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'PIC-Based Computer'
1996\08\20@182427 by Philip Lalone

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       I was wondering if a PIC16c84, or any PIC was powerful enough to
be used to make a sort of a laptop.  The Z80 is used in Nintendo's Gameboy,
and the TI-85 Calculator, both of them are fairly powerful.  How does the
PIC compare?  I want to make a simple laptop with a 320x200 LCD, qwerty
keypad, and a task switching graphical operating system.  My main concern
next to speed is memory, would I be able to use any external memory with
the PIC microcontrollers?  Would something else be better suited for this
type of project?

                                               Thanks,
                                               Philip Lalone
                                               Alpha-X Development

1996\08\20@191442 by John Payson

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>         I was wondering if a PIC16c84, or any PIC was powerful enough to
> be used to make a sort of a laptop.  The Z80 is used in Nintendo's Gameboy,
> and the TI-85 Calculator, both of them are fairly powerful.  How does the
> PIC compare?  I want to make a simple laptop with a 320x200 LCD, qwerty
> keypad, and a task switching graphical operating system.  My main concern
> next to speed is memory, would I be able to use any external memory with
> the PIC microcontrollers?  Would something else be better suited for this
> type of project?

Most of the PICs (except the 17Cxx) are extremely limited with respect
to memory; they have typically 4K or less of code space and 192 bytes or
less of data space; all of the code/data must reside within the PIC itself
and there is no convenient means of extending it.  Aside from this they're
great--nice and fast, etc.  But for your application, I think a more general
purpose external-bus CPU would be better.  Maybe the 17C42, but I've never
used it.

1996\08\20@200014 by Steve Hardy

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> From: John Payson <spam_OUTsupercatTakeThisOuTspamMCS.COM>
>
> >         I was wondering if a PIC16c84, or any PIC was powerful enough to
> > be used to make a sort of a laptop.  The Z80 is used in Nintendo's Gameboy,
> > and the TI-85 Calculator, both of them are fairly powerful.  How does the
> > PIC compare?  I want to make a simple laptop with a 320x200 LCD, qwerty
> > keypad, and a task switching graphical operating system.  My main concern
> > next to speed is memory, would I be able to use any external memory with
> > the PIC microcontrollers?  Would something else be better suited for this
> > type of project?
>
> Most of the PICs (except the 17Cxx) are extremely limited with respect
> to memory; they have typically 4K or less of code space and 192 bytes or
> less of data space; all of the code/data must reside within the PIC itself
> and there is no convenient means of extending it.  Aside from this they're
> great--nice and fast, etc.  But for your application, I think a more general
> purpose external-bus CPU would be better.  Maybe the 17C42, but I've never
> used it.
>

Take a look at Circuit Cellar Ink magazine.  They have swags of info on
embedded systems.  There are cut-down DOS and even Windows OSs which,
in conjunction with one of the tiny embedded 80x86 boards, would make
life a lot easier.  Otherwise, you are pretty much on your own
regarding writing of OS and graphics.

Forget PICs; they are simply the wrong tool for the job.  With a
Herculean effort you may be able to get a 'graphical' OS into a
processor with 64K address space.  Without a graphics accelerator chip,
the sheer data rate required to fill a frame buffer will bring a small
processor to its knees, however.

Sounds like an interesting project.  If you don't go down the Intel
path, check out some of the smaller RISC implementations around.  Even
the venerable 68000 architecture may be suitable, not least because it
is a pleasure to program in assembler.  Zilog has a new
Z80-on-steroids, with 32 bit registers, called something like Z380.
Back issues of the abovementioned magazine may help.

A while back I did something like you want to do, except it was a rack-
mounted Z80 system designed for a little data acquisition.  It took a
lot of effort to write the cross-assembler, simulator and multitasking
OS, but it was rewarding and educational.  Good luck.

Regards,
SJH
Canberra, Australia

1996\08\20@203619 by Philip Lalone

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On Wed, 21 Aug 1996, Steve Hardy wrote:

> > From: John Payson <.....supercatKILLspamspam@spam@MCS.COM>
> >
> > >         I was wondering if a PIC16c84, or any PIC was powerful enough to
> > > be used to make a sort of a laptop.  The Z80 is used in Nintendo's
Gameboy,
{Quote hidden}

       I'd rather go with something NON-Intel, to me, that'd be a big
step backwards.  However, I know 80x86 assembly, and it would save lots of
time.  A 680x0 processor would be nice, anybody have an suggestions?
I think the 68030 is an embedded processor.  I recently bought a EMP-20
programmer, thinking that I may eventually have to move from the PIC.

                                               Thanks,
                                               Philip Lalone
                                               Alpha-X Development

1996\08\20@205655 by Clyde Smith-Stubbs

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Philip Lalone <plalonespamKILLspamALPHAX.COM> wrote:

>         I'd rather go with something NON-Intel, to me, that'd be a big
> step backwards.  However, I know 80x86 assembly, and it would save lots of
> time.  A 680x0 processor would be nice, anybody have an suggestions?

Check out the Philips XA - (ignore the fact that they keep wanting to
call it the 8051XA - it's not an 8051). It's a 16 bit processor that
can address 1MB each of code and data (later versions will go to 16MB),
runs like a scalded cat and costs only a little more than a PIC. You
can get more info from http://www.semiconductors.philips.com/ps (try
http://www.semiconductors.philips.com/ps/philips33.html for the XA
specifically).


--
Clyde Smith-Stubbs       | HI-TECH Software,       | Voice: +61 7 3300 5011
.....clydeKILLspamspam.....hitech.com.au      | P.O. Box 103, Alderley, | Fax:   +61 7 3300 5246
http://www.hitech.com.au | QLD, 4051, AUSTRALIA.   | BBS:   +61 7 3300 5235
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
For info on the World's best C cross compilers for embedded systems, point
your WWW browser at http://www.hitech.com.au, or email EraseMEinfospam_OUTspamTakeThisOuThitech.com.au

1996\08\21@030049 by james

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Clyde Smith-Stubbs wrote:
>
> Philip Lalone <plalonespamspam_OUTALPHAX.COM> wrote:
>
>
> Check out the Philips XA -
snip snip snip
> runs like a scalded cat and costs only a little more than a PIC. <---- ???
does this price
comparison include the price of the external eprom and latch necessary
to run the XA???? (and the additional latch to replace lost i/o pins?
and the cost of
the additiona PCB real estate for the extra chips??)

--
James Musselman
President
Radix/Cobalt Instruments, Inc.
PO Box 897
Clovis, CA 93612 USA
tel 209-297-9000     fax 209-297-9400

1996\08\21@052444 by Clyde Smith-Stubbs

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James Musselman <@spam@jamesKILLspamspamRADIXGROUP.COM> wrote:

>  does this price
> comparison include the price of the external eprom and latch necessary
> to run the XA???? (and the additional latch to replace lost i/o pins?
> and the cost of
> the additiona PCB real estate for the extra chips??)

No, James, that's not what I had in mind. But since you can't hang
external memory off most of the PICs, there's little point in making
the point. The consensus was that the PIC series was unsuitable
for the application; I was suggesting a chip that is, and my price
comparison with the PIC was simply to illustrate that it is a cheap
chip; but since you asked the question, let's look at the pricing: -

Philips have quoted the XA romless part as low as US$7, but I believe
that's a quantity price. So we'll just work on what we pay here, and
I've no doubt they'd be cheaper in the US. I've allowed one latch for
the multiplexed address bus, and two more to replace lost I/O.

Philips P51XAG30         US$11.70               (== AUS$15.50)
27C64 EPROM (28DIP)          2.50
74HC373 latch x 3            1.50
Extra board space (if any)   2.00

Total:                   US$17.70


Compare this with Digikey's current price of US$21 for an erasable 17C42 -
it looks pretty good, actually! If we were to compare with PIC pricing in
Australia, it would look even better!

Board space is not a major issue; the 40 pin DIP C42 takes up nearly as
much room as the PLCC XA and a 28 pin ROM anyway - the latch fits
underneath the ROM so it does not occupy any extra space at all. The end
result is a much faster chip, with more ROM and more RAM, two serial
ports instead of one, and the capability to expand the memory at
little extra cost.

None of this means that one chip is better than the other; the PIC still
has some advantages (low current drain, for example). It's horses for
courses.

Clyde

--
Clyde Smith-Stubbs       | HI-TECH Software,       | Voice: +61 7 3300 5011
KILLspamclydeKILLspamspamhitech.com.au      | P.O. Box 103, Alderley, | Fax:   +61 7 3300 5246
http://www.hitech.com.au | QLD, 4051, AUSTRALIA.   | BBS:   +61 7 3300 5235
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
For info on the World's best C cross compilers for embedded systems, point
your WWW browser at http://www.hitech.com.au, or email RemoveMEinfoTakeThisOuTspamhitech.com.au

1996\08\21@082633 by Walter Banks

picon face
Philip ,
>         I was wondering if a PIC16c84, or any PIC was powerful enough to
> be used to make a sort of a laptop.  The Z80 is used in Nintendo's Gameboy,
> and the TI-85 Calculator, both of them are fairly powerful.  How does the
> PIC compare?  I want to make a simple laptop with a 320x200 LCD, qwerty
> keypad, and a task switching graphical operating system.  My main concern
> next to speed is memory, would I be able to use any external memory with
> the PIC microcontrollers?

The 17Cxx series especially the 17c42a and 17c44 with built in multiply
are formidable computing machines. It is at this point that the PIC power
can really show itself. They have the ability to use external RAM and
they have a large address space.

> Would something else be better suited for this type of project?
>  Software would be the problem. For the application that you propose
their is very little available software.

Walter Banks
fttp://http://www.bytecraft.com

1996\08\21@120857 by james

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Clyde Smith-Stubbs wrote:
>

> Philips P51XAG30         US$11.70               (== AUS$15.50)
> 27C64 EPROM (28DIP)          2.50
> 74HC373 latch x 3            1.50
> Extra board space (if any)   2.00
>
> Total:                   US$17.70
>
> Compare this with Digikey's current price of US$21 for an erasable 17C42 -
> it looks pretty good, actually! If we were to compare with PIC pricing in
> Australia, it would look even better!
>

Clyde, that is pretty interesting.  thanks for the info!!!  If anything
I have become a little disenchanted with Microchip; their hardware
bugs, lack of support for same, Bytecraft compiler that has about
18,000 different rev levels, etc. (I'm just a whining customer that buys
lots of microcontrollers)
PS: is http://www.hitex.com your product (c++ for '166)?

James Musselman
President
Radix/Cobalt Instruments, Inc.
PO Box 897
Clovis, CA 93612 USA
tel 209-297-9000     fax 209-297-9400

1996\08\21@213645 by owler, Gary

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> From: Clyde Smith-Stubbs
> To: Multiple recipients of list PICLIST
> Subject: Re: PIC-Based Computer
> Date: Wednesday, 21 August 1996 17:32
>

<snip>

{Quote hidden}

Actually, the Australian price of an erasable PIC17C42A is AU$17.07 +tax (in
quantities of 10) which is therefore about AU$20.80. Quite comparable with
the US price!

--------------------------------------------
Email: spamBeGoneGary.FowlerspamBeGonespamdsto.defence.gov.au
Phone: +61 8 8259 5767
Fax:   +61 8 8259 5672

Defence Science & Technology Organisation
PO Box 1500, Salisbury, South Australia 5108
--------------------------------------------

1996\08\22@201124 by Jim Robertson

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> The Z80 is used in Nintendo's Gameboy,

Not quite true. The gameboy has a custom chip partially based on the Z80
but includes its own unique instructions and some other hardware changes
to suit the raster driven LCD.

You cannot use the standard Z80 development tools to "roll your own"
gameboy games.

-Jim

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