Texas Instruments TMS9918 - Interface


The TMS9918 has its own 16k × 8 bit block of video memory, outside the address space of the CPU. This memory is not mapped onto the CPU memory space - the VDC's data memory bus is a private (although external) bus, separated from that of the CPU. A separate addressing space means that the CPU has to write a two-byte command word to the VDC's control port to set the address register, but it also means that the VDC doesn't slow the main processor down when it reads data out of its memory, and since the memory is not mapped onto the CPU's addressing space, there is more address space available for other memory and memory-mapped hardware.

The CPU communicates with the VDC through an additional 8-bit port on the VDC, and data is transferred between the two via port writes. As a byte is written, the TMS9918 increments its internal address register - this is important, because the CPU does not have to send an address update for every byte access. This facilitates quicker reads and writes of blocks of data. Writes to other ports can set various internal registers.

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