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 EPiC - A new 68k multi-processor motherboard project 
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mercury0x000d wrote:
Lookie what was on my desk when I got home today. :)
Sweet! I'm envious!
mercury0x000d wrote:
The 68008 [...]... idk
Actually, I feel the same way. Even the 68000 already has its data bus choked down to 16 bits (rather than 32). Going one step further, to 8 bits, yields a product that's hard to get excited about -- even though it would compare very favorably with alternative chips using an 8-bit bus.

-- Jeff

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Thu Jun 12, 2014 3:22 am
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Dr Jefyll wrote:
Sweet! I'm envious!


I know, right?? I can't even explain the giddy grin that crept across my face when I unpackaged it, knowing I was holding a piece of computing history in my hands. :D


Dr Jefyll wrote:
Actually, I feel the same way. Even the 68000 already has its data bus choked down to 16 bits (rather than 32). Going one step further, to 8 bits, yields a product that's hard to get excited about -- even though it would compare very favorably with alternative chips using an 8-bit bus.
...


I'm glad you knew how I meant that. It was a good suggestion! But as you said, the 68k itself is a bit restricted, and even it's a far cry from the '060. Granted it would blow everything else out of the water back in the day, no matter what its bit width was.

I also noticed something. Doing a bit of searching, I found nothing about any attempt by anyone to ever make an 8-processor 68060 machine. Is it possible I'm sailing into uncharted waters here? :shock:


Last edited by mercury0x000d on Thu Jun 12, 2014 3:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Thu Jun 12, 2014 4:26 am
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Quote:
I also noticed something. Doing a bit of searching, I found nothing about any attempt by anyone to ever make an 8-processor 68060 machine. Is it possible I'm sailing into uncharted waters here? :shock:

Maybe so, if you consider strictly the '060. But I'm sure you can find plenty of material that discusses parallelism in programs -- it's a hugely hot topic as the market turns to multi-core processors in its quest for ever-higher performance. And it's not a happy picture, since some tasks are well suited to being subdivided so they can execute on multiple processors, but many tasks are not. Those same discussions apply to your proposed '060 cluster.

Am I telling you something you already know? What sort of application did you envision for your eight-CPU project?

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Thu Jun 12, 2014 4:46 am
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Dr Jefyll wrote:
...
And it's not a happy picture, since some tasks are well suited to being subdivided so they can execute on multiple processors, but many tasks are not. Those same discussions apply to your proposed '060 cluster.

Am I telling you something you already know?
...


Not really. Initially, I think I'll have the OS itself run on only one processor, and save the other 7 for application programs the user wishes to run. The OS will manage the CPUs so that the workload is evenly distributed among them. Maybe in the future, I can modularize the OS so that it can spin off sections of itself to other CPUs as needed, such as file copying, media playback and the like.



Dr Jefyll wrote:
...
What sort of application did you envision for your eight-CPU project?


I think of it as a general purpose PC, not solely to be used as an educational kit computer, but also suitable for home or office use. With 8 processors, it would be perfect for media conversion and editing, gaming or any number of other useful roles. The only thing holding me back will be the software. Having to write everything from the ground up means a lack of applications to do those things.



When it comes to raw horsepower, I admit this machine will be severely underpowered. Even with 8 CPUs in full tilt, 75MHz x 8 is still only a combined 600 MHz - not really an impressive number on its own. Even if I manage to overclock them, I still don't expect to see above 100 MHz per processor. But consider that Windows 95 ran fine on an old 486, Windows ME ran great (in terms of speed) on my old 667 MHz eMachines PC with only one gig of RAM and not that long ago (maybe 8 years or so?) Apple was still shipping Macs at less that 700 MHz and they ran exceptionally well. It isn't so much how fast (or slow) your machine is, but how well you utilize the hardware and software you have, and I'm hoping this is where the project will soar.



Or, it could just be a really fancy doorstop. :lol:


Thu Jun 12, 2014 3:15 pm
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mercury0x000d wrote:
It isn't so much how fast (or slow) your machine is, but how well you utilize the hardware and software you have, and I'm hoping this is where the project will soar.

That's where I was impressed by this article again: Low Fat Computing (A politically incorrect essay by Jeff Fox) He and Chuck Moore (inventor of Forth), taking an entirely different programming philosophy, plus Forth hardware and software, have improved the compactness and speed of code by factors of 100 to 1000.

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Thu Jun 12, 2014 6:33 pm
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Garth wrote:
That's where I was impressed by this article again: Low Fat Computing (A politically incorrect essay by Jeff Fox) He and Chuck Moore (inventor of Forth), taking an entirely different programming philosophy, plus Forth hardware and software, have improved the compactness and speed of code by factors of 100 to 1000.


That article took the words out of my mouth! People would be amazed how much worthless filler is in their software. I mean, back in the day people made full 3-D demos with texture mapping and real-time shading and such, yet nowadays you need a quad core PC with a 2 GB video card to run something like that! It's insane. And heaven forbid you want to print something! You better have lots of hard drive space to install the printer software which comes on a DVD. WHY??? Why would you ever in any given reality - alternate or otherwise - need a DVD DRIVE TO INSTALL A PRINTER?!? There's absolutely no excuse for that kind of thing. When I was learning computers, BASIC was prevalent and despite all the flack it catches for not being a "real" language, it's surprisingly powerful, fast, easy to learn and makes some really small executables. On the other hand you have assembly. Lots of folks back in the day programmed entire apps in it! I read somewhere that for years the engineers at Nintendo wrote complete games for the NES in assembly, until they got some software tools made halfway into the system's lifespan. That's the kind of power and programming practice I intend to put into this project. In the end, I hope to make it something that'll really amaze especially after you realize what dated hardware you're actually running. lol


Fri Jun 13, 2014 12:02 am
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I've seen a huge range of BASICs, from pittiful to amazing. I use assembly for cheap microcontrollers in commercial products, but I use macros for giving it structure, to get some of the benefits of high-level languages without losing any of the benefits of assembly. There are a couple of examples of what this looks like toward the end of my page on simple methods to do multitasking on systems that don't have the resources for a multitasking OS, or where hard realtime requirements may rule one out, at http://wilsonminesco.com/multitask/index.html.

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Fri Jun 13, 2014 12:34 am
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Hi, I've been following along this topic with interest. The 68k is one of my favorite machines, and I've wire-wrapped several 68000/68008 machines in past history. They were a lot of fun to get working. On the one I had interfaced to my PC via a dual port RAM. Dual port RAMS are one way to connect multiple cpu's together.
I hope your project goes well.

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Fri Jun 13, 2014 9:43 am
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robfinch wrote:
... and I've wire-wrapped several 68000/68008 machines in past history ...

Hi, Rob. Do you have any pix and/or specs of your work? Do you remember how high you were able to push the clocks on them?

Just curious, because I think that 68k is semi-neat as well ... it just has too many registers! :P ;)

Mike


Fri Jun 13, 2014 3:08 pm
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robfinch wrote:
Hi, I've been following along this topic with interest. The 68k is one of my favorite machines, and I've wire-wrapped several 68000/68008 machines in past history. They were a lot of fun to get working. On the one I had interfaced to my PC via a dual port RAM. Dual port RAMS are one way to connect multiple cpu's together.
I hope your project goes well.


Well welcome aboard! I never thought of dual port RAM - in fact, I guess I kinda forgot it existed! Thanks for the suggestion, I'll definitely look into that.


Fri Jun 13, 2014 5:49 pm
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Small update: the EPROM programmer and eraser arrived today! I've tested my spare EPROMs and it performed multiple reads and writes just fine. The pair of DUARTs showed up a few days back.

I've sourced some more parts for the tester board project: a breadboard-compatible serial port, a dual voltage breadboard power supply, a tube of MAX232s to interface the serial port to the rest of the circuitry, a real time clock, a set of 3 27c4096 EPROMs (for only $1.29!) and a super-handy little clock pulse generator.

So far as the main project, I'm amazed I was actually able to find a place or two that still make the 206-pin ZIF sockets for the 68060!

More to come! :)


Sat Jun 14, 2014 7:43 pm
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Oh, I wouldn't want to guess at the price of those 206-pin ZIFs!


Sun Jun 15, 2014 9:18 pm
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BigEd wrote:
Oh, I wouldn't want to guess at the price of those 206-pin ZIFs!


They actually weren't too bad. One site had their ZIF sockets priced generally around the mid-$30 range. If that's the case and I do end up making a kit out of this, I think I'll just include one socket on the board and leave the other 7 spaces socket-ready! lol


Mon Jun 16, 2014 12:45 pm
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That's not too bad at all.


Mon Jun 16, 2014 12:48 pm
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BigEd wrote:
That's not too bad at all.


I just got an e-mail back from Aries. The price for one socket is $84.00. But the good news is that the price drops to $67.20 when you order in multiples of 25! :roll:


Mon Jun 16, 2014 3:32 pm
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