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Old 10-29-2011, 12:27 PM   #1
fishy_fiz
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Default FPGA Arcade and Minimig overview

While Ive kept a rough eye on them, Ive never really been particularly interested in the fpga based amiga clones, but after recent storms here that resulted in roof damage directly above my a1200 and water leaking into it Ive been giving thought as to how Id replace it.

After the problems I had getting ahold of a decent, good value a1200 + accelerator the (potential) accesibility of an fpga based amiga has started to appeal to me.

Could anyone give me a brief overview of the FPGA Arcade and minimig please? What sort of performance cpu performance is available? Also, Im led to believe that chipram can be beyond 2 meg for both? Being that Im interested in making games for ecs/aga this is of interest to me. I assume that some ram chipram bottlenecks are remvoed too and that 64bit reads are "fixed" because of this now? (not all aga machines shipped with fast enough ram to work stabily/reliably if I recall correctly?)

Is there any chance of incompatibilty between one fpga machine with more than 2meg chip
and another assuming software is written to address beyond 2 meg? Also, is UAE with more than 2 meg chip suitable for developing for these systems?

If Im not mistaken, there's currently only minimig available to buy, but fpga arcade isnt too far away? There's also a Minimig ARM based expansion if Im not mistaken?

Thanks in advance.

p.s. Im only really interested in ecs/aga which is why Ive excluded Natami. Im sure it'll be a nice machine, but amithlon is my choice for a powerful 68k/os3.x machine. SAGA is sort of redundant for my interests, so Natami is probably a bit overkill for me.

p.p.s. I appologize if there's a lack of clairty. 5.30am and Ive not slept yet
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Old 10-29-2011, 03:59 PM   #2
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Default Re: FPGA Arcade and Minimig overview

Consider the Minimig pretty much an A500 replacement with a somewhat higher performance (the 68000 on it can be clocked higher, but it's hamstrung by the rest of the system similarly to how a real A500 would be if you) and up to 4MB RAM (shared with the kickstart).

The FPGA Arcade is AGA (plus possibly some extra stuff), has more memory, you will be able to get a daughterboard with a 68060 + ethernet, and the core it comes with (if you don't use the daughterboard 68060) performs like a high end 68030 / low end 68040 at the moment unless they've managed to boost it even more.

I'd wait for the FPGA Arcade at this point for your purposes (with or without the daughterboard). The first run of boards will possibly/likely be available in November (though likely all spoken for). The second run is of ca. 500 boards.
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Old 10-29-2011, 08:59 PM   #3
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Default Re: FPGA Arcade and Minimig overview

No more waiting for FPGA Arcade Replay boards. At least not to order one. It may take MikeJ a few more days/weeks to finish assembling the batch of 48 that he just produced, but he has asked that people email him if they want to purchase one. The price (IIRC) is 229 euros without composite & S-Video output and 249 euros with it included.

MikeJ hand assembles the through hole solder components on the pre-assembled boards and then tests each one before he sends them out, so this takes a little bit of time to do. I am sure he will step in and correct any mistakes I have made in this reply to your questions.

Last weekend I had MikeJ's personal FPGA Arcade Replay board (now mine, as he sold it to me) at the AmiWest 2011 Show and many people got a chance to sit down and play some games with it. Seems Dune II was the game of choice to try out. I was so busy with other things during the show, I forgot to get out my Amiga joysticks and hook them up to the Replay board, so the people playing with it were limited to games that use a mouse.

It is a great little system, but what I like most about it is the inventor and his willingness to listen and provide feedback to potential customers frequently, and his obvious hardware talent coupled with his foresight to provide an expansion connector that he has already designed a daughter card for with a 68060 socket, USB ports, Ethernet and more RAM. MikeJ is a wizard and has got me thinking about selling many of my Classic Amiga systems (not all) and replacing them with the Replay board. It has almost as much expansion possibilities at the not yet released Natami, so I would highly suggest that you get yourself a FPGA Arcade Replay board, or continue to wait for the Natami system.

Edit: I think MikeJ is considering a much larger number of boards for his next batch of FPGA Arcade Replay boards, if enough people show interest in buying one, so if you can't get one of these first 48 boards, it should not be too long a wait to get one from the next batch (maybe a couple of months).
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Old 10-29-2011, 10:21 PM   #4
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Default Re: FPGA Arcade and Minimig overview

@fishy_fiz
The MiniMig would be a downgrade to a lightly expanded 1200 in my opinion. It has some advantages with compatibility to older games, portability and syncing to newer monitors but it has less ports, expandability, compatibility (no 68020), and no AGA. I think the 68000 will continue to be less supported as it's less common for regular users, optimized code for the 68000 doesn't run well on 68020+ (68000 is 16 bit while 68020+ is 32 bit), the code is larger and some common CPU features are missing. The fpgaArcade is really the only option at the moment if you need a "new" 1200 replacement soon. Here's how I see the fpga boards...

MiniMig = Amiga 500 with massively overclocked 68000
fpgaArcade = Amiga 1200 with 030@50MHz or 060 accelerator
Natami = Amiga 4000 with 060 accelerator

An fpga Clone-A from Individual Computers could make a surprise appearance with who knows what specs. The Natami will be fully AGA backward compatible so even if you don't use the new SAGA features, they won't hurt compatibility. It should have a FPU, the best RTG (chunky) support, 3D at some point, and the most expandability but at a significantly higher price.
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Old 10-29-2011, 10:54 PM   #5
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Default Re: FPGA Arcade and Minimig overview

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Originally Posted by matthey View Post
@fishy_fiz
Here's how I see the fpga boards...

MiniMig = Amiga 500 with massively overclocked 68000
fpgaArcade = Amiga 1200 with 030@50MHz or 060 accelerator
Natami = Amiga 4000 with 060 accelerator

An fpga Clone-A from Individual Computers could make a surprise appearance with who knows what specs. The Natami will be fully AGA backward compatible so even if you don't use the new SAGA features, they won't hurt compatibility. It should have a FPU, the best RTG (chunky) support, 3D at some point, and the most expandability but at a significantly higher price.
I am a huge fan of the FPGA Arcade Replay board, but I am puzzled why so many people forget to include the C-one that can also run the MiniMig core (not sure if it needs additional hardware or not), or the Chameleon and few mention the MCC16, when discussions about FPGA based systems that can run AmigaOS1.0 to 3.1.

MiniMig was the first, so it gets remembered, but the FPGA Arcade Replay & Natami seem to get the most attention and the rest are fogotten, or overlooked.

Let's not forget the possibility that the Clone-A may show up some day as well, as Jens has spent a ton of time on it and with his track record of making ideas into real hardware, I would be surprised if he did not put all of that prior effort into a product some day. (I see that you did mention the Clone-A)
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Old 10-30-2011, 02:12 AM   #6
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Default Re: FPGA Arcade and Minimig overview

Quote:
Originally Posted by amigadave View Post
I am a huge fan of the FPGA Arcade Replay board, but I am puzzled why so many people forget to include the C-one that can also run the MiniMig core (not sure if it needs additional hardware or not), or the Chameleon and few mention the MCC16, when discussions about FPGA based systems that can run AmigaOS1.0 to 3.1.

MiniMig was the first, so it gets remembered, but the FPGA Arcade Replay & Natami seem to get the most attention and the rest are fogotten, or overlooked.

Let's not forget the possibility that the Clone-A may show up some day as well, as Jens has spent a ton of time on it and with his track record of making ideas into real hardware, I would be surprised if he did not put all of that prior effort into a product some day. (I see that you did mention the Clone-A)
I have a C-One and it needs an additional "Minimig" card to fit into the CPU slot (it actually has a 68000 on it). I found the Minimig core on it to be flakey to say the least (and I wasn't the only one) which was a bit of a shame as the C-One allowed you to actually use a real 2.5" IDE drive and had more RAM than the Minimig v1.1 (not to mention the VIC, C64, etc cores).

I have the Chameleon64 too, but for now the Minimig core does not detect a joystick plugged into the C64 ports so you can only play games that don't just require the mouse by using "joystick emulation" via a keypad on a PS2 keyboard or using a IR CDTV joypad. Hopefully that will be fixed in a later update.
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Old 10-30-2011, 10:25 AM   #7
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Default Re: FPGA Arcade and Minimig overview

Fpga Amigas need to be supported with updates after they come out. That is why I favor the ones that are created by Amiga enthusiast or companies that have a history of supporting the Amiga and have open specifications and documentation so others can provide support too. I think that the MiniMig, fpgaArcade, Natami and Clone A all look promising in this regard although the fpgaArcade will probably kill the MiniMig for the low end market as it's a much better base Amiga system for the price. The fpgaArcade and Natami don't compete directly as one is low end and the other high end. It would be nice if they could cooperate more on open standards which would make me support them both even more. There is room for the Clone A with a good design for the price as many Individual Computer products are. It would probably take some market share from the fpgaArcade and Natami though.
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Old 10-30-2011, 02:54 PM   #8
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Default Re: FPGA Arcade and Minimig overview

FPGA Arcade has already hit the market.

As for support, there's no absolute need for updates. But there is a need to make it possible to update. Any skilled in hardware logic with a powerful PC can create a updates on their own. That's why schematic etc.. is vital.

And I agree on FPGA Arcade being a A1200 replacement. Maybe it can work as a A3000 / A4000 too? (minus expansion ports)
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Old 10-30-2011, 06:24 PM   #9
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Default Re: FPGA Arcade and Minimig overview

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FPGA Arcade has already hit the market.
For very limited definitions of "hit the market". There's something like 5-6 boards out there now. Last update from Mike was that the rest of the first batch of ca 50 won't be available until mid November. Most or all of those are likely spoken for by those of us that have already e-mailed him, so general availability for people who want to order it is likely still a couple of months away when his next production run is ready.

Quote:
And I agree on FPGA Arcade being a A1200 replacement. Maybe it can work as a A3000 / A4000 too? (minus expansion ports)
Depends what you're looking for, I suppose. With the 68060+ethernet daughterboard, it'll already be more powerful and flexible than most A3000/A4000 setups unless you're willing to spend a lot of money pushing old unreliable expansion cards into an A3000 or A4000.
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Old 10-30-2011, 07:06 PM   #10
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Lightbulb Re: FPGA Arcade and Minimig overview

@Darrin. What happened to those benchmarks you said you were going to do? Did i miss your results you might have put up?

@Everyone. A few people have mentioned prices on the FPGA Arcade. So are we now in a position to guess how much a NatAmi will cost?
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Old 10-30-2011, 09:07 PM   #11
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Default Re: FPGA Arcade and Minimig overview

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@Darrin. What happened to those benchmarks you said you were going to do? Did i miss your results you might have put up?
Which ones? I've been so busy lately that I've hardly been home. I was away for 5 solid weeks, just had a week off where I haven't even switched on a miggie and I'm off to West Texas again tomorrow for 3 and a half weeks. After that I fly to the UK for 10 days (so I should get a chance to call in at AmigaKit), fly back to the USA and hopefully see my wife for the first time in 3 months as she's been down in Australia, have 4 days with her and then head off on another business trip.

Keep reminding me and I'll get around to it.

I actually stopped doing the testing on the different software because I've been expecting a new FPGA Arcade core update and I need a CDTV remote for the Chameleon64.
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Old 10-30-2011, 09:12 PM   #12
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Default Re: FPGA Arcade and Minimig overview

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kesa View Post
@Everyone. A few people have mentioned prices on the FPGA Arcade. So are we now in a position to guess how much a NatAmi will cost?
Sure, we can guess. What currency? It could be much cheaper in many currencies if the Euro dropped in value and I think that is a likely prospect. Either Europe loosens it's fiscal policies (i.e. cuts rates) or the bailed out countries with no GDP growth will devalue the currency from risk. Inflation is better than deflation although it hurts all the little guys but the irresponsible behavior has already been done.

The first Natami's are MX boards with 060 accelerator cards for developers and cost a lot. The production MX boards will probably cost around $1000 U.S. plus or minus several hundred dollars. The 060 accelerator card comes in 2 flavors. Either with a fpga 133MHz MC68060FE SMD (no MMU) mounted or with an empty PGA CPU slot for a PGA 68060. Both have 4MB of SRAM and their own smaller fpga. The latter 060 board could cost $500 and up and the former 060 board you would add the cost of the 060 too. The main MX board can have a quite fast fpga CPU but that isn't running in the fpga yet. Producing the MX board in larger quantities would dramatically lower the price. Either taking large pre-orders or investors and resellers buying large quantities would help. I have no actual knowledge of prices so these are only guesses. Better start saving your money if you want one though . It should be the best retro hobby computer project ever if it gets released to the masses .
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Old 10-30-2011, 10:00 PM   #13
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Default Re: FPGA Arcade and Minimig overview

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Originally Posted by Darrin View Post
Which ones? I've been so busy lately that I've hardly been home. I was away for 5 solid weeks, just had a week off where I haven't even switched on a miggie and I'm off to West Texas again tomorrow for 3 and a half weeks. After that I fly to the UK for 10 days (so I should get a chance to call in at AmigaKit), fly back to the USA and hopefully see my wife for the first time in 3 months as she's been down in Australia, have 4 days with her and then head off on another business trip.

.
Crikey, what do you do for a job???? "International man of Mystery" seems to apply
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Old 10-30-2011, 11:01 PM   #14
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Default Re: FPGA Arcade and Minimig overview

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Crikey, what do you do for a job???? "International man of Mystery" seems to apply
Ever heard of "West Texas" Intermediate? You probably didn't know that Brent crude originated in the North Sea from the "UK" either? You probably HAVE seen the Beverly Hillbilly's and know about black gold, Texas "T", now don't you?
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Old 10-30-2011, 11:31 PM   #15
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Lightbulb Re: FPGA Arcade and Minimig overview

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Crikey, what do you do for a job???? "International man of Mystery" seems to apply
Darrin actually runs an illegel petrol smuggling operation from the Mexican border and back (explains why he is gone for weeks at a time)
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Old 10-31-2011, 03:12 AM   #16
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Default Re: FPGA Arcade and Minimig overview

Quote:
Originally Posted by vidarh View Post
For very limited definitions of "hit the market". There's something like 5-6 boards out there now. Last update from Mike was that the rest of the first batch of ca 50 won't be available until mid November. Most or all of those are likely spoken for by those of us that have already e-mailed him, so general availability for people who want to order it is likely still a couple of months away when his next production run is ready.



Depends what you're looking for, I suppose. With the 68060+ethernet daughterboard, it'll already be more powerful and flexible than most A3000/A4000 setups unless you're willing to spend a lot of money pushing old unreliable expansion cards into an A3000 or A4000.
There are 18 boards already shipped. I have another 42 on my desk.
I have a whole list of people to mail back, sorry it's been a bit crazy in China this week.
I still have work to do on the new firmware.
Support wise, the Replay platform is the only open-source solution.
You will start to see much faster progress and more cores as the other developers start to come on-line.
/MikeJ
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Old 10-31-2011, 06:44 AM   #17
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Default Re: FPGA Arcade and Minimig overview

Quote:
There are 18 boards already shipped. I have another 42 on my desk.
I have a whole list of people to mail back, sorry it's been a bit crazy in China this week.
I still have work to do on the new firmware.
Support wise, the Replay platform is the only open-source solution.
You will start to see much faster progress and more cores as the other developers start to come on-line.
/MikeJ
I feel the FPGA Replay board will be an awesome adventure back to the systems that I like, just on steroids now...
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Old 10-31-2011, 07:11 AM   #18
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Default Re: FPGA Arcade and Minimig overview

Thanks everyone. Sounds like the FPGA Arcade is perfect for me. Now I just need to save my pennies....
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