Toshiba Libretto 50ct teardown and possible project

cdabc123

2[H]4U
Joined
Jun 21, 2016
Messages
4,085
Had this laptop sitting around and after diving in the construction and design really interested me.

Currently have no idea if it even powers on. Adapter is on the way. After that I get to dive into the majical world of win 95 to try and get a os crawling on this thing.

As far as projects go this has a very well documented io sheild. Since this is already a external device I want to intigrate a tiny fpga with it to deal with any io weirdness I want to use this thing for. Im also looking to integrate a rpi nano and remote into it and use that for modern internet access.

20221114_221901.jpg20221114_221929.jpg20221114_212745.jpg20221114_212709.jpg20221114_212748.jpg20221114_220819.jpg20221114_211950.jpg20221114_211906.jpg20221114_211847.jpg20221114_212121.jpg
 

serpretetsky

2[H]4U
Joined
Dec 24, 2008
Messages
2,056
Lattice Semiconductor MachXO3 FPGAs are pretty good for small low-cost FPGAs. FPGA flash configuration and oscillator on the chip, all you need to do is supply 3.3V (and any related bypass capacitors) and you're good to go. I do recommend bringing out the jtag pins as well for easy debugging and programming. The tools work on modern machines too (I was using Diamond Lattice with windows 10).
 

cdabc123

2[H]4U
Joined
Jun 21, 2016
Messages
4,085
Lattice Semiconductor MachXO3 FPGAs are pretty good for small low-cost FPGAs. FPGA flash configuration and oscillator on the chip, all you need to do is supply 3.3V (and any related bypass capacitors) and you're good to go. I do recommend bringing out the jtag pins as well for easy debugging and programming. The tools work on modern machines too (I was using Diamond Lattice with windows 10).
I was looking at diving into the lattice devices as some of the offering fit the form factor perfectly. I need to get a better idea of what I expect out of the fpga. I do have regulated power as well as serial and various other io from the laptop.

I was also leaning to a larger xilinx or altera fpga as I have a reasonable x y space to work with if I minimize the z space. I'm also already familiar with quartus and vivado.

Lol, what debug and programming options work on win 95? :p
 

serpretetsky

2[H]4U
Joined
Dec 24, 2008
Messages
2,056
win95? I haven't checked but for Xilinx it would probably be ISE. I believe that supports most xilinx FPGA's/CPLD's before the 7 series (and some 7 series?). I think i was more assuming you would synthesize and/or program from a different machine and then generally keep that fpga image semi-permanently until you needed to change it for some reason. But i dont know how you envision your use-case.

Synthesis on that machine will be pretty slow, but for smaller FPGAs maybe it will be fine?

Im not familiar with Altera.
 

cdabc123

2[H]4U
Joined
Jun 21, 2016
Messages
4,085
win95? I haven't checked but for Xilinx it would probably be ISE. I believe that supports most xilinx FPGA's/CPLD's before the 7 series (and some 7 series?). I think i was more assuming you would synthesize and/or program from a different machine and then generally keep that fpga image semi-permanently until you needed to change it for some reason. But i dont know how you envision your use-case.

Synthesis on that machine will be pretty slow, but for smaller FPGAs maybe it will be fine?

Im not familiar with Altera.
Lol I definitely will build the fpga on a different device. I'm just curious what the fpga scene looked like for win 98 ish.

Is the lattice toolchain pretty decent to build from?
 

serpretetsky

2[H]4U
Joined
Dec 24, 2008
Messages
2,056
Is the lattice toolchain pretty decent to build from?
It was good enough for me. Lattice Diamond tools. My designs were generally pretty small and typically didn't push clock timing very hard. Generally I dont use the IDE for writing HDL, prefer notepad++ or visual studio code. The free version currently comes with modelsim for simulation, which is ok (I remember preferring activeHDL which they recently switched away from, just generally more responsive and more stable). For verilog it supports many verilog/systemverilog 2009 constructs. I'm not sure how good the VHDL 2008 support is.

I never got the reveal logic analyzer to work ( equivalent to Xilinx ILA). So there's that.

If you want to instantiate a soft cpu they have the Lattice Mico 32 (LM32) and Lattice Mico Development tools (c compiler) which integrates with Lattice Diamond tools. You can recompile code and not resynthesize anything, just reinitialize the BRAM. I've heard they're moving away from the LM32 and moving towards RISCV so maybe there are other options there (Lattice Propel i think?).

They generally support wishbone bus for LM32 and MACHXO3 / MACHXO2 fpgas, but maybe with RISCV they've moved to AXI, not sure.
 

cdabc123

2[H]4U
Joined
Jun 21, 2016
Messages
4,085
It was good enough for me. Lattice Diamond tools. My designs were generally pretty small and typically didn't push clock timing very hard. Generally I dont use the IDE for writing HDL, prefer notepad++ or visual studio code. The free version currently comes with modelsim for simulation, which is ok (I remember preferring activeHDL which they recently switched away from, just generally more responsive and more stable). For verilog it supports many verilog/systemverilog 2009 constructs. I'm not sure how good the VHDL 2008 support is.

I never got the reveal logic analyzer to work ( equivalent to Xilinx ILA). So there's that.

If you want to instantiate a soft cpu they have the Lattice Mico 32 (LM32) and Lattice Mico Development tools (c compiler) which integrates with Lattice Diamond tools. You can recompile code and not resynthesize anything, just reinitialize the BRAM. I've heard they're moving away from the LM32 and moving towards RISCV so maybe there are other options there (Lattice Propel i think?).

They generally support wishbone bus for LM32 and MACHXO3 / MACHXO2 fpgas, but maybe with RISCV they've moved to AXI, not sure.
Good to know I think I need to figure out what exactly im expecting out of the fpga. Im tempted by the tang nano 9k devices avalible from china but dont know how hard to build and they seem minimal on resources.

I think im looking at stacking 2 rpi zero form factor boards and intigrating them into the io attachment of the laptop. There seams to be plenty of riscv rpi alternitives so im almost assuming im going to tie the boards in some way and avoid a soft processor on the fpga.

I plan on using the 'rpi' for modern internet acces and wifi. I still need to find a good way to network the rpi and laptop which currently uses a cardbus to ethernet adapter.

The adapter arrived for the laptop, and it boots! windows 95 is pretty snappy on this, and the joystick works better then the modern dell ones ive tried. It has a 800mb ata/ide drive. Im thinking and contemplating if I can install a modern msata ssd with an adapter in this spot.
20221208_152024.jpg
 
Last edited:

MisterDNA

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Feb 8, 2004
Messages
1,051
Based on the pic of the CPU, you got one of the 50CT units with an underclocked Pentium 120MHz CPU where the discontinued 75MHz CPU should be. I recall there are ways to enable it to run at full speed, but it requires soldering those tiny wires. The 120 would also easily take an FSB boost to 66MHz for 133MHz. 166MHz is also possible with the multiplier boosted to 2.5x, but it will run very hot.

I had one of these machines back in 2002 and used it for GPS navigation in my car.
 

toast0

2[H]4U
Joined
Jan 26, 2010
Messages
2,156
Looks like a pcmcia slot? You can probably find a wifi card for that, although you'd be limited on security. The easier way would be wired ethernet plus a wifi client bridge. Maybe not as compact. Try to find a dongleless ethernet card if it'll fit, cause losing your dongle is a drag. And the dongles / dongle connectors are fragile.
 
Top