Zoom inside the FireBee
By Vincent Rivière

In the previous articles, we zoomed inside the main components of the FireBee: ColdFire, FPGA and PIC. Today we are going to zoom out, and discover the other new devices present on the board.

Definitely, the FireBee is a modern computer. Even though its main goal is to emulate a fast Falcon, the FireBee hardware is in no way related to the original Falcon chips. All the FireBee components can be used either to emulate original Atari hardware, or in native mode for optimal performance. This will allow future developments to unleash the real power of the FireBee.

You can see below the list of the main FireBee components:


- Freescale ColdFire MCF5474. Main CPU, timers, PCI, Ethernet MAC layer... (see article "Zoom inside the ColdFire").

- FPGA: Altera Cyclone III. It implements Falcon original hardware, and more. (see article "Zoom inside the FPGA").

- PIC 18F4520. Power management and and auxiliary tasks (see article "Zoom inside the PIC").

- SD-Card socket. Unlike other interfaces, this one is directly accessible from the ColdFire, without the FPGA.

- PHY: AMD Am79C874. While the ColdFire embeds the first half of Ethernet support (MAC layer), the second half (PHY layer) is supported by this device.

- DVI: Texas Instruments TFP410. The FireBee's native graphics chip. It can be used directly for modern video modes. Combined to the FPGA, it can provide VIDEL emulation.

- VGA: Analog Devices ADV7125. This device transparently converts the native FireBee digital video output into VGA, in order to use legacy monitors using a standard DVI/VGA adapter.

- USB: NEC µPD720101. It provides 5 USB 2.0 ports. Currently, USB is used by FireTOS to simulate standard Atari hardware (keyboard, mouse, mass storage). Any device could also be used natively from FreeMiNT with appropriate drivers.

- AC'97: Cirrus Logic CS4299-JQZ. This is the FireBee native sound chip, to play digital sounds. Combined to the FPGA, it can also emulate the classic YM2149.

- RAM: Samsung K4H511638F (10 chips). 512 MB of general purpose DDR2-SDRAM + 128 MB of VIDEO/FPGA RAM. This RAM is then virtually divided into 14 MB of ST-RAM and 496 MB of FastRAM.

- Flash memory: Macronix MX29LV640D. 8 MB of flash memory. It contains the default FPGA configuration, and the various FireBee software components (BaS, FireTOS, EmuTOS...). It can be updated either by software (FLASH060.PRG tool) or externally using a BDM adapter.

- SRAM: Cypress CY7C1041DV33. 512 kB of high-speed static RAM. It can be used by the FPGA to archieve high performance tasks.

- Battery Charger. This is a custom device from Medusa Computer Systems. Combined with the PIC, it keeps the battery to optimal charge.

- DIP switches. They can change some hardware settings and select which operating system to boot

- LEDs. Several LEDs indicates the status of the FireBee. Most important ones are the green LED which indicates Power On, and the blinking orange led driven by the ColdFire which indicates that the OS runs fine.

- Interfaces. There are many interfaces on the FireBee board, from external sockets to internal headers. They can be used to emulate a Falcon, or reprogrammed to something completely different.
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