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Old 06-04-2012, 09:00 AM   #1
Xanxi
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Default Jens Shoenfeld's anwer to the Apollo petition

Hi.

As the petition is closed since the 31th of May, i have mailed Jens Schoenfeld with the link to the signatures.

Here is his answer, that i am allowed to quote:

Hi,

I learned about this petition just now, and I have to say that it's way out of line to ask for this stuff for free.

I've paid good money for these rights in order to let the Apollo boards rest in peace. I will not let go of any code or schematics, because these boards make an Amiga unstable. They are the prime cause for Amigans leaving the market: An unstable Amiga is no fun, and hardly anyone will accept that it's the Apollo card causing the trouble. If you're interested, I can dig up one of the many explanations that I have posted online and in private eMails, so you can post that in the amiga.org thread (you know I'm not there any more).

That said, I'm willing to change my policy if serious money is involved. Here's the model:

- I'll change my policy from "if you have an Apollo, it's your choice and if it works, fine", to the new policy: No support for any Apollo-equipped Amiga whatsoever". This includes any and all products, old and new.

- I'll sell MACH131 chips programmed for Apollo 1260 and Eprom chips with the required code, combined for 150,- EUR each, plus shipping. This price does not guarantee anything, just proper function of the MACH131 in a system with no promises of any improvement over the MACH130 that people had before. Should the MACH131 not work as expected, I'll replace it once. Should the replacement still not work, I will refund the chip for 4,- EUR. The remaining 144,- EUR have been paid for the code license in the Eprom.

- once 267 chip-upgrades are sold (40k EUR barrier crossed), I will release the jedec file of the MACH131 of the Apollo 1260 for non-commercial use. Should anyone start offering MACH131 for more than 4,- EUR each, I will go after him. The jedec file of the MACH210 and schematics will remain closed.

ciao,
--
Jens Schönfeld

And then another answer:


If the cards work fine for you, good for you. However, having insight into the inner workings, I know that the MACH chips are operated way out of their specifications. To be more specific, the design is full of syncronous flipflops with async set/clear equations, which are not specified to work at these high frequencies. As a result, the whole design may or may not work, depending factors that nobody can influence.

And yes, please quote me, but please quote whole eMails, not just single sentences.

so short,
--
Jens Schönfeld


So here is the official position and not just a rumor to answer the 74 people who signed the petition.

I will let you make your own opinion.

Regards.
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Old 06-04-2012, 09:46 AM   #2
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Default Re: Jens Shoenfeld's anwer to the Apollo petition

An Amiga with no boards installed is unstable, so how is it that different?
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Old 06-04-2012, 10:00 AM   #3
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Default Re: Jens Shoenfeld's anwer to the Apollo petition

Quote:
Originally Posted by koaftder View Post
An Amiga with no boards installed is unstable, so how is it that different?

Actually, that's a better offer then I expected.
No support, but he's willing to sell Mach131s programmed with am eprom.

You guys didn't really expect the schematics or new production, did you?
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Old 06-04-2012, 10:04 AM   #4
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Default Re: Jens Shoenfeld's anwer to the Apollo petition

Quote:
Originally Posted by koaftder View Post
An Amiga with no boards installed is unstable, so how is it that different?
Crappy software and not the hardware, perhaps. I tend to rely upon people like Piru and Jens as authoritative in their specific realms, especially when given salient arguments for their positions.

Aside from that, when people spend a shytload of money on hardware, they expect it to work properly. I had an Apollo accelerator in my 4000D and it caused all sorts of problems with various other devices. Move to a WarpEngine then to my CyberStorm and neither one ever just crashed due to hardware and I cannot recall any incompatibilities I've had with either.

In any case, Jens owns the rights, he's spoken out numerous times on the issue, and I find nothing wrong with his position on the matter, irrespective of dreck anyone may boil up about him trying to kill a product to further his own.
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Old 06-04-2012, 10:22 AM   #5
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Default Re: Jens Shoenfeld's anwer to the Apollo petition

Good call from Jens.
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Old 06-04-2012, 10:28 AM   #6
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Default Re: Jens Shoenfeld's anwer to the Apollo petition

If there is any complaint to be made of Jens, its that he is perhaps too much of a perfectionist when it comes to his product...that and there aren't two of him (which would be handy, as one could hold down the day job while the other makes new and awesome designs).
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Old 06-04-2012, 11:09 AM   #7
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Default Re: Jens Shoenfeld's anwer to the Apollo petition

I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Schoenfeld these days. This decision surprises me.
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Old 06-04-2012, 11:49 AM   #8
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Default Re: Jens Shoenfeld's anwer to the Apollo petition

Basically, he doesn't want to warranty a product that is crap. Nothing wrong with that...however his investment was great and needs to be recouped if you truly want it.

EEPROM chips are about $4 blank individually... I recently bought a reader/burner for $85 and 10 blank 64k chips for $45 and have started reprogramming my car's ECM... I'd hate to sell my custom-tuned chip to someone else only to have them blow up their motor...
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Old 06-04-2012, 12:07 PM   #9
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Default Re: Jens Shoenfeld's anwer to the Apollo petition

Maybe he's just holding on to it out of spite after having buyer's remorse.
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Old 06-04-2012, 01:29 PM   #10
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Default Re: Jens Shoenfeld's anwer to the Apollo petition

Maybe he has made a throne out of them
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Old 06-04-2012, 01:34 PM   #11
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Default Re: Jens Shoenfeld's anwer to the Apollo petition

I don't see what the big deal is. Jens owns a business. Jens legally owns an intellectual property. Why should he give that up? He has every right to protect ownership of his property and do with it what he wishes.
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Old 06-04-2012, 01:45 PM   #12
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Default Re: Jens Shoenfeld's anwer to the Apollo petition

This is a pretty decent offer from Jens imho. You can't expect him to give away something for free he's paid for - and here's the offer to upgrade/replace the Machs on your Apollos.

You can't blame him for not wanting to take responsibility if he knows the design is flawed, can you? I'm sure he knows what he's talking about.
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Old 06-04-2012, 01:48 PM   #13
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Default Re: Jens Shoenfeld's anwer to the Apollo petition

Quote:
Originally Posted by x56h34 View Post
I don't see what the big deal is. Jens owns a business. Jens legally owns an intellectual property. Why should he give that up? He has every right to protect ownership of his property and do with it what he wishes.
Yup.

Tell you guys a little parallel story...

Back ages ago (like...2003? 2004? Don't rightly recall...anyway...) I wanted to upgrade to a motherboard with PCI-e, specifically one I could run dual video cards in (at the time, 8800GTX cards which were top-of-the-line). However I am a budget PC building kind of guy on and off and I wanted a board I could put my single-core AMD Athlon XP 3000+ in and save some cash. I looked high and low and finally settled on an Epox motherboard that had dual PCIe and their own home-grown SLI solution ("GLI").

Now...my own fault for not doing my homework, but in the interim, nVidia had cornered the market on any kind of dual-card solution: if you wanted SLi, you bought an nVidia-supported (which back then meant Intel) board, period. GLi was clean-room engineered by Epox, so nVidia bought the technology and then promptly ****canned the design and wrote further drivers to not support SLi on that series board. I was crestfallen but within a few days, I found some hacked drivers created by a group of programmers that would work on ANY board with ANY nVidia card by misidentifying the chipset to the driver.

So that's what I used until I upgraded to my Asus board, dual core athlon, etc.

Was nVidia "right" to extend, embrace and exterminate? From a business standpoint, possibly. But ultimately it was their decision to do so. I found a work-around and went for it. I spread the word as best I could (but let's admit it, on the PC side of the world there couldn't have been too many people in my situation), kept using updated nVidia hardware, and until I upgraded a few years later, all was well. Coincidentally, by that point SLi solutions were "out of the barn" and nVidia had pretty much licensed it anyway!

But the point is, I never felt cheated or slighted or taken advantage of by nVidia. Had I not been able to use both cards, I'd have sold one, or bided my time until I got a new board, etc.

Jens is like nVidia in this: there's a product he wanted off the market and he spent his money to get it off the market. Out of his pocket. Not yours, not mine, he didn't hack someone's bank account to buy up the Apollo tech. And he's like the guys who wrote the altered drivers: he's offering a non-trivial method for people who want to keep using/trying that hardware. Personally? I think he's well in his rights. It isn't like he's writing drivers that screw up your hard drive (hi, Elbox! Yes you're still ****lords!) or posting threatening messages like "PAY ME FOR THIS HARDWARE OR I WILL DESTROY IT." (Hi, Hans Campbell! You're a ****lord, too!).

Jens makes great hardware, he supports it to the best of his ability*, the Amiga does not make him a great deal of money, so ultimately, yeah, he's doing the Amiga community a favor by building what he does.
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Old 06-04-2012, 02:14 PM   #14
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Default Re: Jens Shoenfeld's anwer to the Apollo petition

I called this the sensible course of action, but I did also sign the petition.

He's well within his rights, no doubt about it.

That said, it's a shame yet another piece of hardware is going to die off for lack of documentation.

I don't believe "buying it to keep it off the market for our own good", I'm sure it was buying it to jumpstart a new product and the design turned out to be crap.
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Old 06-04-2012, 02:49 PM   #15
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Default Re: Jens Shoenfeld's anwer to the Apollo petition

@ B00tDisk,

Actualy, the solution you mentioned was created by ULi (the chipset maker). I had an EPOX and an Asrock motherboard based on that.
And the neat thing was both PCIe slots were X16 (as opposed to SLi's X8 slots at the time).
But Nvidia quickly updated its drivers so the software patch that enabled this no longer worked.
Then Nvidia bought ULi outright (no doubt gaining some talented engineers, ULi Southbridges were very common on ATI motherboards before the SB600 was introduced).
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Old 06-04-2012, 02:59 PM   #16
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Default Re: Jens Shoenfeld's anwer to the Apollo petition

I really don't understand (probably because I'm not a HW expert), but, there's no real sense on all that for me. Let me try to make a parallel.
- Ford-T's had, back in early 20's, an upgrade kit for their engines.
- In the 70's, someone buy the rights and schematics for this upgrade.
- In the 90's someone asks this person to make those schematics public, once:
-- It's impossible to buy a new version of this kit
-- Designing a new upgrade from scracth (to a base of around 5k Ford-T owners and even less willing to upgrade it) would cost 1000x times more than the expected revenue

So, someone can explain me what exactly he's trying to protect? His investment? What other options he has? Die with the schematics to preserv the Ford-T image?

*How many persons signed the petition? Around 70? Let's ask for ~20 euros each and see if he accepts that.
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Old 06-04-2012, 03:18 PM   #17
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Default Re: Jens Shoenfeld's anwer to the Apollo petition

Quote:
Originally Posted by Heiroglyph View Post
I don't believe "buying it to keep it off the market for our own good", I'm sure it was buying it to jumpstart a new product and the design turned out to be crap.
I dont believe that either. I mean, maybe it is part of the reason, but not the entire story.

I do believe it was basically that the Apollo´s design had something that Jens needed to learn/see how to implement in his own ACA accelerators, and also that by buying the design, he could prevent some kind of competition showing up.
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Old 06-04-2012, 04:29 PM   #18
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Default Re: Jens Shoenfeld's anwer to the Apollo petition

Wow. An online petition which actually had some sort of effect? Must be a first in the history of the internets.

Anyway, sounds like a very sensible proposal from Jens to me (I've never had an Apollo though).
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Old 06-04-2012, 05:47 PM   #19
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Default Re: Jens Shoenfeld's anwer to the Apollo petition

I never did get around to reading the petition...until just now.

Seeing Jens' reaction to the petition, I wouldn't blame him if he got very annoyed. Jens' statement about Apollo stability/reliability is spot on. On the other hand, all of the many pieces of hardware I have bought over the years made by Individual Computers or its partners have been rock-solid reliable and stable.

Personally, I own an Apollo 2030-25MHz w/64MB on it. I was never terribly impressed with either the:

- build quality (tin-plated CPU slot edge contacts rather than gold causes no end of trouble at that frequency)

- stability (the on-board Apollo SCSI controller was fast but died a couple months after I bought it and I had to buy an A2091+Guru ROM [thanks Ralph!] which works wonderfully)

But as a CHEAP basic bare-bones accelerator it worked well enough but I didn't really expect much out of the board for that price; I remember reading about many problems with the higher clocked version of the board though.

However in 1995-7(?) where weren't any other options that were available to me. Had I the opportunity to buy some other brand, I would have - even if they cost 50-100% more. Why? I want a stable computer. I want to spend more time using it and less time trying to get it work. Everytime I needed a workaround for a PITA problem, Jens' and Oliver had something that did the trick permanently.

That said...Jens' conditional offer regarding the MACH chips is far better than what we deserved after THAT petition. My guess is Jens' got so frustrated with all the support requests from Apollo owners that it was probably cheaper to just buy out the mouldering designs and lock them up. I have the feeling Jens' is doing Amiga product development mainly out of a love of the platform, since I can't see how you could keep a business going with a small, dwindling user base.

I did a search on Amiga.org for 'Apollo' and I see 13 pages of threads, perhaps 70-80% of them involve troubleshooting for seemingly random issues. Many of the remainder are from Apollo owners wanting a different brand of accelerator. One wonders why. You don't patch up a shoddy design over and over, its like bailing water out of a sinking rowboat with a 0.5m (~18") hole torn in the side. Just abandon that ship already.

As for the suggestion that Jens somehow needed the Apollo design as a starting point for his own, I find that hilarious since Jens and his fellow designers have repeatedly demonstrated their engineering competence many times over through many dozens of product designs. Many times I've noticed Jens' trying to reduce costs in later revisions of boards or expanding features while using quality parts so the product isn't compromised.

If Jens' ever finds it worthwhile to make an A2000 or A3000D accelerator with on-board RAM, I'll snatch them up in an instant, especially if they feature IDE (or sata even) controllers with nice speed/compatibility onboard. I'm willing to pay for the quality I've come to expect.
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Old 06-04-2012, 07:06 PM   #20
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Default Re: Jens Shoenfeld's anwer to the Apollo petition

I'm agreeing with Jens' philosophy on this, even though it could be perceived as a bit harsh. If you are one of the ones that stick with good technology (good computers. i.e., amiga), better to be stringent on your requirements in terms of "good design" / support.

I once had an Apollo board, and while I found it to be affordable (I was in college at the time), it was very flaky. Throughout my A1200's history I had an mbx1230 (paravision) 030 board, apollo, and then finally blizzard 060/ppc. The '030 was the best performer in terms of reliability followed by the 060/ppc as a close runner-up.
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