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Hardware News   Hardware News : Enter the DRAGON
   posted by DJS on 17-Dec-2004 12:38:41 (26750 reads)
ELBOX COMPUTER is proud to announce its breath-taking new product for Amiga 1200 computers - DRAGON ColdFire. DRAGON is a ColdFire-based accelerator card combined with the PCI/AGP Expansion busboard.



With its DRAGON ColdFire development, Elbox brings to Amiga computers top performance of the latest Freescale's ColdFire V4e core based-processor, the successor of the 68k dynasty. DRAGON-equipped Amiga computers are ready to run most of the 68k Amiga programs/applications several times faster when compared against Amiga 1200 with the fastest 68060 accelerators.

'By combining many attractive features like the high-performance ColdFire processor, fast DDR memory, AGP graphics, powerful PCI 66MHz technology and comprehensive software support, DRAGON-equipped Amiga computers turn into modern, fast and extremely functional power machines,' said Maciek Binek, president and CEO of Elbox.

The DRAGON's mainboard and the DRAGON's ColdFire CPU card are designed on two separate circuit boards. With modular design, the DRAGON can be easily upgraded and configured to meet the needs of the most demanding Amiga users.


DRAGON Technical Specification:

? ColdFire MCF5475 processor (410MIPS) running at 266MHz
? Two sockets for DDR-266 SDRAM modules, support up to 1GByte of memory (1GB/s peak)
? One AGP slot (264MB/s peak access from the main processor)
? Five 66/33MHz, 32-bit PCI slots, PCI 2.2 compliant (264MB/s peak)
? 2MBytes of 32-bit Flash memory (containing upgradeable DRAGON firmware)
? Asynchronous design with fast access to Amiga 1200 motherboard hardware
? Multi-channels DMA support (PCI <-> PCI, PCI <-> DDR, PCI <-> AGP, PCI <-> A1200)
? Auto-Recharge Battery-backed Real Time Clock
? Four high-speed programmable serial (UART/USART/IRDA/modem) controllers (optional)
? One Hi-Speed USB 2.0 and two FastEthernet 100Mbps controllers (optional)

ColdFire processor:
The DRAGON ColdFire will initially be available with the fastest ColdFire MCF5475 processor in clock speed of 266MHz. MCF5475 features the V4e ColdFire core with MMU, dual precision FPU and EMAC. The 266MHz version of the ColdFire MCF5475 processor provides raw performance of 410MIPS.

Up to 1GB of DDR SDRAM:
The DRAGON comes with two DIMM slots for ultrafast DDR-266 SDRAM memory. This high-speed memory rushes data at up to 1GB/s throughput. It is over 25 times faster compared against the fastest A1200 accelerators available so far. As memory is scalable up to 1GB, you can add RAM to meet increasing demands of your applications and workflow.

AGP Graphic Slot:
The DRAGON comes with the 3.3V 66MHz AGP slot which supports up to 264MB/s data throughput. The following AGP graphics cards will be supported: Radeon 9700, Radeon 9500, Radeon 9200, Radeon 9000, Radeon 7500, Radeon 7000, Voodoo 5, Voodoo 4, Voodoo 3.

PCI Expansion Slots:
The DRAGON comes with five 66/33MHz, 32-bit PCI slots compliant with the PCI 2.2 specification. The DRAGON system can be configured with PCI 66MHz or PCI 33MHz expansion technology. All PCI slots provide DMA capability. The DRAGON's ColdFire processor has linear access to the 4GB PCI space.

Multi-channel DMA support:
DRAGON hardware provides Multi-channel DMA support. PCI bus master cards can provide DMA accesses to all DRAGON resources: the AGP card, DDR memory, other PCI cards and the Amiga 1200 motherboard space. DRAGON' PCI-to-DDR Direct Memory Access can reach up to 264MB/s throughput. This feature allows even the fastest mass storage PCI controllers to run at their top performance.

2MB of 32-bit Flash memory:
DRAGON includes 2 MBytes of the 32-bit extremely fast Flash memory. It includes factory-programmed DRAGON's boot firmware and diagnostic software. Flash ROM allows remapping of the Amiga Kickstart, as well.

FastEthernet 100Mbps and Hi-Speed USB 2.0 (optional):
The DRAGON's MCF5475 processor has one built-in Hi-Speed USB 2.0 controller and two FastEthernet 100Mbps controllers. External ports for these controllers will be available on an optional module. Hardware-acceleration encryption (DES, 3DES, RC4, AES, MD5, SHA-1, RNG) is built into the processor. Dual-channel architecture permits single pass encryption and authentication.

High-Speed serial controllers (optional):
Up to four programmable serial controllers (PSCs), each with separate 512-byte receive and transmit FIFOs for UART, USART, modem, codec, and IrDA 1.1 interface, are built in the DRAGON's MCF5475 processor. External ports for these controllers will be available on an optional module.

Compatible Tower systems:
The DRAGON ColdFire busboard is designed to be used in the following tower systems: Mirage 1200, E/BOX 1200, Power Tower, Winner Tower and Infinitiv Tower. Besides, an Elbox custom-designed case for the DRAGON ColdFire system will be announced soon.

Supported AGP and PCI cards:

? Graphic cards (Radeon 9700, Radeon 9500, Radeon 9200, Radeon 9000, Radeon 7500, Radeon 7000, Voodoo 5, Voodoo 4, Voodoo 3)
? Sound cards (Sound Blaster 4.1 Digital, Sound Blaster 128 and cards based on the ForteMedia FM801 chipset--e.g. Terratec 512i Digital)
? Serial ATA controllers (SiI 3114 support in development)
? Spider Hi-Speed USB 2.0 controllers
? TV tuner cards (based on Bt848/849/878 and FUSION 878/879)
? Fast Ethernet 100Mbps cards (based on RTL8139 chipset)
? Ethernet 10Mbps cards (based on RTL8029 chipset)

Pricing and availability:
The DRAGON ColdFire is planned to be available by the end of January 2005 for a very attractive price, offering superior price/performance ratio. The suggested retail price is 349 EUR. (VAT excl.)

Registered owners of Elbox Mediator 1200 PCI busboards will receive a special incentive upgrade offer in January 2005.

If you have any questions related to the DRAGON ColdFire busboard, email them at dragon@elbox.com. Answers to most frequent inquiries will be published in FAQ section of the Elbox website.

DRAGON - The Dawn of the New Era
    

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PosterThread
EntilZha 
Re: Enter the DRAGON
Posted on 17-Dec-2004 16:49:09
#41 ]
OS4 Core Developer
Joined: 27-Aug-2003
Posts: 1679
From: The Jedi Academy, Yavin 4

Quote:
WOW! (did Elbox get tired of waiting for AOS4.0 final release


WOW. What an inapropriate comment. Thanks, I always appreciate such nice comments.


_________________
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"I don't have a frigging clue. I'm norwegian" -- Ole-Egil

All opinions expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent those of Hyperion Entertainment

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Framiga 
Re: Enter the DRAGON
Posted on 17-Dec-2004 17:12:59
#42 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 5-Jul-2003
Posts: 2212
From: Unknown

mhhh!!! honestly, i can't understand why people are doing comparision from this new product and AOne/AOs4!?!

Are different projects, with different targets.

Good luck to Elbox . . . seen the thousands of great products already produced and sold in theese years.


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Rachy 
Re: Enter the DRAGON
Posted on 17-Dec-2004 17:28:42
#43 ]
Regular Member
Joined: 21-May-2004
Posts: 276
From: Auckland, New Zealand

Eh, what a waste again...


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amigamagia 
Re: Enter the DRAGON
Posted on 17-Dec-2004 17:44:27
#44 ]
Regular Member
Joined: 31-May-2004
Posts: 106
From: Kongsberg, Norway

This is great! I must have one!

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PulsatingQuasar 
Re: Enter the DRAGON
Posted on 17-Dec-2004 18:44:14
#45 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 10-Mar-2003
Posts: 550
From: The Netherlands, Europe

I'm getting one aswell. Absolutely.

I also don't understand why people comparise this with bad news for OS 4. The reason for the Dragon is simply giving the A1200 an enourmous speed boost. The demand for BlizzardPPC's is still high and not just for getting OS 4. If they indeed are able to put this into production at the end of january 2005 they have completely negated the use for a BlizzardPPC. There is an enourmous amount of software for 68K and still being developed. The WarpOS and WarpUp routes were succesfull for launching a PPC OS 4 and going into the future.

It never did anything to people that just want their old Amiga 1200 running faster and better. This solution will and is very promising at that. There is finally a new and much better answer to a BlizzardPPC combined with a GRex and much less costly. I applaud this and hope they do well.

And again. If you don't see the reason for this product and only see this as something interfering with OS 4 and the A1 then you just don't understand why.


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A1200 PPC

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Haymigga 
Re: Enter the DRAGON
Posted on 17-Dec-2004 19:03:56
#46 ]
Regular Member
Joined: 14-Jun-2003
Posts: 213
From: Danmark

Nice product indeed. Hopefully expandable with CPU, if not still cool.
But end price is what inc. tax+neccessary modules? Doubt it will steal money from a1 sales.

400euro for the board.
50euro for A1200.
50euro for memory.
100euro for various pci-cards.
200euros+ for a possible ppc upgrade card?

So not a cheaper solution than a1... if you compare it with that...but atm, it shouldn't be!


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DrJohn 
Re: Enter the DRAGON
Posted on 17-Dec-2004 19:35:06
#47 ]
Regular Member
Joined: 6-Jul-2003
Posts: 161
From: Unknown

Interesting. So then current 68k apps including the OS (3.9) just run "natively" at an accellerated speed without any modifcations?

I realize OS4 is not even an option for this at least for the time being which makes this much less interesting to me and obviously any PPC apps written for WarpUp/PowerUp can't run because well this isn't at PPC processor but in theory, how does the speed of this acellerator compare to the PPC 200 mhz blizzards?

I am not quite sure I really understand the point of this but interesting nonetheless.

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fryguy 
Re: Enter the DRAGON
Posted on 17-Dec-2004 19:48:40
#48 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 6-Dec-2003
Posts: 852
From: Tinytown

This is cool, but i also think this is the wrong path to go. It will probably just split the amiga market even more.

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-Sam- 
Re: Enter the DRAGON
Posted on 17-Dec-2004 19:57:25
#49 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 18-Apr-2003
Posts: 3004
From: Yorkshire Dales, United Knigdom

If this had been built 10 years ago it might have been a massive success and maybe even saved the Amiga.


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-Sam- 
Re: Enter the DRAGON
Posted on 17-Dec-2004 19:58:15
#50 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 18-Apr-2003
Posts: 3004
From: Yorkshire Dales, United Knigdom

@Origin

.Quote:
Could be an interresting upgrade path for those diehards that doesn't think of the A1 as 'the real macoy' or simply those who can't affort an A1 mobo.


Except you'll be stuck at OS3.9 making the whole thing a bit pointless

Last edited by -Sam- on 17-Dec-2004 at 07:59 PM.


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-Sam- 
Re: Enter the DRAGON
Posted on 17-Dec-2004 20:02:53
#51 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 18-Apr-2003
Posts: 3004
From: Yorkshire Dales, United Knigdom

Quote:
There is an enourmous amount of software for 68K and still being developed.


Yes there is a lot of really old software - but new stuff? I don't see many killer apps on 68K horizon anymore.

This is a crazy product - I would love to see it in use but commercially it is utterly insane. Elbox still rock for building it though!


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ID4 
Re: Enter the DRAGON
Posted on 17-Dec-2004 20:10:33
#52 ]
Regular Member
Joined: 13-Jun-2003
Posts: 174
From: Unknown

I Think this move from Elbox is no sense. At least if it have PPC...

That they must to show is teh SharkPPC for Mediator.

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olegil 
Re: Enter the DRAGON
Posted on 17-Dec-2004 20:18:06
#53 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 22-Aug-2003
Posts: 5887
From: Work

@Origin

It's there to lure Don Cox into buying it


_________________
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Using "voltage" instead of "potential", which leads to inventing new words like "amperage" instead of "current" (I, measured in A) or possible "charge" (amperehours, Ah or Coulomb, C). Sometimes I don't even know what people mean.

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PulsatingQuasar 
Re: Enter the DRAGON
Posted on 17-Dec-2004 20:40:01
#54 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 10-Mar-2003
Posts: 550
From: The Netherlands, Europe

You people are still missing the point of this little gimmick.


_________________
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A4000 PPC
A1200 PPC

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PulsatingQuasar 
Re: Enter the DRAGON
Posted on 17-Dec-2004 20:43:51
#55 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 10-Mar-2003
Posts: 550
From: The Netherlands, Europe

Pagestream is still 68K for instance and also AWeb.

If Mozilla ever makes it to Amiga then a 68K compile( which will happen without a doubt) will run nicely. Same goes for OpenOffice.

There are still plenty 68K versions around of PPC software. For instance the Linux filesystem thingy.


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A4000 PPC
A1200 PPC

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Rachy 
Re: Enter the DRAGON
Posted on 17-Dec-2004 21:04:42
#56 ]
Regular Member
Joined: 21-May-2004
Posts: 276
From: Auckland, New Zealand

@PulsatingQuasar
Quote:
Pagestream is still 68K for instance and also AWeb.

What makes you thinking that this thinggy will execute 68k apps faster than a strong PowerPC? (And I mean strong, not a 603/160MHz.) Especially that it does require some sort of emulation of the missing opcodes.

I think 68k and compatible processors has a nice past, but has absolutely no future. Not to mention the hack-o-matic factor what this stuff is adding into your system. Don't get me wrong, I have an A1200 in a tower case, a Mediator, a BlizzardPPC and a few PCI cards. I like the old hardware but once it will simply fail to work. It is sooo shaky...

Besides I rather look into the future, not into the past. (Hehe, funny, yes, I made an emulator for the old stuffs, but hey! this is part of the plan... )


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GrumpyOldMan 
Re: Enter the DRAGON
Posted on 17-Dec-2004 21:22:41
#57 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 3-Nov-2003
Posts: 675
From: Haukipudas, Finland

@PulsatingQuasar

Quote:

You people are still missing the point of this little gimmick.


Hey, I'm with you

Dragon is just a neat uppgrade to those who want to still use their classic Amiga hardware even if they have bought AmigaOnes. It is exciting enough to lure people who have left the community (but might have their old Amigas stored somewhere) to look at Amiga again. Some of them might even end up returning into scene. If we can keep people interested in using their Amigas (old and new) chances are they end up being OS4 customers sooner or later.


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-Sam- 
Re: Enter the DRAGON
Posted on 17-Dec-2004 22:47:47
#58 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 18-Apr-2003
Posts: 3004
From: Yorkshire Dales, United Knigdom

@PulsatingQuasar

Yep. that's right - I have certainly missed the point.

Last edited by -Sam- on 17-Dec-2004 at 10:48 PM.


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Rogue 
Re: Enter the DRAGON
Posted on 17-Dec-2004 23:52:16
#59 ]
OS4 Core Developer
Joined: 14-Jul-2003
Posts: 3999
From: Unknown

Quote:
So then current 68k apps including the OS (3.9) just run "natively" at an accellerated speed without any modifcations?


There are a few issues, although I am not sufficiently confident about ColdFire. The ColdFire chip does not implement the entire 68k instruction set. A lot of them need to be emulated. This was also the case for the 68060 (mostly the FPU instructions), but in this case a program like CyberPatcher or OxyPatcher could actually fit a subroutine call into the command words. With most of the missing instructions on the coldfire, this might not be possible (because it affects .b and .w variants AFAIK). The result would be that either there is some sort of JIT emulation, or a time-intensive exception.


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lavo 
Re: Enter the DRAGON
Posted on 17-Dec-2004 23:59:49
#60 ]
Regular Member
Joined: 15-Jun-2004
Posts: 128
From: Perth, Australia

Gimmick all right! Wasn't there some lone developer that wasalso making a coldfire card?

Considering the dramas Apple had with Motorola making G4s, why rely on them making faster Coldfires?

Will Elbox sell enough of them to justify the cost of making them? And has anybody *seen* a prototype board, especially since they are so close to production?

I think its pretty risky basing their new board on what is now 12 year old hardware. There is only a finite supply of 1200 motherboards and the appropriate cases, plus trying to find 3.1 ROMs for those 1200s that have not been upgraded.

As others have said, a few years ago this would have been a killer product that would have saved a lot of people switching to PC/Mac/Linux. But the horse has bolted, and those that are left (as evident on this forum) seem to be firmly behind A1/OS4.

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