Accelerator boards - no future? Bad business?

Guy Sotomayor ggs at
Fri Apr 22 13:25:29 CDT 2016

> On Apr 22, 2016, at 11:03 AM, Swift Griggs <swiftgriggs at> wrote:
> Remember all the accelerator boards for the Mac, Amiga, and even PCs in the
> 90's ?  I've often wished that I could get something similar on my older SGI
> systems.  For example, fitting an R16k into an O2 or doing dynamic
> translation on a 4.0Ghz i7. 

The main reason for a lot of the “accelerator” boards was to be able to run
non-native code on the same platform.  With the advent of performance
micros (latest x86 and Power) there is little need to do that because emulation
(or dynamic translation) is fast enough and with the various virtualization
capabilities, it’s not unusual to have multiple different OS’s running on the
same HW.

Apple did this with some success in it’s various CPU transitions.  When they
switched from 68K to PPC, the PPC emulated the 68K code.  The same
happened when they switched from PPC to x86, again the PPC code was
emulated (actually in that case it was dynamically translated).

> So, here's the question. Is my dream likely to ever be possible enough that
> a boutique shop could pull it off and not lose their shirt on the production
> costs and R&D to do it ? I'm encouraged by things floppy emulators that are
> produced for these old machines. However, that's probably significantly
> easier to make than a CPU accel board. 

It’s also keeping in character with the old machines.  It’s not adding new
capabilities but more replacing old peripherals with something a bit more
convenient.  Adding in a new accelerator means not only developing the
HW but also writing a boatload of *new* SW in order to be able to take
advantage of it.

Most of what you see (and what I’m mainly doing these days in terms of
“hobby”) is producing parts to a system in order to keep it running rather
than adding completely new capabilities.  Most companies would rather
spend their time and budget doing things for a high ROI and for large and
growing markets.

TTFN - Guy

More information about the cctalk mailing list