Accelerator boards - no future? Bad business?

Swift Griggs swiftgriggs at
Fri Apr 22 14:12:22 CDT 2016

On Fri, 22 Apr 2016, Guy Sotomayor wrote:
> [...] 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.

Indeed.  My other wish is that someone far brighter than I will someday
develop a MIPS emulator capable of emulating IRIX.  The odds of that aren't
great since untangling the ROM would be a real PITA.

> 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).

Yes, and don't forget the NeXT platform which had "quad-fat binaries"
capable of running on 4 (!) platforms at once.  It might have been a little
top heavy and impractical at times, but it was soooo cool to me.  I'm sure
you remember "Rosetta" too.  IRIX on x86 would be heresy to some, but I'd
welcome it *especially* if it could dynamically translate MIPS ECOFF
binaries, and run legacy IRIX software. I know the lawyers would never let
any of that happen, but a man needs to have some dreams.  :-)

> 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.

I see your point and I agree.

>  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.

An oil-tanker sized boat.  Yep.  Unless of course you could keep everything
pin compatible etc...  which is even harder.  "We're gonna need a bigger

> 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.

Well, I appreciate that fact that anyone is doing anything!  If I ever 
meet "Lotharek" I'm definitely buying him a round.  I get excited just 
looking at some old gear that someone's cleaned up nicely or polished the 
face panels on.  I'd probably die in an apoplectic fit if I ever saw an ad 
for an SGI accel board. If I ever make someone mad, they could totally get 
back at me by handing me a fake flyer for "Press release: Acme Inc 
releases SGI MIPS accelerator board based off high speed GPU". When I 
found out it was bogus I'd go jump off the roof.  Joking aside, I do see 
your point about restoring vs enhancing, and it's well taken.

>  Most companies would rather spend their time and budget doing things for
> a high ROI and for large and growing markets.

Amen brother, I was just wishing out loud. I needed someone to bring me back
to Earth. 


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