New controller ports on the STE mean that keypad-type joysticks, analog paddles and light pens/guns can be attached. In fact, six joysticks can be plugged in. Family entertainment or what! The two new non-standard Controllers both 15-pin affairs, Can take two joysticks each. However, an adaptor must be found from somewhere before normal Joysticks can be plugged in.
Horizontal and vertical pixel and eight-pixel hardware scrolling has been implemented in the new machine. The screen can be subdivided into several independently scrolling regions.
The colour palette has been expanded to 4096 colours from 512. The resolutions remain the same as do the numbers of colours allowed on screen in each mode.
Two sound generators are pre- sent: the standard ST YM2149 three-voice square wave chip and a stereo 8-bit DMA chip. Both can be played simultaneously and output can be sent to the STE's stereo jack. The new sound chip is a digital to analogue converter (DAC) and plays samples at various frequencies from 6.25KHz to 50KHz.
The signal is supplied to an LMC1992 volume and tone controller before being sent to the internal speaker or stereo RCA jack.
Finally, a blister chip and double sided drive are fitted as standard.
At first the STE doesn't look to be as exciting as many of the early rumours made it out to be. How- ever, more processing power is available for number crunching, moving software sprite and palette switching because the processor doesn't have to worry about sound or scrolling. Dedicated hardware looks after that.
It will be interesting to see what programmers make of the machine. All software written for the STE will have to be compatible with the ST - so unless programs are written with the STE in mind, there will be no advantages in having an STE to begin with. Certainly as more and more STEs are sold, programs will start appearing that make explicit use of the STE's expanded hardware. The only option open to programmers at present is to write two versions of the program and store the ST version on the top side of the disk and the STE version on the bottom side.