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Poll : What should happen to Amiga hardware?
Develop cheap 68k SoC for embedded, toys/games, retro, hobby
Develop expensive PPC SoC for desktop, laptop
POWER for desktop AmigaOS (no SMP or 64 bit addressing)
POWER for desktop with redesigned & incompatible AmigaOS
No more embarrassing Amiga hardware!
No opinion or pancakes
 
PosterThread
Trekiej 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 24-Jun-2020 21:24:17
#101 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 17-Oct-2006
Posts: 782
From: Unknown

@matthey

Would it be worth listing CPU's from best to worse?
I believe that could be riddled with opinion.

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matthey 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 24-Jun-2020 23:55:53
#102 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 14-Mar-2007
Posts: 756
From: Kansas

Quote:

Hypex wrote:
It does somewhat. MorphOS is closer to OS4, being for the same purpose, and currently being on PPC.

AROS, despite being designed to be close to OS3, does lack the transparent OS3 emulation that OS4 has due to its nature. But work has been put into this lately to improve it. I haven't tried Icaros lately so don't know how it well works out of the box now.


That "transparent OS3 emulation" and 68k emulation may be too tied to the PPC making it more difficult to port. The author of Petunia writes, "Changing to other type of processor which is not PowerPC machine code compatible is pointless and almost impossible, because all the emulation code were made of PowerPC assembly and tied closely to this architecture."

Quote:

Another thing to consider, when shifting CPU, is how ASM friendly it is. Now, these days, doing ASM isn't as common place as it once was. But you don't want to punish the AmigaOS4 hackers either. Not exactly those hacking the OS, but those who liked to get down and dirty with some ASM. 68K is the bomb and will remain so for a long time I think. PPC tends to have some middle ground I think; it's readable, writeable, and sensible enough that you can understand it. It's also been around long enough that we know it well enough by now. X86+, still looks like cryptic nonsense to me, but it won't be left in the past, and I wouldn't want to touch it except from a ten foot long C/++ compiler. ARM is still strange to me, but looks readable enough, so my vote would be for ARM looking the most friendly. If Motorola didn't dump 88K for PPC, we might have had a better choice now, but they stuffed it up.


The biggest problem with PPC assembler is the acronym hell. Instructions feel like they were designed for a robot rather than a human. The instruction set and functionality is robust for RISC though.

AArch64 assembler did a good job with the instruction names for a RISC ISA. The addressing mode notation could have taken more influence from the 68k new style syntax, since the functionality looks influenced by the 68k. Earlier ARM ISAs are quite readable and have more addressing modes than usual for RISC. ARM ISAs feel almost like CISC but are load/store. This is probably part of the reason why many of the 68k embedded customers migrated to ARM instead of PPC when Freescale killed off the 68k.

RISC-V assembler looks unfriendly and tedious to me. The encodings are especially ugly to humans (take a few bits here and few bits there and combine them together). Lack of addressing modes and few and varying immediate and displacement bits looks like it would be difficult for humans. I like variable length instructions but, as an option, it didn't work out that well. I like that it is an open standard and that they left encoding space but it tries to be a standard for everything and isn't that great at anything but remaining simple.

88k assembler is nice for RISC from what I remember. Good instruction names and more addressing modes than MIPS, SPARC or even PPC (7 modes and supports a scaled index). There are some oddities like sometimes signed and sometimes unsigned immediates and displacements and the unusual register arrangement (some shared int and fp registers).

The 68k has the best assembler ever. Use any size immediate or displacement and a good assembler will find the best encoding. Instruction names are good although could be shortened in some cases. The addressing modes are assembler heaven. Memory to memory operations and powerful addressing modes allow a few instructions to do a lot of work. The register split is unusual but easy to adjust to. Some of the 68020 ISA additions were not as well thought out.

x86/x86_64 assembler is the ugly duckling although most instruction names are good. It does have a certain logic to it and the encodings but with many exceptions and oddities. Register names and restrictions (some implicit) are a pain but x86_64 improves the situation, especially with 8 more GP registers.

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matthey 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 25-Jun-2020 1:37:32
#103 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 14-Mar-2007
Posts: 756
From: Kansas

Quote:

Trekiej wrote:
Would it be worth listing CPU's from best to worse?
I believe that could be riddled with opinion.


CPUs or cores are difficult to compare as they have different targets and constraints. Benchmarks will show performance but a lower performance core design on a smaller die size or with larger caches can outperform a higher performance core on a large die size or with smaller caches.

I have already done some ISA comparisons although CPU design is usually more important than ISA in how cores perform. For example, the x86/x86_64 ISA doesn't look that great to me like too much memory traffic, high instruction counts and too many branches while having barely better than average code density (usually a CISC advantage) but Intel and AMD have some of the best chip designers in the world with decades of experience fine tuning their cores. ARM's AArch64 ISA looks good to me with low instruction counts, low memory traffic and reduced number of branches. It also can support big endian which the Amiga uses although it is not well supported from 3rd parties. ARM cores are improving as core designers gain experience with the still relatively new ISA. I think ARM is gaining in performance and will take market share from x86_64 but x86_64 will still be around for the hardcore desktop gamers, workstation like PCs and servers. The 68k ISA also has low instruction counts, great code density and low memory traffic with only 16 GP registers (nearly the same as most RISC ISAs with 32 GP registers). The 68k should have good performance like x86 (may not clock up as far) and lower power draw (68060 vs Pentium for example). CISC designs are challenging and time consuming to develop although most performance designs today are as well. ARM BE would be an easier target for the Amiga but a 68k core can offer better compatibility with the large library of 68k software, especially games.

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ggw 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 25-Jun-2020 15:01:35
#104 ]
Super Member
Joined: 24-May-2003
Posts: 1080
From: Austin, TX

@BigD

Sadly, I have to agree with your observation. The financial pressure of the corporate setup and the those within who set the dates for the next "release", i.e. next pay day for the corp, will result in additional, useless, programming (whose details the "higher ups" cannot possibly understand) will occur. For my personal friends these "mandatory updates" have been experienced by mechanical engineers for the last 20 years. Buy it, or watch your # of happy clients dwindle for lack of delivering results readable by those "wet behind the ears".

I cannot tell who is getting wool pulled over their eyes! You know that software upgrades do have happen for issues "under the hood" due to increasing security requirements and changing hardware as our user "Matthey" demonstrated today. Plus, the increasingly expensive necessity of paying for replacement of the original programmers so that *someone* knows enough to make software changes! That money must come from somewhere, but $ these last 3 expensive requirements are pretty damn hard to "market".

I have no answer.

_________________
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BigD 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 25-Jun-2020 23:56:35
#105 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 11-Aug-2005
Posts: 5356
From: UK

@ggw

The worst example was Apple's iTunes. It worked perfectly ok and was sublime on Snow Leopard, I can get by on Mountain Lion but with my fairly up to date version (version 12.7) on El Capitan I can barely select the audio file that I dragged onto the iTunes Dock Icon in the first place! Awful excuse for a music store masquerading as the old great audio player and now we've got to call it Apple Music!?

And now you pay 9.99 a month for the honour of using this shoddy distribution platform! Amazon Music and Spotify are far better for music streaming IMHO but as a standard player / converter iTunes used to be great! Sad feature creep

Last edited by BigD on 26-Jun-2020 at 12:04 AM.

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John Lasseter, Co-Founder of Pixar Animation Studios

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arthoropod 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 26-Jun-2020 0:50:11
#106 ]
Member
Joined: 14-Feb-2018
Posts: 79
From: Gotham

@bison

Same here. No appropriate choices. How about move to X64?

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arthoropod 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 26-Jun-2020 1:13:31
#107 ]
Member
Joined: 14-Feb-2018
Posts: 79
From: Gotham

@arthoropod

"How about move to X64?"

YES! Exactly! How about?

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Rose 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 26-Jun-2020 13:22:23
#108 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 5-Nov-2009
Posts: 705
From: Unknown

@arthoropod

Quote:

arthoropod wrote:
@arthoropod

"How about move to X64?"

YES! Exactly! How about?


Can't do, would make too much sense. Remember it's Amiga we are talking about!

"Amiga, when having a clue is trolling!"

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arthoropod 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 26-Jun-2020 13:40:59
#109 ]
Member
Joined: 14-Feb-2018
Posts: 79
From: Gotham

@Rose

Quote:
Can't do, would make too much sense. Remember it's Amiga we are talking about!


Yeah, can't move to the most popular ISA, don't want to stay with Power, so let's move to ARM.

Dumb.

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Rose 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 26-Jun-2020 13:44:21
#110 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 5-Nov-2009
Posts: 705
From: Unknown

@arthoropod

Quote:

arthoropod wrote:
@Rose

Quote:
Can't do, would make too much sense. Remember it's Amiga we are talking about!


Yeah, can't move to the most popular ISA, don't want to stay with Power, so let's move to ARM.

Dumb.


Too mainstream, there has been suggestion to go Risc-V which is clearly superior since no one isn't using it on desktop.

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matthey 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 27-Jun-2020 2:20:08
#111 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 14-Mar-2007
Posts: 756
From: Kansas

Quote:

arthoropod wrote:
Yeah, can't move to the most popular ISA, don't want to stay with Power, so let's move to ARM.


There have been more than 10,000,000,000 ARM processors shipped in a year and ARM Holdings expects 1,000,000,000,000 IoT devices by 2035. What was the most popular ISA again?

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MEGA_RJ_MICAL 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 27-Jun-2020 2:45:34
#112 ]
Regular Member
Joined: 13-Dec-2019
Posts: 326
From: AMIGAWORLD.NET WAS ORIGINALLY FOUNDED BY DAVID DOYLE

@arthoropod

Quote:

arthoropod wrote:
@arthoropod

"How about move to X64?"

YES! Exactly! How about?


VVVVVOOOOOOOOORRRRRRRRRRR

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agami 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 8-Jul-2020 5:52:52
#113 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 30-Jun-2008
Posts: 568
From: Melbourne, Australia

@thread

The poll questions essentially boil down to this:

1. Make the old new again, which seems to be a trend at the moment. Go into a market which is dominated by Raspberry Pi but there is still room for alternatives which have a more niche focus.

2. Ride the diminishing PPC wave. The remainder of PPC is replete with low-power options for a primarily embedded market. Even if it is for a short while, it's OK to live off of a rotting whale carcass.

3. Be something new in an uncrowded market. Small fish in a small pond is better than one in the ocean. Only living in the foyer of a 6 bedroom 4.5 bathroom house is still better than begging in the streets.

4. Be something new in an uncrowded market. Small fish in a small pond is better than one in the ocean. Would it require major investment? You bet. Go big or go home.

5. Sitting on the fence. I don't know what hardware it should be, but what I do know is that I'd like to use the term Amiga in a real world tech conversation.

6. I like surveys. I don't like picking a side.

So, given the addressable market for each of these, and the potential to raise investment, which would be a better proposition?

If we're playing with Monopoly money, then the mega awesome, multi-core, multi-threading, PCIe 4 eating, DDR4 drinking, CAPI 2.0 breathing, POWER9 Amiga lust machine is the wet dream inducing centrefold from the November 2021 issue of PC Magazine.

Down here on Earth, the only other thing that has market appeal and potential to reach a greater audience than just us Amigaphiles, is the retro/hobby play. With some adjustments and advancements from today's technologies, 68k can be a very interesting alternative in this space.

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ppcamiga1 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 8-Jul-2020 12:02:43
#114 ]
Regular Member
Joined: 23-Aug-2015
Posts: 207
From: Unknown

@agami

Quote:

Down here on Earth, the only other thing that has market appeal and potential to reach a greater audience than just us Amigaphiles, is the retro/hobby play.


68k as fast and comfortable as cheap Pentium from Windows 95 era still does not exist.

Quote:

With some adjustments and advancements from today's technologies, 68k can be a very interesting alternative in this space.


It may be easier to add whole ppc core than convice gvb to add working compatible MMU to 68k.
Good luck with it.


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matthey 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 8-Jul-2020 22:19:09
#115 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 14-Mar-2007
Posts: 756
From: Kansas

Quote:

agami wrote:
So, given the addressable market for each of these, and the potential to raise investment, which would be a better proposition?

If we're playing with Monopoly money, then the mega awesome, multi-core, multi-threading, PCIe 4 eating, DDR4 drinking, CAPI 2.0 breathing, POWER9 Amiga lust machine is the wet dream inducing centrefold from the November 2021 issue of PC Magazine.


Porting AmigaOS 4 to POWER hardware and even the cheapest POWER hardware should not be crazy expensive. There are two problems though.

1) The more expensive a product, the more expectation there is for features, quality and software.
2) There would be a lack of low end hardware affordable by the masses.

It is interesting you mentioned CAPI which was created to use custom application specific hardware acceleration often in FPGA.

Quote:

1. Make the old new again, which seems to be a trend at the moment. Go into a market which is dominated by Raspberry Pi but there is still room for alternatives which have a more niche focus.

Down here on Earth, the only other thing that has market appeal and potential to reach a greater audience than just us Amigaphiles, is the retro/hobby play. With some adjustments and advancements from today's technologies, 68k can be a very interesting alternative in this space.


I agree. The Raspberry Pi missed plenty of the low end market and has aimed higher toward the crowded desktop and higher performance SBC embedded markets. The Pi never achieved the kind of success in gaming which I believe is possible. Adding an FPGA which allows chipset and application specific hardware acceleration could be popular for gaming simulation and embedded uses (CAPI for low end hardware?). The 68k AmigaOS can use performance and memory more efficiently than the Pi with room to improve. The 68k has leading code density and can go smaller with surprising performance and energy efficiency. Pi went with more rather than doing more with less.

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A1200coder 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 8-Jul-2020 22:28:52
#116 ]
New Member
Joined: 5-Oct-2019
Posts: 2
From: Unknown

Well, I think currently the Vampire FPGA is the best project around, an Amiga is an Amiga only if
1. the CPU is m68k compatible
2. chipset is compatible with OCS/ECS/AGA
3. AmigaOS 3 compatible operating system

The PPC Amigas are not real Amigas and the OS alone simply does not define an Amiga. A PPC CPU (or most other RISC CPUs like ARM/MIPS) is a significant downgrade from the 68k line of CPUs both in terms of performance and ease of direct programming. Of course you have much higher clock rates with ASIC RISC CPUs, but clock by clock, the 68080 beats most PPCs used in PPC Amigas.

I remember there is a tool that converts m68k asm to PPC asm on aminet. There you can see the true extent of the rubbishness of PPC asm. A 64 bit address on a 64 bit PPC takes 7 instructions to load into a register! And since most RISCs have a constant 32 bit instruction word, there is only space for a 16 bit immediate, so you will have it inconvenient with any 32 bit immediates as well. And no complex addressing modes.

The PPC Amigas have also no future, so we might as well stick to what we have, the m68k Amigas, which are possible to program directly thanks to m68k and chipset (yes, we don't even need necessarily an OS to run our game or demo programs, that's why the OS doesn't fully define an Amiga). This sort of programming also brings around quality and good real-time performance, as there is not any bloated software APIs around.

The PS2 is the most sold gaming console ever, but we can do better than that, it had a shit MIPS CPU and a crippled FPU, replace that with a good 68k and a revised custom chipset compatible with old Amiga, and you'll already have something better.

Custom software and architecture is the way to quality software - not more bloat. Then your hadware requirements will also be significantly lower.

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arthoropod 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 9-Jul-2020 1:17:01
#117 ]
Member
Joined: 14-Feb-2018
Posts: 79
From: Gotham

@Hypex

Quote:
...voted for POWER for desktop with redesigned & incompatible AmigaOS....Just box up the 68K shared memory space and create a separated 68K API.


Works for me as well, on Power or X64. This approach would work with either OS4 or MorphOS (and is probably the direction MorphOS will go anyway - as Abox is already a 68K compatible "box", all they need is the outer layer).

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agami 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 9-Jul-2020 11:56:11
#118 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 30-Jun-2008
Posts: 568
From: Melbourne, Australia

@A1200coder

I agree with many of the things you've said. I especially agree with the reality that escapes most others: Amiga is not in its OS.

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agami 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 9-Jul-2020 11:58:57
#119 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 30-Jun-2008
Posts: 568
From: Melbourne, Australia

@matthey

Quote:
1) The more expensive a product, the more expectation there is for features, quality and software.


You've hit the nail on its head. Making a fully rounded offering that delivers on its expectations is the most expensive part of this option.

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Hypex 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 9-Jul-2020 17:24:08
#120 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 6-May-2007
Posts: 9974
From: Greensborough, Australia

@A1200coder

Quote:
The PPC Amigas are not real Amigas and the OS alone simply does not define an Amiga.


Sad to say but the OS is the only practical part left and that is in an always state of needing work.

Quote:
A PPC CPU (or most other RISC CPUs like ARM/MIPS) is a significant downgrade from the 68k line of CPUs both in terms of performance and ease of direct programming.


Well if you like to program it. It still beats x86-64 IMHO. But how is PPC a significant downgrade? 68K barely made it over the 100Mhz barrier. My X1000 runs at 1.8Ghz. That's a significant upgrade in peformance,

Quote:
Of course you have much higher clock rates with ASIC RISC CPUs, but clock by clock, the 68080 beats most PPCs used in PPC Amigas.


Unfortunately, even using less clocks per operations, won't make it faster. An ASIC 68080 would be interesting to see. The free Google offer to fab an ASIC is sometihng they should consider right now even as proof as concept.

Quote:
I remember there is a tool that converts m68k asm to PPC asm on aminet.


68KPPC? Or something. Some thought it wasn't that good. Or less useful that it sounded.

Quote:
A 64 bit address on a 64 bit PPC takes 7 instructions to load into a register!


First, a program that converts 32-bit 68K ASM ro PPC32 ASM shouldn't be using 64-bit addresses anyway.

Second, whatever is using 7 instructions, is rubbish. It only takes 5. Should only take 5. I do recall something particular about the G5 and 64-bit words, maybe the lack of new instrunctions to directly load the upper 64-bits. But, it should be; low word, high word, swap words, low word, high word; done.

Third, any code needing to load in a full address, is badly written. Addresses on PPC should be loaded from an offset. Just like 68K did. A lot of Amiga compilers did produce redundant code that reloaded addresses in.

Fourth. Dependng on how much data needs to be be loaded it can be optimised. Like MOVEQ on 68K PPC has similar instrunctions. Plus, it's obvious if large data needs to be loaded in then reading from memory using one intsruction may be better, especially for cached memory. I don't know if code does this.

Quote:
And since most RISCs have a constant 32 bit instruction word, there is only space for a 16 bit immediate, so you will have it inconvenient with any 32 bit immediates as well.


Just like the copper! A true RISC CPU.

Quote:
The PPC Amigas have also no future, so we might as well stick to what we have, the m68k Amigas,


We might as well stick to something way slower? Is one way of reading it. The both had no future 20 years ago. But now days I prefer the faster one. Even with an 060 and RTG my A4000 feels so 90's now.

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