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Old 27 March 2014, 14:34   #1
strim
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New 4MB PCMCIA SRAM cards - any interest in the community?

Hi members.

I've have co-designed a new PCMCIA SRAM memory card with the following features:

- Adds 4MB of Fast RAM to Amiga 600 or Amiga 1200
- Built using modern, high performance 55ns SRAM ICs
- Very simple installation - just insert the card into PCMCIA slot on the left side of Amiga
- Compatible with all PCMCIA friendly accelerators and memory expansions*
- Usable as memory expansion or temporary virtual hard disk (contents are not preserved when Amiga is powered off)
- Socket for optional battery-backed attribute memory M48Z08
- Made by Amigans for Amigans!

* - We did our best to ensure that this card works on as many configurations as possible, but some accelerator and Fast RAM expansion designs are inherently incompatible with PCMCIA slot if more than 4MB of memory is installed (for example Apollo/Elbox/Viper 1230LC, M-Tec 1230/28, Blizzard 1220, 8MB Fast expansions without processor).

The card currently is in a state of prototype and we (me and jarob) are thinking about making a batch of these cards. So we'd like to gain some understanding about how much of an interest there is in the community. Please don't treat this thread as pre-order yet, I merely want to get some idea how many people would be interested in getting such card. If you are potentially interested in buying it, let us know here!

The card project is open source and we will publish all the final schematics and PCB projects too.

See https://github.com/rkujawa/ppa-pcmcia-sram .
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Old 27 March 2014, 15:09   #2
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I would be interested in one for sure. I have a 2MB PCMCIA card today that I use all the time when repairing A1200/A600. Excellent way to quickly pop a bit more ram in there.

Also, they are pricey as hell today. Getting the price down a bit would be nice.
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Old 27 March 2014, 15:22   #3
Predseda
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I have a question. Although I prefer accelerators and 4MB PCMCIA SRAM in my A600 was a temporary solution in meantime, it still could be useable in some situations. The main problem with classic PCMCIA cards is their lenght. They are just too long and so vulnerable for using in shallow Amiga PCMCIA slots. Would it be possible to build short version, that would look out from the side of the A600 / 1200 for some 1cm only instead that full-lenght and thus unpractical PC cards? I think this is the great opportunity to make handy hardware from Amigans for Amigans!

I would also appreciate if someone would invent short Compactflash to PCMCIA reduction, that would be short.
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Old 27 March 2014, 15:49   #4
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Maybe if it was a combined SRAM / Wificard
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Old 27 March 2014, 16:27   #5
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PCMCIA RAM in an A1200 is a bad idea as it actually slows the system down.
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Old 27 March 2014, 16:33   #6
ShK
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DDNI View Post
PCMCIA RAM in an A1200 is a bad idea as it actually slows the system down.
But it could use a bootable system disk. It is also very fast compared to the motherboard IDE.

http://www.a1k.org/forum/showpost.ph...8&postcount=55
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Old 27 March 2014, 16:37   #7
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I guess it all depends on its price - if it's going to be cheaper than most 4MB/8MB expansions, then I guess it could spark interest from the community... if it's going to cost the same, then I don't see much use for it (especially because you're blocking the PCMCIA for other uses, like card readers for transferring files and ethernet/wifi), sadly.
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Old 27 March 2014, 16:52   #8
alexh
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I guess it all comes down to price.

I don't know why but the price of PCMCIA SRAM cards have exploded. $140 for 4Mbyte cards!

The Amiga market wouldn't be your only market. The Apple Newton uses these cards as does several 1980's Synthesisers and lots of industrial devices.
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Old 27 March 2014, 17:28   #9
strim
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Quote:
Also, they are pricey as hell today. Getting the price down a bit would be nice.
I'd love to keep the price at 50 EUR, but a lot depends on the amount of interested people.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DDNI View Post
PCMCIA RAM in an A1200 is a bad idea as it actually slows the system down.
Recently some tests were made on PPA forum that proved this not to be true. Even 16-bit PCMCIA SRAM card does NOT slow the system down (compared to unexpanded A1200) as long as the card is 100ns or faster.

Quote:
The main problem with classic PCMCIA cards is their lenght. They are just too long and so vulnerable for using in shallow Amiga PCMCIA slots. Would it be possible to build short version, that would look out from the side of the A600 / 1200 for some 1cm only instead that full-lenght and thus unpractical PC cards?
Not sure yet, so far we only have the prototype which is actually a bit bigger. But the final production card won't have all the debugging pins and could have much tighter design. We'll remember about that, as many people wish to have a smaller card.
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Old 27 March 2014, 18:03   #10
jbenam
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As alexh said, keeping it 1:1 similar to the original form factor will open up a LOT of other uses for your project and you could start gathering for interest in those other niches too.

Having a product which is directed to many different uses will certainly raise the orders, which will in turn lower the price for everyone. It's a Win-Win situation!

Anyway, keep in mind that there are cheaper alternatives around for expanding an A600, and most Amigans will probably go for those. PCMCIA SRAM might've been a great idea back in the day, but nowadays with cheap internal expansions readily available its use cases have been reduced greatly.

Just my 2c
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Old 27 March 2014, 22:14   #11
strim
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Photos of prototype PCB:
Top
Bottom

Keep in mind this is prototype, the final PCB will look different.
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Old 28 March 2014, 00:27   #12
prowler
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I'll be interested in one of these when they're ready.

Thanks for making the effort to develop this accessory for us!
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Old 28 March 2014, 10:01   #13
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Looks like you were planning to add extra functionality beyond SRAM
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Old 28 March 2014, 10:23   #14
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For A600 users I guess this offer WHD load to 68000 purists. It doesn't offer value for money though.
ACA620 will actually make your A600 usable. With 020, actually fast ram, maprom and more for 99 Eurodollars.
Correct me if I'm wrong but SRAM doesn't work with ACA620 or kipper2k ram expansion?
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Old 28 March 2014, 10:53   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lukassid View Post
For A600 users I guess this offer WHD load to 68000 purists. It doesn't offer value for money though.
ACA620 will actually make your A600 usable. With 020, actually fast ram, maprom and more for 99 Eurodollars.
Correct me if I'm wrong but SRAM doesn't work with ACA620 or kipper2k ram expansion?

It will work with Kippers 4mb Ram for sure and possibly the 8mb version jumpered to 5.5mb

The ACA620 is supposed to be PCMCIA friendly although I know some people have had issues using PCMCIA, it would need to be tested.

It will be particularly useful if you have one of the 4mb Viper 630's, they're great fast cards but the limitation of 4mb lets them down.

Agreed the ACA620 is great value for money, but not everyone wants to spent €99 on their A600.
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Old 28 March 2014, 11:31   #16
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It is also very fast compared to the motherboard IDE.
Nope, getting similar speeds here on my A1200 (2.7MB/sec)
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Old 28 March 2014, 11:50   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexh View Post
Looks like you were planning to add extra functionality beyond SRAM
We can't comment on that for now . There's a chance for more advanced version in the future, but I don't want to talk about this now because people might not want to buy the current version (Amiga community always likes to wait for something). And the future version probably won't happen if the current version won't sell . So lets save this talk for the time after first batch was sold out.

Quote:
It doesn't offer value for money though.
ACA620 (...) for 99 Eurodollars.
Well, our card will hopefully be half this price. We won't be making a fortune here anyway, 50 EUR barely covers the cost of components and production.

Quote:
It will work with Kippers 4mb Ram for sure and possibly the 8mb version jumpered to 5.5mb
Yes, it should work as long as there's not more than 4MB autoconfiguring Fast RAM on the CPU.

24-bit address space is the limiting factor here. 0x600000 to 0x9FFFFF is used by both PCMCIA and some Fast RAM expansions / accelerators. Of course this causes problems. For example one could use our SRAM card with ACA620, but only after disabling 4MB of Fast on it (not much point in doing so). With ACA630 there's no such problem, as ACA630 has 68030, so full 32-bit address space (so our card can work just fine, even though ACA630 already has 32MB or 64MB ).

Certainly our SRAM card offers best value for owners of bare unexpanded A600 and A1200 (or expanded with just 4MB internal expansion).
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Old 28 March 2014, 12:43   #18
ShK
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thorham View Post
Nope, getting similar speeds here on my A1200 (2.7MB/sec)
Of course, it depends on the speed of SRAM card, but the bus itself is much faster.

A1200:
IDE (PIO 0) ~ 3 MB / s
PCMCIA ~ 16 MB / s

http://www.a1k.org/forum/showpost.ph...97&postcount=4

The same CF card:
IDE 1,5-1,6 MB/s
PCMCIA 2,1-2,2 MB/s

http://www.a1k.org/forum/showpost.ph...44&postcount=2
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Old 28 March 2014, 13:20   #19
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Of course, it depends on the speed of SRAM card, but the bus itself is much faster.
Right, but I'm still getting 2.7MB/sec with an eight year old 40 gigabyte HD. I wonder how that works.
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Old 28 March 2014, 13:34   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thorham View Post
Right, but I'm still getting 2.7MB/sec with an eight year old 40 gigabyte HD. I wonder how that works.
Whats your Amiga setup?

System, Turbo Board, OS, SCSI.Device, any other Patches? Stock IDE only? Would be interesting to see a bench mark from SysSpeed
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