Atari Falcon

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Atari Falcon

The Atari Falcon is a computer that was developed by Atari Corporation and released in 1992. Focus was on multimedia capabilites (24-bit graphics, significant sound replay and recording capabilities). It was the last member of the TOS Family of computers manufactured by Atari.


Specifications

CPU: Motorola MC68030 32-bit microprocessor @ 16MHz w/ 32-bit bus
FPU: Motorola 68881/68882 @ 16MHz (optional)
DSP: Motorola 56001 Digital Signal Processor (DSP) running in parallel @ 32MHz w/ 32kWords (24-bit) of local zero wait state static RAM
ROM: 512kB
RAM: 1, 4 or 16MB(14MB usable) on daughterboard (RAM is 32-bit wide)
Expansion bus: Internal 'Processor-Direct' slot for 386SX emulation or other co-processors/etc or CT60/63
Video: (See below for specific video modes/resolutions.)
16-bit BLiTTER @ 16MHz (also handles hard drive access)
Accepts

external video sync to allow high quality genlocking
Overlay mode for easy video titling and special effects
Overscan |- support
Hardware-assisted horizontal fine scrolling
VIDEL (video controller) sits on 32-bit bus

Audio: Stereo 16-bit Analog-to-Digital DMA input
Stereo 16-bit Digital-to-Analog DMA output
Eight 16-bit audio DMA record/playback channels
SDMA sound/DMA co-processor
Ports: 128kB cartridge port
2 9-pin mouse/joystick ports
2 15-pin STe enhanced analog/digital controller ports
MIDI IN, OUT/THRU
Bi-directional parallel port
RS232C serial port
SCSI II w/ DMA
Analog RGB/VGA/composite video connector
Stereo headphone out (1/8" mini-jack)
Stereo microphone in (1/8" mini-jack)
DSP port (up to 1MHz data transfer rate)
RF modulator for TV hookup
Localtalk compatible LAN (up to 250kbaud transfer rate)
Storage: Internal 1.44MB 3.5" HD floppy
Internal IDE 2.5" hard drive (optional)
OS : Pre-emptive mulitasking OS (MultiTOS) w/ adaptive prioritization and inter-process communication (also 68040 compatible)
Clock: Realtime clock and battery backed up RAM
Chassis: 1040ST-style case w/ internal fan
Price (1993): 1MB/no HD - $799 list
4MB/65MB - $1399 list
  • Other notable features
    • Packaged in STE case. Distinguished from STE models by dark grey keyboard keys, "rainbow" logo
    • Falcon 040 models developed, prototypes, never released (add link to old computer museum)

Video Modes

Resolutions available on the Atari Falcon030 (c) 1992 Atari Corp.

Written by John Townsend
This document may be re-printed again and again as long as the Atari copyright remains intact.

A couple of notes: Unlike previous machines, there are just too many resolutions to give each resolution a name. Therefore, I will do my best to describe what the resolution is and which monitor it is on.

NOTE: TV and a Color Monitor are the same.. by Color Monitor, I am talking about the standard SC1224. By VGA, I mean a standard VGA Monitor.

40 column modes ( "column" means the number of x pixels divided by 8)

   4 color, normal, TV:         320x200,    4 colors, 2 planes
  16 color, normal, TV:         320x200,   16 colors, 4 planes
 256 color, normal, TV:         320x200,  256 colors, 8 planes
True color, normal, TV:         320x200,  true color
   4 color, interlace, TV:      320x400,    4 colors, 2 planes
  16 color, interlace, TV:      320x400,   16 colors, 4 planes
 256 color, interlace, TV:      320x400,  256 colors, 8 planes
True color, interlace, TV:      320x400,  true color
   4 color, normal, VGA:        320x480,    4 colors, 2 planes
  16 color, normal, VGA:        320x480,   16 colors, 4 planes
 256 color, normal, VGA:        320x480,  256 colors, 8 planes
True color, normal, VGA:        320x480,  true color
   4 color, line-doubling, VGA: 320x240,    4 colors, 2 planes
  16 color, line-doubling, VGA: 320x240,   16 colors, 4 planes
 256 color, line-doubling, VGA: 320x240,  256 colors, 8 planes
True color, line-doubling, VGA: 320x240,  true color

80 column modes

   2 color, normal, TV:         640x200,    2 colors, 1 plane
   4 color, normal, TV:         640x200,    4 colors, 2 planes
  16 color, normal, TV:         640x200,   16 colors, 4 planes
 256 color, normal, TV:         640x200,  256 colors, 8 planes
True color, normal, TV:         640x200,  true color
   4 color, interlace, TV:      640x400,    4 colors, 2 planes
  16 color, interlace, TV:      640x400,   16 colors, 4 planes
 256 color, interlace, TV:      640x400,  256 colors, 8 planes
True color, interlace, TV:      640x400,  true color
   2 color, normal, VGA:        640x480,    2 colors, 1 plane
   4 color, normal, VGA:        640x480,    4 colors, 2 planes
  16 color, normal, VGA:        640x480,   16 colors, 4 planes
 256 color, normal, VGA:        640x480,  256 colors, 8 planes
   4 color, line-doubling, VGA: 640x240,    4 colors, 2 planes
  16 color, line-doubling, VGA: 640x240,   16 colors, 4 planes
 256 color, line-doubling, VGA: 640x240,  256 colors, 8 planes

and lastly.. there are compatibility modes for ST Low, ST Medium, and ST High on both VGA monitors and SC1224 monitors. (On a color monitor, ST High is achieved by using the interlace mode).

Also, the ST Monochrome monitor (the SM124) will work with Falcon030 as well. However, it only supports one resolution: ST High Resolution.

All modes on a TV can be overscanned. This means multiplying the X and Y resolution by 1.2. For example, modes with 320 pixels of horizontal resolution (X res) will become 384 pixels across, and modes with 640 pixels will become 768 across. Overscanning is done in the X and Y resolution. You can't do them independently. Special Note: On a VGA monitor, overscan is "faked".. since the video hardware doesn't have the capability to do overscan on a VGA monitor, we made it so that if a overscan mode is set on a VGA monitor, you still see the normal size screen, but the screen is a window onto the bigger overscanned image. Make sense? We did this for compatibility. This way if a game that has an overscanned starup picture can use the same pic on both the VGA monitor and the TV monitor. Pretty cool, eh? <grin>

BTW.. Overscan can NOT be set from the desktop. The AES and Desktop will work just fine with it, but because you can't see the parts of the screen, we thought that that option shouldn't be available from the desktop. We don't want to confuse people. However, Overscan can be set using a new XBIOS call (Vsetmode()).. so it is still available.

To enable overscan you should edit and set overscan flag in newdesk.inf. More information at http://cd.textfiles.com/atarilibrary/atari_cd10/DISKS/AC10DISK/ATOZBOOK/N.TXT ("The Atari A to Z" by Mark S Baines)

Custom Chips

VIDEL

The VIDEL takes care of the video functions of the system including overscan, overlay mode and true color graphics

COMBEL

The COMBEL is the system manager of the Atari Falcon030. This chip controls all system functions. Also the BLITTER is built in in this chip.

SDMA

The SDMA is the Sound DMA and controls the sound part. We have built in a unique matrix switch function in this chip (more details in the second part)

KEYBOARD PROCESSOR

The keyboard processor has been improved and is now also suitable for high resolution mice.

Besides the above custom chips the Atari Falcon030 has a number of standard chips like the Motorola 68030 and 56001 DSP. Another important chip is the CODEC in which the 16 bit AD and DA converters are located.

Case Revisions

Atari Falcon 030

CLAB MKI

CLAB MKII

CLAB MKX

Motherboard Layout

Motherboard Revisions

Keyboard Layouts

The Falcon keyboard is a darker grey version of the same design as the ST keyboard. It is therefore possible to use an ST keyboard on a Falcon machine and vice-versa.

TOP

BASE

  • Keyboard key swap - Discussion on the pros and cons of swapping keys on different language keyboards

Demos


Software

Programming


Hardware Upgrades

Video

Magazine References

  • ST Format, issue 41, p106-109
  • ST Format, issue 72, p30-31 (C-Lab Falcon Mk2 Review)
  • Atari ST Review, issue 5, p6-7
  • Atari ST Review, issue 8, p30-33
  • Atari ST User, issue 83, p18-19 (Advert)
  • Atari ST User, issue 85, p60-62 (Article)

External links