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Hardware News   Hardware News : Further information on the MicroA1 revealed
   posted by Eric_S on 4-Dec-2003 20:42:29 (9962 reads)
While I and CodeSmith was speculating about how the future IO daughtercard for the MicroA1 would look like and where it would go, Alan Redhouse decided to step in to clear up the missconseptions and share his thoughts for the final spec of the board. Read more for Alan's message.


You can find Alan's post here.

Read a cut and paste below.

Quote:
Of course I could be wrong but then again all that Alan said was that ther'd be a plugin daugher board for the extra IO, he never mentioned an extra slot.


What I said is that we are evaluating the practicalities of putting the 'enhanced I/O' on a small daughter board. To make it absolutely clear that will be a new custom connector (probably like the ones used for laptop docking stations) near/over the graphics chip. The PCI slot will remain as is, but for using the MicroA1 in applications where low profile hardware is required the PCI slot will it not be used - any needed additional functionality - eg wifi - can be added on a custom daughter board. (This also keeps open the options for third party hardware developers like Jens Schoenfeld to make all sorts of interesting gizmos).

Where space is not a problem then the PCI slot can take a 3-PCI slot riser card instead.

As far as graphics is concerned a low cost, low power Radeon chip will be used, which of course IS connected to the AGP bus. One option we are looking at is whether it would be feasible to route the AGP signals to a similar custom connector, but unless the cost is trivial it is difficult to see where the benefit would come from in the MicroA1's main (embedded) markets.

We are also looking at the feasibility of putting 256MB on board (retaining the single SODIMM socket for expansion) to keep overall build costs down and largely immune to the large market swings in SDRAM DIMM prices.

More details at Bath.

Alan
    

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Eric_S 
Re: Further information on the MicroA1 revealed
Posted on 4-Dec-2003 21:02:01
#1 ]
Team Member
Joined: 7-Mar-2003
Posts: 1334
From: Stockholm (Sweden)

To quote CodeSmith:

Quote:
About including RAM on the board: great idea! that way software developers will be able to assume a certain minimum configuration, and (most importantly!) people won't have to go through the "is this memory compatible?" deal that current Earlybird owners are having.

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Legion 
Re: Further information on the MicroA1 revealed
Posted on 4-Dec-2003 21:41:55
#2 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 21-Apr-2003
Posts: 820
From: Fargo, ND, USA

This is getting more attractive all the time.

I'm curious, now that Genesi has announced a similar product, how the pricing will be affected


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xeron 
Re: Further information on the MicroA1 revealed
Posted on 4-Dec-2003 22:39:23
#3 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 22-Jun-2003
Posts: 2440
From: Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset, England, UK, Europe, Earth, The Milky Way, The Universe

@Legion

They havent announced any new boards. If you look they're talking about a MicroATX board, IE a Pegasos 2. Typical Genesi marketting; the fact that you can run OpenBSD on it means its a brand new product worthy of a great big announcement and a new name.


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Anonymous 
Re: Further information on the MicroA1 revealed
Posted on 4-Dec-2003 22:45:21
# ]



Why, why, why am I ALWAYS compelled to bring negativity to a conversation??

(I'm displaying the conversation out of sequence.)

Quote:

Alan Redhouse stated:

We are also looking at the feasibility of putting 256MB on board (retaining the single SODIMM socket for expansion) to keep overall build costs down and largely immune to the large market swings in SDRAM DIMM prices.

Tooo little ram for this day and age, first of all. Then, it is recognized, that price is a concern. Fine.



Quote:

Alan Redhouse stated:
What I said is that we are evaluating the practicalities of putting the 'enhanced I/O' on a small daughter board. To make it absolutely clear that will be a new custom connector (probably like the ones used for laptop docking stations) near/over the graphics chip.

Custom = EXPENSIVE!


Quote:

Alan Redhouse stated:
The PCI slot will remain as is, but for using the MicroA1 in applications where low profile hardware is required the PCI slot will it not be used - any needed additional functionality - eg wifi - can be added on a custom daughter board. (This also keeps open the options for third party hardware developers like Jens Schoenfeld to make all sorts of interesting gizmos).


There's that word again.

Quote:

Alan Redhouse stated:
As far as graphics is concerned a low cost, low power Radeon chip will be used, which of course IS connected to the AGP bus.

How cheap are these? Any radeon below 8500 is YESTERDAY's news (avoid). They may even quit making them in 6 months.


Quote:

Alan Redhouse stated:
One option we are looking at is whether it would be feasible to route the AGP signals to a similar custom connector, but unless the cost is trivial it is difficult to see where the benefit would come from in the MicroA1's main (embedded) markets.

I'm sorry, but custom (again) = EXPENSIVE!


The problem I am having is I always get massive attacks when I say "Hey, make a custom AAA chipset with total backward compatability", because we want to AVOID a custom solution. Meanwhile this new board will sport TWO custom connectors! Have we learned NOTHING from past experience??



 
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Eric_S 
Re: Further information on the MicroA1 revealed
Posted on 4-Dec-2003 22:54:05
#5 ]
Team Member
Joined: 7-Mar-2003
Posts: 1334
From: Stockholm (Sweden)

First of all 256Mb is more than just fine for entry level concerns. Secondly the industry types that Alan is trying to sell those board to won't care if the 8500 has more 1337 3D graphics, the Radeon 7*00 series's 2D is good enough for them. And last of all making a few extra wires on a motherboard is (in this case it would seem) not all that expensive, making a million gate custom chip most definetly is.

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Jose 
Re: Further information on the MicroA1 revealed
Posted on 4-Dec-2003 23:57:46
#6 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 10-Mar-2003
Posts: 934
From: Unknown

"One option we are looking at is whether it would be feasible to route the AGP signals to a similar custom connector...."

YES!!!


Why not some versions with the custom slots and other's without them, to keep the costs down even more in the last ones?


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Tjomp 
Re: Further information on the MicroA1 revealed
Posted on 5-Dec-2003 0:07:54
#7 ]
Member
Joined: 16-Mar-2003
Posts: 17
From: Norway

@Atheist:

You must have been using Windows too much lately. 256MB RAM should be quite nice on an Amiga OS. Besides I can't see why you complain, as these 256MB will be in addition to whatever you put in that SO-DIMM slot. Would you rather have 0 + SO-DIMM or 256 + SO-DIMM ?

"Custom" is not a bad word when combined with "optional". If you rather not by some cool gadget that fits on a custom port, then by some commonplace hardware for the PCI slot.

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unclecurio 
Re: Further information on the MicroA1 revealed
Posted on 5-Dec-2003 0:20:18
#8 ]
Regular Member
Joined: 22-Jan-2003
Posts: 411
From: Edinburgh, Scotland

@Atheist

It sounds like you are making the assumption that these machines are to be aimed at the consumer market - as far as I can see, this isn't the case and so, there is no basis to assume the machines will resemble the sort of things that we are used to (fancy connectors, lots of RAM, flashy gfx etc). Also, remember that Eyetech have been involved in custom solutions for many many years so they know a thing or two about their customers in this arena.


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Bodie_CI5 
Re: Further information on the MicroA1 revealed
Posted on 5-Dec-2003 1:43:56
#9 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 29-Jul-2003
Posts: 6739
From: Unknown

@ Unclecurio

I thought Alan Redhouse in Total Amiga stated that the MicroA1 was to be also marketed to consumers. If you're right, then why have I expressed interest in purchasing three of them? Oh well, looks like I won't be buying any after all.


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toRus 
Re: Further information on the MicroA1 revealed
Posted on 5-Dec-2003 2:06:58
#10 ]
Regular Member
Joined: 10-Mar-2003
Posts: 202
From: Unknown

I am getting very interested in MicroA1. As long as I can have a fanless small box on my desk that lets me browse the web, send an email, use a text editor and listen to mp3s, I am more than happy to move my ultra noisy Athlon Linux server one room away and run it rootless.
It would be interesting to find out if the thing can run discless (i.e. flashdisk instead of HD) as well.

Having options in computer world is great but sometimes overrated. I wouldn't want to spend all my time arguing which HD or GFX card is faster. I used to doing it for my 10+ computers but it doesn't feel so fan anymore.

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Anonymous 
Re: Further information on the MicroA1 revealed
Posted on 5-Dec-2003 2:54:49
# ]



Hi Eric_Z, Tjomp, and unclecurio,

I would like to point out that one of the excellent uses of these new AmigaOne boards are render farms, and multi-board servers (okay, here a 7x00 Radeon wouldn't be a big deal).

Now, only crazy people wouldn't want to use AOS4.x, but unfortunately for the time being, linux is what will probably be involved in these computings, so, wouldn't it need ram thrown at it?


AOS4+.x! I can't wait for the next versions of AOS that CAN work in SMP and beowulf cluster computing models!!!!!!! Can you catch the FEVER??!!!

 
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CodeSmith 
Re: Further information on the MicroA1 revealed
Posted on 5-Dec-2003 4:34:25
#12 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 8-Mar-2003
Posts: 3045
From: USA

Linux is actually not that resource-hungry. It does eat up the megs when you throw in a 32 bit colour desktop and KDE and all sorts of assorted bloat. However, I know for a fact (ie I've used it) that an old 486 with just 16M of RAM will run a 2.2 kernel on text mode just fine. I bet there are quite a few old boxes just like that being used as routers and firewalls all over the world. I would definitely buy a Lite to use as a home firewall/router - it's tiny, quiet and cheap to run.

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CodeSmith 
Re: Further information on the MicroA1 revealed
Posted on 5-Dec-2003 4:46:41
#13 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 8-Mar-2003
Posts: 3045
From: USA

@Bodie_CI5:

Relax. The latest info I have about the Lite (Alan, if you're reading this and I'm wrong, feel free to jump in ) is that it will be targeted at industrial use, but it will also have this daughterboard we were talking about. Why this design? simple. Industrial users = cubic buttloads of boards sold = cheap boards. Problem is, industrial clients tend not to appreciate paying for things they don't use (eg firewire). So Alan's solution is to add a socket to the board, which only pushes the price up a few pennies, and make a separate board that plugs into that socket, with all the stuff we home users find more necessary. That way the industrial users are happy (they get their boards and don't pay extra), and we the home users are happy too (we pay less for the boards because of economies of scale, and still get the cool gadgets). An added bonus of the daughterboard socket is that, if its specs are open, people like Jens can sell a compatible card with SID sockets, a clockport header and whatever the board was originally about

@Alan: A passthough socket on the "official" daughterboard would probably be a good idea, so we don't lose firewire etc when we plug in Jens' card...

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pods 
Re: Further information on the MicroA1 revealed
Posted on 5-Dec-2003 5:21:17
#14 ]
Regular Member
Joined: 7-Apr-2003
Posts: 339
From: Brunswick, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Quote:

Tooo little ram for this day and age, first of all. Then, it is recognized, that price is a concern. Fine.


What? Since when, i was running Win98 on 32M a year or two ago and im running linux on 128 atm. These boards are not targetted at desktop users. Sure, Alan isnt going to neglect this market, what i should have said is that industrail and embedded markets are his main concern. 256M should be enough for any OS that runs in these markets. I assume OS4 or linux would be of the main concern and i think 256M is more than enough!

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Bodie_CI5 
Re: Further information on the MicroA1 revealed
Posted on 5-Dec-2003 5:43:56
#15 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 29-Jul-2003
Posts: 6739
From: Unknown

@ Pods

I swear I remember Alan saying in the previous issue of Total Amiga, that they will be targetting desktop users, as equally as those industrial clients.

@ All

The info is there, Alan has repeatedly made the statement that the A1Lite, or Micro A1, will be for normal leisure computing users.

Unless I am blind to this fact and have been wholly deceived, or have absolutely miscomprehended what Alan and others have said regarding this product.


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Dirk-B 
Re: Further information on the MicroA1 revealed
Posted on 5-Dec-2003 6:33:16
#16 ]
Super Member
Joined: 8-Mar-2003
Posts: 1180
From: Belgium

@ toRus

I am planning to do the same thing, putting my A1SE in
the cellar with the tv-cable internet and buying a small
version of the A1 with wireless connection to the SE.
But for the moment it sounds still a bit futuristic.

De groetjes, Dirk.


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CodeSmith 
Re: Further information on the MicroA1 revealed
Posted on 5-Dec-2003 7:39:53
#17 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 8-Mar-2003
Posts: 3045
From: USA

We'll know more in a few days, Alan said that he would speak about the Lite at Bath. Besides, would he be showing the prototype off so much if he didn't intend to sell it to us? I can pretty much guarantee you won't find too many industrial types at the average Amiga show, that means desktop users are pretty high on the list of desired customers.

Where did all this doubt come from anyway?

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Toaks 
Re: Further information on the MicroA1 revealed
Posted on 5-Dec-2003 8:50:35
#18 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 10-Mar-2003
Posts: 8042
From: amigaguru.com

yes and? ..man this is confusing...
is this a consumer machine or not? will it be priced as a consumer machine?, i want one of theese but by the looks of things this will be even more expensive than the XE ..

or is it me just getting all of this wrong????,
i was led to belive that the mirco a1 (lite was a cooler name) was supposed to be a Cheap machine with everything integrated (ie like amiga once all was about)..

sorry but imho when this is confusing me then i fear the whole lot of "non insiders" will get confused.

can anyone clear this up? (alan red. please?)..

i am about to implode here...


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salass00 
Re: Further information on the MicroA1 revealed
Posted on 5-Dec-2003 9:03:51
#19 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 31-Oct-2003
Posts: 2702
From: Finland

512 Mb not enough !!!

Luckily, I'm not a "desktop user" , as I mostly don't even come near to using up the 32Mb that I have in my A1200. IMO a little less would have been enough. I mean it's not like your going to be running Windows on it or anything, so your not going to need lots of Gb:s of RAM...

And who wants Linux anyway ?

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Stilgar 
Re: Further information on the MicroA1 revealed
Posted on 5-Dec-2003 9:59:25
#20 ]
Regular Member
Joined: 7-Nov-2003
Posts: 152
From: Unknown

You can run windows XP on 256 MB, so it seems perfectly adequate amount to me. Add to the fact you won't be running Windows XP on it and you suddenly have acres of RAM.

A lot of the changes people are asking to be added to the lite are pointless, it's supposed to be a small cheap board, if you want all the toys then you have to buy a full Amiga One. because if all the toys are added to the lite, it'll be just as expensive, possibly even more.

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