An interview with Coldfusion developer Oliver Hannaford-Day
Date 12-Mar-2004 21:49:01
Topic: Hardware News
|I recently got in contact with Oliver Hannaford-Day the developer of the Coldfusion accelerator, to ask him his view about amiga and quiz him about his latest invention. Read more for the interview.|
1) Oliver please can you tell us a little about yourself, you background, where you work etc.
Yep, no problem, I am Oliver Stephen Hannaford-Day, I'm 22 (28th Dec) and live in Lichfield, West Midlands, England. I work at our family business, a marina near Lichfield where we do up and sell boats, although not for much longer as everyone but me is retiring. ... they wont let me retire.
I've had a computer since I was about five, the first was a Sinclair ZX80, followed by a ZX81, 128 and 128+2, I stayed with that till 1993 when I got my first Amiga, of sorts, the CDTV (I wanted a CD32 but my parents were still picking what computer I got so 16bit for me), from then on its all gone a bit mad, I now own 2x A4K's, 1x A3K. 1x A2k, 1x A1200, 1x A600, 1x A500, 2x CD32's, 4x CDTV's and a CDTV CR Prototype, 14 Amiga's in total, all but two in the same room. lol
Electronics wise I have a very limited background, when I started the CDTV website (www.cdtv.org.uk at the moment) I started playing with some basic cards, a diagnostic to Zorro slot adapter, diagnostic to A2K CPU slot adapter & an RGB to SVGA adapter (internal version of the sliver box used on the A4K), none really got that far, the designs were done but not prototyped, I still intend to actually print them one day.
2) What exactly is the ColdFusion Accelerator?
Basically its a CPU upgrade using the Motorola V4 / V4e Coldfire CPU for the (so called) "Classic" range of Amiga's. As standard the card will have a minimum of a V4 Coldfire running at 220Mhz (Although the prototype is a 162Mhz Coldfire clocked at 150) with a PC100 SD-Ram DIMM or SO-DIMM memory slot for up to 512 Meg of fast ram.
The card may have other things like an AC97 audio codec, USB, and such like but the above is the minimum needed to get the card running. (That, a flash chip and transceivers, and that PCB thingy.)
3) What inspired you to create the ColdFire Accelerator?
Basically because I love my CDTV's but it has one problem, a 68000 just isnt fast enough, so I wanted to make a CPU upgrade, I started just looking at the 68020 or 030 chips as some of the pictures of 030 cards looked so simple but then on A.org was a news post about the launch (?) of a V4 Coldfire running at 162Mhz, Mmmmm, I looked at the chip and it didnt look that different from a 68030 (you know, it had a data bus, address bus and some other bits that didnt do much ;) so I figured I would give it a try.
4) How did you decide on which parts(processor and other features) to use?
The CPU was just because it looked as easy to design a Coldfire as it was a 68020, and it was faster, nothing other than that really.
The SD-Ram feature was built in to the Coldfire so that was a freebie that I couldnt simply leave unused.
As for USB, well that came much later (After the first prototype) and was simply because I saw it in the Digikey catalogue, same goes for the Firewire really. (Although that isnt as important and takes up more space so probably wont be on the CPU card, maybe a Zorro card though.)
The IRDA (Infra red) and AC97 (audio) is simply because the CPU has built in support for these, they are cheap and small. I think thats all thats on the cards at present, I have done a few designs with expansion slots but with the news of the V4e it may be a better idea to leave the first card with just USB and maybe the AC97 codec, keeping the price down, get the cards out sooner and later having a V4e version for people wanting more built in as standard.
The IDE interface was because I ran a poll on the projects newsgroup and people wanted a fast IDE interface.
5) Which model will be finished first, the A4000 or A1200 version, and which other Amiga models to you see designing this card for?
All the prototypes have been for the A4000 and as such it will most probably be finished first, I have done an A1200 design which should work but having two prototypes on the go will slow things down even more. (I know what your all thinking, just dont say it, ok
As for other cards, well the A2000, CD32, CDTV and A500 versions would be done, as I want all of them, the A1000, A600 and Draco versions would have to be looked at after the others are launched but I would like to see a Coldfire upgrade for all of them even if it didnt make economic sense.
6) You told me in a previous email, that the project had ground to a halt for now, why is this and when do you see it getting underway again?
It isnt as fatal as it sounds, this is the biggest project I have ever done and as such I dont have any of the stuff needed to do it so when I get to a point where I need something I dont have everything stops until I get it, at the moment its a load of test equipment (A decent oscilloscope being top of the list(ed: offers please ;)) for the prototype, so its time to go shopping. I have been doing things while the project has stopped though, work on a new
website and some other stuff.
7) Will it be easy to create a 16 Bit version, what would be required?
Oh yes, it shouldnt be hard at all, the main work will be altering the bus logic to interface with the older bus but the code for the A2630 is available as a nice base to work from. The main work needed is the PCB design, but I like doing that bit.
8) How much is this card likely to cost?
Ahh, Well I am saying between £170 - £220 but that is being safe. The card would only be printed in small batches which adversely effects the price but one option to bring the price down a bit would be to do one batch from pre-orders, it would depends on how many people wanted to pre-order. (after seeing it and a number being sent out for review, I wouldnt do pre-orders on something that isnt finished)
9) What do you think the new Amiga One will do to aid amiga?
Im not a big fan of the A1 or Pegasos, not because they dont do the job well, I am sure they do, but I look at them and cant help thinking PC, (or wow, a PC in a microwave) it just looks like a standard PC motherboard but using a PPC. For me the Amigas stength has been in its hardware, when OS1.3 was used it didnt really matter as all the games didnt need to touch it, but now its flipped around with the OS being the most important thing, sad.
As for will it aid Amiga, I dont know, Amiga's plan originally (from my point of view) was to do the Amiga DE and forget about the rest, and the Amiga One was only done after a lot of Amiga users said they didnt want that, the A1 was simply a stepping board to a platform independent OS, but the DE looks dead to me, Amiga havent changed their plan and its all a bit in limbo, is the DE still the way they want to go? Is the Amiga One and OS4 combo good enough to bring back all who have left? Can it ever be technically as good as a high spec Mac as Mac get the fastest chips first....
I can totally see the A1 and OS4 being used by most Amiga users but I dont know whats next...... Awww, now Im all sad. lol
10) Where do you see Amiga in 10 years time?
Lol, well you asked.....
One using a V6 Coldfire clocked at 800Mhz, with a new custom chipset that no one wants to change for a PCI card and software available in every computer shop. Two versions would be available, an A1200/500 lookalike and a powerful
A2/4000 version not for people like me.
An Amiga you could stick a DVD (or whatever is around then) in and play a real nice game like on a game console or have the slot empty and it boots to a bug free, stable Workbench 3.9 style OS for writing a letter or surfing the net.
Thats the Amiga in 10 years time... maybe
If you have any other questions please ask, Im always happy to talk.