Tag Archives: computer

Spectrum Next, A New of ZX Spectrum

In 1982, the UK’s best selling computer, ZX Spectrum, was released by Sinclair as 8-bit personal home computer highlighting the machine’s color display. And today, a group of makers are introducing the Spectrum Next, an updated and enhanced version of ZX Spectrum.

The Spectrum Next is fully compatible with the original one. It enhanced to provide a wealth of advanced features such as better graphics, SD card storage, and manufacturing quality control. It also comes with a new software to make use of the new hardware, including new graphics modes and faster processor speeds.

As it is implemented with FPGA technology, it can be upgraded and enhanced using special memory chips and a clever design, while remaining compatible with the original hardware. It has a Z80 within, clocked to a blazing-fast 7Mhz, and an optional 1Ghz co-processor.

Technical Specifications:

  • Processor: Z80 3.5Mhz and 7Mhz modes
  • Memory: 512Kb RAM (expandable to 1.5Mb internally and 2.5Mb externally)
  • Video: Hardware sprites, 256 colours mode, Timex 8×1 mode etc.
  • Video Output: RGB, VGA, HDMI
  • Storage: SD Card slot, with DivMMC-compatible protocol
  • Audio: 3x AY-3-8912 audio chips with stereo output + FM sound
  • Joystick: DB9 compatible with Cursor, Kempston and Interface 2 protocols (selectable)
  • PS/2 port: Mouse with Kempston mode emulation and an external keyboard
  • Special: Multiface functionality for memory access, savegames, cheats etc.
  • Tape support: Mic and Ear ports for tape loading and saving
  • Expansion: Original external bus expansion port and accelerator expansion port
  • Accelerator board (optional): GPU / 1Ghz CPU / 512Mb RAM
  • Network (optional): Wi Fi module
  • Extras: Real Time Clock (optional), internal speaker (optional)

Spectrum Next has three graphical modes; “Radastan”, “Layer 2” and Sprites. Radastan is a 128 x 96 with 16 colours per pixel from an enhanced palette. “Layer2” is a Next exclusive mode that supports a “layer screen”, a 256 x 192 with 256 colours per pixel. Sprites are exclusive to the Next too and can be used over the other modes. A “sprite” is a 16×16 image with 256 colours per pixel that can be drawn anywhere on screen, including the border area. Sprites can also be moved incredibly fast over the screen, because the job is done by hardware, not software.

ZX Spectrum Next in action

Next is a “esxDOS ready” that uses the system designed by Miguel Guerreiro, and it’s one of the most powerful OS available at this time, including support for the .TRD format widely used in Russia and required for some of the most advanced programs currently available for the Spectrum.

Three days remaining of Spectrum Next crowdfunding campaign, where they already reached 215% of their goal. The current cost is about $225 and you can pre-order your board through the kickstarter campaign. More details about Spectrum Next is available on the official website.

Open source 25-core processor can be stringed into a 200,000-core computer

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Researchers at Princeton University have built a 25-core chip that can scaled easily to create a 200,000-core computer. by Agam Shah @ pcworld.com:

It won’t happen anytime soon, but that’s one possible usage scenario for Piton. The chip is designed to be flexible and quickly scalable, and will have to ensure the giant collection of cores are in sync when processing applications in parallel.

Open source 25-core processor can be stringed into a 200,000-core computer – [Link]

Building a “$5 Forth computer”

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Ken Boak has designed a tiny 16-bit computer around a FRAM based MSP430 microcontroller. He writes:

In this post we look at a new MSP430 FRAM based device – the MSP430FR2433. It has 15K of FRAM, 0.5K of Info FRAM and 4K bytes of SRAM. As well as the memory, there are 3 serial communications interfaces, a multichannel 10 bit ADC and 3 timers. All of this in a tiny low cost package – which makes an almost perfect Forth Computer.
The MSP430FR2433 from Texas Instruments costs about $1.36 in volume – and $2.58 in 1 off.
With a little creative design, low cost parts and a tiny 2 layer pcb we are en-route to offering a Forth Computer which could cost as little as $5 when produced in volume.

Building a “$5 Forth computer” – [Link]

SCIO: The Fun New Way To Learn Coding, Computers and STEM

SCIOA new board that aims to fill an education gap for programmable boards is on kickstarter. SCIO enables anyone, without the need of previous experience, to experiment with electronics and coding and build various projects based on onboard sensors, work on the cloud, make light shows and even more.

Within an hour of opening the box, someone who previously knew nothing about computers, programming and “boards,” can write programs that explore, educate, and entertain.

When someone buys a Raspberry Pi or Arduino without any prior programming experience, this person often reports being lost because they do not have the technical skills to use it. The information available for programming and using these devices is often difficult to understand for beginners.

SCIO: The Fun New Way To Learn Coding, Computers and STEM – [Link]

PINE A64, First $15 64-Bit Single Board Super Computer

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PINE A64 is the world’s first 64-bit expandable Quad Core 1.2Ghz supercomputer, tablet, media center, and more… starting at just $15.

PINE A64 is not only a computer, it is a super affordable 64-bit high performance expandable single board computer (SBC). Whether you are an IT professional, electronics hobbyist, student, teacher, hacker, inventor, or just someone who wants to have more flexibility to increase their productivity at work, the PINE A64 is a computer board made for everyone. Enjoy more fun and entertainment at home with endless possibilities.

PINE A64, First $15 64-Bit Single Board Super Computer – [Link]

LattePanda – A £45 Win10 Computer For Everything

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LattePanda is featured with quad-core 1.8Ghz, 2/4G RAM, 32/64 GB eMMC, WIFI, Bluetooth 4.0 and USB 3.0, plus onboard Arduino processor!

It includes everything a regular PC has and can do anything that a regular PC does, all at a low price of 69 USD.

LattePanda runs perfectly on the go. Creating documents with Microsoft Office, playing HD videos and running Windows apps on LattePanda is exactly the same experience as using a regular PC.

LattePanda comes pre-installed with a full edition of Windows 10, including powerful tools such as Visual Studio, NodeJS, Java, Processing, and more!

LattePanda – A £45 Win10 Computer For Everything – [Link]

Raspberry Pi Zero: the $5 computer

 

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Raspberry Pi has announced a really cheap micro computer priced at only 5$. You can even get it for free with the December issue of MagPi magazine. Raspberry Pi  Zero runs Raspbian and main features are:

  • A Broadcom BCM2835 application processor
  • 1GHz ARM11 core (40% faster than Raspberry Pi 1)
  • 512MB of LPDDR2 SDRAM
  • A micro-SD card slot
  • A mini-HDMI socket for 1080p60 video output
  • Micro-USB sockets for data and power
  • An unpopulated 40-pin GPIO header
  • Identical pinout to Model A+/B+/2B
  • An unpopulated composite video header
  • Our smallest ever form factor, at 65mm x 30mm x 5mm

Raspberry Pi Zero: the $5 computer – [Link]

Orange Pi undercuts Raspberry Pi

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by Martin Cooke @ elektormagazine.com:

Over the last few months the Asian manufacturer Shenzhen Xunlong Software has released a number of capable open-spec single board computers with the ‘Orange Pi’ label that are both Linux and Android-ready. Their latest offering is the Orange Pi PC which packs an Allwinner (Cortex-A7) quad-core H3 SoC running at 1.6 GHz, priced at just $15. That’s less than half the price of the latest Raspberry Pi board which uses the Broadcom processor based around the same quad cores but running at 900 MHz.

Orange Pi undercuts Raspberry Pi – [Link]