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The ZX Spectrum reborn: a new machine, fully compatible with the original computer, and packed with improvements and expansions.
The ZX Spectrum reborn: a new machine, fully compatible with the original computer, and packed with improvements and expansions.
3,113 backers pledged £723,390 to help bring this project to life.

Time for a mighty update!

Posted by Henrique Olifiers (Creator)

Hi there!

It has been a fair while since the wrapping up of the campaign in May, and a lot has happened since. Thus this is time for a mighty update.

New features

Victor and Fabio have stretched their abilities further still, and made the Spectrum Next compatible with the Pentagon -- the Russian version of the Speccy that is currently the standard for all the great games and demos made in Eastern Europe. While this is still work in progress, you can check the Next running some Pentagon software below:

This was the last major compatibility work we kept under wraps to unveil, a much-requested feature from the backers we didn't want to talk about before we achieved success. It's a huge upgrade for the Next, and one we hope will herald yet more great software produced for it.

More Turbo modes

In case you've missed the updates on the website and Facebook community, the Spectrum Next now has two new Turbo modes on top of the original 7MHz: 14 & 28MHz. Again, you can see it in action below:

This makes the Next a 4X faster machine than what was originally backed! Some of the original games are quite interesting to run at full 28MHz speed, but the real advantage will lie on software designed specifically to make use of this extra power.

DMA access

This is super technical, but in a nutshell it makes access to disk and memory faster. There are endless use cases for this feature, ranging from OS-level improvements to video and music players.

Together with hardware sprites and scrolling background, we can (likely) safely say that it makes the Next the most powerful 8 bits machine ever built. Oh, you haven't seen the background scrolling function yet? Here it is then!


Board production

The time for the shipping of the boards is getting close, and we've just started the production of the last test batch of boards, schedule for next week. From there, it's large-scale production and shipping to the backers directly from SMS, the manufacturer.

It hasn't been without its hiccups, though. The RAM upgrade sockets (SOJ) unlocked as a stretch goal during the crowdfunding proved to be a challenge as they're no longer in production. We've tried to locate stock around the world, but it turns out modern RAM is too cheap to justify these upgrade sockets' existence, thus most manufacturers stopped making them years ago. The Next uses expensive, older RAM to keep its compatibility in check, but luckily we've found a manufacturer in the UK who still has the original molds and agreed to run a batch exclusively for us.

We have been hit hard by the constantly falling Pound (all components are quoted in US Dollars), and had our work cut for us in securing the components at better prices in order to keep things within budget. So far we have managed to secure the majority of components for full production, but some have longer lead-times than expected (at the cost we must secure), so it's possible we experience a few weeks of delays down the line. Still, right now, all on track -- don't panic!

Case production

We've tested the keyboard samples for the Next and they feel great. Rick and the team are moving to the mold production phase, and we should soon have the first test case fully assembled to show you.

Manual & Box

The community has stepped up to the challenge and joined the group revamping the original manual, expanding it and overall creating a tome of Speccy goodness that will be lovely wrapped in artwork that should make proud owners of the Next very happy. Meanwhile, work on the box is progressing apace, and you can check out the latest iteration below.

That's it for now! Stay tuned for the next update in a week's time with the final production board fully tested showing its teeth.

William Anderson, Reg Coward, and 147 more people like this update.


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    1. Missing avatar

      Patrik Rak on

      Hmm, does the "infinite balls" demo seen in the video thumbnail really use DMA in some way? It worked perfectly fine on stock 128k, it's just an illusion which uses two alternating screens to achieve the effect.

    2. Missing avatar

      David Bradley on

      keep up the good work looking forward to it

    3. Kevin Reilly on

      I'd actually forgotten that I'd backed this! Looking forward to getting all those terrible programs I wrote back in the 1980s off the PC emulator and onto some proper hardware where their true awfulness can really shine through. ;)

      LOL at Dark Star at 28MHz. That game ran at ludicrous speed even on the original 48K.

    4. Roberto Dillon on

      Really impressive!! Can't wait!

    5. Missing avatar

      Normunds on

      The Speccy was so popular that it is almost impossible to make it compatible with every clone have been made. I still remember FAQ quesion about Sam Coupe. ;-)
      As for my understanding, the easiest way may be a simple switching between different ROMs of different clones.
      The package looks great!

    6. RetroSteveUK on

      Excitement's building here! :D Although, after seeing that box I don't think I'm going to want to take the Next out! Thanks for the updates.

    7. Clint May on

      You are the A-Team. Never any disappointing news. It just gets better and better. Thanks to all for your hard work. Looking forward to the world's best 8 bit computer ever made. Can't wait for Rik's final case design. I'm getting so excited I'm like a 12 year old again waiting for my first Spectrum. Roll on after Xmas!

    8. Missing avatar

      Hennie on

      Great work!!! Much appreciated!

    9. Tormod Guldvog on

      Fantastic work, guys!

    10. Missing avatar

      Rui Manuel Silva Martins on

      Great work and great communication with your backers.
      A round of applause is well deserved. :D

    11. Missing avatar

      Steve Baines on

      So glad I backed this project, and looking forward to getting my PCB.
      I regret that although I spent a huge amount of time messing around with it,
      I never wrote anything 'proper' with my trusty Speccy back in the 80s.
      And now I have a chance to rectify that! Thank you so much for making a genuine
      next generation Spectrum that really is still a Spectrum. (Unlike certain other projects I could mention).

    12. Missing avatar

      Damian Webber on

      Everything you and the team are doing looks absolutely awesome! Thankyou for all your hard work guys. I can't wait to get my hands on the final product... :-)

    13. Missing avatar

      Will Woodvine on

      Superb update - concise and informative. Thanks :)

    14. Marc M. Kloosterman on

      I like that box design! It has that Sinclair feeling, without looking retro at all!

    15. John Parker on

      Great to hear everything's progressing reasonably smoothly - fingers crossed it doesn't stray too far off track. (Although I always think the quality of the end product is *way* more important than a few delays.)

    16. Missing avatar

      Robert Webb on

      Gentlemen, this will earn you a place at History's table. Thanks for your honor and diligent work. This will be Epic!

    17. Missing avatar

      zyser on

      keep up the good work

    18. Missing avatar

      Hessel on

      Thanks for this great update, can't wait for the next!-)

    19. Gavin Kickstarter1 on

      Awesome news, cant wait to see it in the next case, as the sockets are hard to get would the old upgrade ram be hard to get too ?

    20. William Anderson on

      Great news, team, keep up the momentum!