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Apollo Team Activity Report (December 2018)page  1 2 3 

Renaud Schweingruber
(Apollo Team Member)
Posts 272
20 Dec 2018 17:14


Apollo Team Activity Report for December 2018
 
Time flies and we have this time some super news to share with you on what will come in next months in the Vampire community.
 
Vampire V4 Standalone
 
Let’s talk a bit about one of the ultimate goal of the Apollo Team : a fully standalone system running AC68080 (some even called it « a new Amiga »).
 
As some have already seen it, first signs of life from Vampire V4 Standalone appeared at end of October, some days after Classic Computing 2018 event at Oedheim-Degmarn. Several videos from our team members popped up on YouTube and Facebook to celebrate that achievement.
 
After that milestone, we decided that V4 Standalone will be our main priority. It will require quite a lot of efforts but all development made on it will benefit other products, from the V2 to the upcoming other products.

Using GOLD3 Alpha from this summer as a foundation to work on that particular product, we had to add several other parts in VHDL to it to make it really functional :
  • Full CIA-A and CIA-B
  • DB9 ports for Joystick
  • USB stack for Mouse and Keyboard
  • Gayle IDE
 
Regarding USB stack, we took the decision to build our own stack from scratch (as we did with all other parts of the core by the way) and not rely on any Linux subsystem powered by an ARM processor. By chosing this (hard) way, we insure that we have complete control over it and provide a complete SoC with high portability. We think this decision is quite future-proof.
Downside of this is that we have to write everything for it and improve it over time. So, do not expect your Leap Motion device or your shiny HTC Vive Pro to be fully compatible with it tomorrow (I’m so disappointed and consider ragequitting now !). We are building things step by step and will first begin to support low-speed devices. A wiki page is being been set up to list devices we tested as compatible.
 
We just enabled RTG support on AGA and are now building the switching mechanism at the moment. We then have several tasks to do to make the bunch fully usable, like :
  • Implement Ethernet device in core
  • Enable 2nd IDE port in core
  • Enable FastIDE in core
  • Implement RTC device support in core
  • Connection expansion headers in core
 
PCB will also receive a revision for the standalone and will feature mount points to accomodate upcoming 3rd party cases. We will also move away from current miniUSB power connector to something more modern.
 
So what to expect next ?
 
Well, it’s no wonder that our goal is to now get the product into resellers stocks as soon as possible and by then have a fully working core to start enjoying the standalone system. We might enable non-critical features a bit later once we have them full working (i.e. RTC is not criticial to start with).

Regarding the « when ?????? » (note the question marks) question we have seen quite a lot, we won’t commit on any date as we have experienced so much unexpected parameters popping out since the beginning that announcing any date would be obviously wrong. So please only keep in mind that we are approaching the release land soon.
 
Vampire V1200
We have sent over social networks some pictures of a Vampire 1200 V3 PCB some months ago to show that work on it is continuing. We are fully aware that the V1200 is a product that a lot of A1200 users are awaiting for and we want to assure everybody we won’t forget the A1200.
 
As communicated, « V3 » cards are tests we are doing internaly to work on the product and might not be at all what the final one will be. For that reason, any asumption made from V3 might be all wrong (same goes for any asumption eh).
 
At the moment, we are undergoing different tests with V1200 and will keep you posted as soon as we have something to show of. It could be within next weeks already (two more weeks™).
 
Vampire V2
We cancelled all scheduled holidays in Bahamas of our good lord Majsta to let him focus on V2 production. Resellers and waiting endcustomers should soon receive notifications regarding new batches of V2 coming in.

Next batch will also feature another PCB revision and improve an already improved product. One major change we can note is expansion header on V500 has been replaced with a simpler one to connect the ENC Ethernet module in a breeze.
 
Wiki pages have been updated accordingly.
 
Next year events
As of today, we can already confirm we will be attending some events in 2019 :
  • OufParty (CH) in June
  • ClassicComputing 2019 (DE) in September
  • Amiga34 (DE) in October
  • Alchimie 13 (FR) in November
 
Final words
First, the whole team and I are wishing you wonderful end-of-year parties. We all hope you will find Amiga gear under the Christmas tree (or palmtree if you are in Hawaï as we have seen some cards delivered there !).
 
2018 has been a super exciting year in team with some milestones achieved and nice people met around events. We really would like to thank you all for support, nice words, smiles and sympathy you have shared with us during 2018, this is super valuable in our motivation need.
 
I would also like thank all team members for their inconditional involvement in that project, without testers, developpers and uncategorized people (xboxOwn, got it ?), nothing done until now would have been possible.
 

EXTERNAL LINK  Illustration : Vampire 500 V2+ picture taken in Hawaï
 


Andrew Miller

Posts 179
20 Dec 2018 17:31


Nice, thanks for the update. Looking forward to the V4 and V1200.


Matthew Langtry
(Needs Verification)
Posts 156/ 1
20 Dec 2018 17:36


Cool, I think if the price is right standalone V4 could be Major Seller for Amigan's.

Also have a great xmas and prosperous new year Apollo Team.


Michael Nurney

Posts 276
20 Dec 2018 18:06


Excellent work as always and have a great Christmas break :)


Michael Borrmann

Posts 55
20 Dec 2018 18:20


Looking forward meeting you guys again on Amiga34.. :)

Thanks for the update, and please have a great holidays...




Chris Sanz

Posts 20
20 Dec 2018 20:35


Will Poseidon work for now?

Chris


Daniel Sevo

Posts 258
21 Dec 2018 00:09


Sounds great, thanx for the news update!


Ronnie Beck

Posts 53
21 Dec 2018 07:37


Great work team.  It sounds like some big strides forward have been made.  And it is really awesome that we get these little sneak peaks via FB and YT.  I hope the team take some time off over christmas though.  Your efforts this year have been exceptional and for sure you have all earned a good break.


Vojin Vidanovic

Posts 882
21 Dec 2018 08:37


Renaud Schweingruber wrote:
 
  Using GOLD3 Alpha from this summer as a foundation to work on that particular product, we had to add several other parts in VHDL to it to make it really functional :
    • Full CIA-A and CIA-B
    • DB9 ports for Joystick
    • USB stack for Mouse and Keyboard
    • Gayle IDE
 

 
  Interesting to see how little remained to have a complete and modernized "Amiga on FPGA". Surely, little is in "to do points" not in real work. Good luck in completing this effort!
 
 

  Regarding USB stack, we took the decision to build our own stack from scratch (as we did with all other parts of the core by the way) and not rely on any Linux subsystem powered by an ARM processor. By chosing this (hard) way, we insure that we have complete control over it and provide a complete SoC with high portability. We think this decision is quite future-proof.
 

 
  That is very nice indeed, I also expected Poseidon to be used or modified. Harder but wiser path.
 
 

  We just enabled RTG support on AGA and are now building the switching mechanism at the moment. We then have several tasks to do to make the bunch fully usable, like :
    • Implement Ethernet device in core
    • Enable 2nd IDE port in core
    • Enable FastIDE in core
    • Implement RTC device support in core
    • Connection expansion headers in core
 

 
  Very nice expandability and feature wise list, RTC is very nice add on.
 
 

  e have sent over social networks some pictures of a Vampire 1200 V3 PCB some months ago to show that work on it is continuing. We are fully aware that the V1200 is a product that a lot of A1200 users are awaiting for and we want to assure everybody we won’t forget the A1200.
 

 
  This is only a bit confusing thing - is Majsta V3 just "V2+" testing on how to connect to A1200, lets say an experiment of experience that could be used in creating V4 A1200 AND might never see the light OR we will have "3" model first and "4" model to satisfy A1200 "blood thirst" :)
 


Renaud Schweingruber
(Apollo Team Member)
Posts 272
21 Dec 2018 08:49


Regarding USB stack, we are implementing it from scratch to have mouse and keyboard ready on power on (and use it in games, apps, Early-Startup, Atari, etc.), this USB stack is not yet able to communicate directly with OS and be usable with Poseidon. Showing it as a Poseidon compatible USB chip is a another additional step.
 
Regarding V3, it's simple : V3 != V2 != V4
Only consider V3 as an experiment yet.


Mr Niding

Posts 316
21 Dec 2018 10:05


Thanks for the update and writeup!


Michael Borrmann

Posts 55
21 Dec 2018 12:40


Renaud Schweingruber wrote:

Regarding USB stack, we are implementing it from scratch to have mouse and keyboard ready on power on (and use it in games, apps, Early-Startup, Atari, etc.)

Nice idea, and answers a lot of questions people had about mouse and keyboard on the standalone..

Thanks, Renaud.


Mo Retro

Posts 211
21 Dec 2018 15:01


Thanks for the update Renaud.
You guys managed to do a lot things this year. It's for us nice to have a little insight in the Apollo kitchen :-)


Gilles Dridi

Posts 14
22 Dec 2018 13:46


Hello, Happy Christmas

This is a huge task to add Ethernet to V4 and specially USB (remember NatAmi used a USB NCR? chip for this purpose), so you have to make compromises (at certain milestones) approaching « final Vampire 4 standalone release » and to be ready for fall’2019 = start shipping first quarter 2020 !!

DGILLES
Post-scriptum : for me SuperAGA isn’t a priority because I see V4 not as a retro-game machine but as a superb-terminal intelligent and reliable (all done in one CHIP a single FPGA ~ approximatively same philosophy as a SoC but for 68k/PPC Amigans).


Chris Sanz

Posts 20
22 Dec 2018 18:41


As long as I can boot my A2000 first with V4 I can always use the stock mouse & joystick for games, USB joysticks don't work on Flight Sim games anyway, no trim control for analogue sticks. Crash and burn? Yeh.


Chris Sanz

Posts 20
22 Dec 2018 19:06


How about this idea? Fast 060's, non EC are rare. Maybe think for a minute of a replacement plug in for the CPU. Re-clock your accelerator to as fast as it can handle and Instant new A4000T computer, w/CSMK3 here!


Allonsanfan %

Posts 25
22 Dec 2018 21:08


Chris Sanz wrote:

How about this idea? Fast 060's, non EC are rare. Maybe think for a minute of a replacement plug in for the CPU. Re-clock your accelerator to as fast as it can handle and Instant new A4000T computer, w/CSMK3 here!

Or just replace your A4000T with a Vampire V4 standalone, instant new computer! Takes up less space, uses less power, much faster, what more can you ask for?

I think the team has to focus on one thing at a time, and IMO this is to get the V4 out the door. The more people have it, the more old Amiga's can be put in a box in the basement. My thinking is that when you get the V4, you will start using your "real" Amiga less and less, and eventually not at all.


Chris Sanz

Posts 20
23 Dec 2018 06:31


Run a toaster on a stand alone? nah...


Allonsanfan %

Posts 25
23 Dec 2018 08:28


Chris Sanz wrote:

Run a toaster on a stand alone? nah...

I think you are in a minority. I also believe it will be a support nightmare if the team starts making accelerators for more Amiga models. It is wishful thinking to expect antique hardware (and software) to function like in 1992 - just with more speed.

But to each his own, as they say.



Mike Kopack

Posts 31
25 Dec 2018 20:04


Who the heck still uses a toaster anyhow? Video is all digital now, and you can do the same thing on a Macbook with iMovie now...

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