More comparisons?

I picked up a Mac Mini G4 (2 of them actually) and played around a bit with MorphOS.  I haven’t decided yet if it’s worth the license price, though having a 30 minute “use” window between reboots makes comparing it difficult.  One of the Mac Mini’s is 1.5 Ghz, 1 GB, WiFi/Ethernet while the other is 1.42 Ghz, 1 GB and Ethernet.  The faster one however refuses to read any burned DVD’s or CD’s…..well occasionally it will but not reliably.  I had to install MacOS on it using Target mode along with the use of the other Mac Mini..  I’d much prefer testing on the 1.5 Ghz system as it provides both slightly faster performance and WiFi.  Need to either repair/replace the drive or see if I can get it to boot it from an external firewire DVD drive.

What does this mean for Amithlon?  Not much, but I hope to do an “AmigaOS” comparison between an A4000T (with 060), WinUAE (i7 Win10 machine), MorphOS and Amithlon.

I’m a firm believer that AmigaOS had a possible future had it moved to the x86 architecture instead of the PowerPC path it’s currently on (Amiga OS 4.1).  Amithlon was the stepping stone to that end which  unfortunately was crushed by legal issues.

As for Amithlon, not really a lot to discuss as there hasn’t been any advancements yet in moving the kernel forward.  My Amithlon machine is running blisteringly fast and extremely stable.  I do want to wipe it clean and start over again from scratch as there are a few things I want to change (proper PFS3 setup being a biggie).  I’ve also discovered the kickstart in my smallird.gz is a little more modified then the original Amithlon and I’d like to start with that and patch it myself.  Mine reports in as an A1200/A4000 3.5 ROM (according to AmKick on my Win10 PC) and stock it should be an A500/A600/A2000 3.1 ROM (with a few extras).   I need to rebuild it with the original smallird.gz and patch appropriately.  When completed I may list my “startup-sequence”, “user-startup” and break them down including links to all the patches or extras I’m referencing.

WinUAE, MorphOS, A4000T, Amithlon…..should I toss in AROS as well?

News? Not really

Very little to add or update other than I added the Supported Hardware list to the blog, which some may find useful.  While I’ve been working on setting up my A4000T, I’ve recognized that I may have a few configuration changes I need to make on my Amithlon.  Primarily would be the PFS3 filesystem which I have not configured properly on my Amithlon drives.  There may be some other changes I can do, this one just made itself more apparent as I worked on my A4000T setup.

Other than that, I’ve done a few speed test on the A4000T as I went from the A3640 25Mhz to the WarpEngine4040 40Mhz setup.   For kicks I ran a ‘make module’ in SysSpeed on the Amithlon and copied it over to the A4000T where I loaded it to compare.  It’s a bit embarrassing for the A4000T.   I may post a few of those results when I have the time.   I wish I hadn’t lost all the early test I had done on the A4000D before moving everything to the A4000T.

System change….A4000T

I was lucky enough to have an A4000T fall in to my hands, so the A4000D is going away and the A4000T is taking it’s place.  Same layout but now I won’t have to worry about the ZorroII/III/Video cards I have as they will all fit in the chassis.  I’ve got everything moved over but it really doesn’t like my CF Card, SATA>IDE SSD and Slim DVD-RW drive with the 4-Way IDE add-on.  It also didn’t like booting off my CF Card configured with all the hardware configured (PicassoII, X-Surf100/RapidRoadUSB) but had no problems booting from my other CF Card with OS 3.9 and BB1&2 installed.  I need to get the A4000T layout of how I want to boot (CF Card or HD, IDE or SCSI, etc..) based on what I have and what will work.  The 4-Way IDE adapter is out…it may be due to the onboard IDE and SCSI controllers vs. the A4000D only having IDE.   I may even try A4000D Roms in the A4000T so as not to have it attempt to use the onboard SCSI (the WarpEngine has faster SCSI).

*EDIT* I found the trouble!  When removing the drive cage you have to disconnect the motherboard power connection, when checking issues I was having with the PicassoII I noticed only one of the connectors was connected.  I’m impressed the machine functioned as well as it did with only half of the power connections being made.  The 4-way now works and I have the slim DVD-RW/CF card working as before along with my SATA SSD drive.

a4000tmy-a4000t

More A4000 Goodies!

Thanks to a very helpful/generous friend my A4000 has become “better” and bringing it closer to a more appropriate Amithlon comparison.

What’s been added?  A WarpEngine4040 (68040 @ 40Mhz) with 128 MB ram.  The X-Surf 100 has been updated with the RapidRoad USB adapter and I have a 68060 adapter and ROMY that are next in line to be added, bringing the WarpEngine4040 to a 68060 @ ?? Mhz.  I have a Motorola 68060 Rev 6 mask 71E41J  ready to be installed and a proper custom ROM for the ROMY to allow booting with a full 68060 CPU.

Another generous friend has offered me a spare Picasso II RTG graphics card which will be used for testing/comparing against Amithlon.   Something will have to come out (Toaster (x2), Flyer, X-Surf, Picasso II) since there are only 4 slots in the A4000.  I’ll probably pull both the Toaster and Flyer (actually not even installed yet) while I conduct my comparison test between what I would consider a pretty capable Amiga A4000 and my extremely capable Amithlon system.

First I’ll have to get the A4000 recapped, WarpEngine upgraded and then start some testing.

What’s going on…

Amiga 4000

The A4000 is getting most of my attention at the moment.  I’m working on a decent setup so that I can compare a nice A4000 against a nice Amithlon system.  With a Video Toaster4000, a Video Flyer and an X-Surf 100 installed….I’m out of available slots, so no RTG graphics or sound boards which will put the A4000 at a disadvantage from the start.  Thanks to a generous friend I will be adding a WarpEngine4040 soon, which will be receiving an ‘060 upgrade after testing with the stock 68040 CPU.  I want to have the A4000/40 68040 @ 25 Mhz, the WarpEngine4040 68040 @ 40 Mhz and the 68060 @ ? Mhz comparisons.  To give the A4000 a little more in the graphics, an Indivision AGA MKIIcr was added.  This is a pretty impressive little piece of hardware.  It pushes down over the LISA chip, pulling the signal from the pins on the LISA chip to run them through a framebuffer to de-interlace and scan-double the stock Amiga video signals and output them over DVI at 60 Hz (or more) to support modern monitors.  This means a regular VGA monitor can display your Amiga native “NTSC” or “PAL” modes.  You basically attach a monitor (ie NTSC, PAL, Super72, Multiscan, etc..) that is in your DEVS:/Monitors/  with a VGA mode (I’m using 640×480 @ 60 Hz for NTSC, 1024×768 @ 75 Hz for HighGFX for and 1280×1024 @ 75 Hz for Xtreme.   These modes “640×480” can be configured to match your  actual monitors specs.   Really nice device.   Currently I am running a 1024×768 32 color Workbench which isn’t that sluggish.

I’m hoping to test a bit more (WarpEngine) before I tear it all down and send it off for a recap and upgrading of the SuperBuster 9 to SuperBuster 11.

Amithlon

As mentioned, I haven’t spent much time on this.  I have however come in contact with someone who does know coding/linux and kernels and we have been discussing what can be done to possibly bring some new updates to compiling one for Amithlon.  I’ve donated a few graphics cards based on a similar supported GPU (one a PCI NVidia FX5500, the other a PCIe NVidia PCX5750) so he can determine why the PCI bus works and the PCIe bus doesn’t and hopefully correct or patch in PCIe support.  Of course this is slow and tedious work so don’t hold your breath…just keep your fingers crossed 🙂

Early comparison….the Amithlon dominates the A4000.  Sysinfo V4 gives me basically a “1” in Dhrystones against the A4000 with the A4000.   Testing the Amithlon…..upper “290’s” to low “310’s” against an A4000.  Not the most accurate testing of course…but speed is one of Amithlons strong points.  Video being another strong point (RTG, no native support) as I’m running a very nice and FAST 1680×1050 32 bit color Workbench.  Screen redraws are so much faster, even at the higher resolution and higher bit depth.  The Amiga does have AGA/ECS/OCS support though and Amithlon is RTG only.   More coverage on this when I get the A4000 updated.

Amiga 4000 owner again

I happened across a crazy deal that resulted in me being the proud owner of an Amiga 4000 once again 🙂   It was probably the mid 90’s that I’ve last owned an Amiga computer so with all the emulation testing I’ve done, I apparently caught the “Amiga” bug again.

A4000/40 @ 25Mhz, 16 MB fast ram, 2 MB chip ram.  I’ve added 3.1 Kickstart Roms, a 250 GB IDE drive I had lying around, a SATA DVDRW/CDRW I had lying around with a SATA -> IDE converter.  The floppy drive sounded horrible and failed to boot off the 3.1 Install disk, luckily WinUAE came to the rescue.  Using an IDE to USB cable I was able to attach the 250 GB IDE drive to my Windows 10 PC and then use WinUAE to partition/format and install Workbench 3.9 to the A4000.    Removed from WinUAE and insert in the A4000 and boot……and Workbench eventually displays (Using DblNTSC screen mode as my monitor will not sync to the low 15 Khz frequency of the native Amiga screen modes.

To add,  I have a Video Toaster 4000 and…..(drum roll)…..the card I dreamed of owning during my earlier Amiga 4000 days……the Video Flyer!   I can’t wait to start playing around with this.  I have an external dual TBC so I can correct timing and/or genlock the signals to match on digital cameras to feed the Toaster’s switcher which then feeds the Flyer card.

I’ll have to do some basic comparisons between Amithlon hardware and Amiga 4000 hardware….so far, of course, the Amithlon blows away the older A4000 (CPU performance, RTG video modes, newer mice/keyboards, etc..).

I was able to acquire an X-Surf 100 network card for the A4000.  Installed and tested, though I am having a few issues with it.  Large data transfers seem to cause a reboot, either downloading from the web or transferring from my NAS box via SMBFS.  It’s very possible it is due to the Super Buster revision 9 in the system.  I’m needing a little work done so I’ll probably prep for a one time shot at everything (re-cap, new memory sockets, add socket in place of Super Buster to upgrade to revision 11, etc..).

 

 

Rebuild time…

After many different apps installed and removed, partitions created, deleted, recreated with different filesystems (pfs3 vs. ffs) my Amithlon machine started flaking out when writing to the IDE hard drive (500 GB).  Not completely unexpected, this hard drive had been heavily used and moved from PC to PC over the years, finally finding its way in to my Amithlon setup.

My system has a SATA drive as the boot drive and the IDE drive was for the AmigaOS side.  Using kernel 3.10, it couldn’t see the SATA drives installed and only presented the IDE Amiga drive in HDToolBox.  There was a second SATA drive installed that I had for testing kernel 4 so I decided to rebuild my system on kernel 4 this time.  I had specifically chosen the hardware inside so I don’t require any kernel drivers/modules….just Amiga drivers and OpenPCI drivers.  AHI has Emu10x drivers for my sound blaster, OpenPCI has a driver for my Realtek 8139 Ethernet card and of course the vide card drivers are built in the kernel (Nviidia fx5500).

So…fresh, clean install of Amithlon running off kernel 4, fully patched and configured (sound, USB, network, smbfs, Google drive/Dropbox).  Since I had to recreate the Picasso96Mode settings I grabbed SGrab off Aminet and made a few screenshots while writing up the process.  Picasso96Mode use is now added to part 2 of the Installation Guide.

Amithlon under Virtualbox tweak

***Bonus tweak

It was mentioned to me that adding crusoe to the init string will allow Amithlon to boot in Virtualbox without the need to time a key press.  I’ve tested and it does appear to function.

kern310 init=/linuxrc console_level=0 root=/dev/ram0 mem=512M initrd=smallird.gz vga=769 ramdisk_size=2310 cachesize=65536 leavepages=5200 video=dovesa crusoe

The “crusoe” option was used in testing with the Transmeta CPU, Crusoe, and isn’t needed for Amithlon machines using an AMD or Intel CPU.   However, for whatever reason, it makes Amithlon boot under Virtualbox without needing to wait for the proper timing of pressing a key to continue the boot processs.

** It was recently discovered that the better approach would be to use a keyword of ‘nosleep’ instead of ‘crusoe’.  Both give the same results but ‘nosleep’ is designed to bypass the interrupt it appears Amithlon is waiting on a response from, which doesn’t occur under the Virtualbox environment.

kern310 init=/linuxrc console_level=0 root=/dev/ram0 mem=512M initrd=smallird.gz vga=769 ramdisk_size=2310 cachesize=65536 leavepages=5200 video=dovesa nosleep

Current

I finally settled on a Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L motherboard based on a few postings by fishy_fiz on EAB and another site, Amiga.org.   3 PCI slots (Nic, Video, Audio) and heavily overclockable.  Runing (2) 512 MB chips, a PCI Soundblaster Live, PCI Nvidia FX5500 256MB video card and a Realtek 8139 100Mb Nic it easily covers Sound, Accelerated video and Networking.   It uses a LGA775 socket and I’m running a Core2Duo E8600 CPU at 4.0x Ghz.  The system is blazingly fast.  I’m bouncing back and forth between kernel 3.10 and kernel 4.  I do this by the way I like to set up the system….a boot drive to hold the DOS partition used to initiate Amithlon and a second drive to hold AmigaOS.  I like this method as I can just swap out the second hard drive with a completely different install of AmigaOS.  Kernel 3.10 doesn’t like the SATA on this motherboard so I have a SATA drive as the primary boot drive.  It currently has Windows 7 32bit and a small DOS partition on this drive and then I either use another SATA drive for kernel 4 or an IDE drive for kernel 3.  I just disconnect the IDE drive and when the system boots I choose Amithlon (using xfdisk’s boot manager) which boots the DOS partition to a command prompt.  I type loadlin @4small to launch Amithlon with kernel 4, of if the IDE drive is attached I type loadlin @3small.   Since kernel 3 doesn’t see the SATA drive I don’t have to disconnect it.  It runs a nice 234 times faster than an A4000 in dhrystones using SysInfo as the benchmark.

I’d also spent a decent amount of time running Amithlon under Oracle’s Virtualbox.  It was a very painful experience as it seemed to boot Amithlon maybe 1 out of 30 or 40 attempts.  Very frustrating when you are installing updates/patches and you need to do a cold boot.  Control-windows-windows (Ctrl-Amiga-Amiga) was never a problem so simple Amiga reboots were fine.  I may write a guide on running under Virtualbox but honestly I don’t see running it there, just run WinUAE for even more Amiga compatibility.  You won’t get accelerated video under Virtualbox but you can get networking, sound and USB functioning.   Booting under Virtualbox still has the occasional “not going to boot” issue, but I’ve found a way to boot nearly every time and detecting when it will not boot quickly so you can reset the Virtualbox session to try again.  Basically….change your parameter for booting to show you the console and not the “boing ball” when booting, wait for the Moving PCI now to run and then the screen will pause.  At this pause, strike a key.  It should “kick” the boot process  to continue.  Don’t touch a key before this…or it will not boot.  After the “moving PCI…..” and text that follows completes and pauses, if striking a key doesn’t re-engage the boot process, reset Virtualbox.  I rarely have to do this…but even rarely means it still happens.  The command for using console display instead of the boing ball is..

kern310 init=/linuxrc console_level=4 root=/dev/ram0 mem=512M initrd=smallird.gz vga=769 ramdisk_size=2310 cachesize=65536 leavepages=5200 video=dovesa

You’ll notice “console_level=4” instead of “console_level=0”.

Repeatedly doing the above (installing in Virtualbox and installing on different hardware) gave me a decent understanding of the boot process and how I like to set things up.   I created a new(er) guide on installing Amithlon which I hoped could get a few others up and running so that they could play in Amithlon and this expanded base of users could result hopefully in some new developments.   It also allowed me to collect more user data on what hardware works which helped in creating a list of supported hardware.

Amithlon

So I have AmigaOS XL now (QNX and Amiga XL/Amithlon cds).  Using some old PCs I had (one and old AMD Slot 1 900 Mhz CPU and one a “not as old” AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+) I ran a few attempts at installing Amithlon.  I wasn’t having much luck with the newer 64 X2, the graphics card was just a no go (PCIE, 2 GB ATI something) so I pulled out the really old PC that had been sitting under my desk unused for awhile.  Interestingly, this old PC had a Soundblaster Live PCI card inside.  I was able to get Amithlon up and running on this system though I hadn’t figured out installing AHI yet (no sound), vesa video and the network card wasn’t supported.  Well, it may have been…I still hadn’t figured out the whole driver modules and kernel 3.10 or kernel4 vs. the stock kernel (emubox.gz) or new_emubox.gz kernel.  Oh well….it has that real Amiga feel, it’s hardware  vs. emulated and it’s OS 3.9.   I burn a few CDs with some utilities, primarily SysInfo as I’d like to see how it compares to WinUAE I was running on my primary Windows 10 PC (i7 @ 3.5 Ghz, 32 GB ram).  SysInfo runs…..and it isn’t that far behind in dhrystones.  Wait a minute, this is an old AMD Slot 1 900 Mhz CPU with 1 GB of ram, running near the same speed as my i7 system!  Ok…time to work on making it better.  eBay.  What can I say….they have nearly anything you want and sometimes it’s cheaper than you’d expect (and sometimes it’s way more than you’d expect).  Lets get a PCI compatible network card ($5.00) and a compatible video card  ($20, a GeForce2 MX400 64MB SDR 4x AGP).  Reading more,  I found that kernel 3.10 from Gary Colville would be the best choice as it supports the Nvidia card and the SB Live card.  The network card is supported with all the kernels.   Wow…accelerated graphics are sooooo much faster than vesa, and having the ability to go online is making this Amithlon system even more enjoyable.  But….the speed!  Such an old CPU and it runs AmigaOS this well….I need to make it faster.   What is available in Slot 1 above 900 Mhz…..well not much, actually pretty much nothing.  Okay…I have this other PC with the X2 3800+, let’s get it working.  Wait….kernel4 from Milan is supposed to fully support this motherboard.  Audio, Network, IDE and SATA.   I need to replace the video card…no AGP slots.  Time to pick up a PCI card…what do the forums recommend….an Nvidia FX 5200, so I grab one of those from eBay.  128 MB PCI card, maybe I can figure out Picasso96Mode and get better resolutions, like maybe my monitors native resolution of 1680×1050.  I still was on kernel 3.10 at this time as I had luck with getting things working with it and so I moved the Soundblaster Live card and the Network card over.   I just want the greater speed.  I had issues with the FX 5200 card, the connector required a breakout cable to give you VGA or DVI or whatever so I then looked to just get the best card possible.  For PCI based cards under Amithlon, it lead me to the Nvidia FX 5500 256 MB card (though 128 MB may actually be better…since the entire video card ram has to sit in the AmigaOS addressable memory space).  Another trip to eBay and another card arrives in the mail.  I had two 2 GB chips in this PC so they had to come out and two 512 MB chips needed to go in.  Wow….old memory (not too old memory anyway) is extremely cheap on, you guessed it, eBay.  $5.00 for a GB of memory (2 x 512 MB chips).  I actually followed Charlie’s guide on this system build as I wanted to make sure I was doing everything correctly.  I installed WinXP and patched it…which was an entire day of waiting, then using xfdisk I created a small fat16 boot partition and a larger &76 partition for AmigaOS.  Grub was now the bootloader allowing me to boot to either WinXP or to Amithlon (which actually boots to the DOS partition which runs the loadlin.exe program to boot the linux based Amithlon kernel).  I had the system up and running and it was now nearly twice faster than my Win10 i7 system (running WinUAE and using SysInfo as the test software).  Okay great, we’re running faster but I still don’t have sound, nvidia-1 screen modes only function at 1024×768 (1280×1024 blanked my monitor, though “builtin” vesa modes worked at the resolution) and the network card was 10 Mbit.  Let’s get kernel 4 working.  I yank the network card, enable the builtin Nic in BIOS and actually use Giggledisk in AmigaOS to copy kernel4 to the amithlonboot DOS partition (and edit the menu.lst file).   I copy the driver files over and booting with kernel 4 I now had 1 GB network connection, my hardware accelerated Nvidia card and decent speed. I read a few postings on various forums of getting high resolutions so I started looking at what I needed to do the same.  Honestly…I needed to learn how to use Picasso96Mode tool in prefs.  I grabbed my monitor specs and searched for VESA resolutions and found a great site that list various specs for resolutions from 640×480 up higher than I needed.  Knowing the specs of my monitor and having the information Picasso96Mode needed I was finally able to create a 1680x1050x32bit screen that made AmigaOS look great.  I also finally spent the time to install AHI 6 and have sound working.  Next on the plate….USB.  It would be nice to move files easily to/from the Amiga and my PC with a USB stick.  I was using FTP my NAS supports to move files back and forth but USB would be more convenient.

Around this time I also put out the call to my friends and family that if they had any old PC hardware stuck in a closet/attic or wherever……I’d like to have a look at it before they toss it.  I was given two systems (an old Dell SFF desktop and an HP mid tower along with a few PCI sound cards.  I’ve moved memory around, video cards around, drives around testing each system trying to find the most stable while still maintaining a nice speed advantage over WinUAE.

***When I was first started comparing Amithlon and WinUAE, WinUAE was getting around 60+ times faster than an A4000 in SysInfo on my i7 Windows system.   The latest version of WinUAE I’m now using results are 200+ faster than an A4000.  Nice improvements.   Still slower, though just a hair, than my latest Amithlon system***

To be continued…..