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Old 06 December 2010, 13:21   #1
fgh
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Possibility of new a1200 gfx-card

Hi everyone,

Been reading about amiga stuff lately, and I'm amazed by Individual Computers Indivision and ACA boards.
I am neither a software or hardware engineer, so please excuse my ignorance regarding the following, but I'm just curious about this..

Todays (or yesterdays) tiny and cheap gfx processors for mobile or embedded devices could provide better 2D graphics performance than any classic amiga computer could ever wish for.

How much more work would it require for someone to make a gfx-card for the amiga1200 in comparison to the work required by mad scientist J.Schoenfeld to make flickerfixers?

Even if we forget about 3D, I realize that software and drivers would be more demanding, but how much so?
  • Would it be just a matter of writing a driver for Picasso 96?
  • Would the picasso 96 software require an update itself?
  • Did GPU hardware evolve too much for old software models to take advantage of its 2D capabilities?
  • To what degree could a new driver take advantage of open source linux drivers?

From what I understand the best way for flickerfixers to be connected to an a1200 is to the Lisa chip directly. I guess the only option for an a1200 RTG card is the main expansion port?
So, how unrealistic is an expansion board like the ACA1230, but with a a graphics card, and an internal DVI cable to join the output from the Indivision?

Guess it would be a tight fit, but BPPC/BVision fit inside an a1200d, didn't it?

Cheers!
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Old 06 December 2010, 14:26   #2
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So you want an Amiga 1200 desktop capable graphics card. The easiest way in my humble point of view, is getting someone who has already done it, and modify an existing device.

A good example of who and how:
Elbox has manufactured and keeps selling the Mediator 1200 TX product. It is a pci busboard that supports upto six pci cards, it supports Radeon 92xx pc cards. What if they designed a one slot pci busboard with passthru, in an angled way so that the for example, a radeon pci gfx card could rest inside the Amiga 1200 desktop, parallel to the motherboard?

From a technical point of view, they just need to cut off the extra pci slots, and redesign the board layout to fit inside the A1200 dektop with some kind of angled adapter. Drivers have already been developed for Mediators that support Picasso96, and they wont require any modification.

I believe it could be a big selling product (for just under $200),and require little effort from Elbox to produce. But unfortunately, as a company they have a track record of never listening to suggestions.
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Old 06 December 2010, 15:00   #3
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Its a nice idea, and Im sure there will me conflicting thoughts about it.

If its space you are worried about, then removal of the floppy drive could be an option.

Maybe Jens when hs does the Mk2 Indivision coul dintegrate an expansion port for high speed data throughput and then work on adapting an exisitng miniature graphics card for embedded systems.

In combination with his new ACA cards, maybe a passthrough adaptor between motherboard and ACA card (due to their short length!!) would help.
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Old 06 December 2010, 16:24   #4
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Nice idea but imo.....

The A1200 is looking a little bloated with all the stick on upgrades (not mocking )... I think it's time someone just did a new A1200 MB from scratch (i.e. drop in replacement) with modern parts (delete the RF and composhite ) and maybe even combine some of the technology already out there into it??? Index Information did it with the 'Access' and improved upon the original design...
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Old 06 December 2010, 16:35   #5
gulliver
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul_s View Post
Nice idea but imo.....

The A1200 is looking a little bloated with all the stick on upgrades (not mocking )... I think it's time someone just did a new A1200 MB from scratch (i.e. drop in replacement) with modern parts (delete the RF and composhite ) and maybe even combine some of the technology already out there into it??? Index Information did it with the 'Access' and improved upon the original design...
I agree, a new redesigned motherboard, would be ideal. But then, reality tells us, it would be very expensive and require a lot of research & development, not to mention that it will demand a huge investment.
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Old 06 December 2010, 16:37   #6
alexh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fgh View Post
Todays (or yesterdays) tiny and cheap gfx processors for mobile or embedded devices could provide better 2D graphics performance than any classic amiga computer could ever wish for.
With the right drivers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fgh View Post
How much more work would it require for someone to make a gfx-card for the amiga1200 in comparison to the work required by mad scientist J.Schoenfeld to make flickerfixers?
The Indivision AGA 1200 flicker fixer does not connect to the CPU data bus and so cannot be a graphics card. In order for it to do so it would have to connect to the trapdoor connector which traditionally has an accelerator connected.

In an A1200D it is not practical unless the accelerator has an expansion connector designed for this purpose. AFAIK only the Blizzard PPC has one. Not even the new 1230 cards have them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fgh View Post
From what I understand the best way for flickerfixers to be connected to an a1200 is to the Lisa chip directly. I guess the only option for an a1200 RTG card is the main expansion port?
Yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fgh View Post
So, how unrealistic is an expansion board like the ACA1230, but with a a graphics card, and an internal DVI cable to join the output from the Indivision?
It may have been practical if the ACA1230 had not just been created. The market is now so much smaller. Shame there was not enough pins on the ACA1230 FPGA/CPLD for an expansion function.

Quote:
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Guess it would be a tight fit, but BPPC/BVision fit inside an a1200d, didn't it?
Yes.
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Old 06 December 2010, 19:42   #7
Zetr0
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@alexh

as far as I can tell there is (or will be) a direct chunky display mode planned for the IndivisionAGA Mk2, I might be wrong, getting over a few winter infections here, but I do remember reading that there is upto 7MBs bandwidth available with the newer adapter mode - writing direct to the chunky display buffer.

Although thats not 100% confirmed, and theres no talk on display drivers for workbench RTG etc, as we know the hardware is always quicker to get running than the software, it may not be entirely possible to use the full potential of the IndivisionAGA Mk2 direct write modes with workbench.

However this is very intersting and has certainly piqued my interest in scoring the Mk2 AGA indivision when its released.
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Old 07 December 2010, 00:29   #8
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Sorry Zetro, I think this is a "No" for that

hard to tell tho.
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Old 07 December 2010, 01:21   #9
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No, I don’t think any new GFX cards for the 1200 will ever be made, the best we're ever likely to see is the Indivision AGA Mk2.

I think there are only two possible 1200 updates that we may see one day. We might see an FPGA drop-in MB replacement or maybe an FPGA based 'daughter' board that will go over the top of the existing chipset and 'improve them' in the same way that the Indivision AGA and FAST ATA updates do.

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Old 07 December 2010, 11:33   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zetr0 View Post
as far as I can tell there is (or will be) a direct chunky display mode planned for the IndivisionAGA Mk2, I might be wrong
It's not possible, not unless it is going to connect to the Amiga in a different way.

The only thing possible is something akin to Graffiti where the RGB information being sent out of the AGA gfx chip is interpreted in a different way.
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Old 08 December 2010, 21:17   #11
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Hello again, lots of replies - good!

I am still curious about what kind of work would be required to make a new gfx-card for the amiga, not really considering how commercially realistic it is.

I had completely forgot about the Mediator and Prometheus cards and the Radeon 9200 / Voodoo3 support..
From what I can understand after googling a bit, the final official version of Picasso96 was 2.0, released in 1999, and later versions supporting these newer cards were made by someone other than the original developers. (Matay for Prometheus support, etc.)

So I guess for someone to be able to make working drivers for a new card in 2010, they would also have to modify picasso96 itself in addition to making the driver. (More work, too bad..)
But radeon 9200 and Voodoo3 boards are quite a lot more modern than the old amiga cards, so I guess modern chipsets could be supported as well.

So, on to the hardware side of things..
Todays cellphone GPU's are more capable than the playstation 2. So I imagine the 2D graphics performance required to enable 1920x1080 or similar resolution should be available from cellphone-sized chips. Some graphics memory shouldn't take up a lot of physical space, either. As far as I understand, physical size should not be a problem.
What else than GPU and RAM would a simple graphics card consist of?

By the way, how unrealistic would a 1920x1080 desktop resolution be on an old amiga upgraded with 68030 and a modern RTG card? Will the CPU be a bottleneck, or would it all be dealt with by the graphics card? If it's utterly unrealistic, I would be happy to settle with 1280x720 I can just imagine such a machine, booting up to a nice whdload frontend displayed on the HDTV. With full color and a bit of CPU power, we could even see a modern frontend using the game logos and videos from those crazy people working with the hyperspin frontend. (See hyperspin-fe.com/forum/showthread.php?t=7061)

I understand the chances are slim that there will be another new accellerator board for the a1200 after the ACA1230. But we could always discuss a way to do this in an a500 or cd32
AFAIK, an a500 CPU upgrade usually goes in the 68000 socket, and a graphics card would go in the "almost Zorro2" side expansion slot. With a good flickerfixer on top of denise, we have three different connections! But I imagine hero of the day J.Schoenfelt and his little team could make a magical little board, plugging into the 68000 slot and onto denise, with a small cable running to the expansion slot. (After all, the three are just next to each other, simply begging for it!)

On the cd32 there should be plenty of room, and just one expansion slot required, plus a cable to the flickerfixer on top of lisa.

Well, I'd say that's enough rambling for one day.

Cheers!
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Old 09 December 2010, 01:19   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fgh View Post
Todays cellphone GPU's are more capable than the playstation 2. So I imagine the 2D graphics performance required to enable 1920x1080 or similar resolution should be available from cellphone-sized chips.
Cellphone sized chips eh...

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What else than GPU and RAM would a simple graphics card consist of?
DC-DC power regulation. Data bus voltage converters. FPGA/CPLD to implement a data bus bridge (680x0 to PCI/PCIe). Possibly a Video DAC if it is not integrated into GPU.

Quote:
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By the way, how unrealistic would a 1920x1080 desktop resolution be on an old amiga upgraded with 68030 and a modern RTG card?
I guess it depends where the scene composition was taking place. I speculate that you are limited to how Picasso96 works to a double frame buffer with hardware blitter. Perhaps you could map areas of the GPU RAM as FastRAM but I'm sure that 1920x1080 requires considerably higher bandwidth than is possible to push an entire screens worth of pixels around in one VBL using the 030 data bus.

I honestly don't know how this stuff works in general, let alone the Amiga world.

Oliver A will know. I'm curious to know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fgh View Post
I can just imagine such a machine, booting up to a nice whdload frontend displayed on the HDTV.
Pointless unless you can display the AGA video data to the HDTV. That means you would need to integrate a scan doubler and monitor switcher into the design too!

You're leaving the realms of what is practical and entering NatAmi territory.

Last edited by alexh; 09 December 2010 at 01:27.
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