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      /  Samantha traveled to France (updated)
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elwood 
Samantha traveled to France (updated)
Posted on 23-Oct-2006 21:24:04
#1 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 17-Sep-2003
Posts: 3392
From: Lyon, France

At the Alchimie show this week-end, I met a nice girl named Samantha. Enrico Vidale (Virtual Works) and Libero Moschella (Alternative Technology) brought their baby with them to show her to the French Amigans.
There were a lot of questions and answers. Here is a compilation of all the details I remember.

Virtual Works, Alternative Technology and Soft3, all 3 Italian Amiga retailers (let’s call them the Trio from now on) worked together many years. Back in 2005, they evaluated the opportunity to build a new hardware. After 1 year of discussion they started this project in February 2006.

Apart from the already known specs (CPU 440EP, USB2, SATA disks), here is a list of features the board offers:

- Smartmedia card reader
- disk-on-chip ready

The board has a socket ready to fit a disk-on-chip in. These flash disks are very expensive for now but they were asked by one of the customers of the Trio. As this customer is pretty important, they added this feature to their board.
One could store the OS in this chip and boot the whole system in a few seconds.
Well, there are 3 solutions to boot Sam : either from a Disk-on-chip, a Smartmedia card or a SATA disk.

- Onboard memory

Industrial customers can select the amount of onboard memory they want. Thus the board can suit specific needs.

- DVI connector at the back
- VGA connector onboard
- TV Out connector

There are 3 (!) video output connectors on the board. They could be used to display information on 3 monitors at the same time.

- LVDS connector

I don’t remember the name of this connector but it allows to connect a LCD (touchscreen included) monitor to Sam.

- Serial connector

The good old RS232 is still here as it is still in use nowadays.

- 2 RJ45 connectors

These could be used by customers that need a device to analyze packets transmitted over a network or to do a firewall.

- 5.1 sound

There’s an optical connector at the end of the board and other pins are also on the board.

- Clock port equivalent (sorry, can’t remember the name)
- FPGA chip and bus

These two offer endless expansion possibilities. As an example, the FPGA could be used to create a CPU expansion.

- mini-PCI possibility

The version of Sam we could see didn’t have a mini-PCI slot, but the place for it can be clearly seen on the rear of the board. The Trio says they know a mini-PCI card with wireless and bluetooth at the same time.

- Scalability

This is something I didn’t think of. As CPUs of the same are pin compatible with the one used in these prototypes, customers can choose to buy a board with a different CPU. The board will then be produced at no additional cost. For example, industrial customers could prefer to buy a board with a less powerful CPU, thus reducing the overall cost of the board.
Same for the onboard memory, same for the Disk-on-chip. It means that the same design can be used to produce several products to suit perfectly to customer needs.

Also, it is important to note that the Trio evaluated both the AMCC CPU and the MPC5200. The decided to choose the 440EP for several reasons. Of them is the roadmap of AMCC for their product. They should produce pin compatible CPUs at higher speed (800, 933 and 1000Mhz) for next year.
This choice seems to be clearly a clever move.

The board was produced by 4 companies and not less than 16 people worked on it. This is another reason why I find this project well designed.

Today, the board prototypes are being tested. These tests should not end after the end of year.
Let’s hope everything will progress well (and I’m sure it will).


NB: Thanks to Zylesea for the LVDS name.
Remember you can see several close shots of the board here (first link down the page)

Update:

Industrial market: Where did I say the board won't run OS4? They are aiming at industrial markets because this is where the money is. And at the same time they want to target all markets with different versions of the board (with or without disk-on-chip, with a slower/faster CPU...etc)

Pricing: this will go down if/when more people will buy it. And as they have good contacts with industrial customers, it will probably go down enough.
Now please remember that many Amigans said the A1 was too expensive. These people should be interested by this board at this price. Also read below why they will be interested.

Speed comparison:
I forgot to say probably the most important reason why I was impressed by this board. They did speed comparison between the Yosemite (evaluation board) and the A1. The Yosemite was more than twice faster than the micro.
And the final Samantha should be a bit faster than the Yosemite.

Operating systems:
Linux already runs on the board. Not on the one that was shown but on her sisters. This is how they did their speed tests.
The Trio said they want all operating systems on this board : MorphOS, AROS, Linux and of course OS4. If you want to port an OS, just ask them.
BTW, there are already 13 Linux distros that runs on the Yosemite board. So upgrading them to support Sam should be pretty easy.

Last edited by elwood on 24-Oct-2006 at 05:23 PM.

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Philippe 'Elwood' Ferrucci
Sam460 1.10 Ghz
AmigaOS 4 betatester
Amiga Translator Organisation

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Bean 
Re: Samantha traveled to France
Posted on 23-Oct-2006 21:50:26
#2 ]
Super Member
Joined: 4-Apr-2003
Posts: 1225
From: U.K.

@elwood

Thanks for the information.

The disk-on-chip sounds interesting. I'm no hardware expert, but it appears
to be a nice way to boot an OS quickly.

Is this board going to be aimed for industrial use only, the general consumer, or
both? I see the references to "industry" and "customers" of the company, can you
expand on that?

I have to ask, but is OS4 targeted for this board?

Thanks,
Bean.

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OS4.1 + SAM Flex
RIP my A1XE.. that used to have an appetite for batteries!

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K-L 
Re: Samantha traveled to France
Posted on 23-Oct-2006 21:50:30
#3 ]
Super Member
Joined: 3-Mar-2006
Posts: 1119
From: Oullins, France

@elwood

And one shot from me:
http://mboulahia.free.fr/Samantha.JPG

_________________
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Webmaster of Amiga-NG.org (French)

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K-L 
Re: Samantha traveled to France
Posted on 23-Oct-2006 21:54:58
#4 ]
Super Member
Joined: 3-Mar-2006
Posts: 1119
From: Oullins, France

@Bean

Yes, Samantha aims indeed to have AmigaOS4 working on it. Contacts have even been made between the developpers of Samantha and Relec (from Switzerland) for their cases (the only ones giving the Amiga a true personnality:
http://www.relec.ch/AmigaOne/images/microa1_2.jpg
http://www.relec.ch/AmigaOne/images/microa1a.jpg
http://www.relec.ch/AmigaOne/images/microa1_ar.jpg
http://www.relec.ch/AmigaOne/images/microa1power.jpg

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bigdan 
Re: Samantha traveled to France
Posted on 23-Oct-2006 21:59:01
#5 ]
Member
Joined: 24-Mar-2005
Posts: 34
From: France (Europe)

@K-L & Elwood

"Merci les gars !"

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Rob 
Re: Samantha traveled to France
Posted on 23-Oct-2006 22:05:03
#6 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 20-Mar-2003
Posts: 5560
From: S.Wales

@Bean

Quote:
The disk-on-chip sounds interesting. I'm no hardware expert, but it appears to be a nice way to boot an OS quickly.


It's also a very good solution for inustrial applications where vibration is an issue.

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jorkany 
Re: Samantha traveled to France
Posted on 23-Oct-2006 22:06:53
#7 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 1-May-2005
Posts: 919
From: Space Coast

@K-L

That case looks good except for the "AmigaOne" stamped on it.

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Akiko 
Re: Samantha traveled to France
Posted on 23-Oct-2006 22:08:34
#8 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 26-Mar-2004
Posts: 762
From: UK


I like that case too... Gimme Gimme Gimme!

_________________
Amiga 4000T, CSPPC@233,50 , Amiga OS3.9 / OS4.1
Amiga 1200, Blizzard IV
CD32/SX32

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Rob 
Re: Samantha traveled to France
Posted on 23-Oct-2006 22:08:47
#9 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 20-Mar-2003
Posts: 5560
From: S.Wales

@K-L

That case is very stylish. It would be great to see Sam come in something like that as standard.

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lovely 
Re: Samantha traveled to France
Posted on 23-Oct-2006 23:10:55
#10 ]
Regular Member
Joined: 14-Mar-2005
Posts: 141
From: The land of the blondes

@jorkany

did you miss a certain fact or art thou trolling?
Maybe you should run along now?

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tomazkid 
Re: Samantha traveled to France
Posted on 23-Oct-2006 23:32:03
#11 ]
Team Member
Joined: 31-Jul-2003
Posts: 11692
From: Kristianstad, Sweden

@jorkany
Consider this a second warning!

Quote:
Troll: Trolls show no respect for other people's opinions and deliberately crafts messages to provoke others with the intention of wasting their time and energy or just to cause anger and confrontations. There is no point in arguing with them; their minds are made up. Ignore them, and report the posts immediately to an Amigaworld Team Member.Repeat offenders will be banned.

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Severin 
Re: Samantha traveled to France
Posted on 23-Oct-2006 23:32:42
#12 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 19-Aug-2003
Posts: 2703
From: Gloucestershire UK

@lovely

jorkany wouldn't know a fact if it bit him on the bum...

_________________
OS4 Rocks
X1000 beta tester, Sam440 Flex (733)

Visit the Official OS4 Support Site for more help.

It may be that your sole purpose is to serve as a warning to others.

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ReverseGTR 
Re: Samantha traveled to France
Posted on 24-Oct-2006 0:03:24
#13 ]
Regular Member
Joined: 13-Sep-2006
Posts: 336
From: US of A, New Jersey

@elwood

If the price is pushed down enough and OS4 graphics drivers can utilize TV out hardware as well as if software comes out to take advantage of it, Samantha based computers would make very appealing media settop boxes. And a flash drive would also make OS4 really run circles around Windows and Apple based OSs when it comes to other daily tasks.

Last edited by ReverseGTR on 24-Oct-2006 at 12:04 AM.

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Darrin 
Re: Samantha traveled to France
Posted on 24-Oct-2006 0:42:54
#14 ]
Team Member
Joined: 14-May-2003
Posts: 1930
From: Lake Charles, USA

Bloody hell! Finally some good news. Thanks Elwood.

Now I'd like some sort of comment from Hyperion regarding the posibility of OS4 for this board.

_________________
AmigaOne X1000, A4000(T), A3000, A2000, A1200(T), A1200, A500, CD32, Minimig+ARM, FPGA Arcade, Chameleon64, C-One, C128, C128D, C64C, C64, VIC-20, CBM 8032, Efika.

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Rit 
Re: Samantha traveled to France
Posted on 24-Oct-2006 0:47:16
#15 ]
Regular Member
Joined: 26-Oct-2005
Posts: 138
From: Unknown

@ReverseGTR

Very much agree.

Although ironically enough OS4 doesn't really need to use the disk-on-chip though does it? because it doesn't need the disk "emulation". OS4 can just run from any kind of disk/memory card as far as i'm aware, thats one of its benefits.

Last edited by Rit on 24-Oct-2006 at 12:55 AM.

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Colin_Camper 
Re: Samantha traveled to France
Posted on 24-Oct-2006 1:03:48
#16 ]
Super Member
Joined: 6-Jul-2003
Posts: 1188
From: Unknown

@lovely

@Tomaskid

I thought that was a fair point by Jorkany.

Why would someone want to put a Samamtha board in a case with AmigaOne written on it?

I wonder what the marketing term for new licence holders will be - will it be AmigaOne (maybe this is exclusive to Eyetech) or will it be something else.

I would prefer something like Amiga-NG-5000 - for an ATX factor
and maybe Amiga-NG-1800 for an ITX in a keyboard.
All IMHO of course!

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der grimm 
Re: Samantha traveled to France
Posted on 24-Oct-2006 1:05:54
#17 ]
Member
Joined: 23-Mar-2004
Posts: 33
From: eastfalia, germany

Very nice and intresting board, and a very nice case too.

But why exactly is there AmigaOne written onto the case? I hope I'm not a troll now too ;).

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umisef 
Re: Samantha traveled to France
Posted on 24-Oct-2006 1:19:04
#18 ]
Super Member
Joined: 19-Jun-2005
Posts: 1655
From: Melbourne, Australia

@ReverseGTR

Quote:
And a flash drive would also make OS4 really run circles around Windows and Apple based OSs when it comes to other daily tasks.


What is this starnge fascination with loading your OS from flash? having in the past worked for one of those industrial/embedded companies that put computers where you really, really don't want moving parts, I have been there, done that.

Flash is slow. Yeah, it's great for seek times (essentially zero), but it really really sucks for reading anything larger than a few dozen kilobytes. Think of reading a 200kB file, from a 10M/s flash, or a current 50M/s 7200rpm hard drive's outer edge (where the OS typically lives). Flash will take around 20ms, purely for the data transfer --- during which time the flash chip, and possibly the CPU, are busy shuffling data. In comparison, the hard drive will need, say, up to 5ms to seek to the right track (probably less as the OS is in only a small, localised subset of tracks). Then add an average 4ms of rotational latency until the right block is under the heads, and then another 4ms to actually read and transfer the data. A total of 13ms, 2/3 of what the flash based solution needed For 1MB files, it's 100ms vs 29ms. And the CPU is barely involved.

Flash is short-lived. Or rather, it will be if you simply use it like a disk, with your run-of-the-mill filesystem; Flash has a limited number of write cycles per location (warrantees are in the 10,000 to 100,000 range); Typical filesystems have hot-spots which get written to rather a lot (such as blocks-in-use bitmaps). Not a problem when using ISB sticks as floppy replacements, because there is liimited copying-to-flash involved; But when you start using flash for all your OS storage needs, a lot of thought needs to go into avoiding premature failure of the hotspots. Or you must limit your OS partition to be read-only. And once flash fails, it doesn't do so in an immediately-obvious way (as hard drives tend to do); No, what you get are just small bit errors... Enough to screw up your data, not enough to ensure you will notice it before it is too late (and the corruption has spread to the backups).

Flash is expensive. Compared to disks, that's an obvious statement. But if you go for high-quality flash (stronly recommended because of the previous two points :), it doesn't even compare all that favourably to RAM --- especially when you start considering what the flash socket added to the fixed and variable cost of the motherboard. And running your OS from a ram disk even allows execute-in-place. So if your OS takes, say, 100MB, and you have the choice of (a) putting 128MB of flash onto your motherboard, or (b) spending two seconds loading a ramdisk image into RAM, what's the advantage of (a)?

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NomadOfNorad 
Re: Samantha traveled to France
Posted on 24-Oct-2006 1:19:28
#19 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 2-Jun-2003
Posts: 746
From: Jacksonville, Florida, USA, Earth, Sol system, Milky Way galaxy

@der grimm

The reason these cases had "AmigaOne" stamped on them was because they contained MicroA1 mobos. Notice that each of the jpg files had "microa1" in the filename. This tells us that at one time they were shipping Micro AmigaOnes in that same case, and these pictures were probably taken at that time.

Obviously, if they later ship Samantha mobos in these same cases, they'll stamp "Samantha" on them.

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der grimm 
Re: Samantha traveled to France
Posted on 24-Oct-2006 1:34:23
#20 ]
Member
Joined: 23-Mar-2004
Posts: 33
From: eastfalia, germany

@NomadOfNorad

Ok, thank you for your explanation. I didn't know these cases were already existing, understood it the way, that they were made/adapted for the Samantha board.

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