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Old 02-16-2012, 12:03 PM   #1
blakespot
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Default Why no Amiga equiv to Firebee?

Why is there no Coldfire-based Amiga project underway, like the Firebee that the Atari ST folks have going?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGHCi6gBj8c

Or...is there?




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Old 02-16-2012, 12:10 PM   #2
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Default Re: Why no Amiga equiv to Firebee?

We've Minimig, FPGA-Arcade and someday Natami. So yes, there are plenty similar options for far less money and... well, Amiga, not AtariST, wich is better itself like it was in the 80's
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Old 02-16-2012, 12:24 PM   #3
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Default Re: Why no Amiga equiv to Firebee?

Still, the extended rez / colors on a 68000-based unit are pretty sweet:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HURSMZg98ZE



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Old 02-16-2012, 01:27 PM   #4
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Default Re: Why no Amiga equiv to Firebee?

Quote:
Originally Posted by blakespot View Post
Still, the extended rez / colors on a 68000-based unit are pretty sweet:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HURSMZg98ZE



bp
Although Natami is still viporware, it is the closest thing (probably better) we will get to firebee.
Most progress is keep quiet, but they do give glimpses into their work.
This picture below is taken from Rune Stensland with a Native Amiga Screen mode at H=2040 x W=1280 ?? (cant make it out).
It has 256 colors but following the thread they mention Natami is 24bit color (16 million), the screen mode software hasnt been written for it yet
Rune also says his Natami boots from a CF card into workbench in 2 seconds.

http://a5.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphot...45499285_n.jpg
Threads:
http://www.natami.net/knowledge.php?...0&x=0&z=q3T2Ea
http://www.natami.net/knowledge.php?...526&order=&x=1
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Old 02-16-2012, 12:31 PM   #5
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Default Re: Why no Amiga equiv to Firebee?

Quote:
Originally Posted by blakespot View Post
Why is there no Coldfire-based Amiga project underway, like the Firebee that the Atari ST folks have going?
The NatAmi team investigated the Coldfire project years ago and discarded it because it wasn't sufficiently compatible with the 68060. That's why the NatAmi team is working on the N68050 softcore and the FPGArcade Replay board has a softcore also.
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Old 02-16-2012, 01:09 PM   #6
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Default Re: Why no Amiga equiv to Firebee?

And not forgetting the Elbox Dragon!












/Straight face
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Old 02-16-2012, 02:03 PM   #7
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Default Re: Why no Amiga equiv to Firebee?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boot_WB View Post
And not forgetting the Elbox Dragon!

/Straight face

Any...day...now...
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Old 02-16-2012, 01:59 PM   #8
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Default Re: Why no Amiga equiv to Firebee?

http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=55590
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Old 02-16-2012, 02:09 PM   #9
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Default Re: Why no Amiga equiv to Firebee?

Quote:
Originally Posted by blakespot View Post
Why is there no Coldfire-based Amiga project underway, like the Firebee that the Atari ST folks have going?
Simple.
Because the Freescale Coldfire processor family is not completely compatible with the 68000.
Many instructions and addressing modes are not present are other operate differently then they do on the 68K.
These differences require software traps that limit the efficiency of the Coldfire while it tries to emulate a 68K.

That's why the Natami uses a real 68060 or an FPGA emulated 68K CPU.
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Old 02-16-2012, 05:52 PM   #10
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Default Re: Why no Amiga equiv to Firebee?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Iggy View Post
Simple.
Because the Freescale Coldfire processor family is not completely compatible with the 68000.
Many instructions and addressing modes are not present are other operate differently then they do on the 68K.
These differences require software traps that limit the efficiency of the Coldfire while it tries to emulate a 68K.

That's why the Natami uses a real 68060 or an FPGA emulated 68K CPU.
Does anyone know? Have the Atari guys figured out how to make an efficient emulator, or are they taking the performance hit? Or does the Atari use fewer of the 68K instructions that aren't a part of the ColdFire?

(Serious questions - I know close to zero about the Atari)
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Old 02-16-2012, 07:10 PM   #11
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Default Re: Why no Amiga equiv to Firebee?

TOS is still crap but atari scene worry about their machines more than (the dissapeared) amiga scene.
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Old 02-16-2012, 11:16 PM   #12
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Default Re: Why no Amiga equiv to Firebee?

@Matt_H

It is not 100% compatible. It looks like they are going to patch all software they run on that board.

http://www.atarimusic.net/component/...uilt-for-music

Btw it seems they are very capable developers and there are more resources than in an Amiga community.
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Old 02-17-2012, 01:28 AM   #13
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Default Re: Why no Amiga equiv to Firebee?

Piru wrote a nice report on the state of coldfire compatibility with the 68000 it is worth reading (sorry I can't remember the link). But basically, it will still need an emulator to run Amiga software, at which point you would probably consider a fast more modern processor.

I'm finding it hard to be impressed with seeing TOS at various resolutions... I installed GEM on my old PC years ago and I felt like I was using an ST...
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Old 02-17-2012, 05:25 PM   #14
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Default Re: Why no Amiga equiv to Firebee?

+1

I think, and this is only my opinion, what the guy's are doing with the natami softcore will be of far more constructive/compatable with the 68k stuff that we know and love...

@ all

on another thought (I've had a drink now) do we want a computer or a games machine?

Last edited by Abu the monkey; 02-17-2012 at 06:13 PM..
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Old 02-17-2012, 02:19 AM   #15
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Default Re: Why no Amiga equiv to Firebee?

Quote:
Originally Posted by itix View Post
@Matt_H
It is not 100% compatible. It looks like they are going to patch all software they run on that board.
I have read that they patch binaries at run time before they start. It works well enough for 1 Atari compiler but not the other which generates many instructions that need patching. This type of patching would never be 100% on the Amiga because it is difficult to identify small amounts of data as code or data. It's also time consuming on startup. It looks like it's not possible to only trap instructions on the fly. Some problems would be rems/remu using the same encoding as divsl/divul and byte/word sized stack writes being padded to 4 byte alignment (68k is 2 byte alignment).

I think the Natami team made the right choice in going the fpga enhanced 68k with ColdFire route. The ColdFire has some useful additional instructions that increase speed and code density. The ColdFire dropped some powerful 68k instructions and addressing modes that hurt code density. A 68k plus ColdFire CPU will be more powerful than 68k or ColdFire alone with the best code density in the industry while allowing the majority of 68k and ColdFire programs to be used.

Last edited by matthey; 02-18-2012 at 07:30 AM..
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Old 03-31-2012, 01:59 PM   #16
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Default Re: Why no Amiga equiv to Firebee?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt_H View Post
Does anyone know? Have the Atari guys figured out how to make an efficient emulator, or are they taking the performance hit?
I actually own and use a Firebee on a daily basis. The CPU compatibility issue is addressed in several ways:

1. The CF68KLib. This handles almost all illegal instructions. It does degrade performance to some extent. Currently it runs 68k applications about 2.5 times faster than my 60Mhz Milan060.
2. A software 68k emulator for better-than-060 compatibility when needed. This is based on the Musashi 68k-emulator and allows individual processes to run in separate emulated 68k CPUs. They share memory space with the real CPU, and all OS-calls are of course run in native mode.
3. The OS is compiled for the ColdFire, no issues there.
4. Binaries are patched (move.b xx,-(sp), LineA...) when launched.

Most *applications* are running fine with the CF68KLib. Some needs to be run under the 68k-emulator, and quite a few does not work at all.

What's interesting is that the apps that don't work often does this for other reasons than the CPU. I don't know how it's like in the Amiga world, but in the Atari world there's a lot of applications that make assumptions about screen layout, sound hardware, RAM etc and when you create a new computer it's hard to get these things perfectly backwards compatible. I have a Falcon, a Falcon with a 040 accelerator and a Milan060 (Atari clone) and the problem is always the same - the previous generation of software doesn't run or run with problems.

The Firebee in it's current state is a "GEM-machine". It runs GEM applications fast and stable, about 90% of the stuff that runs on my Milan060 also runs on my Firebee.

I would love to have a fast machine with a "real" 060. But currently there it no such thing. Even when running 68k code the Firebee is faster than the fastest 060 (which I think is a Falcon with a 100Mhz CT60). And the 060 is not without issues either.
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Old 03-31-2012, 05:30 PM   #17
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Default Re: Why no Amiga equiv to Firebee?

Thanks joska,
That has to be one of the more interesting posts I've read recently.
I didn't expect the Firebee to perform that well.

Still, you retro fanatics probably ought to stay focused on the FPGA projects. That should have similar performance benefits with possibly better compatibility.
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Old 04-01-2012, 04:49 AM   #18
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Default Re: Why no Amiga equiv to Firebee?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Iggy View Post
Still, you retro fanatics probably ought to stay focused on the FPGA projects. That should have similar performance benefits with possibly better compatibility.
Maybe it's possible to implement a softcore "060" that outperforms a V4E. But currently that seems to be difficult. Also, the V4E does all sorts of stuff that must be replaced if you go for a softcore. E.g. it has a DRAM-controller, ethernet, PCI-controller...

The CPU is only a part of the equation. You need to support all the other legacy hardware too, and maybe even a cycle-exact 68k. If you replace the 68k on a Atari ST or Amiga 500 with a 060 you will still have compatibility problems.

The Coldfire is powerful enough to emulate a 68k in software when you need it. Combine that with implementation of legacy chips in the FPGA and you have a machine that can both be more powerful than a 060/softcore-based AND more compatible.

Don't get me wrong, the Firebee is not perfect. Far from it. Some bad decisions has been made that unfortunately keeps it from being as backwards compatible as it could have been. But the CPU is not the problem.
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