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Alive 4

Various Good Reasons to get a CT60

Now  this  article needs an advance apology before I get started.  As it  is 
about the CT60,  this is a 'minority interest' article,  for people actually 
getting,  or  thinking hard about Rodolphe Czuba's CT60 Falcy super booster. 
So hardcore ST fans, 4 Meg 'purist' Falcon owners, and Oliver 'Tempest' Heun 
had  better  look away now,  and find something else to read instead.  Sorry 

For  the  rest  of you,  this little article may  hopefully  reinforce  your
justification  to get a CT60,  not that you really needed to do that in  the
first place?

So why get a CT60?  It's lovely to have a faster Falcy,  but some of you may
be wondering if all there is out there for it,  is lonely hours playing with
your GEM-Bench to see how many hundreds of times faster you are than a 1985-
era, bog-standard, yellowing with age, STFM. I hope to show you what else is

The  most immediate and obvious gain will be the enhanced responsiveness  of
your  GEM  or GEM compatible desktop and apps.  To take an example close  to
home,  using  the  Jinnee  desktop on a standard Falcon isn't  the  quickest
experience  in  the world.  There is a respectable pause,  the sort of pause
where you could fit in a quick coughing fit, before a new window opens. With
a CT60, you could move around, almost before you even thought about it!

So  this is not such big news by itself,  but then you take it with some GEM
apps,  and see the difference now. Everyone has their own favourite, I would
say  that Smurf,  rather good right now,  would be feckin' brilliant with an
'060  pushing  from behind!  This uber-chip would be particularly  good  for
processor-intensive tasks, such as rendering, without having to wait several
beard-lengths  for an end result.  Just remember to go for the one with  the
built in MMU though.

A  key area which will benefit from a massive speed jump would be the  Atari
users  experience of the internet and the world wide web in particular.  The
browser  front-end would feature fast,  virtually realtime,  page formatting
and  image decoding.  If High Wire ever makes it out properly (see elsewhere
this  issue) we may see the ultimate web solution for the Falcon.  As it is,
the CT60 would still be good with later versions of CAB.  All we need now is
a  fast connection,  as the only remaining bottleneck is the upper 56k limit
on a standard modem!  Ultimately, if someone out there is working on it, the
CT60 means things like Java can be realised decently as well.

Didier  Mequignon,  the author of the fantastic 'Aniplayer',  is featured on
the  CT60  developers list.  This means that Aniplayer is going to get  CT60
specific  code.  So we can expect to see major improvements in such areas as
video  playback.  We should see proper replay of MPEG video with audio,  and
newer  formats  such as Real Video,  currently not supported.  Best of  all,
Aniplayer  will get decently quick MP3 encoding!  Never will it be easier to
make cheesy tunes that everyone can enjoy!

There is more interest in the area of games than I might have expected,  the
news here is encouraging. For instance, the mighty  Reservoir Gods, hot from
their  successful  return  to  Atari  game making  are  on  that  same  CT60
developers list,  promising CT60 versions of their latest games, such as Chu
Chu Rocket and Godpee. Maybe there will be something a bit more advanced, in
a  third dimensional sense,  that reflects their current high console coding
skill levels?

There  is  more  to see on the developers list,  a 'Universal  Motor  Racing
Simulator'  is  promised  by one chap.  There is of  course,  Nature's  long
awaited 'Reekin' Rubber' which has got stalled,  but may well restart again.
Even Deez has some sort of game in the pipeline.

Those GEM games could do with a closer look.  I think that Holger Weet's GEM
version of the classic space game 'Elite' would run a lot lot quicker,  with
as many colours as you liked.

Then there's Patrice Mandin's ports. He's been a little bit busy on an Atari
version of the PC bore's favourite, 'Quake'. I think that this might stand a
better  chance  of  running decently on a CT60.  Then there are  other  game
ports, such as Descent, which may appear someday?

One  of the most cheering entries on the developers list,  top coder  Norman
Feske. A 'successor' to Whip! has been mentioned!

Of course,  one of the prime reason for interest in the CT60,  is the vastly
increased scope for demo creation. Lots of people get their names in at this
point,  DHS come to mind for some reason, Escape again, Deez again, and even
a  CT60 version of the famous French 'Odd Stuff' demo!  This is probably one
of the most controversial reasons for taking up a CT60,  as many people will
argue  that demo coders should seek to 'break the limits' on their  existing
limited  hardware,  but spoil their case by complaining but doing  buggerall

If  anyone  can  be bothered,  there is vastly increased  opportunities  for
emulation of other systems, a personal favourite reason of mine! One example
of a good,  well realised emulation which really needs a lot more power than
most  current Atari 16/32 bit machines can provide,  is Petr Stehlik's Atari 
800  emulator.  This  emulation is technically amazing,  and able to run the
majority  of Atari 8-bit demos,  including many of the cool productions that
we saw at the SV2000 party. At CT60 speed, we would get it at something like
the speed it would run at in real life!

This  means  access  to  a whole other  world  of  cool  productions.  Other
emulations of classic systems could be produced.  Patrice Mandin has forever
been talking about a SNES port. Maybe this will happen now? Could there be a
follow-up  to  Godboy?  Or  could the notoriously tricky  STemboy  GEM-based
Gameboy emulator be made to work with the CT60?

So,  in  an  attempt  to round-off this badly  researched,  hastily  written
article,  a  CT60 is not just about blowing out GEM Bench,  printing out the
results,  and  showing  them  in saddo fashion to your sceptical  PC  owning
compadres,  it's  about  a  new era of useful and  entertaining  real  world
software as well!

IN A FUTURE ISSUE OF ALIVE! - A comprehensive review of the CT60, from first
fitting, to final flourish!

CiH- For Alive! - Jan '02

Alive 4