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ULTRA GOLD CARD

Posted: Fri Apr 26, 2019 9:46 am
by genetika
News ?

:D

Re: ULTRA GOLD CARD

Posted: Fri Apr 26, 2019 11:06 am
by pjw
These guys were obviously not reversing into the future! Sadly, the age of the giants appears to be over for now..

Re: ULTRA GOLD CARD

Posted: Fri Apr 26, 2019 2:31 pm
by Nasta
That was actually the specification for a card which I was designing called GoldFire which was never finished for a variety of reasons I won't go into here.
It also had a an option for an ethernet and audio controller chip, all derived from PC tech of the day.

The reason for the name was that the design was started with the MCF5102 Coldfire chip that just came out. Unfortunately that proved to be a disappointment since it was really intended to be a 'bridge' chip between 68k and the (then new) Coldfire family of chips which then turned out to have a severely reduced instruction set and no way to make them compatible with 68k. This has remained so even today, with a caveat (see below).

Since it was intended to be a successor to the (super) Gold card, and it was using a Coldfire CPU, the name GoldFire was coined.
As it turned out, the MCF5102, the only fully compatible ColdFire was really a re-spun 68040, low power and with a maximum speed of 40MHz (and that was quite expensive), also in a low pin count case with multiplexed address/data bus. It soon became obvious that it was possible to buy second hand 68EC060 running at 66MHz which would be at least twice as fast, for less, hence the spec was changed to 68060, in fact, two could be used.

Unfortunately, what happened next was a rather large implosion of the CPLD market at the time. The age of free development tools was not there yet, and the CPLD model selected for the project seemed a good pick because there already was an (expensively bought!) development tool chain, and a second source supplier - the orignal was AMD and the second source Cypress. Unfortunately, AMD decided to sell their memory and PLD divisions, as they were concentrating on the PC CPU market. The PLD division got sold to their principal competitor, Lattice - and the very CPLD family selected for GF was immediately dropped from production. This also prompted Cypress to first raise prices sky high and simultaneously declare a lifetime buy on their second source, as they stopped production and were only selling existing stock. The last nail in that coffin was Lattice also changing their tool chain and stopping any support of that particular CPLD, and Cypress dropping any support at all, so new costs arose. Neither of the other manufacturers offered anything comparable at the time. I also then moved back from the US to Croatia and that was more or less the end of the whole project :(
It's kind of ironic that in the meantime I have been trying to save scraps of it as a LOT of work was already done.

Regarding Coldfire, the ability to at least emulate 68k instructions dropped in generation 2, was only added back in some chips of generation 3 and generation 4. The latter are still made but losing the battle with ARM based designs. A company called Micro APL (which I believe actually did some software for the QL back in the day!) did offer an emulation package that emulates the required 68k instructions in software, but that required a rather expensive license. As luck would have it, MicroAPL has made the emultaion pack available for free recently, so there might be a way to design something QL compatible based on a V3 or V4 Coldfire chip.

Re: ULTRA GOLD CARD

Posted: Fri Apr 26, 2019 6:01 pm
by Ralf R.
Thank you for clarifying that. Never knew, that your ColdFire project was the same as the Ultra Gold Card. Would be good to have that witha V4 chip.

Re: ULTRA GOLD CARD

Posted: Sat Apr 27, 2019 8:45 am
by Peter
pjw wrote:These guys were obviously not reversing into the future! Sadly, the age of the giants appears to be over for now..


A machine with even better specs plus a fast 32 bit QL graphics controller actually materialized... the Q60... and the designer is still active. Also the man who sold it.

Seems like fitting the QL case is so important that even vaporware appears more gigantic than a machine that actually shipped. ;)

I already noticed that in the old days... everything of importance needed to fit the QL case...

And people were then tinkering to move their stuff outside the QL case, because they needed a decent keyboard and space for drives. :D

Re: ULTRA GOLD CARD

Posted: Sat Apr 27, 2019 11:20 am
by Pr0f
Some people love the aesthetics of the Original QL case.

Computers have evolved in shape over the years - most people think of a keyboard now as an option thing, and would rather just have a tablet that they can walk around with, even if they don't have a pocket big enough to put it in!

Perhaps a Q68 in tablet form? ;-)

Re: ULTRA GOLD CARD

Posted: Sat Apr 27, 2019 11:23 am
by Nasta
Peter wrote:Seems like fitting the QL case is so important that even vaporware appears more gigantic than a machine that actually shipped. ;)
I already noticed that in the old days... everything of importance needed to fit the QL case...
And people were then tinkering to move their stuff outside the QL case, because they needed a decent keyboard and space for drives. :D


As the author of said vaporware, I can only agree. When I did Aurora I hoped it would get the QL out of it's old case but no such luck...

Re: ULTRA GOLD CARD

Posted: Sat Apr 27, 2019 3:37 pm
by bixio60
Peter, I am 120% agree with you.
I own Q40/Q60/Q68 and for this I thank you, same thanks for the other who are improving SMSQe/emulators and other important projects like QL-SD. I am still using Q60 as main HW and frankly speaking I have, but I dont use, QLs (3 :D ) with SGC and QL-SD but as I said I dont use it.
I tenaciously pestered Tetroid to have an Aurora clone and for an external keyboard interface, I never loved QL keyboard.

BBQL is fine for nostalgia but if you need/like a new QL: the new Q68 is there. So, considering that the future path is clear (FPGA), if I may ask something to you if the possibility to have a faster Q68 ...at least from resolution point of view ;)

All the best .

Post scriptum: I just received my 2 new Retro Wifi SI - rs232 serial port internet computer modem. It cost a bit but it is worth considering that, using ser, you are able to connect QL to internet without using other PC/Raspberry, it provide an address ip and it is reachable from internet. I tested it on Q68/QL and Q60 .

Peter wrote:
pjw wrote:These guys were obviously not reversing into the future! Sadly, the age of the giants appears to be over for now..


A machine with even better specs plus a fast 32 bit QL graphics controller actually materialized... the Q60... and the designer is still active. Also the man who sold it.

Seems like fitting the QL case is so important that even vaporware appears more gigantic than a machine that actually shipped. ;)

I already noticed that in the old days... everything of importance needed to fit the QL case...

And people were then tinkering to move their stuff outside the QL case, because they needed a decent keyboard and space for drives. :D

Re: ULTRA GOLD CARD

Posted: Sat Apr 27, 2019 4:56 pm
by Derek_Stewart
Hi Fabrizio,

I am glad you like the Q68 and still have a working Q60.

I remebered that you ran a web server on the Q60. Does that still work?

I was given the Aurora PCB file in Protel99SE format, which I have converted to Altium Designer 16 format and was going make some more Aurora boards. But the Q68 came along and does everything the Aurora ca do.

I have Tetroid's SGC clone, so could maybe make a small quanity of Aurora boards to see if they work together.

I also could make some more Q60 boards, but at present the Q68 is the computer to have.

Re: ULTRA GOLD CARD

Posted: Sat Apr 27, 2019 6:49 pm
by Peter
Nasta wrote:As the author of said vaporware, I can only agree. When I did Aurora I hoped it would get the QL out of it's old case but no such luck...

If the announcement was about a variant of the GoldFire, then why does it say "Miracle Systems" and not "Nasta"?

Are you sure this was not sort of a competitive project from Stuart Honeyball?