ACK Software Controls IRC Log

Date 19-May-2006 3:05:26
Topic: Hardware News


Below is my personal attempt to cleanup an IRC log between ackcontrols (ACK Software Controls Inc.) and some info. starved users. It was a spontaneous kind of thing. I did my best to match the questions to the answers which is why the time stamps differ here and there. Any errors are entirely your fault.


[23:53:47] <jahc> ackcontrols: I hope you dont mind my thread.. just a pointer to your message!
[23:54:02] <ackcontrols> I don't mind

[23:54:38] <jahc> ackcontrols: wanna let people know what northbridge it uses? (I'm sworn to secrecy so I wont say)
[23:55:05] <jahc> or do you want to wait for the demo?
[23:55:34] <ackcontrols> Going to wait until the demo.

[00:01:53] <AmigaBlitter> High end board: "A high end board will be demonstrated approximately one month after the CPUs are demoed. Period."
[00:02:48] <ackcontrols> Yes, that is true.
[00:03:54] <ackcontrols> The board uses the same CPU connector as the XE/ MicroA1

[00:04:57] <AmigaBlitter> The board is a new design?
[00:05:11] <ackcontrols> yes, new design

[00:05:15] <AmigaBlitter> What for the graphics slot?
[00:06:14] <ackcontrols> Still only makes sense for us to use AGP slot (in PCI mode)
[00:06:25] <ackcontrols> Until we get docs on new PCI Express cards
[00:07:43] <ackcontrols> It's not hard at all to put a PCI Express slot on a board, it's just we (we being Video driver developers) don't have docs on the newer PCI Express cards.

[00:07:28] <AmigaBlitter> Can you post a photo or something to make some rumors? :)
[00:07:56] <ackcontrols> AmigaBlitter: I'm not into photos....never have been.

[00:08:57] <spot3AD> ackcontrols!!! you are the reason i came here.. :) short question, will the power vixen have acceptable linux support? as in better than the a1..
[00:09:34] <ackcontrols> spot3AD: Linux runs fine on the board.

[00:09:59] <spot3AD> ackcontrols: glad to hear that! will ubuntu be supported?
[00:10:32] <ackcontrols> spot3AD: It's up to the user to pick a distro.

[00:10:53] <spot3AD> ackcontrols so i take it we don't need custom made installers?
[00:11:55] <ackcontrols> Regarding custom installers.....that's going to be more than likely to make it easier for everyone.

[00:13:04] <spot3AD> how fast was the pv cpu again? g3@300?
[00:13:25] <ackcontrols> 400MHz CPU for the PV

[00:12:38] <AmigaBlitter> How mutch it cost approximately?
[00:13:35] <ackcontrols> AmigaBlitter: The new board?

[00:13:40] <AmigaBlitter> yes
[00:14:30] <ackcontrols> Too early to give an exact cost, but can see the 1.7GHz CPU + board being in the $1,000.00 USD range.

[00:49:44] <AmigaBlitter> 1) what for the board size? atx, micro atx and so on...
[01:05:52] <ackcontrols> MicroATX sized board.

[00:51:23] <AmigaBlitter> 3) is this the personal ack answer to the bbrv intention to provide us hardware?
[01:06:11] <ackcontrols> Has nothing to do with bbrv....this has been in the works for a while

[01:06:53] <ackcontrols> A lot has changed in the last year for the PowerPC host bridge market.
[01:07:25] <ackcontrols> Similarly, products that have been announced from Freescale (the 8641D) have been late in coming.
[01:08:40] <ackcontrols> Tundra on the other hand has been the best in delivering their products in a timely fashion and are far more open with information than Marvell.
[01:09:06] <ackcontrols> Tundra has also set a clear roadmap regarding their direction on the PowerPC host bridge side of things.
[01:10:00] <ackcontrols> In order to bridge the XE products to the new boards, it was decided to make CPU modules compatible with the AmigaOne boards to increase the market size.
[01:10:19] <ackcontrols> As well as provide an upgrade path with reduced investment by the customer.

[01:10:44] <spot3AD> ackcontrols but, a microatx won't fit in a desktop a1200 will it?
[01:11:23] <ackcontrols> spot3AD: The PowerVixxen products are for the A1200 users.
[01:11:29] <ackcontrols> This is separate from that.
[01:12:15] <ackcontrols> The PowerVixxen line of products are to bring the classics up to a point where they can use OS4.

[01:13:06] <ackcontrols> Hyperion has long known mine and other's intentions regarding new hardware.
[01:13:47] <ackcontrols> The issue has been there has been a lot of change in the PowerPC side of things.
[01:14:15] <ackcontrols> Tundra's Tsi108 and Tsi109 and their upcoming Tsi110/111 products.
[01:14:23] <spot3AD> ackcontrols has any hw been sent to hyperion yet?
[01:14:52] <ackcontrols> Similarly, Marvell's Discovery V, which looks great on paper, but the timing isn't quite right for that product.
[01:15:38] <ackcontrols> Even though the market is relatively small, it has been hard to create a single product that would make everyone happy.
[01:17:59] <ackcontrols> In order to reduce complexity in the design of a new board, it will be primarily expanded using PCI cards.

[01:17:44] <spot3AD> ackcontrols what's the situation with the a1200 connectors?
[01:18:26] <ackcontrols> spot3AD: I've been working with Jens Schoenfield regarding the A1200 connectors.
[01:18:40] <ackcontrols> Jens has access to some incredible pricing.

[01:19:43] <AmigaBlitter> i repeat a question... 4 )Did you plan in the future to provide us a Cell hardware? (my dream)
[01:21:38] <ackcontrols> Plans for hardware are being based on chips and chipsets that are available.
[01:21:57] <ackcontrols> Cell chips don't fall into that category, nor are chipsets that include PCI Express.
[01:22:33] <ackcontrols> Keep in mind that the biggest issue regarding PCI Express is the lack of documentation regarding PCI Express based video cards.
[01:22:50] <ackcontrols> AmigaBlitter: Sorry, but that is just being realistic.

[01:28:25] <spotUP> ackcontrols, so with the a1200 connector problem solved, has the power vixen finally gone into production? what is the estimated date of release? when will it hit the dealer shelves? will it be autographed by you? will it have your dogs/childrens footprints engraved on the back?
[01:29:31] <ackcontrols> Any time there is a significant time lag between an expected release date and an actual date, it always makes sense to revisit the product.
[01:30:41] <ackcontrols> The only thing that is holding up PowerVIxxen at this time is whether or not I should put a Radeon mobility 7500/9000 chip right on the board.
[01:30:58] <ackcontrols> and remove the MiniPCI slot.
[01:32:31] <ackcontrols> ATI isn't too quick to respond to small players.
[01:33:38] <ackcontrols> choosing ATI is for driver availability.

[01:46:56] <AmigaBlitter> I rewrite the questions: When you plan to demo the board for the public?
[01:47:32] <ackcontrols> AmigaBlitter: End of June.

[01:52:13] <AmigaBlitter> availability? end of June?
[01:52:32] <ackcontrols> July time frame for availability.
[01:55:09] <ackcontrols> PowerVixxen LT

[01:55:46] <SLayeRDK> ackcontrols what does LT stand for ?
[01:57:03] <ackcontrols> SlayerDK: LT is for Lite....

[01:58:15] <AlkAway> Do I mess things upp? Isnt Powervixxen a classic Amiga powerboard?
[01:59:11] <ackcontrols> The main intent of the PowerVixxen boards is to run OS4 on the classic machines.
[01:59:31] <ackcontrols> The 680x0 capability is driven by the emulator within OS4.
[01:59:51] <ackcontrols> Petunia is the JIT.
[02:00:09] <ackcontrols> I'm not sure what they call the interpretive emulator....if it even has a name.

[02:00:22] <AmigaBlitter> After this step, Ack, Do you thing that there will be other obstacle to see the final version of os4 out?
[02:01:14] <ackcontrols> I have no control over final release of OS4 and can't speculate.

[02:01:51] <AmigaBlitter> Returning to hardware related questions, What kind of ram use the new board?
[02:02:03] <ackcontrols> The high end board?
[02:02:14] <ackcontrols> DDR2

[02:02:56] <jahc> when is the high end board going to come out?
[02:03:15] <ackcontrols> 400MHz
[02:03:20] <ackcontrols> 200x2
[02:03:55] <ackcontrols> Goal is to have several products available for AmiRevival show.

[02:05:16] <AmigaBlitter> What about licensing? How do you have obtained licensing?
[02:18:57] <ackcontrols> I really don't expect any issues with the licensing.
[02:19:37] <ackcontrols> Going to get the h/w working first and worry about that after.

[02:19:49] <AmigaBlitter> Any problem with u-boot?
[02:20:12] <ackcontrols> Warts aside, u-boot does what it's supposed to do.
[02:20:24] <ackcontrols> Also been testing OpenBIOS as well.
[02:21:13] <ackcontrols> The MPC5200 doesn't like ROMs on PCI cards....bit of a PITA.
[02:22:29] <ackcontrols> AmigaBlitter....most of the industry is going PCI Express for good reasons.

[02:22:45] <AmigaBlitter> Have you already tested the os4 on your new board?
[02:23:17] <AmigaBlitter> If yes, could you give us your first impressions?
[02:23:42] <ackcontrols> Faster than the CSPPC and slower than an A1.

[02:24:14] <AmigaBlitter> You are talkin about the new board or the powervixxen?
[02:24:26] <ackcontrols> The mediator interface for Video is a bit kludgey...another reason to drive towards gfx chip on PV.
[02:24:31] <ackcontrols> PV, yes

[02:37:40] <AmigaBlitter> Ack, can you give us more information about this question: And the new board? What about the speed?
[02:38:22] <ackcontrols> The host bridge has a 200MHz FSB.
[02:38:36] <ackcontrols> It will take full advantage of the 7448's throughput.

[02:39:31] <jahc> what ethernet will the highend board have?
[02:40:00] <ackcontrols> GB ethernet * 2

[02:41:18] <SLayeRDK> ackcontrols you got a working prototype of the high-end board ?
[02:42:10] <ackcontrols> Been working on a dev board and prototype is a 2-3 weeks away. Been focusing on the CPU modules at the moment.

[02:43:05] <AmigaBlitter> So you have not yet tested OS4 on the High End Board?
[02:44:40] <ackcontrols> Dev board is to get OS4 ported, prototype is based on chipset, but pretty different in reality.

[02:46:04] <jahc> thats confusing. so the northbridge you're using in the prototype isnt present in the dev board?
[02:50:10] <ackcontrols> No, the Northbridge is on the devboard
[02:51:00] <ackcontrols> to quicken the development time....a lot of features will be added with PCI cards.

[02:46:06] <AmigaBlitter> How many USB port have the board. Is the USB version 2.0?
[02:52:09] <ackcontrols> The main board will likely be limited to 2 USB ports (for mouse and kb), serial ports (for debug), and ethernet.
[02:52:25] <ackcontrols> The rest will be added by the dealer/customer.

[02:52:26] <jahc> then hyperion can start porting with that board, and you will gradually move these chipsets on the pci cards onto the mobo?

[02:52:58] <jahc> no parallel port? I've got a printer that needs parallel
[02:53:03] <ackcontrols> I don't see a reason to.
[02:53:17] <ackcontrols> there are PCI cards for that.
[02:53:39] <ackcontrols> not going to see much by means of legacy ports
[02:54:38] <ackcontrols> It's going to be a lean design that the user can add the appropriate PCI functionality that they need.
[02:55:01] <ackcontrols> No sense putting SATA on the board and having people complain about having to buy new hard drives.
[02:55:18] <ackcontrols> Similarly, if you want SATA, then it doesn't make any sense to have PATA ports on it.
[02:55:39] <ackcontrols> Too many standards in flux at the moment to put the right things on the main motherboard.

[02:59:55] <jahc> ackcontrols: are you saying theres not going to be any PATA on the mobo? or were you just using the above as an example?
[03:03:57] <ackcontrols> Yes, neither....combo card for the desired type of IDE (or SCSI) connection.
[03:04:42] <ackcontrols> Keeping the design simple...make the CPU -> Host -> memory fast....add the I/O with PCI cards.

[03:05:36] <Orgin> So no AGP/PCIe then.
[03:06:10] <ackcontrols> There will be an AGP slot, due to the requirements of the Amiga market.
[03:06:26] <ackcontrols> PCI Express won't be an option until the Tsi110 is available.
[03:06:37] <ackcontrols> But that is likely in early 2007
[03:07:14] <ackcontrols> It all comes down to what is available without making the mobo a patchwork of bridge chips.

[03:07:37] <jahc> how many PCI slots in your design?
[03:08:06] <ackcontrols> 3 PCI + 1 AGP is the plan.

[03:08:16] <Outcast> sound on board ?
[03:08:22] <ackcontrols> nope

[03:09:32] <ackcontrols> The chipsets used in most combo cards already appear to be supported.
[03:10:01] <ackcontrols> USB + PATA/SATA cards already exist.

[03:10:04] <Outcast> what speed are the slots ?
[03:10:17] <ackcontrols> slot speed depend on the cards plugged into them.
[03:10:39] <ackcontrols> The AGP slot is PCI 66 and independent of the other 3 slots

[03:11:59] <jahc> ackcontrols: is it too difficult to add PS/2 connections? .. USB keyboards and mice are a little expensive..
[03:12:31] <ackcontrols> Expensive...USB mice and keyboards are cheaper here.
[03:14:52] <ackcontrols> The more stuff that gets put on the board...the more complex it gets.
[03:15:13] <ackcontrols> This is going to be a fast, make equip it how you want type system.

[03:15:14] <jahc> so by making the design simpler, you've cut down development time?
[03:15:23] <ackcontrols> yeah

[03:15:37] <jahc> how longs it taken you so far? :)
[03:16:21] <ackcontrols> Not too long....a couple weeks total of time. Finishing off PCB layout.

[03:18:59] <jahc> ackcontrols: you mentioned there being 2 USB ports... will there be headers on the mobo to connect up USB ports built into cases etc?
[03:19:23] <ackcontrols> no headers....the purpose of the USB ports are for keyboard and mouse connections.

[03:20:25] <ackcontrols> The design was started a long time ago.....I haven't had time to work on it and wanted to see how things shook out with the flurry of product announcements by Marvell, Tundra, and Freescale.
[03:20:45] <ackcontrols> Add to the mix the switch to Intel by Apple further complicated issues.

[03:27:11] <jahc> ackcontrols: might be a good idea to have 3 usb ports though..... keyboard + mouse + something else..... usb gamepad, printer, mp3 player.... you know...
[03:32:30] <ackcontrols> maybe I'll put six PCI slots on it and move it to a larger board.

[03:32:45] <jahc> ackcontrols: would it still be ATX?
[03:32:54] <ackcontrols> It would be ATX compliant.

[03:33:56] <jahc> would the price increase be negliable? (sp)
[03:34:09] <ackcontrols> PCB cost is proportional to size

[03:34:24] <AmigaBlitter> You said that the PCB is already done
[03:35:38] <ackcontrols> The files haven't been released for making a pcb prototype.

[03:34:35] <ackcontrols> adding a bridge chip and 3 extra slots isn't that difficult.
[03:34:59] <ackcontrols> I'm working on the PCB layout for the high end board.
[03:37:43] <ackcontrols> Keeping it simple keeps the cost down and allows for users to customize their machine accordingly.

[03:37:53] <jahc> ackcontrols: but doing 6 slots instead of 3 wont make the board much more expensive?
[03:38:15] <ackcontrols> It would add around $50.00 of manufacturing cost.
[03:38:42] <ackcontrols> The would include the incremental PCB cost, bridge chip, and extra components.
[03:39:46] <ackcontrols> Keep in mind that manufacturing cost can turn into a 2.5 to 3 times retail cost.

[03:40:03] <AmigaBlitter> what speed for the agp bus?
[03:40:08] <ackcontrols> pci 66

[03:40:15] <jahc> well, I'd want a tv tuner, sata+pata, sound card, and a parallel i/o card...
[03:41:01] <AmigaBlitter> Jahc, better don't talk of our desire...
[03:41:43] <ackcontrols> the other aspect to consider is the length of time people typically keep their machines.....makes it hard to pick the right stuff that will be available for lengthy durations.




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