The Computer Sam Coupé

last update: 12.06.2010

CPU:
Zilog Z80B, fully compatible with i8080 and Z80
Over 1000 8bit instructions, also some 16bit ones. Much faster than other 8bit computers.

Speed:
6MHz with screen off, 4.5 MHz with screen on, can be slowed down to emulate ZX Spectrum

ROM Memory:
32KB in two banks, contains POST, hardware drivers, bootstrap, and SamBasic

RAM Memory:
Up to 512KB base memory, up to 4MB supported as external, together 4.5MB RAM

Memory mapping:
Hi-tech segmented arrangement, ROMs can be separatedly (un)mapped to the CPU address space

Video chip:
PAL output, also composite signal out, and full RGB scart supported
Up to 256x192 with 16 colours on the line, totally 128 colours
Up to 512x384 interlaced with 4 colours on the line, totally 128 colours
Supported exact line interrupts to change colours on-line
Spectrum-mode 100% compatible with ZX-Spectrum (this also implies the CPU to slow down to the ZX Spectrum speed)

Audio chip:
Philips SAA1099 soundchip - 6 channels stereo FM synthesis
8 octaves, 2 noise generators, 2 envelope generators
DAC digital output 4x4bit (2x4bit stereo) - sample rate 15.6 kHz

Keyboard:
Modern keyboard with PC-like keys, 72 keys + hardware NMI and Reset
It's compatible with ZX Spectrum/128 keyboard with some usable extensions

MIDI:
Built-in standard Music Instrument Digital Interface - in/out/thru
Transfer rate 31500 baud (standard)

Network:
Built-in ZX Network-based serial system, supported by DOS

Joysticks:
Upto 2 standard (Atari) joysticks, 5V supported
Both joysticks are mapped onto keyboard

Mouse:
Parallel mouse, supported by ROM

Light pen:
Standard pen supported by ROM and video chip

Disk drives:
Upto 2 internal drives 3.5" can be plugged into Sam. Drives 5.25" are supported too.
Double density disks are usually formated at 80 tracks per 10 sectors (800KB capacity), upto 880KB format supported by DOS, upto 1008KB format supported by disk drive.
Maximum transfer rate is about 50KB/sec., maybe higher with a special formatted disks.

System:
ROM contains high-quality Basic with powerful graphic functions, also the support of hardware features is present, incredible command-set and genial tape-driver included too. The Basic is based on principles of ZX Spectrum, but contains incredible set of new features.

DOS:
Loaded by ROM's bootstrap into RAM. It's called SamDos, but is very similar to +D one. All DOS commands are available both in Basic and assembler. RamDrive support. SamBasic and SamDos were designed to work well together (in spite of other 8-bit computers).
There is also a CP/M emulator for Sam. Very comfortable and good-looking.

Digital sound:
An external soundcard or sampler can be connected, with much better sound that SAA1099.
It's realisable because of Sam's large memory.

Parallel port:
Standard Centronics interface can be connected or built into Sam. It can be used to connect a printer, to hi-speed data transfers or to connect a DAC to get hi-quality digital sound output.

Serial port:
Standard RS232C interface can be connected externally. There are also MIDI and Network interfaces built-in.

Printer:
Standard parallel printer is supported by ROM. The oldfashioned serial printer can be connected via RS232C.

Tape:
It's not a joke! A tape recorder can be connected using 3.5mm jack to become 100% ZX Spectrum compatible. As said, Sam's ROM contains hi-quality tape driver which can load and save at every speed. With autodetection!

Software:
It's sold on disks only, casettes aren't used at all.

The software possibilities of Sam Coupé:
Sam Coupé is so incredible 8bit computer, that it can beat some older 16bit computers easily. The CPU is quite fast, so it can compute much more stuff than other 8bit computers. Also the 512KB of base memory is a good platform for large games, like Prince Of Persia or Lemmings.

There are some graphic editors for Sam Coupé, and also a good MIDI Sequencer available.

It can play very easily the games from ZX Spectrum, because it is compatible with it (including memory, keyboard, graphics and sound). But it is not compatible with ZX Spectrum 128k.

There are some well-known "16bit" games remade for Sam, as well as "8bit" ones. However, the number of games is much lesser than Sinclair users could expect.

SamBasic and his bigger brother MasterBasic are so powerful, that many programs were simply made using Basic. There are also hi-quality Z80 Assemblers, and also a C compiler.

 

If you want to know more about the Sam Coupé, visit Sam Coupé Scrapbook.

 

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