AppleLogic has announced their new Carte Blanche for the Apple II is nearly ready for production. The Carte Blanche is a versatile FPGA-based card that can be programmed to replicate the functionality of practically any interface card for the Apple II.
Currently, AppleLogic is preparing demonstration units that mimic the Z80 Softcard (for running CP/M), Stellation 2 “The Mill” (6809 co-processor) and a VGA interface. A compact flash drive interface has already been successfully tested. You can read more about the Carte Blanche at the AppleLogic site, or Alex Freed’s site.
AppleLogic is soliciting feedback from the community for other interface cards to convert to FPGA. Personally, I think the Transwarp II would be a top candidate.
EDIT: If you’d like to get a feel for how FPGA devices are programmed, “lite” versions of the software to program them are available for free here (Xilinx) and here (Altium).
FPGA-based enhancements may represent a major paradigm shift for some enthusiasts within the Apple II Community — specifically in the economics of selling/collecting rare and desirable gear. Collectors will probably always seek out original equipment and pay premium prices for the privilege. However casual users and tweakers who just want the functionality of the original gear (usually enhanced in some way by FPGA modernization) will likely opt for these newer products.
The question is: since an FPGA can be conveniently programmed to replicate nearly any card made for the Apple II, will this undermine prices for difficult to acquire items like Second Sight VGA, accelerators, stereo sound and co-processor cards?
We’d love to hear what you think. Comments are open on this post.