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Ultimate-64

€ 215,00

€ 177,69 excl tax

Pre Order

PREORDER. Read Ordering Info!

Ultimate-64 Production run October 2019

Ultimate-64

Ultimate 64

What is it?! This board is a hardware implementation (FPGA) of the entire C64, and it includes the Ultimate-II+ as well. An ALL IN ONE solution!

QUMA (Questions you may ask):

Project

  • Why?!
    • Just because the Commodore 64 is AWESOME!
  • What does the introduction of the Ultimate 64 mean for the established Ultimate-II+ product?
    • Not much. The Ultimate-II+ will be continued, alongside of the Ultimate 64.
  • How compatible is the Ultimate 64 actually?
    • At this point it is "pretty good". Just like with the Ultimate-II+, software updates are used to fix issues.
  • "Pretty good", sounds like it's not 100%? Why sell a product that is not 100%?
    • 100% is an awful number. To reach this, more feedback from the community is needed, especially from other C64 experts that can help pinpoint the issues. Without exposure in the field, it is virtually impossible to make it perfect, as different people look at different things.
  • Does it come with a case?
    • No. This product will be a bare motherboard, which you can place in an existing C64 case, OR in a newly manufactured case from Individual Computers.
  • What power supply do I need for this board?
    • The power supply that I'll include with the product, will be a simple 12V DC adapter.
  • If this is just emulation, I will just run an emulator on the PC....
    • No, no, no! First of all, this is not an "emulation!" It is an implementation. The FPGA implements the logic gates that make up a C64. So no, you won't! How dare you! Besides, you won't be able to attach any peripherals to your emulator, would you?
  • Oh okay, so I can attach any C64 peripheral?
    • That's the idea. See the section of I/O and controls for more information.
  • I own a 1541 Ultimate-II, or an Ultimate-II+... This new product, does that mean that no more software updates will come out for my unit?
    • No. In fact, the Ultimate-II+ inside of the Ultimate-64 is based on the same code. Updates for the U-II+ will automatically merge into the Ultimate 64 and vice versa.

Audio

  • Your emulated SID is "okay", but I still like the real thing. Tell me I can use real SID chips?
    • The board supports both 6581 as well as 8580 chips. The voltage for these chips is set by jumpers, as well as the external filter components.
  • Jumpers? Why not software controlled?
    • There is no need for software control, because you can not switch chips on the fly under software control anyway.
  • As the SID is analog, I am wondering: Is the output of the real SID chip available when using HDMI?
    • The output of the SID is digitized on the board and the digital samples are merged with the video into the HDMI stream. So, yes!
  • Nice that I can put a real SID chip in there, but do I really need to?
    • No, you don't. The machine will run fine without. The FPGA version of the SID will then generate the audio output. So you can switch between the "real" analog and the FPGA SID.

Video

  • What resolution does the HDMI output use?
    • The output resolution is 720 x 576 at 50 Hz (for the PAL), also noted as 576p50. This is a standard resolution specified in the the CEA-861 standard and should be supported by all TVs. [Some American TVs excluded.] However, to meet the exact timing of a C64, the timing parameters of this video mode are slightly modified. I have not come across screens that do not accept the generated HDMI signal. Since February 2019 there is a NTSC mode as well, which outputs 720 x 480 at 60 Hz, also noted as 480p60.
  • What are the frame delays of the digital HDMI port?
    • None. There is no frame buffer, so there is no need to worry. Some screens, tho, especially non-gaming screens may introduce some latency. I observed this with a 4K screen that actually resampled the output to just 30Hz. I am pretty sure TVs do not have this problem.
  • So if there is no frame buffer, does that mean that scrollers and such are perfectly smooth?
    • Yes! If your TV renders the image at the speed it is sent over the HDMI link, your scroller and game will be perfectly smooth.
  • Does the Ultimate 64 support both PAL and HDMI output at the same time?
    • Yes. PAL and HDMI are both generated at the same time.
  • About the analog output, does it support separated Luma and Chroma, as in S-Video?
    • Yes, it does. Both signals are available on the 8-pin DIN connector, as well as a combined composite signal. You may need a specialty cable to get the signals out, just like on an original C64. The U64 supports both PAL as well as NTSC, also in analog mode.
  • You mentioned 480p / 576p... that seems like about twice the number of lines needed. What do you do with the other lines?
    • Every line is drawn twice. The second line that the Ultimate64 outputs is either a dimmer version of the previous line, or a full brightness line.  The dim line gives an awesome CRT effect, while the exact copy of the previous line gives a crisp solid image.
  • But, I live in the USA.. Will this work on my set?
    • All modern screens support 576p for PAL as well as 480p for NTSC.
  • For timing compatibility with my tapes and such, I assume I need to have an NTSC version.. Will you make an NTSC version at all? Would the NTSC update need a hardware change?
    • The U64 hardware supports both PAL and NTSC, so you don't need a specific hardware version. In fact, you can switch RUN TIME between the two modes, without even resetting the C64!

Cartridges

  • Does the Ultimate 64 support external cartridges?
    • Yes, the cartridge port is fully supported.
  • So I an insert an Ultimate-II+ module and have an awesome system? :-)
    • You could, but you don't need to. The Ultimate-II+ is fully integrated into the Ultimate-64 board.
    • ... unless you want to use four 1541 drives?
  • Oh, but how is this possible? You mentioned I can use external carts?
    • You could see it as a port extender. Obviously, you cannot use the same features of the expanded port at the same time. But, you can, for example, use the REU from the build-in Ultimate-II+ function, together with an external music cartridge, or utility cartridge that allows some registers at $DF00. And of course, when you turn off all cartridge emulation features of the Ultimate-II+, the cartridge port is free to use.

I/O and controls

  • Is the tape port supported?
    • Yes.
  • How do I connect the Ultimate-II+ tape adapter then?
    • You don't need to. The emulated tape drive automatically 'connects' to the tape pins when playing TAP files.
  • How about the User Port? On the picture it seems that the User port is no more.. Boo hoo!
    • You're right, the User Port is no longer avaiable at the original position. However, all signals from the User Port are available from a pin-header on the board. It is therefore possible to create an extension cable that brings out the user port. The User Port break out will be available for shipment around the end of April 2019. It can already be ordered in the webshop under 'accessories'.
  • So, as the Ultimate-II+ is integrated, it comes with the emulated floppy drive, correct?
    • Yes, that is correct.
  • And, I don't need to connect an external IEC cable to make use of this drive?
    • No, that is no longer required, because it is all inside of one chip.
  • Does the board have Ethernet?
    • Yes, just like the Ultimate-II+, the Ultimate 64 will also have an Ethernet port.
  • I heard something about WiFi as well?
    • Yes, the Ultimate-64 will have a WiFi module on board. Software support for WiFi will be added after the initial hardware release.
  • Buttons? The Ultimate-II+ had buttons, but they seem to have gotten lost.. How do I...?
    • Relax.. There is still one button, in the place of the original power switch. This momentary switch is used to turn on the power and get into the Ultimate menu. Reset and freeze are implemented by holding the button and/or hitting the RESTORE key. You can turn off the machine from a menu option, or hold the button for 4 seconds.

Customer Reviews

  • (Posted on 2019-03-14)

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    Gideon is the true heir of the Commodore 64 according me. Commodore 64 with his beautiful FPGA will live for years. What I like about Ultimate 64 is that it gives a super nice picture to the screen with HDMI output. Also, when you place it in a C64 case, you forget that it's an emulation, you feel like you're using the original machine. A small adapter, an HDMI cable and a Commodore 64, that's all. Thanks, Gideon.


  • (Posted on 2019-01-24)

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    This the best C64 I've ever had! Compatible, comfortable and affordable - the only logic replacement for the dying C64 hardware. It's a plug and play job - plug it into your old C64 case, connect the keyboard and off we go - PLAY! Oh no, wait - there is a little configuration to do, right but only for the first time. Then you just switch it on and enjoy. The brilliant display brings memories back, the Sid emulator is good enough for me and the Ultimate software (you learned to love using the Ultimate 1541) lets you enjoy the new simplicity. So far all demos and games worked without problems. I love this outstanding hardware, thanks!


  • (Posted on 2019-01-09)

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    When I first heard about Gideons plans, I was excited about the prospects of an FPGA solution to a replacement of the aging Commodore 64 mainboard. Fast forward to the day I received my Ultimate 64, I have to genuinely say this is THE MOST significant piece of hardware to emerge since the CMD peripherals of the 90's. The realization of Gideon's vision of an FPGA mainboard is simply stunning. From the wonderful implementation of the original ports, to dual SID's and significantly, the integration of his Ultimate II+, this is quite simply a bargain that should not be missed. To completely appreciate it you should experience it for yourself. Thank-you Gideon for bringing this work of art to the world!


  • (Posted on 2018-10-29)

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    *** To review the U64 with all it's options is something near impossible in here, unless you want to read several pages, so I've decided to mention some of the features I love with it *** With the 1541U built in to the U64, getting games on the system are so easy, anyone can find their childhood memories on the net, (legally) . Most people have a USB stick lying around, so filling it up with D64, TAP or G64 images is just a matter of what types of stuff you like, be it games, demos or magazines... The U64 takes all the games I've tested with it (Turrican among *alot* of others) and in HDMI mode the screen stands crystal clear on my 49" TV. -As stated elsewhere, you wont go back the an original C64 system after using the U64. There's alot of things to change, so you can personalize it in many ways. The U64 is so easy to use, and if you set it up using an Action Replay MK 6, the load times are acceptable. The U64 also have the ability to use an external 1541, cartridges and a Datasette if you ever need it. The sound in the U64 surprises me quite a bit. The SID 8580 (The one I prefer) sounds really good. -So does the 6581. It's like getting a new C64 with future options (USB) and still having the ability to use the Datasette and 1541 disksdrives. All in all, if you're a C64 fanatic like me, the U64 is a MUST BUY !!! -You will never regret it


  • (Posted on 2018-05-01)

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    It's obvious, even if our old 8bits computers have a great lifetime, they will soon die, just because they are not manufactured anymore. So FPGA is obviously the only alternative to dying hardware. And this is where the Ultimate 64 is a true impressive product for getting a brand new C64 up and running. Plug the Ultimate 64 in your old c64 case and attach the original keyboard to it, and you're in. In addition to this, The ultimate 64 combines all the great features coming from the ultimate 1541. The manufacturing quality is really impressive, the support is great, and it's just so easy to use it. Thanks for this masterpiece Gideon !!!


  • (Posted on 2018-05-01)

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    Awesome machine! The display is brilliant you want no turning back to an old c64. Also the sid over HDMI is pretty well done! Also for the audio freaks there is an header to take directly the signal from the analog sid. I want to buy a second one!


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Ordering Info

The Ultimate products for the Commodore computers presented on this website are made by a one-man company. This means dedication and passion, but it also introduces "small scale" effects. Orders are processed in spare time. Please do not expect overnight delivery as is often seen with large mail order companies.

Pre-orders and Back-orders

  • Pre-orders are used for products that generally have a long lead time, caused by production that is just starting or scaling up. The delivery time is not certain and may shift. The Ultimate-64 falls into this category.
  • Back orders When a product is in back-order, it means that the product is temporarily out of stock, but is expected to be filled within some weeks. Production stabilized and more stock is expected than current open orders.

Preordering procedure:

  • Simply place your order through the webshop system. Make sure your shipping address is correct!
  • It has been decided (and implemented in the webshop) that pre-orders do not need to be paid anymore in advance, per se. You can, but you don't have to.
  • First come, first serve. Products will be dispatched in the same sequence as in which the orders were placed.
  • Orders are internally labeled with production / shipping batch number. (May become visible in the order status, t.b.d.)
  • General information about the production and shipping batch numbers will be made available on the website. (Location: t.b.d)
  • When a production schedule is known for your order, you will receive an e-mail with an estimated shipping date.
  • Your order needs to be paid before the scheduled shipping date. About 2 weeks before your order is scheduled for shipping, you will be reminded to pay for your order.
  • Unpaid orders may be re-allocated after the payment reminder, or even canceled after a second reminder.
  • Invoices are automatically issued after payment. You can use the order confirmation as a proforma invoice.

Shipping

The final assembly stage for the products takes place in the Netherlands. There are only a few feasible low-volume shipping options available that operate worldwide:
  • PostNL
  • Deutsche Post

The prices of PostNL went skyrocket a few years ago. Deutsche Post allows small packages to be sent as letters worldwide, which is a great option! The downside is that these packages can only be sent from a post office in Germany. I am willing to take a drive to Germany if there are many packages to send. This is usually the case after a new production batch arrives. So, whenever a product is on back order (or pre-order), you can select Deutsche Post; it won't cause any delays. For products that are on stock, you may choose between:
  • PostNL
    • your package will be shipped whenever possible, but not at the lowest possible cost
  • Deutsche Post
    • your package will be shipped in a batch shipping at an attractive rate.

Stock

Stock is usually limited. Products are produced in reasonable batch sizes, that balance between risk and cost. I tend to be conservative and like to keep risks small. I believe that only with this strategy I can continue this project and provide the 'ultimate' Commodore products for you.

Thank you for your understanding and patience!

Gideon