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Old 10 March 2021, 23:10   #1
eXeler0
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Most bang for the buck new Amiga open Hardware motherboard

There are lots of very interesting projects out there with "straight up" replacement motherboards for various Amiga models and then there are those that improve on the original stuff..
Like this one, Amiga 1200+
https://bitbucket.org/jvandezande/am...00/src/master/
Or the AA3000+ and 1100 and others...etc.. so much nice stuff..

Got me thinking, what would be the best bang for the buck design for a hybrid motherboard that:
-Fit in a readily available and affordable case (say the 500 or 1200)
-Use as much original hardware as possible/reasonable
-use the actual Amiga chipset, AGA would be nice but it needs to be easy enough to scout.
-use original Amiga ROMs?
-Most bang for the buck in performance... Say a 040 chip directly on the motherboard.
-cheap ram (maybe DDR3?)
-maybe use something else for fun, (maybe the 3210 DSP to get it to more users that the lucky few with A3000 cases) (but have no idea about availability of this thing)
-Some sort of flicker fixer built in.
-uses standard Amiga PSUs.
-uses several of the old relevant ports but other could be abandoned.. (serial, external disk drive..) Add USB instead..

Any thoughts on what the optimal most bang for the buck and using available parts (and not something you need to spend 3 years scouting on ebay) Amiga hybrid mobo would look like?
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Old 10 March 2021, 23:40   #2
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The problem is the feature creep in these type of projects.

I would be extremely happy if I could somehow send my old A1200 motherboard and pay to get in return a new A1200 motherboard that had an ATX/ITX form factor and power supply adapter so that I could rehouse it in a PC case of my choice and also prevent any cap issues along the way.

Everything else would be a welcomed bonus feature (accelerated cpu, extra ram, extra clockports, Zorro II slots, adapters, etc.).
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Old 10 March 2021, 23:43   #3
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Most bang for the buck new Amiga open Hardware motherboard

I'd also like to see a machine with a 68040 and fast memory controller on board. In my opinion, the 040 is largely underrated. It's a very decent processor that you don't need to sell both your kidneys to get...

Last edited by torsti76; 10 March 2021 at 23:50.
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Old 11 March 2021, 01:47   #4
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Originally Posted by gulliver View Post
The problem is the feature creep in these type of projects.

I would be extremely happy if I could somehow send my old A1200 motherboard and pay to get in return a new A1200 motherboard that had an ATX/ITX form factor and power supply adapter so that I could rehouse it in a PC case of my choice and also prevent any cap issues along the way.

Everything else would be a welcomed bonus feature (accelerated cpu, extra ram, extra clockports, Zorro II slots, adapters, etc.).
This was done with the 4000. It would be great to have this option for all original Amiga versions. The schematics are all out there. Could probably be done if someone were to put their mind to it.

https://hackaday.com/2018/08/22/an-i...0-motherboard/
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Old 11 March 2021, 09:03   #5
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This was one of my goals when I started my Raemixx500 project. I felt the first step for any improved version was to have solid schematics to start from, so the first version had to be 1:1 (or with trivial modifications) in order to be easily tested and got to work. I also had a thread to discuss new features that would have been integrated in the following versions.

The problem is that I didn't want to do this alone. I released the project as open hardware in the hope that someone would join the effort and help with testing and improvement process. Nobody did so far. People ask, ask and ask (or even make fun of you: "oooohhh, look, another boring A500 mainboard! Still 1MB chip RAM and pathetic 68000...", no one realizes they can help make this particular one better), but when they are called to help, they run away just as quickly.

And before anyone says: no, you don't need particular knowledge to help. Even just getting the board made and assembled would help.

Last edited by SukkoPera; 11 March 2021 at 09:19.
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Old 11 March 2021, 10:20   #6
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As I wrote yesterday already (but Tapatalk decided to delete while editing my post) is that the Akiko32 project isn't very far from the wishes of the OP:
It's got a standard PC form factor (Mini ITX), a 68030 on board and uses Akiko to create a fully functioning AGA machine with only the essential subset of necessary custom chips.
Also, the author is already developing extensions like ethernet.
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Old 11 March 2021, 13:14   #7
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I commented before regarding "new" or "remake" hardware with the same with most of the posters here.

We have 5 camps of Amiga users now:

1 - Classic REAL Hardware - hard to find, $$$$$, and NEEDS replacement parts. Fixed and dying population of these.
2 -Clones - straight up replacement for Classics. Still needs many of the same chips, again less and less chipsets available.
3 - Remakes - modified forms of the above with consideration for NEW technology, but keeps it nearly hardware accurate with real chipsets and has options such as USB, SDCARD or CF as HD onboard, HDMI output. Still has limited availability due to lack of REAL Amiga chipsets in the market.
4 -FPGA - "unlimited availability" and needs more developers to tune for accuracy, performance and expandability.
5 - Emulated via software on ANOTHER platform - same as FPGA market really but with way more scaling. Possibly the largest "active" population of Amiga users - Desktops, Mobiles, Tablets, Consoles, VM, Edge Computing, Hosted Cloud, etc... whatever else UAE can be ported to really.

If one wants to focus on GROWTH of the market, 4 and 5 would be easiest because of costs vs performance and expandability.

I would really like to have option 3, same as the OP, scalable platform using mostly off the shelf components, modern platform casings, modern USB, HDMI with an adapter for classic ports such as DB23 to CRT monitors or 9 pin joysticks, but real ECS/AGA on a stick for metal banging nostalgia.

Sadly, even REAL high performance CPUs are SO expensive, not to mention hard to find chipsets (ECS,AGA,CIA, etc...) that it would be much more scalable and feasible to go with options 4 and 5.

For every 100 bux we spend on real HW, if we all put that money, even half of it to WinUAE or FPGA development, we can do much more... Maybe add DSP finally, or even create a REAL but Virtual AAA Amiga out of it as a platform.

For all the Naysayers about Virtual Platform, look at PICO! That thing existed initially ONLY in "The Matrix" but now has VM Hardware support and a STRONG developer plus user base, and is growing.

If the market is big enough, we can then look at hardware versions like Spectrum NEXT, but I am going OT here.

Think about it.

Last edited by Valken; 11 March 2021 at 17:02. Reason: fixing grammar!
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Old 11 March 2021, 13:19   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SukkoPera View Post
This was one of my goals when I started my Raemixx500 project. I felt the first step for any improved version was to have solid schematics to start from, so the first version had to be 1:1 (or with trivial modifications) in order to be easily tested and got to work. I also had a thread to discuss new features that would have been integrated in the following versions.

The problem is that I didn't want to do this alone. I released the project as open hardware in the hope that someone would join the effort and help with testing and improvement process. Nobody did so far. People ask, ask and ask (or even make fun of you: "oooohhh, look, another boring A500 mainboard! Still 1MB chip RAM and pathetic 68000...", no one realizes they can help make this particular one better), but when they are called to help, they run away just as quickly.

And before anyone says: no, you don't need particular knowledge to help. Even just getting the board made and assembled would help.
Hello SukkoPera, yes your own work is also very much the inspiration here.
As I'm trying to "collect" all ongoing Indie projects in my Wiki
https://exretro.com/amiga_ihp_wiki/doku.php?id=start
I get the feeling the problem isn't that there isn't enough talented people who have the will, knowledge and even time top create these amazing projects.
Practically every motherboard has been reworked by now.. But the one thing I reflect over is that such cool projects like the "1100"
http://www.retrowiki.es/viewtopic.php?t=200036585
only have a limited number of potential users due to the nische form factor.
So basically, a lot of work that will unfortunately only benefit a small number of people.
And its of course perfectly ok to do things for one self o solve a particular issue/problem withouth thinking about what others want (in fact many projects probably succeed
*because* they are done exactly as the creator wants it to be.. ) .. but if it can also benefit more people then that's a nice bonus I think.
So regarding the help with your Raemixx 500 board, it might simply be that all these people who have the know how are involved in their own projects at the moment.. So who knows, what might happen in the future.
The Akiko32 project is also similar you yours as the dev is willing to open source the design to encourage further development etc.

So if we disregard from the "when" and just look at the "what" then who knows, that might some day serve as inspiration for further developments for someone down the road.
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Old 11 March 2021, 14:11   #9
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Originally Posted by Valken View Post
4 -FPGA - "unlimited availability" and needs more developers to tune for accuracy, performance and expandability.

If one wants to focus on GROWTH of the market, 4 and 5 would be easiest because of costs vs performance and expandability.
So where is our FPGA "Ultimate Amiga"?

Thinking about the Ultimate 64. I have one, love it. It is a faithful recreation of a C64, I can plug in actual old C64 hardware expansions and they will work. It can be faster, it also implements many nice things like faster cpu, ram expansions etc.

Nothing like this for the Amiga. If you're satisfied with a games console FPGA Amiga, then you're all set. If I want to plug in a SCSI controller or even a serial port MIDI box, FPGA Amigas don't deliver.

Wish I was capable of designing that FPGA Amiga replacement.
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Old 11 March 2021, 14:42   #10
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The C64 market is very different to the Amiga.

Personally, I dont see the justification of the Ultimate64.
C64 is still plentifull and cheap, you can buy two (or more) complete and working units for the price of an Ultimate (I recently bought a working C64C for 35EUR).
Add a floppy solution like SD2IEC or Pi1541 for ~30EUR more and you got everything covered.
Want to go crazy? get a 1541Ultimate, still a cheaper solution than the U64 and no bugs or accuracy issues (the U64 is not 100% accurate yet).

With Amiga its very different, prices are high and keep on rising, expansions are also expensive.
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Old 11 March 2021, 17:13   #11
Valken
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Originally Posted by Jope View Post
So where is our FPGA "Ultimate Amiga"?

Thinking about the Ultimate 64. I have one, love it. It is a faithful recreation of a C64, I can plug in actual old C64 hardware expansions and they will work. It can be faster, it also implements many nice things like faster cpu, ram expansions etc.

Nothing like this for the Amiga. If you're satisfied with a games console FPGA Amiga, then you're all set. If I want to plug in a SCSI controller or even a serial port MIDI box, FPGA Amigas don't deliver.

Wish I was capable of designing that FPGA Amiga replacement.
I am not a hardware engineer, but I have friends and colleagues who are. Also, there are a few here.

How hard would it be to create a daughter board that has the old DB23, 2x or 4x DB9 joystic, SCART, composite output, audio out, serial and parallel ports? Based on a bills of materials, I do not think these are actually that expensive to fab up a few 100 boards, IF THE MARKET EXISTS.

But then we fall down the rabbit hole...

How about IDE?
How about SCSI as you said? <-only A3000 and A4000T had this by default!
How about a Zorro II or III backplane?
How about a PCI type daughter board or at least compatible to existing adapters to support classic and new 3rd party hardware?
And etc...

But with a FPGA base, we can at least embed some expansion hardware investment upfront - scan doubler, better audio (emulated in hardware), RTG, CF or IDE port or even IDE/SCSI to USB storage, networking = Ethernet or WiFi, and etc...

The other way would be to create that daughter board and expansion board over standard parts such as USB 3.0, so FPGA and desktops "running UAE as a glorified FPGA really", to access all those real classic hardware components.

Actually, I think the Vampire and Mister are awesome projects. They should just think forward and consider potential for that expansion board as the next setup to build up the market.
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Old 11 March 2021, 17:23   #12
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Originally Posted by UberFreak View Post
With Amiga its very different, prices are high and keep on rising, expansions are also expensive.
It's actually not all that different. If you have purchased a C64 recently for 35E then you were very lucky. Its prices rise the same like all other hardware, especially during the recent crazy times. Which is all the more reason why it'd be nice to have an Ultimate FPGA Amiga, as per Jope's description.

The only problem is, it'd probably cost an arm and leg as well. But if somebody could produce an A1200-like below 300E then I think it could be quite popular.
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Old 14 March 2021, 11:22   #13
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As the OP let me get back to the purpose of the thread as it lost its fokus here. I was hoping to get some constructive feedback on a specsheet for what would be the most cost effective design for a more powerful "generic Amiga" replacement board.

Example: Something like this:
---------------------------------------------------
• Amiga 500 case compatible motherboard
• Uses A500 keyboard
• Uses Socketed OCS/ECS
• 1/2MB ChipRAM
• Motorola 68040 socket on motherboard
• 128 DDR3 SDRAM on Motherboard
• IDE
Simple USB for Mice etc..


Outputs:
RGB out
Audio: Stereo Out
Parallel port
Serial port
No external floppy port – Instead, a custom plate for HDMI connector (for hooking up Denise – Raspberry Pi Zero mod. ) and an USB connector.
2 standard joystick ports.
Standard Amiga PSU connector
------------------------------------------------------

The upgrade would be for those who say have an A500 and already have lots of the components.. but maybe mobo is failing or there is no good upgrade path that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. A500 is a good choicer since its pretty much the only Amiga that is readily available and affordable. (And there are new cases coming + new keycaps, so its possible to get a fresh/new look)
And there's a lot of similar open hardware work done already by SukkoPera, the Akiko32 team, but also Jeroen Vandezande, Hese + many more, so hopefully there are things that don't have to be done from scratch.
Anyway, it's likely this might never happen but as a thought experiment, it would nice to know what to do and what to avoid from an availability and cost reducing perspective for such a project. Some basic principles would be guiding decisions and feature creep wouldn't be allowed to happen to any major extent.

Cheers
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Old 15 March 2021, 00:26   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eXeler0 View Post
Got me thinking, what would be the best bang for the buck design for a hybrid motherboard that:
-Fit in a readily available and affordable case (say the 500 or 1200)
A500 and A1200 cases are not that readily available. Ditto keyboards.

Quote:
-Use as much original hardware as possible/reasonable
-use the actual Amiga chipset,
Yes. I have a faulty A500 motherboard, but all the plug-in chips are OK so I would like to put them in another board. But I don't have an A500 case or keyboard and don't want to buy them at today's inflated prices.

Quote:
-use original Amiga ROMs?
Yes.

Quote:
-Most bang for the buck in performance... Say a 040 chip directly on the motherboard.
I would rather have a 68000 socket that an accelerator card can be plugged into. If the board will be used in an A500 case then the CPU should be positioned further back to clear the keyboard.

Quote:
-cheap ram (maybe DDR3?)
Standard DRAM is cheap. How much do you need? 8MB FastRAM would be plenty enough for me (any more would reside on an accelerator card).

Quote:
-maybe use something else for fun, (maybe the 3210 DSP to get it to more users that the lucky few with A3000 cases) (but have no idea about availability of this thing)
I don't think DSP would be much fun because it is quite foreign to the Amiga architecture.

If you are putting a 32 bit CPU on the motherboard then consider providing high speed 32 bit ChipRAM access and a fast hardware C2P solution.

Quote:
-Some sort of flicker fixer built in.
Yes!

Quote:
-uses standard Amiga PSUs.
Yes.

Quote:
-uses several of the old relevant ports but other could be abandoned.. (serial, external disk drive..) Add USB instead..
Get rid of those ports and you might be able to replace the CIA chips with a CPLD. USB perhaps, but an onboard IDE port (with 2 channels) would be enough for me.

What I want is a 'shrunk A500' motherboard with all the essential custom chips in sockets, but without unnecessary stuff like rs232 drivers etc. that took up so much room on the original A500 motherboard, and no external serial, parallel, or disk drive ports. It could use higher density DRAM and surface mount buffer chips etc. to save more space, a four layer board to make it more compact, and no EMI components to save more space and time building it.

I still want the internal floppy, and Gayle compatible IDE with 2 channels. The keyboard interface should work with an A500 internal or A2000/3000/4000 external keyboard. The motherboard should fit in a 'standard' slimline PC case or a shallower A1000 style case. The CPU expansion bus (if kept) should allow the use of a 'riser card' like the A3000/4000 had, or alternatively slots that suit a modern slimline PC case.

This would essentially be the cost-reduced A500 replacement 'gaming' computer that Commodore should/might have designed if they hadn't made the A600.
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Old 15 March 2021, 09:19   #15
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I have been thinking about something like this as well.
Sort of how an Amiga 600 should have been.
What I came up with:
- IDE interface (or another HDD solution, this is a real must)
- 32 bit access into chipram a-la A3000. This speeds up everything graphics related while staying compatible.
- 14MHz clocked 68000 or maybe even an 68020 to take advantage of the 32bit wide access into chipram
- maxed out ranger RAM
- nowadays, a scandoubler / flickerfixer / hdmi solution to connect to modern screen.

In short, a modestly expanded (but certainly faster) A500+ that is still fully compatible.
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Old 15 March 2021, 14:09   #16
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@bruce abbott A500 and a1200 keyboards could be made available. They could also be USB compatible. (i could probably do something for that area). I would like an a500 that has updated features, SMD and updated features like RGB2HDMI. On board Gotek (i do have a fully functional gotek design that can be implanted).the RGB2HDMI can have the chips on board and a header provided for a pi to sit on top

The question is, how far do you want to deviate from the original Amiga chipset. For me, the compatibility of games need to be 1:1 for the specific game in question by using the ability of a Rom changer that allows the user to switch between them.

I would be willing to help in asembly and general input, i just don't have enough time to start from scratch.
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Old 15 March 2021, 21:18   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Abbott View Post
A500 and A1200 cases are not that readily available. Ditto keyboards.

Yes. I have a faulty A500 motherboard, but all the plug-in chips are OK so I would like to put them in another board. But I don't have an A500 case or keyboard and don't want to buy them at today's inflated prices.

Yes.

I would rather have a 68000 socket that an accelerator card can be plugged into. If the board will be used in an A500 case then the CPU should be positioned further back to clear the keyboard.

Standard DRAM is cheap. How much do you need? 8MB FastRAM would be plenty enough for me (any more would reside on an accelerator card).

I don't think DSP would be much fun because it is quite foreign to the Amiga architecture.

If you are putting a 32 bit CPU on the motherboard then consider providing high speed 32 bit ChipRAM access and a fast hardware C2P solution.

Yes!

Yes.

Get rid of those ports and you might be able to replace the CIA chips with a CPLD. USB perhaps, but an onboard IDE port (with 2 channels) would be enough for me.

What I want is a 'shrunk A500' motherboard with all the essential custom chips in sockets, but without unnecessary stuff like rs232 drivers etc. that took up so much room on the original A500 motherboard, and no external serial, parallel, or disk drive ports. It could use higher density DRAM and surface mount buffer chips etc. to save more space, a four layer board to make it more compact, and no EMI components to save more space and time building it.

I still want the internal floppy, and Gayle compatible IDE with 2 channels. The keyboard interface should work with an A500 internal or A2000/3000/4000 external keyboard. The motherboard should fit in a 'standard' slimline PC case or a shallower A1000 style case. The CPU expansion bus (if kept) should allow the use of a 'riser card' like the A3000/4000 had, or alternatively slots that suit a modern slimline PC case.

This would essentially be the cost-reduced A500 replacement 'gaming' computer that Commodore should/might have designed if they hadn't made the A600.
Regarding the availability of cases. The a500 was the model that by far outsold all other Amiga models, so its not scarce yet AFAIK and some 1000 new cases are coming (and when the backers get them, they might put a bunch of the old ones onto the market).
(Kipper2k already mention the keyboard situation.)

For something that is already very similar to a straight replacement board there are options like this one already :
https://www.tindie.com/products/bobs...0-replica-pcb/
And Sukko's work on the A500 board of course.

For those who want something for a cheap PC ITX case, there are options too. Like this one:
https://www.amibay.com/showthread.ph...71-Amy-ITX-Kit
or the previously mentioned Akiko32..
http://www.akiko.computer/

So the idea here was to fantasize about getting the most "bang" out of the board without the need to but much other new stuff if you're an A500 owner and then having to further expand it with 5 other things like we do today.
At the same time, trying to keep cost down by using clever solutions like the cheap RGB2HDMI Denise "hack" rather than having to buy a €150 indivisi*n or do some other fancy custom solution just so that you can hook up the Amiga to the TV with a decent image.
And building/production should be "easy enough".
There is probably a good (technical) reason for why so many projects use the 030 and not the 040 but it would be interesting to see a design that uses this IMO underrated, cheap and easily available chip that beats all 030+FPU configs at a lower chip-price. (compared to adding a 040 card to a 500++ board.)

Aaanyhoo, just thinking out loud here...

Cheers
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Old 15 March 2021, 21:55   #18
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You are underestimating a huge point: such a thing MUST be open source if you want it to survive past the temporary interest of someone. It MUST be possible for anyone to pick it up and improve it in the future. Really, please make this a FUNDAMENTAL point of this thing.

At the moment, there is public knowledge and ready-to-use stuff to put together an A500-format mainboard with a 68030 CPU, 68882 FPU, 2 MB of Chip RAM, pretty much as much Fast RAM as desired, onboard Gotek, IDE port, maybe Ethernet port and SD card support, adapters for almost any kind of controller ever made, PC floppy drives, Dual PAL/NTSC variable clock, PC keyboard/mouse adapters.

It's all there, public and open. It's just waiting for someone to just stop bragging around and set to put it all together.
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Old 15 March 2021, 23:17   #19
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I've been working on this over two years now.
First prototype should be two more weeks for an enhanced CD32.

AT&T 3210 is an out of production dead end.
STM32 is used on the Gotek and also chosen by the Polish Warp 060 guys. The big dady version of that MicroController Unit family is the STM32H757 dual core which has both 480MHz ARM M7 core and little 240MHz ARM M4 core.
This chip would be a good periphraal replacement for CIA's, as a CPU coprocessor and also superior DSP to 3210. However I'm not a coder, so I don't know which DSP is nice to code with.

We are running out of chips. For a little while longer we can use old chips. But soon we need to replace the old chips with CPLD's and FPGA's.

I am opposed to putting an entire Amiga into one chip. Instead of like a musical orchestra its like a street busker in clown makeup with 5 musical instruments and cymbals strapped between your knees.

FPGA and CPLD can be used sensibly. We are not limited to 84 pins.
Alice and Lisa should be combined into one FPGA with the OSSC (open soure scan converter) routines incorporated to upscale old modes to new screens.

I bought 2,000 SCSI chips, but need new firmware for two new chips not previously used on Amiga. Adaptec aic33c95az and NCR 53c720 which is the one chip between A4091's 53c710 and CyberSCSI 53c770. Anyone out there able to write firmware for these?

I'm incorporating PCI in my designs. I don't know why others are not also.
Picasso IV clone is nearly done, though I've not worked on it since September.. I've got PCI card for the GD5480 Alpine GPU which is the chip up from the one used on Picasso IV, but not yet the Amiga to connect it.

We need to support normal standards. Firstly our own established Amiga standards, secondly the rest of the computer industry too. USB and SATA for example.
Have a look at the Cypress CY7C68013a USB controller chip.

I will open source my design maybe 8-18 months after I first get exclusive on selling my own design before others sell it on ebay too. I've spent $10,000+ on this so far and guess I'll never recoup it fully, but am dearly looking forward to resusitating the Amiga a bit more and supporting others passion to also do their bit to revive our beautiful machine :-)
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Old 15 March 2021, 23:43   #20
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Wink

Quote:
Originally Posted by eXeler0 View Post
There is probably a good (technical) reason for why so many projects use the 030 and not the 040 but it would be interesting to see a design that uses this IMO underrated, cheap and easily available chip that beats all 030+FPU configs at a lower chip-price
Yes there is a technical reason for it.
The 32bit Amiga designs are 030 motherboards. They use 030 to 040 translation glue logic to use the 040 and 060 chips. I think the Draco was the only ever native 040 Amiga to be made.
I'm working on a 32bit A2000 motherboard which is 040 native with PCI native in parallel with Zorro3, hopefully using the new Super Buster chip when Dave Haynie gets that done.

68K chips were done in pairs.

68000 and 68010 have same bus.
020 and 030 have the same bus.
040 and 060 have the same.

But each pair is different from the other pairs.

030 and 040 data and address lines are the same, but its the control lines which are different. I hired a technical writer to edit my documentation into a single document and currently have a 100+ page manual mostly taken from Motorola, IDT, Cypress, AMD, and various other sources on how to deal with the 030 and 040 buses.
Zorro 3 is not yet included.

The 3.3 volt MC68040V chip made by Freescale looks to be our temporary solution. The downside is that it lacks and FPU.

But I was thinking that if it were combined with an STM32 MCU which acted as is FPU (and DSP, and DDR3 memory controller, and... and.. and) then it would bring the 040 back up to scratch.

I have the hardware designs, but I'm not a coder and these things need firmware to run. And also Amiga drivers for the Operating System to make use of the new features.

By the way, as an alternative to the STM32 DSP, the powerful Texas Instruments 32c6xxx series has documentation on connecting to the MC68360 used in telecommuniations last century.

If you want to see some new Amiga hardware then come to the next Melbourne Amiga User Group meeting in a couple of weeks
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