I'm looking forward to taking advantage of loads of extra memory to run things like my caller ID logger as I can easily leave the machine on all day and night, because there's no fan."
The ARM7 co-processor should be ready in time for Christmas this year, says Robert, and is suitable for BBC Microcomputer and Master machines.
ARM7 co-processor upgrade
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