I had many formative experiences that have shaped my idea of "the ideal computer" - and with the QL it was the device independence as expressed by the OS. Once I knew how to read from or write to a device, I knew how to read from or write to any device.
My take-home from my Risc PC was a hardware one. The chipset was broken down by function, with four chips involved: ARM chip (processing), VIDC (video generation), IOMD, (input/output) and MEMC (memory controller) and each could be revised and substituted without affecting the rest.
Combine these two items of personal discovery with a deep affection for my old QL, set against the problem of getting it to work reliably, or even at all.
Now, one of my greatest mistakes was to inadvertently reveal details of Peter Graf's single chip design. I didn't know how much of the info was in the public domain and over-shared on the ql-user list. I wish their was a way to apologize and put the worms back in the can, but now Peter has to field a lot of unnecessary commentary/requests. The chances he would work with me in future (I would love to help him complete/produce some projects) are remote. I sorely regret this, as I would have loved to have respun the PCB and licensed the chip from him, using Minerva.
Like the Raspberry Pi, I see the need for a Model A and a Model B. The Model A serves the purpose of re-implementing the hardware in a 16-bit way, with no changes to the core OS that in any way affect any functionality of anything in userspace. The Model B being the next iteration - re-implementing that defined hardware base in a simple, cheaper, faster way, whilst retaining the expandability to add things like ethernet, etc.
Some people can do A in their heads and jump to B. However, it is a huge task that requires huge resources and involves a horrible catch-22 - bringing up a modified OS for the first time on modified hardware. If there's a problem and it falls over, what fell over? How do you test a non-running system?
To be clear, the market for QL hardware is so small, there is no or little money to be made in it. As PG and Nasta have indirectly said, there's a world market for maybe 200 QLs. However, there is a market for a small, embeddable, real time OS multi-tasking computer with an easy OS and programmability that ISN'T run on Linux or Windows. What I am saying here is that we can make something happen, but it would be smart of us to design not just for the majority's existing needs, but to invite sales of the board into other markets, or as some of my friends call it, "Arduino-space!" Have those markets subsidize the board for the QL users, to keep costs down.
So, how about some specifications for this machine?
68000 16MHz, 4MB static RAM, 32k video RAM with VGA or DVI output, GD2 compatible (in future?)
2xIDE, 2xCF (basically IDE), 2xFD, 10/100 Ethernet, ATX power, PS2 keyboard, option for keyboard membrane. It would be nice to have some form of expansion/prototyping port and parallel/GPIO.
For the IDE/CF, an issue is limitations of the FS making large storage unwieldy. I would like to see a sister project develop a block filing system for large devices that doesn't sink large amounts of QL memory, and get slower as it gets bigger.
I'd like to have a small bootloader, and load the selected OS into SRAM, so people could quickly select/change OS/environment. I realize this is the hardest aspect of the entire project from my POV, and that OS/SW are the hardest elements.
Now, I can see people twitching to reply with how these decisions are wrong. These decisions aren't designed to create the ULTIMATE QL, but to create a QL clone that can actually be designed and built within the lifetimes of the remaining pool of skills and resources available for such a financially demanding venture.
Someone recently expressed the opinion that open-sourcing projects harms them in cases like this, because the project gets diluted to where nobody can make a profit. I agree and disagree wholeheartedly. For this reason, I'd like to see the project develop behind closed doors, out of view of the peanut gallery, and then when people buy a board, they also buy a disk containing the schematics, gerbers, all necessary files, and so forth. Once the supply of boards was exhausted, the disk contents would be published on the net. At any time, anyone can get access to the information by simply contributing
Obviously, a few key players would need to have functioning prototypes for driver/OS development.
Related goals include discussions with relevant parties to secure rights to use/modify Minerva or SMSQ/E on the boards (and QDOS in the US) and TK2 of course.