Continuing my series of questions about Amiga ROMs :-)

The Commodore CDTV contained a normal Kickstart 1.3 ROM, plus an "extended ROM". From http://www.l8r.net/technical/cdtv-technical.html:

The CDTV uses a standard 16-bit Kickstart 1.3 ROM in socket U13, exactly the same as the ROM in a 2000 or 500, with an additional pair of 8-bit EPROMs in sockets U34 and U35 containing the CDTV-specific code such as the audio player and the CD-ROM filesystem. The CDTV-specific code wedges into the Kickstart 1.3 ROMs and executes on startup.

The Amiga CD32 also had an extended ROM, although I have heard (unconfirmed) that in practice it may have been two logically distinct ROMs put onto the same physical ROM IC.

My questions are about how these extended ROMs work.

  • Where do these ROMs appear in the memory map?
  • Is the ROM overlay different on the CDTV/CD32? (On normal Amigas, the ROM overlay is active at power-on/reset and causes the 0xF80000 ROM to also appear at address 0)
  • How do these ROMs "wedge" into the regular Kickstart ROM and cause some of its functionality to change? For example, both replace the "insert disk" screen with an animated CD screen, and of course integrate drivers for the CD-ROM drive.
  • 2
    Maybe add the A570 CD-ROM expansion for the A500 to the question too. Its supposed to give full CDTV compatibility so I assume it works the same way, but maybe whomever can answer this question could clarify that as well.
    – mnem
    Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 3:48

3 Answers 3


With the information in pndc's answer to this question I've been able to examine the various ROMs and I think I have the definitive answer. Firstly it seems that CDTV and CD32 do things slightly differently so I'll examine them separately.


The commented disassembly of Exec by Markus Wandel provides some very useful information. In particular, it confirms points 1 and 2 in pndc's answer:

  1. exec, normally mapped at 0xf80000, will very early in the process see if there's another ROM at 0xf00000, and jump to it if it appears to be valid
  2. the entire area from 0xf00000 to 0xffffff is scanned for ROMTags.

(Footnote: interestingly, the code for these two items has been in Kickstart since version 1.2 if not earlier, and seems to be in as late as 3.1 - meaning that if there's a way to get a ROM with the right magic number to appear at 0xf00000, just about any Amiga will run it!)

The CDTV extended ROM

I inspected the hex dump of the first few bytes of the CDTV ROM. All normal Amiga ROMs start with the following:

  • a two-byte magic number 0x1111 (for 256KiB ROMs which were normal at this time in the Amiga's history; later ROMs were 512KiB and have a magic number of 0x1114)
  • a two-byte jmp opcode, 0x4ef9
  • a four-byte absolute address of the start of exec's instruction code

The CDTV follows this pattern, and the pointer to the instruction code is at 0xf000d6. This confirms that the CDTV extended ROM must appear at 0xf00000.

After the initial ROM data, the CDTV extended ROM contains the exec code, just like the real ROM does, although in this case the CDTV extended ROM contains a different version of exec, version 34.1001, instead of 34.2 in Kickstart 1.3. The remainder of the CDTV extended ROM is more ROMTags for the CDTV specific code. As pndc notes, the entire area of both the extended and standard ROMs is searched for ROMTags, so all modules from both ROMs (after deduping - this would remove the exec module from the standard ROM as it is a lower version number) are linked in to the running system.

(Footnote: it's not certain whether it's the normal ROM or the extended ROM which appears at location zero when the "ROM overlay" is on after a reset - on other Amiga models it would be the normal ROM at 0xf80000, but OTOH the CDTV designers may have made its ROM appear there instead. It doesn't really matter anyway - the standard ROM will jump to the extended ROM if it's present so it doesn't matter if the extended ROM is first executed or not.)

A500 with A570 fitted

At mnem's suggestion (in a comment on the question) I've also looked at the A500+A570 combo. The A570 was a CD-ROM drive and controller which attached to the side expansion bus of the Amiga 500 and 500Plus. It seems that the A570 included the same or similar extension ROM as the CDTV, to the point where an A500+A570 would display the CDTV boot logo. The CDTV has Kickstart 1.3 and its extended ROM is compatible only with 1.3 - a newer version of the extended ROM is needed to be compatible with Kickstart 2.04 that was in A500Pluses, so it seems that the A570's extended ROM was actually a newer version that was compatible. I'm not sure if there are any A570s with the original, 1.3-only ROM.


The CD32 does things a bit differently. I've read forum posts that say that if an Amiga 1200 is fitted with a 1MiB ROM (instead of the 512KiB that is usual with Kickstart 2.0 onwards), the first half of the ROM appears at 0xe00000 and the second half at 0xf80000 as normally expected. Unusually, when the ROM overlay is active, it's actually the 0xe00000 part of the ROM which appears at address zero.

I examined a hex dump of the CD32 extended ROM looking for ROMTags. A ROMTag starts with the magic number 0x4afc, followed by a longword which is a pointer back to the magic number. Examining that longword pointer allows us to determine the base address that the ROM is expecting to appear at. Sure enough, the first ROM tag appears 16 bytes in, and the pointer is 0xe00010. So we can conclude that the CD32 extended ROM is compiled with an expected base address of 0xe00000.

I also examined the very first part of the ROM:

  • Magic number 0x1114 (indicating a 512KiB ROM)
  • jmp opcode 0x4ef9
  • 0x00f8002, the address of the jmp opcode near the start of the regular Kickstart ROM location

This is evidence that the 0xe00000 ROM is the one which appears at location zero when the ROM overlay is on after a reset. These early bytes reference the 0xf80000 ROM instead of itself, and would cause the CPU to jump to the 0xf80000 ROM immediately after reset.

The CD32 extended ROM does not contain an exec replacement like the CDTV ROM does. After the 16-byte initial code, it goes straight into ROMTags for the CD32 functionality. So how do these ROMTags get linked in to the running system? Recall that for the CDTV, exec's search for ROMTags covered the address space 0xf00000 up to 0xffffff. I tried to find the same tables in the hex dump of later ROMs. In Kickstart 3.1, revision 40.60 as used on the CDTV, I found this table:

  • 0x00f80000 - 0x01000000 (regular Kickstart area)
  • 0x00e00000 - 0x00e80000 (CD32 extended ROM)
  • 0x00a80000 - 0x00b80000 (additional ROM area)
  • 0x00f00000 - 0x00f80000 (additional ROM area, as used to be used by CDTV extended ROM)
  • 0xffffffff (end of list marker)

This new table appeared in revision 40.60, which as far as I can tell is the first public release of Kickstart 3.1, and was made for the CD32. Revision 40.55, a beta version for the Amiga 3000, has the old table.

So the case for the CD32 is:

  • The extended ROM is mapped at 0xe00000
  • It's the ROM that appears at location zero when the ROM overlay is switched on at reset, but it immediately jumps to the regular Kickstart ROM at 0xf80000
  • Kickstart 3.1, as used on the CD32, has additional entries in the ROMTag scanning table, to make it scan the CD32 extended ROM at 0xe00000. From hereonwards, it's the same process as on the CD32.

(Footnote: the Amiga 1200 schematics show that it can actually accept 2MiB of ROM [consisting of two 16x512Mbit ROMs in parallel]. It's a good guess based on the ROMTag scanning table that the additional 1MiB of ROM is appearing at 0xa80000. A forum post appears to back up this guess.) If this is true, it would appear that the Amiga 1200 hardware supported this extra ROM space well before Kickstart knew about it.)

(Footnote: I was wondering why the CD32 extended ROM didn't appear at 0xf00000 like the CDTV ROM did. According to the Amiga 1200 memory map as appearing in the same forum post yet again), this area is used for something else: Flash ROM. A flash ROM component does appear on the Amiga 1200 schematic, but as far as I can see, it never made it to the PCB, not even as a vacant footprint. Google does not say much about this part of the A1200. It sounds like it would be a handy way of making SetPatch redundant!


There are a number of ways that an extension ROM can add to or replace Kickstart functionality:

  1. Within the first few instructions, Kickstart checks for the magic value 0x1111 at 0xf00000, and will transfer control to any ROM there which passes muster. This is mainly useful for debug cards and other things that completely replace Kickstart.

  2. Kickstart is organised as a collection of "modules", i.e. libraries, devices, and the like. Each module has a ROMTag which is effectively a magic number and checksum plus some other metadata that identifies the module. As part of the startup process, Kickstart scans for ROMTags not only in itself, but also in the range 0xf00000-0xf80000, and will add any modules found there. Module names are de-duplicated, with the version number and module priority being used as a tie-breaker, which allows one to completely replace a Kickstart module. This is how autobooting hard disk controllers tended to work on Kickstart 1.2 even though it did not have expansion.library.

  3. The ROM can be on an AUTOCONFIG board which indicates that it has an onboard ROM. expansion.library identifies such ROMs and calls various initialisation hooks. This is the preferred way to add drivers for add-in cards, but only works on Kickstart 1.3 onwards.

I believe that the CDTV uses scheme 2 to add the various CD-ROM driver components and the replacement boot prompt.

  • 1
    Thanks for the excellent answer, @pndc. I've taken this and done some research on the ROM dumps to confirm it and written the details in another answer. Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 22:07

Apart from other version-related changes, there is a notable functional difference between the CDTV extended ROM and the A570 extended ROM: for some reason, perhaps related to the fact that the A570 was expected to run in an Amiga 500 (which unlike the CDTV has a builtin floppy drive by default), the A570 version expects DF0: to be present, whereas the CDTV ROMs verifies whether DF0: exists or not. For this reason an A570 extended ROM used on a CDTV system (without floppy drive) will display a "red screen" error.

On the other hand, the A570 ROM is appealing for use on a CDTV because it is newer (2.30) than the original CDTV versions (e.g. 1.0, 2.7), and adds support for base ROMs newer than 1.3. For this reason, Cloanto released a ROM which combines the newer features of the A570 version, with the proper floppy check of the CDTV version. You can find it under A5A6ED15 at cloanto.com/amiga/roms

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