Zeal 8-bit Computer is a modern 8-bit computer based on a Z80 CPU. It is not an emulation, nor MCU-based.Designed by Zeal8bit in China
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-Update 3rd March 2023: the shipping company is now considering any package containing batteries as sensitive, thus, CR2025 RTC battery will not be included anymore The project Zeal 8-bit computer is…Read More…
-Update 3rd March 2023: the shipping company is now considering any package containing batteries as sensitive, thus, CR2025 RTC battery will not be included anymore
The project Zeal 8-bit computer is a modern 8-bit computer made out of brand new and active components, no obsolete parts. It is powered by a real Z80 processor, not a microcontroller, nor an emulator.
The goal of this project is to have a simple, yet powerful, 8-bit computer, capable of outputting graphics, that can be used to learn about electronics, and low-level programming. It can be programmed in assembly, thanks to any Z80 assembler, and in C, thanks to SDCC. More languages support are coming.
This edition is made for developers, who are eager to port or develop software to Zeal 8-bit Computer. Indeed, its operating system, Zeal 8-bit OS, is still work in progress. Feel free to take part into the development, the community is getting bigger!
As you may have seen in the Youtube videos about the project, the final goal is also to have a video board, powered by an FPGA to have a graphical VGA output supporting text mode and graphic mode. This video board is still under development.
This product includes a pre-assembled, pre-flashed and pre-tested Zeal 8-bit Computer motherboard. A The exhaustive list of the components is:
Note 1: All the components in PLCC and DIP format are socketed, then can be put in and taken out without soldering/desoldering.
Note 2: The ROM will be preflashed with the bootloader described below, usable through UART. A USB-to-TTL/USB-to-UART adapter is required.
The following components are not included and are necessary to use the board:
Here are the features of the board:
|Processor||Zilog Z80 @ 10MHz|
|MIPS (Million Instructions Per Second)||~1.45|
|Primary Read-Only Memory (ROM)||256KB (NOR Flash), upgradeable up to 512KB|
|Secondary Read-Only Memory (ROM)||32KB (I²C EEPROM)|
|Logical address space size||64K (16-bit)|
|Physical address space size||4MB (22-bit)|
|Keyboard interface||PS/2, compatible with 104-key keyboards|
|Inputs/Outputs||User port: including I²C, UART, and GPIOs; Extension port; Video card connector; PS/2 port|
|Peripherals||Game controllers, video cards, audio cards, keypads, cartridges, compact flash, ...|
|Dimensions||15mm x 10mm (5.91 in x 3.94 in)|
|Power input||5V, 500mAh through USB-C|
As specified in the previous section, Zeal 8-bit Computer is composed out of a 256KB ROM (NOR flash), and 512KB of RAM. However, the Z80 CPU is only capable of accessing 64KB at once. In fact, the physical memory space is 4MB big on the board, thus, Zeal 8-bit Computer provides an MMU/Memory mapper, which lets the user choose which part of the physical mapping should be accessible by the CPU. This diagram shows an example of how the virtual memory can be configured.
Around 3MB of physical memory are available to the user for potential extensions. The whole CPU bus, including but not limited to 22-bit address, 8-bit data, RD/WR, INT, MREQ, IOREQ signals are available on the 50-pin extension port, which can be used to plug external cartridges or any other type of devices.
The board presents 3 main ports for extensions:
Thanks to this flexible memory mapping composed of 4x16KB virtual pages, the computer is compatible wih a large variety of softwares/systems, including Zeal 8-bit OS and CP/M.
A bootloader will be provided and pre-flashed on the ROM in order to let you:
Moreover, Zeal 8-bit OS latest version will also be provided on the ROM, which can be booted from the bootloader. You can learn more about it in this video.
The Z80 is a very old processor that had a lot of success in the late 70s and 80s. In fact, it is still manufactured and sold today! As I have always wanted to have a simple yet powerful 8-bit computer, I decided to create my own one year, in 2021. This is when this project started. The goal is to have a standalone 8-bit computer that can output text and graphics at a decent resolution (640x480). Moreover, it would be possible to program for it in C and assembly.
The project has already gathered a community of more than 100 people in the Discord server. Feel free to join the community to get support, to propose some ideas, to help with the software or simply to discuss with people passionate about retro-computing and Zeal 8-bit computer.
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