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 EPiC - A new 68k multi-processor motherboard project 
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Joined: Tue Jun 03, 2014 2:40 pm
Posts: 127
Okay, so the socket arrived today...

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So far so good, right? Wait, it's a 19x19 grid instead of 18x18. Not cool... but ok, at least it's still usable, right?

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Wait, really? How do you get that wrong?? :shock:


Wed Jun 29, 2016 1:06 pm
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aargh!


Wed Jun 29, 2016 9:29 pm
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I have to say, I'm not too impressed with Digi-Key right now. They're trying to tell me that the socket they sent me is correct - the pins are laid out just as specified by the footprint. I don't think any other CPU in existence used a mirror image of the 68060's layout, so this has to be wrong.

Let the customer service battle begin :(


Fri Jul 01, 2016 10:51 pm
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The socket issue is finally resolved. Digi-Key told me the socket was built just as I ordered, so I went up the chain to Aries, who also said the socket is designed to be that way. When I asked for which processor the socket could ever possibly be intended, they simply noted that all of their processor footprints had been ordered and built before. I still wonder which CPU was ever made which happened to have a backwards footprint of a Motorola 68060, but no matter.

This is where the story takes a pleasant turn. Aries - unlike Digi-Key - took their time to correct the issue, remaking my socket into something I can now use at no charge - and even offered to fill the holes as well, which Digi-Key neglected to tell them. The representative I spoke with was (again, unlike Digi-Key) both polite and professional. Although, in the end the holes didn't get filled, I appreciate the excellent customer service offered by Aries. Kudos to you, folks!


Tue Aug 30, 2016 5:28 pm
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updates, please! Very interested in your progress and designs.


Mon Nov 28, 2016 1:13 am
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josiahw wrote:
updates, please! Very interested in your progress and designs.
Yes indeed -- I'll echo that!

(ps- welcome, josiahw :) )

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Mon Nov 28, 2016 4:15 pm
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josiahw wrote:
updates, please! Very interested in your progress and designs.


Hey there, and welcome!


Dr Jefyll wrote:
josiahw wrote:
updates, please! Very interested in your progress and designs.
Yes indeed -- I'll echo that!

(ps- welcome, josiahw :) )


It's good to hear of your interest! However, I must apologize for my lack of updates. I've been preoccupied with training at my new job, which seems to be taking up all my free time. The EpiC project isn't dead, but just temporarily put on hold lol

I did get the testing socket prepared by a professional layout designer, though. Speaking of which, I need to verify the schematic and layout files and get back to him so that the adapter can get made. So much to do... lol

I've noticed the Apollo core project and I have to say I'm super impressed. I'd love to use it for EPiC's CPU, but I'm a complete noob at FPGAs and have no idea how to make that happen.

The upside to this job is that I now have extra funds to make this project a reality... but my time is severely limited, at least for now. But I guess that's how life goes lol


Wed Nov 30, 2016 6:48 pm
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mercury0x000d wrote:
The upside to this job is that I now have extra funds to make this project a reality... but my time is severely limited
Classic "Catch 22." :|

... which reminds me of this comic from xkcd ! :D


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Wed Nov 30, 2016 7:01 pm
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Dr Jefyll wrote:
mercury0x000d wrote:
The upside to this job is that I now have extra funds to make this project a reality... but my time is severely limited
Classic "Catch 22." :|

... which reminds me of this comic from xkcd ! :D


I love it! So true...



Hey, if anyone wants to donate a little time to help make the most powerful homebrew ever, feel free to let me know! lol :)


Thu Dec 01, 2016 3:56 am
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Ok, so this project is getting old. And, as is the case with many of my projects, I've bounced back and forth on the design specs at least a dozen times. This y̶e̶a̶r̶ m̶o̶n̶t̶h̶ week. So what am I going to do? Well, am I ever glad you asked... ;)

As you all know, I originally wanted to go with the 68060, due to its technical advancement over the other chips in the 68K family. If I got a good mask revision (with appropriate sacrifices, of course, to the eBay gods) I could probably even push it up to, like, 100 MHz or so. Right? Yeah... turns out that magic mask revision is ever so hard to find. And trust me, I've looked - and priced - everywhere. I barely found one, let alone the several which I planned to make this project utilize in the end, so that approach is officially unfeasible. And finding enough to eventually make this a kit computer... forgeddabouddit.

During all this searching for 68060s, I came across the Apollo project and thought YES!! Thisis the future of the 68k line! This project shares the end goal of my own: the evolution of 68K computers! It wants to be what Motorola would likely have made after the 68060 if they hadn't "prematurely" killed it! All is kittens and rainbows once again! Right? Uh... nope. After some lurking on their forum, it seems that Apollo, for all the amazing achievements of Gunnar and pals, is destined to remain tied to the Amiga platform, with them going so far as to add the functionality of several Amiga support chips right into the FPGA. I inquired a little about making the chip available as a "stand alone" product already loaded onto an FPGA, and didn't get a super-enthusiastic response. Not to say that said response was unpleasant at all, I just didn't get the impression that my request was high on their priority list. And understandably so, with it being an Amiga-focused project. It's a great CPU to be sure, just not for this goal.

So what now? My only remaining option, really, is to do what the Apollo project has done for the 68060, but for the 68000 itself: create a completely tricked-out code-compatible soft core version. I could even bust the CPU wide open, theoretically, adding features guaranteed to give the original MACSS team a collective aneurysm, like 64 bit support, fast interrupt handling, multiprocessor intercommunication and SIMD abilities. And since I know most parts of the 68K way better than the '060 and (unlike the '060) resources are available for the parts that I don't, it may actually be feasible for me to eventually achieve my goal. As an added side-benefit, this approach would let me get started designing a system much more quickly based on a real 68000 CPU, then slowly upgrade it over time with FPGA tech as I learn it. So, "all" I have to do is learn FPGAs from the ground up and let the good times roll!

This all gives rise to my question: Do any of you here mess with them on a regular basis? Can you recommend a good starting point? I'm currently looking at the Justin Rajewski's Mojo or maybe a Mimas or Elbert dev board. Any advice?


Thu Feb 02, 2017 6:47 am
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Hmm, it seems I got something in the mail... :D

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Sat Apr 22, 2017 3:28 pm
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...and with the components in place, awaiting soldering.

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Sun Apr 23, 2017 3:24 am
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So... is this for a plain 68000, or an FPGA workalike, or a fancy 680x0??

(I had a look at the Apollo/Vampire projects, and it looks like they have a very aggressive high-performance microarchitecture, and they are shipping something which might or might not be the final cut, but it seems to be closed-source.)


Sun Apr 23, 2017 8:25 am
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BigEd wrote:
So... is this for a plain 68000, or an FPGA workalike, or a fancy 680x0??


I've basically split this project in two, as you guys here advised me to do long ago. I'm working on a plain 68000 version to get my bearings in the design process, and alongside that model - but separately - I'm working on getting a real 68060 up and running in freerun mode. This board pictured above is a simple breakout for a 68060. It should allow me to twiddle the individual lines manually and (hopefully!) said freerun working. The 68060 is cool because it's a fully static design - you don't need a constant stream of clock pulses to make the chip work right, so single stepping my way to success shouldn't be too difficult. I hope.



BigEd wrote:
(I had a look at the Apollo/Vampire projects, and it looks like they have a very aggressive high-performance microarchitecture, and they are shipping something which might or might not be the final cut, but it seems to be closed-source.)


Yeah, it's high performance alright, and they don't seem too eager to share lol
I guess I can't fault them for that, though, since it's a commercial product and all. I just wish they made a version available which wasn't inextricably tied to the Amiga architecture.


Sun Apr 23, 2017 4:16 pm
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Any more news on this?
Regards Carronjack


Sat Jun 03, 2017 7:28 pm
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