Accelerator boards - no future? Bad business?

Swift Griggs swiftgriggs at
Fri Apr 22 16:17:15 CDT 2016

On Fri, 22 Apr 2016, ethan at wrote:
> SGI stuff is still much under wraps as far as I know.  Thats why NetBSD
> and similar for SGI are still pretty rudimentary.  All propriatary, those
> groups don't want to use stolen info, and who knows if the documentation
> still even exists after the rackable purchase.

Rackable totally needs to release that stuff, but the lawyer-weasels are
probably never going to let that happen due to all the cross-licensed code
in IRIX.  However, I still wish they'd release hardware specs.  I wonder
what that could hurt?  Maybe it's the same type of thing if they OEM'd too
many parts.  I think IRIX support of any kinds ends this year (for 6.5.30 on
a Tezro only).  Maybe they will reconsider after they don't get any $$$ from
it in order to build some good will and gain some street cred.  Yes, I
know..  feel free to wake me up anytime...

> High clock rates for data busses of modern systems wouldn't work with old
> style card edge interconnects AFAIK.

Ahh, yeah I forgot that's why they did that (move to BGA and such).  I'll
bet you are right.  It'd have to go in the processor slot.

> Also, I don't think the old PPC accelerators for the Amiga or the ones for
> the Macs (that sometimes had CPU upgrade slots) would really accelerate
> everything - you might get faster processor instructions and maybe L1/L2
> cache -- but memory and I/O are still slow?

That's totally true from my recollection.  However, some of the boards for
the Amiga would co-locate additional RAM on the accel board.  That was a bit
of an in-between state.  Nonetheless the faster CPU(s) would generally have
some positive impact.  Plus, some of the boards were just plain neat looking
and made your Amiga look even-more-awesome (to my geek eyes, at least).

> They were really expensive at the time :-) US dollars have lost a lot of
> value (especially given overpriced housing.) The old $3000 Tandy system
> with a 20 meg hard card and TGA/CGA graphics is like $7000 in todays cash.

Which is why I never owned one :-)  My parents were so poor when I was a kid
I slept in a dresser drawer (until I outgrew it).  hehe.  I only got
cast-off gear at that time, usually 10 years behind the state of the art
(mostly stuff my mom found at garage sales).

> Amiga stuff was always pretty expensive, and you had to pay VGA monitor
> prices for it's crappy TV display (1084S).

Awww.  That truth stings.  :-) It sure was a purty video display and playing
SNES and Genesis games on it rocked.

>  And yea, at least Atari stuff was made in Taiwan so they were using
> cheaper labor then too.

Heh, Atari always was a forerunner.  Guess they pioneered offshoring, too. 

> You gotta build it!

Oh man, I can barely repair my guitar amps when they fail.  You guys would
laugh hard watching me try to run a scope, too.  I can fix monitors,
sometimes (used to do it back in the day for a job).  Mostly, I'm a 'test
post' electronics tech.  I can measure voltages, run a solder-sucker, tell
the diff between most components, and possibly not burn and bird-crap all my
joints, but I pretty well suck at electronics.  I'm not even close to
skilled enough with digital component layout tools, logic analyzers,
verilog, FPGAS, etc..  as what I'd need to be and I doubt I could learn it
fast enough to be useful, but who knows.  Like you say, the tools today are
amazing.  I'm more of a software and integration guy, but I'm interested in
just about everything technical, even biology (esp female biology, har har) !


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