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The Memotech MTX Series      

MTX DRAM Operation



MTX 500/512/RS128

To understand how the RAM in an MTX 500/512/RS128 computer works, including how the RAM differentiates between a Refresh cycle and a Read or Write operation, it is useful to refer to the timing diagrams for the OKI MSM3764 RAM as used in the MTX512.

It can be seen from the Read Cycle diagram that for a Read operation (Write is similar), the RAS signal transitions from High to Low for a defined period, tRAS, for a Read command to  be executed, the CAS signal must also transition from High to Low before the end of the RAS  strobe.

For a DRAM Refresh operation, the CAS transition is absent and the RAM interprets the RAS only strobe as an instruction to refresh the row referenced by the lowest 7 bits on the address bus.

As described on the previous page, by arranging a 64k RAM as a 128 x 512 matrix, or, in the case of the OKI MSM3764, by arranging the memory calls as two "halves", each having a 128 row x 256 column structure and refreshing them at the same time, the Z80 is capable of addressing 64k RAM chips as used in the MTX512, and these are refreshed at the same speed as a 16k RAM would be.

The essential memory control signals generated by the MTX are described on the Next Page.


MTX 512S2

As described on the previous page, applying the RAS only method of memory refresh using the Z80 processor's internal refresh controller/counter only provides for row addresses in the 7 bit range, i.e., 0 to 12710 bits or 12810 rows. This is fine for RAM such as the MSM3764 used in the MTX512, this RAM uses 128 refresh cycles to refresh all rows in the RAM.

However, larger RAMs such as the MSM41256 or the TMS41256 used in some MTX512S2 computers, require 256 refresh cycles to fully refresh the DRAM, requiring an 8-bit counter - beyond the limit of the Z80's internal refresh counter. Installing 256K RAM on the MTX computer board and using RAS only refresh, Memotech would have had to make significant modification to the memory circuit to provide for an 8 bit counter.

However, 256K memories also support the CAS before RAS addressing technique. In this method, the refresh counter is internal to the DRAM and the address bus inputs are not used, i.e., the RAM has an on-chip refresh capability.

As the timing diagram for a MSM41256 RAM shows, the CAS signal goes low before RAS and the RAM uses this sequence of events, along with its internal counter to refresh the required memory cell row.

Small modifications to the MTX computer board are required to support CAS before RAS refresh but the modification are much simpler than creating an 8 bit refresh counter would have been. The modifications, (discussed later), along with the changes to support the additional address line required to address 256K of RAM (A8) are visible by the jumper wires soldered to an MTX512S2 computer board. 


 Z80 Processor DRAM Interface  <  Previous Page   Goto   Next Page  >  MTX Memory Control Signals


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