Originally, Yamaha and ASCII announced the 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 SNES class features. Multi layers, 16k patterns, several palettes, 128 sprites, a maximum of 16 sprites per scanline. So basicly a SNES but with no mode7.
However, something went wrong and the project was canceled. Probably due to the ack of interest in marketing of MSX machines and growing interest in game consoles and powerful PC alike computers (for word processing purposes mainly), companies were not so enthusiastic about creating a new MSX machine anymore. The biggest software supporters of MSX deserted to Nintendo and other computers/game machines. Sony chose to make their own game console.
We ended getting the MSXturboR instead, a supercharged MSX2+. Some people say ASCII wasn't able to delivery the new VDP in time for the 1990 release, so they ended going with just the new CPU (named R800). However the V9978 specs and pinout 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 V9990, which was later used in the GFX9000 hobby project. (See also below.)
So, the result is two excellent MSX2++ machines, released by
Panasonic. And after that, it ended, as Panasonic moved on to their 3DO game console.
_PAUSEto make delays in BASIC independent of the current CPU and extra commands for the PCM device (
_PCMREC)), 16kB DISK ROM, 16kB FM-BASIC ROM, 16kB KANJI BASIC.)
Sales of turbo R machines were nothing to complain about due to the big amount of sold machines in Japan.
Rumour: despite the interest in such computer, Panasonic closed its doors after launching a 3rd TR machine (FS-A1XT?) with built in V9990 chip, thus this machine was not fully backward compatible. Due to wrong programming of the V9990 and incompatibility the production was quickly stopped and never resumed.
There was created an expansion or evaluation board with the V9990 chip for MSX/PC and PC98, but it was quite expensive and probably not many were sold. Can someone supply more info about it? As mentioned Panasonic stopped with MSX and went to game console world, thus they used the powerful V9990 Video Display Processor for other purposes than MSX3.
But fortunately (no rumour!) Henrik Gilvad from Denmark designed a graphic card which uses the V9990 video chip so the MSX users worldwide got again opportunity to upgrade their systems :-D. It's called GFX9000, and is sold by Sunrise for MSX. Mail to Rob Hiep for more info!