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Hardware News   Hardware News : Individual Computers: new product Indivision AGA
   posted by Wiesel on 25-Jul-2008 22:23:15 (6502 reads)
During the 80s, it was common use to build computers in a way that they can output their picture on a TV set. This was done in order to reduce the overall system cost for the user. TV sets work with lower frequencies compared to today's monitors, therefore the picture flickers. A flickerfixer converts the signal in a way that a modern VGA monitor or TFT-display can be used. The name flickerfixer was mainly created because the problem of a flickering picture is solved. We've already had a very successful product called Indivision in 2002. It was connected to the monitor output of the computer, but it has been sold out in 2006.

-Read More-

Flickerfixers are in high demand. One unit of our external flickerfixer Indivision has been sold on an internet auction platform for more than 900 US Dollars in march of this year. That's more than four times the last retail price! The popularity and stability of value of our products cannot be proved any better. We have already started development of a new flickerfixer in November 2007, which is finished now.

The first flickerfixers for the Amiga have already been available 17 years ago. Since that time, all flickerfixers - including ours - have been using the same principle: The picture frequency was doubled. This is not enough for most modern VGA monitors and TFT-displays, as the picture of a computer with PAL standard was only displayed at slightly less than 50Hz. Most monitors require 60Hz or more these days.

With Indivision AGA, we're striking a new path. As the name suggests, it's a flickerfixer that is very closely tied to the AGA chipset. This could only be realized by putting the flickerfixer inside of the computer. The product is mounted over the Video-Chip "Lisa". The VGA display is connected directly to the flickerfixer. Further connections are not necessary.

Listing all features of the flickerfixer would go beyond the scope of this news item. You can find the complete technical data in this PDF-overview. The outstanding features are:

* 24 Bit colour resolution in all screenmodes
* support for super hires modes
* Highgfx support up to 1024x768 pixels
* all screenmodes can be displayed at 60Hz or more
* no adjustments necessary

Two options have been added for retro-gaming enthusiasts that allow a step-by-step approximation to the display of an old TV set: Vertical synchronization allows reducing the output frequency down to 49.9Hz, which will eliminate tearing-effects. In addition to that, a scanline-emulation can be switched on. This will emulate the dark lines between the scan lines of a TV screen.

Development and production of this extremely complex product is very expensive. Our trade partners, who have been serving the Amiga-market for many years, have made considerable financial contributions to the production. To account for that, Indivision AGA is exclusively available only from these resellers until January 1st, 2009: (alphabetical order)

* AmigaKit (England)
* GGS-Data (Sweden)
* Software Hut (USA)
* Vesalia (Germany)

Production has already started, the flickerfixer will presumably be shipped to our trade partners during the first week of September. The suggested retail price is 129,- EUR including 19% VAT. Only a version for A1200 computers will be available at first. We're already working on a version for other Amigas with AGA chipset.

The following pictures show the prototype and screenshots where colours are not displayed correctly. The actual product may vary.


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Re: Individual Computers: new product Indivision AGA
Posted on 29-Jul-2008 18:16:50
#21 ]
Joined: 24-Dec-2003
Posts: 42
From: in the cloud

Does it really need access to the video chip to manage more than just doubling the refresh rate?

Yes, this flickerfixer requires access to the Lisa chip, as it's "listening" to the inter-chip communication between Alice and Lisa. This is using knowledge that we have gained during the (still ongoing) development of Clone-A, and it's going a little bit beyond what other flickerfixers have done before. There are a few parameters that the CPU can set inside the FPGA, and that is also going through the chip registers: We've added a few bits in unused places of the AGA chipset and protected them from accidential writing with a fairly complicated activation procedure.

Setting parameters, accessing the flash chip (which contains the hardware behaviour data of the FPGA) and detecting all those different screenmodes would not be possible if we didn't have access to the (otherwise mostly mysterious) chip-register bus.

Wouldn't it be possible to have a "scan tripler" that just plugged into a video output?

Triple frequency would be OK for PAL, but if you triple an NTSC screen, you end up with 90Hz. For broad compatibility, you should stay in the 60-85Hz range, where most affordable monitors are working. We're particularly aiming at those people who either still have a CRT somewhere in the basement, or who need to replace a 1084 monitor with something of "about the same size" due to space constraints on the table.

In order to stay within a "most compatible range", we're multiplying with a fractional factor of 2.5. Yes, this is a bit more complicated than multiplying with an integer, but it makes things a lot easier for the customer. You get the idea: The keyword is "customer value": I want to provide something that continues to be valueable (as opposed to most other computer hardware).

CRTs are traded for about a buck an inch these days, and this is what Indivision AGA wants to be compatible with: Spend money on something that does not wear out (the flickerfixer!), and save big time on the thing that needs to be replaced every other year.

For an external version, it would be hard to maintain good picture quality. AGA has 24 bits colour resolution (three channels of 8 bits each). If this is converted to analog, there's noise in the output that's hard to compensate for. The only possibility would be "brute force": Nothing less than a 10-bit AD-converter would come anywhere close to the picture quality of Indivision AGA. Now multiply this by three, because you need to sample red, green and blue. The whole design would require full 30-bit operation from input to framebuffer to output. It would be *a*lot* more expensive just because of the electrical requirements and the required additional logic. In addition to that, you need to pay for a case, cabling (23-pin Sub-D's anyone?), and it'll be quite hard to achieve the "no adjustments necessary" feature.

As you can see, I have given an external unit quite some thought, but I have dropped it after making the first calculations. There might be a few people out there willing to pay 950 USD for an external flickerfixer, but the broad average would either hesitate or skip on a product for 200,- EUR (look at the exchange rate: that's 311 USD today!). An internal unit makes the thing affordable for a lot more people.


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Re: Individual Computers: new product Indivision AGA
Posted on 31-Jul-2008 20:13:31
#22 ]
Team Member
Joined: 14-May-2003
Posts: 1941
From: Lake Charles, USA

Add me to your list of customers for an A4000 model when it is available.

AmigaOne X1000, A4000(T), A3000, A2000, A1200(T), A1200, A500, CD32, Minimig+ARM, FPGA Arcade, Chameleon64, C-One, C128, C128D, C64C, C64, VIC-20, CBM 8032, CBM4032, Efika, Ultimate64

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Re: Individual Computers: new product Indivision AGA
Posted on 1-Aug-2008 7:11:09
#23 ]
New Member
Joined: 5-Dec-2007
Posts: 4
From: Madrid, Spain

I only need to know one thing.

I need to have an composite video output, because my TFT monitor does not support low resolutions, I explain, my monitor accept 15 khz frecuencies, but if I select 640x256 it is not showed, if I select 640x512 at 15 khz, it is showed correctly. So... Will this flicker fixer have a composite output too?

Thank you.

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