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Powertran Cortex

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    #31
    wow! celebrity! I' just off out now, but I'll be adding my questions to the list!
    "Don't it always seem to go
    That you don't know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone" (BANG )

    Comment


      #32
      Do you possibly have a datasheet/the compete function pin-out for the 74LS2001 used on the E-Bus interface? Information on that one seems to be completely lacking on the net or anywhere else. I haven't even been able to find a source for the E-Bus System Design Handbook (MP402) from TI. One source in Poland apparently still has some of the chips, but I haven't been able to confirm that yet. If they do have any, they are likely the last source on Earth with any quantities of them. . .

      And thank you for dropping in here--information on the Cortex is always useful, and any data you can provide on its background is invaluable! Right now, the sum of what I have are the articles from ETI that appeared in NOV 1982, DEC 1982, JAN 1983, FEB 1983, JUN 1984, AUG 1984, and SEP 1985. I also have the construction manual from Powertran (for the minimal setup without any options) and the POWER BASIC manual (which I converted to an editable PDF from a series of GIF images). Any additional documentation (with or without the associated software) would be greatly appreciated.

      I'm in the process of trying to build the options into my Cortex. I have acquired a number of the TMS9909 and TMS9911 ICs to work on the disk system, but the E-Bus has been a hard nut to crack into. With enough data, I may have to try and reverse-engineer it in VHDL and roll my own. . .

      I do have the E-Bus patent description with the internal logic and timing, but not where the signaling should go (some of it will become obvious from tracing signals on the Cortex, but not all--as that is my next planned attack vector).
      Enter My Mind At Your Own Risk!

      Comment


        #33
        TMS9995, one of your earlier comments reminded me of something I haven't thought of in ages. Marinchip Systems also built a TMS9900 board for the S-100 bus. I was looking for one of those for a long time but never did encounter anyone who'd ever heard of it or them. Thanks for the reminder. . .one more vintage 9900-family system for me to track down.
        Enter My Mind At Your Own Risk!

        Comment


          #34
          Originally posted by tms9995 View Post
          How did that smily get in my post? It was supposed to be V9938. Like I said, I'm new...
          If you happen to type an 8 immediately followed by a ) it shows up as a

          I just add an extra stupid space between the 8 and the )

          like V9938 )

          Comment


            #35
            Originally posted by Tony Rowell View Post
            Hi everyone, I was a pleasantly surprise to find this forum with such recent activity about the Cortex.

            I was one of the developers of the Cortex along with Jim Gill, Neil Quarmby, Colin Hinson and Ian White so I can fill you in on a lot of the history behind the Cortex and info on both the hardware and the software.

            I still have 2 of the machines up in the loft somewhere although they haven't been powered up for a few years.

            Hi Tony, thanks for stopping by! I would love to hear what you know about this machine. Most of my knowledge is from the User Group that was around at the time, plus the usual 'reverse engineering' that goes on whilst you got your head burried in the datasheets! It would certainly be refreshing to get some insight from someone who was on the inside.

            Comment


              #36
              Originally posted by chuckcmagee View Post
              If you happen to type an 8 immediately followed by a ) it shows up as a

              I just add an extra stupid space between the 8 and the )

              like V9938 )
              Thanks for the tip! I'll figure it all out eventually...

              Comment


                #37
                E-Bus system design

                I don't remember anything about the LS2001 off the top of my head but I'll have a look around to see what I can find, it is quite possible that it never actually existed.
                I do however have a copy of the e-bus system design book (MP402) in my hand at the moment, it's about 1cm thick so a lot of copying.

                Comment


                  #38
                  Originally posted by Ksarul View Post
                  Do you possibly have a datasheet/the compete function pin-out for the 74LS2001 used on the E-Bus interface? Information on that one seems to be completely lacking on the net or anywhere else. I haven't even been able to find a source for the E-Bus System Design Handbook (MP402) from TI. One source in Poland apparently still has some of the chips, but I haven't been able to confirm that yet. If they do have any, they are likely the last source on Earth with any quantities of them. . .

                  And thank you for dropping in here--information on the Cortex is always useful, and any data you can provide on its background is invaluable! Right now, the sum of what I have are the articles from ETI that appeared in NOV 1982, DEC 1982, JAN 1983, FEB 1983, JUN 1984, AUG 1984, and SEP 1985. I also have the construction manual from Powertran (for the minimal setup without any options) and the POWER BASIC manual (which I converted to an editable PDF from a series of GIF images). Any additional documentation (with or without the associated software) would be greatly appreciated.

                  I'm in the process of trying to build the options into my Cortex. I have acquired a number of the TMS9909 and TMS9911 ICs to work on the disk system, but the E-Bus has been a hard nut to crack into. With enough data, I may have to try and reverse-engineer it in VHDL and roll my own. . .

                  I do have the E-Bus patent description with the internal logic and timing, but not where the signaling should go (some of it will become obvious from tracing signals on the Cortex, but not all--as that is my next planned attack vector).

                  We'll see what Tony has to say, but it is my understanding that the 74LS2001 was essentially just a made up name for a gate array to control the E-Bus arbitration and timing. I have never known of one to exist. I guess the intent was to develop all these intelligent multi-processor peripherals for the Cortex, so a sophisticated expansion bus was added to the design but it was never really utilised in that way. So, there was a simple circuit built onto a header board that plugged into the infamous U89 socket (I have the details) that basically allowed the Cortex to drive the E-Bus as a simple expansion bus, without permanently locking up waiting for a Bus Grant signal.

                  Comment


                    #39
                    Originally posted by Ksarul View Post
                    TMS9995, one of your earlier comments reminded me of something I haven't thought of in ages. Marinchip Systems also built a TMS9900 board for the S-100 bus. I was looking for one of those for a long time but never did encounter anyone who'd ever heard of it or them. Thanks for the reminder. . .one more vintage 9900-family system for me to track down.
                    Yeah, that was the system MDEX and the first version of AutoCAD was designed on/for. In one of my first comments, I didn't mean to imply the Cortex was used for this purpose.

                    I have been scanning for over a week now and have been encountering some quality issues etc. using the cheap scanner. However, my better half has a big networked Ricoh copier/scanner at her office . I have, er, given it a 'trial run' late at night and it does a very good job scanning to my laptop, so I am re-doing everything which will take some time, but will be worth it in the end.

                    So far I have done the entire ROM Source Listing (582 pages!), MDEX Assembler, MDEX System Generation, MDEX Debug and CDOS 1.1.

                    Also, the emulator is about ready for deployment. I'm just finishing up emulating the 9909 Format command. I don't pretend to be an award winning Windows programmer, so please excuse it's presentation. It works very well, but it's kind of light on the bells and whistles...

                    Comment


                      #40
                      Ebus cards definitely existed, the bus was one that TI used for a range of eurocard sized boards and the cortex just used that bus as a means of expansion. All of the cards I remember had discrete logic for the bus arbitration & control, I think the LS2001 was a number allocated for a gate array that never came to fruition.

                      Comment


                        #41
                        So Tony, can you give us a little history about the Cortex as a project? It's a pretty serious piece of kit for a big company to put all that effort into just for a magazine project. It surely had to be an abandoned commercial home/business computer product? We know about the TI99/8 that was dropped at the last minute, was this something similar? Do tell

                        Comment


                          #42
                          how the cortex came to be...

                          The cortex came about as an extension of a group of us at TI trying to build ourselves a home computer out of "scrap", remember that at the time a home computer was somewhere between non-existant and insanely expensive. We started of by taking faulty viewdata boards (sort of teletext over a dial-up modem) based on the TMS9980. When the TMS9995 came out we started looking at building something around that. At that time TI had a minicomputer division (990/12 etc) and a home computer division (99/4A) with lots of internal politics to ensure that the home computer didn't tread on the minicomputer dept toes so to speak, we however worked for the semiconductor division an just wanted to build something and management just wanted to sell chips. The semiconductor division building a home computer was a big no-no, it would have been stomped on by both the home computer division & the minicomputer division so we had unofficial encouragement to go ahead with the design and the way to "get it out" was ETI (as long as there was no direct connection to TI), Powertran simply made the kits & sold it.

                          Jim Gill and myself did the BASIC (based on one from TI but mostly rewritten), Colin Hinson did the debug monitor, Neil Quarmby did the schematics and floppy boot code and Ian White did hardware prototyping and "resourcing".

                          Originally the computer was named "Synapse" and the first prototype photos showed that name but it was renamed at the last moment because of a conflict with another product with that name.

                          Comment


                            #43
                            Some fantastic information there Tony - thanks! It must have been very cool to have all the resources available in-house and just be let go to do your own thing. Talk about kids in a candy store!

                            Comment


                              #44
                              This is the schematic of the ebus arbiter from the design manual, probably the LS2001 was intended to have this inside. Should be doable with a simple PAL these days.

                              For those people looking at the memory mapper chip I seem to remember that we could use eithe a LS610 or a LS612 and that one of those was used in old XT class PCs so if you can track down an old old PC motherboard you might be able to reclaim the chip. The memory mapper remapped the top 4 address lines from the processor, thats why there are 4 links to bypass the mapper if it isn't fitted.
                              Attached Files

                              Comment


                                #45
                                resources were available but not officially, lots of favours and being resourceful with all the work being done out of hours but it was a lot of fun too.

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