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Old 04 August 2015, 19:51   #13
matthey
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Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Kansas
Posts: 1,284
Quote:
Originally Posted by midwan View Post
Would it be technically possible to produce a Buster replacement chip for the A4000 (maybe A3000 too), which would keep the compatibility but improve the performance?

So I talked to Dave Haynie the other day and he verified that yes, that could be done. He also mentioned that he was thinking of something similar himself. :-)
Thanks for talking to Dave and getting him interested in retro hardware projects. Amiga legends like him could also provide valuable marketing for a Kickstarter project (needs planning and prototyping first). There are several ways to go to avoid Buster bugs and bottlenecks.

1) Simple Buster replacement using FPGA
+ fully programmable and customizable
+ simplest and cheapest solution
- voltage regulator probably needed
- socket and surface mount Buster variations increase production costs
- possible connection problems with a clip on for surface mount Busters
- minimal speed gains while maintaining Zorro compatibility

2) Buster replacement using FPGA with PCI slots added
+ fully programmable and customizable
+ PCI gives major speed increase and cheap commodity PC hardware
+ good compatibility is possible as speedup is with PCI instead of Zorro
- voltage regulator probably needed
- socket and surface mount Buster variations increase production costs
- possible connection problems with a clip on for surface mount Busters
- added complexity and cost with PCI
- best PCI slot locations vary by Amiga model and may need cabling

3) FPGA accelerator card with PCI slots added
+ fully programmable and customizable
+ huge speedup is possible for CPU and I/O
+ PCI gives major speed increase and cheap commodity PC hardware
+ good compatibility is possible as speedup is with PCI instead of Zorro
+ socket or surface mount Buster doesn't matter
- much more complexity and added cost everywhere
- best PCI slot locations vary by Amiga model and may need cabling

4) Stand alone FPGA board with PCI slots
+ fully programmable and customizable
+ huge speedup is possible everywhere
+ PCI gives major speed increase and cheap commodity PC hardware
+ socket or surface mount Buster doesn't matter
+ standard power supplies and cases could be used
+ everything fits and a small Amiga is possible
+ could be used to simulate other retro hardware
- much more complexity and added cost everywhere
- some compatibility would likely be traded for cheaper production cost

PCIe (and SATA as they both need FPGA high speed serial transceivers) could be added in place of PCI for additional cost. PCI still gives the cheapest hardware and some Amiga drivers already exist while providing adequate speed (no more busboard bottleneck) for the CPU power.

IMO, idea #3 and #4 above make the most sense. Idea #3/#4 could be a 2 piece design with the accelerator board fitting into old big box Amigas and mating to a new I/O board (which could fit in Amiga 1200s for example). In any case, I hope there would be some cooperation for the 3rd generation of Amiga FPGA hardware (the FPGA Arcade and Mist are 2nd gen). Getting C= legends involved is brilliant both for their innovation and marketing inspiration. Bil Herd has also shown interest in doing some retro Amiga hardware (not so much an Amiga guy historically but very talented). There is much young FPGA talent around also. There is also more money available than what people would be willing to spend on new hardware if a well planned project was created. I know some people who could be valuable in planning, hardware creation and financing so contact me for further discussion if you and Dave are serious about doing an advanced retro Amiga project.
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