MSX Turbo R
This page was last modified 01:26, 2 December 2021 by Gdx. Based on work by Mars2000you and NYYRIKKI and others.
MSX Turbo R logo

Contents

Introduction

The MSX Turbo R is the last generation of MSX computers that was put to market by a household electronic brand. Only Panasonic was brave enough to put faith in the standard once again, by releasing two different models: the Panasonic FS-A1ST and the Panasonic FS-A1GT. MSX Turbo R computers were produced until 1994.

According to Kay Nishi, the R on the MSX Turbo R stands for RISC (Reduced instruction set computing).

MSX Turbo R standard definition

Standard Features Obligatory:

  • CPU Zilog Z80A compatible at 3.579 MHz (8-bit) and R800 at 7.159MHz
  • At least 256kB RAM with Memory Mapper.
  • 32kB Main-ROM and 16kB Sub-ROM containing BIOS and MSX-BASIC version 4.0
  • Yamaha V9958 Video Display Processor: backward compatible with the TMS9918/TMS9928 and V9938 (for more info: V9958 MSX Video Technical Data Book).
    • VRAM 128kB (expandable to 192kB but the standard only provides for a maximum of 128kB, this extra VRAM can not be displayed and is only accessible via the VDP commands)
  • At least 70 keys (including five programmable function keys, Graph, Code/Hangul/Kana/РУС, Select, Stop and four arrow keys. Caps, Accents/Dead and, 実行/Execute, 取消/Cancel keys are optional), QWERTY with JIS key layout for Japanese keyboards.
  • Kanji Display (Japanese computers only)
  • Sound
  • RTC compatible with RP5C01
  • System Timer (E6h~E7h I/O ports)
  • Soft/Hard reset
  • Device disabler/enabler (F5h I/O port)
  • Connectivity
    • At least one cartridge slot. (In fact, all MSX turbo R have two MSX cartridge slots)
    • Two General Purpose port. The connector is a normal 9-pin D-connector, male. (Game controllers, graphic tablet, mice are optional)
    • One Printer interface
    • Mic IN (used for PCM sound recording)

Standard Features Optional:

  • Floppy disk drive interface (all produced MSX Turbo R computers have one)
    • 64kB Disk-ROM including the Disk BASIC, MSX-DOS 1 and MSX-DOS 2 kernels
    • One or two 1DD/2DD/2HD floppy disk drive, all produced MSX Turbo R computers have a 2DD 3.5" floppy drive built in (2HD is supported by the MX-2021 only)
  • Extended Kanji: Level 3 with 24 bit font in option
  • MSX-MIDI
  • RS-232C
  • MSX View

Features Removed From The Standard:

  • Cassette tape recorder (not usable)
  • External VDP that use 88h~8Bh I/O ports (some extensions are no more usable from MSX2+)
  • Floppy disk drives that uses D0h~D7h I/O ports (not usable?)
  • Light pens that use B8h~BBh I/O ports (not usable via the BIOS)
  • MSX-AUDIO (C0h~C3h I/O ports) (usable except the FM-BIOS and FM-BASIC. Fixed by this fix.)
  • MSX-Interface (J3125 chip) (never used)
  • Paddle controller (not usable via the BIOS)
  • Sony's SRAM (B0h~B3h I/O ports)
  • VHD Controller (BCh~BFh I/O ports)

Note: Although officially removed from the standard, some of these features can still be used with certain precautions such as access times.

Software

There is not a lot of software specific for the MSX Turbo R, although a lot of MSX games can run smoother and/or faster on an MSX Turbo R. As with the MSX2+, some software uses the optional scroll features or higher screens.

Some software that takes advantage of the MSX Turbo R:

  • 2021 Snooky
  • Daisenryaku II - Campaign Version
  • Fray - In Magical Adventure
  • Illusion City
  • Moonlight Saga
  • Multi-Plex
  • PaRaDream
  • Seed of Dragon

Also see the list on Generation MSX.

Links to MSX Turbo R software can be found on this page: MSX Turbo R Software.

Companies

MSX Turbo R computers were only produced by Panasonic and Takaoka in Japan.

Trivia

Originally Yamaha and ASCII announced the Yamaha V9978 Video Display Processor in 1990, the video chip for the MSX3. It was a very capable video IC, featuring two different sets of video modes. In bitmap modes it was capable of up to 768×240 resolution (up to 768×480 in interlace mode), up to 32768 colors, superimposing, hardware scrolling, and even a hardware cursor for Windows-like OSes. However the most impressive feature with these modes was the use of high-speed hardware bit block data mover. The MSX2 video IC was also equipped with a hardware bit mover, but the new one was going to be 20 times faster.

In pattern mode, it was capable of Super Nintendo class features. Multi layers, 16k patterns, several palettes, 128 sprites, a maximum of 16 sprites per scanline. So basically a SNES but with no mode7.

However, the project was cancelled. Due to a shifting market with a growing interest in game consoles and powerful PCs, companies were not enthusiastic about creating new MSX machines. The biggest software supporters of MSX moved to Nintendo and other computers and game machines. Sony chose to make their own game console.

Ultimately the MSX Turbo R was made, a supercharged MSX2+. Rumor has it that ASCII wasn't able to deliver the new VDP in time for the 1990 release, so the MSX Turbo R was shipped with just the new R800 CPU.

However the Yamaha V9978 specifications and pin-out were featured in some databooks from that time. Later Yamaha and ASCII removed the legacy compatibility features in the V9978 and released it as the Yamaha V9990, which was later used in the Sunrise GFX9000 and Tecnobytes V9990 Powergraph hobby projects.