TerribleFire accelerator for the QL accelerator card

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Zarchos
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TerribleFire accelerator for the QL accelerator card

Postby Zarchos » Tue Dec 12, 2017 8:16 am

Hi all.

I haven't seen it on this board, so I start this thread.

There is a VHDL wizzard, Stephen Leary, aka TerribleFire, who has been working on FPGA 68000 core accelerator boards for the Amiga and the ST.
I believe his boards could work with the 68000 based accelerator boards available for the QL.
It installs instead of the 68000 chip.
It is open source, and mustn't cost more than GBP40 to build. (if you already own programmers)
Would somebody like to try that ?
Yes : it means installing an accelerator, in an accelerator.
His YT channel is there :
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCu4uiU ... AxNh7TGsmQ

He is on EAB too.

I asked him, some months ago, if he could try it for the QL, but well it isn't one of the machines he is interested to develop for.
Still, as it is the SAME board, that works in the Commodore Amiga, or the Atari ST, I do not see why it wouldn't fit in place of the MC68000 available
in some QL accelerator boards.
Worth a try, no ?
Results are just awesome on the Amiga and the ST. (More than 7 MIPS)
https://youtu.be/7vfkjtZAQmo
https://youtu.be/Z1McP-u2IEU


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Pr0f
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Re: TerribleFire accelerator for the QL accelerator card

Postby Pr0f » Tue Dec 12, 2017 10:09 am

Need to see what he's doing with his accelerators - something to browse through tonight, but he's using 44 pin CPLD for the 68020 accelerator - I doubt that is a full implementation of a 68020 in a CPLD that small. Transistor count for a 68020 is about 190,000+


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tofro
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Re: TerribleFire accelerator for the QL accelerator card

Postby tofro » Tue Dec 12, 2017 10:35 am

Pr0f wrote:Need to see what he's doing with his accelerators - something to browse through tonight, but he's using 44 pin CPLD for the 68020 accelerator - I doubt that is a full implementation of a 68020 in a CPLD that small. Transistor count for a 68020 is about 190,000+


Well, he seems to be using an 68030 (or 040?) - That has about enough transistors to cope with emulating a 68000 ;)

Tobias


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Pr0f
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Re: TerribleFire accelerator for the QL accelerator card

Postby Pr0f » Tue Dec 12, 2017 10:42 am

On his youtube and GitHub links there is a 68030 and 68020 project, so if his accelerator is to put these chips into say an A500 that had a plain old 68000 running at just under 8Mhz, then they would fly quite a bit faster :-)

Pushing up the CPU speed will give problems to all of the following areas :

QL Network - as it's bit banged
Serial ports - sending is bit banged, reception is via the IPC
Microdrives - as these too are bit banged in a form.

plus probably cause headaches for other time critical areas.

Not sure how GC/SGC got around that issue.

The Q68 just doesn't support Microdrives as far as I know, and serial port is done differently, that only leaves the QL network interface to worry about.

Still - as with all these ideas- they are worth a look at to see what has been done, and how...


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Zarchos
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Re: TerribleFire accelerator for the QL accelerator card

Postby Zarchos » Tue Dec 12, 2017 11:08 am

I believe Stephen is quite an helpful guy, and he would be happy to answer your questions.
If sbdy has an EAB account, you can easily reach him from this web site.


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Peter
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Re: TerribleFire accelerator for the QL accelerator card

Postby Peter » Tue Dec 12, 2017 11:41 am

Zarchos wrote:There is a VHDL wizzard, Stephen Leary, aka TerribleFire, who has been working on FPGA 68000 core accelerator boards for the Amiga and the ST.
I believe his boards could work with the 68000 based accelerator boards available for the QL.

I don't have the time for a detailed look, but those seem just classic 68020 or 68030 boards, no CPU in FPGA or anything special.
There would be no fundamental advantage over the SuperGoldCard with it's 68020. Only an additional space problem.

If you know more, could you provide specific links, please?


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Zarchos
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Re: TerribleFire accelerator for the QL accelerator card

Postby Zarchos » Tue Dec 12, 2017 2:21 pm

Peter wrote:
Zarchos wrote:There is a VHDL wizzard, Stephen Leary, aka TerribleFire, who has been working on FPGA 68000 core accelerator boards for the Amiga and the ST.
I believe his boards could work with the 68000 based accelerator boards available for the QL.

I don't have the time for a detailed look, but those seem just classic 68020 or 68030 boards, no CPU in FPGA or anything special.
There would be no fundamental advantage over the SuperGoldCard with it's 68020. Only an additional space problem.

If you know more, could you provide specific links, please?



Yes you are right, my mistake : it is not an FPGA for the CPU, but there is programming of some circuitry, in VHDL, to interface the original CPU with the host machines.
To me the interest of these boards is for people with accelerator boards equipped with a 68000. (Gold card at 16 Mhz)
Being open source, it could be interesting that sbdy tries to adapt this TF accelerator board for the GC.
Getting the power equivalent to a 68030 at 25 Mhz isn't bad for ... GBP40.

Couldn't sbdy like Tetroid contact Stephen to have simple answers to evaluate the doability of such a project ?
Or any other people with indepth knowledge of the QL hardware ?
Stephen is really a nice guy. Watch his videos, you will understand.


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XorA
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Re: TerribleFire accelerator for the QL accelerator card

Postby XorA » Tue Dec 12, 2017 2:32 pm

TerribleFire is basically the equivalent of an SGC.

Tetroid already said he was looking at a new version of SGC.

Dave Park also looked at something similar to the TerribleFire not based on the SGC design.

This stuff is easier on the Amiga because its OS is already aware of expansion buses with detectable hardware and the OS was always 32bit so it doesn't trip over with address assumptions.


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Pr0f
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Re: TerribleFire accelerator for the QL accelerator card

Postby Pr0f » Tue Dec 12, 2017 2:38 pm

The need to be compatible with the old hardware in the black box has meant the Gold card and Super Gold card could never really make the most of their faster processors and features, they can attempt to run as much of the environment in their faster on board RAM, but must effectively slow down to allow screen access, serial port access and so on.

I doubt there is little that could be done without re engineering the black box. There is a lot of what if's... and if only's...

But that shouldn't discourage anyone from being inventive. The aurora showed the way...


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Re: TerribleFire accelerator for the QL accelerator card

Postby thorsinclair » Tue Dec 12, 2017 3:48 pm

The evolution of GC and SGC was the Aurora. What you may could aim to do is an Aurora plus? There is a interesting thread on this forum about possible hardware projects from Dave where new hardware ideas are discussed.



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