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intric8
Seattle, WA, USA
Website

Posted Sun Feb 02, 2020 3:16 pm

Most of you all know I'm really into the old stuff. I like the original OSes, I like floppy disks - I'm good with all of that stuff. But I like playing with the new stuff, too.

For example, over on my 8-bits I couldn't live without my Ultimate1541 these days. I've specifically made a mod to my C128D just so it could play nice with the device more seamlessly (more on that soon, I hope). And I picked up the C64 motherboard replacements and FPGA. I like new things, too.

And since I'm blessed with an abundance of hardware, I decided over the Christmas break to take the plunge and invest in the ZZ9000 card for my backup A3000. It was a total splurge, but I thought it would be an interesting project to put together whenever it arrives. It will kill me a little bit to remove the ROM Tower from my spare machine, but I'll be as careful as I can so the machine can be stored to its original condition should I choose to do so some day.

Have you all heard of this insane card? Its pretty bananas.
Based on the Xilinx ZYNQ XC7Z020 chip, it features not only a powerful 7-series FPGA, but also 2 ARM Cortex-A9 cores and DDR3 memory.
  • RTG: Up to 1920x1080 FHD screen resolution at 8bit 256-colors "Chunky", 16bit or 32bit color depths. (1920x1080 at 16 bit, all other resolutions up to 32 bit).
  • Enhanced VA2000CX Amiga native video passthrough functionality with AGA support (scan doubler with interlace flicker-fixer)
  • Dual 666MHz ARM Cortex A9 coprocessors to offload computing tasks like JPEG, MP3 decoding and graphics acceleration
  • 1GB DDR3 RAM (!!!)
  • Ethernet interface: Get your Amiga online
  • USB port supports USB mass storage devices. The driver allows you to access USB sticks from workbench. (YES!)
And the drivers and firmware are all open source, which is pretty cool. The card can supposedly also be used as a capture card, like for streaming. I've been told the previous card, the VA2000, could also do this but its quality was not very good. I'm hoping the new card fixes things but it's not the end of the world if it doesn't.

So since I'm going to have this kind of crazy resolution potential, though, I picked up a cheap (and color-matched, natch) NEC LCD monitor.
IMG_5896.jpg
4:3 FTW, yo



In addition to getting this insane card working, my planned upgrades will include:
  • New RTC clock with coin battery
  • SCSI2SD card with sd-based HDD
  • Noctua fan for quieter operation
  • OS 3.1ROMs
  • Probably some wacky Workbench mods, like Classic WB or something like that
A local friend of mine is on a similar path, yet is way ahead of me. He's using a fancy Piccolo RTG card where he's got transparent windows going which is pretty wild. He also ordered the ZZ9000 so I may pick his brain when mine arrives to get things up and running nicely.

Fun stuff to geek out on, even if most of the software and games I'm interested in won't take advantage of all of these whistles and bells.

I guess I need to learn Lightwave!

User avatar
obitus1990
New Orleans, LA, USA

Posted Sun Feb 02, 2020 8:07 pm

I have one that I installed into my hand-built A4000T. I haven’t gotten around to updating the firmware from when I got it, though, since the USB and Ethernet are now functional (one of them was disabled when I got it, don’t remember which). If you get one and use the hi res graphics, your RAM practically disappears. My 4000T is bog-standard config with a 3640 and 16MB of RAM. I think I have only 4 meg free when I bring it up to 1024x768, IIRC. It’s a little disappointing because I was expecting all that on-board RAM to be used instead. Maybe I just have a fundamental misunderstanding of how RTG and Amiga graphics work, but I don’t think I have seen that with using my old RTGs (spectrum 24/28, Matze’s piccolo derivative, and cyber vision cards). Maybe I’ll have to pull them out for comparison’s sake.

User avatar
McTrinsic

Posted Mon Feb 03, 2020 5:07 am

I also got one. Unfortunately, it will stop a Phoenix from booting.
And since this is an unsopported setup nothing will happen there.

You need be aware that the whole thing is a bit beyond beta-status and not yet "1.0"-status, including software and drivers. Still has some issues. Maybe "RC" status ;).

USB will not be fully functional but rather provide a mass storage interface only.
Some of the RAM can be used for the Amiga as FastRAM. Unfortunately, it will be available at a low speed due to teh Zorro interface.

It's becoming an impressive piece of hardware.

User avatar
intric8
Seattle, WA, USA
Website

Posted Mon Feb 03, 2020 9:31 am

USB will not be fully functional but rather provide a mass storage interface only.
I'm totally OK with that if it allows the moving of files back and forth to my modern hardware more seamlessly. And yeah, I definitely had the impression the firmware and drivers are a work in progress.

User avatar
Zippy Zapp
CA, USA

Posted Mon Feb 03, 2020 10:51 am

Very cool. I vaguely remember reading about this. Would this be a good upgrade for a stock speed A2000? I seem to think this would be ideal with a powerful accelerator. Now if they made a matching CPU slot FPGA based accelerator that would be something.

You have inspired me to get my upgrades I bought for my A2000 going though. So thanks!

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dansalvato
Boise, ID
Website

Posted Mon Feb 03, 2020 1:09 pm

Zippy Zapp wrote:
Mon Feb 03, 2020 10:51 am
Very cool. I vaguely remember reading about this. Would this be a good upgrade for a stock speed A2000? I seem to think this would be ideal with a powerful accelerator. Now if they made a matching CPU clot FPGA based accelerator that would be something.

You have inspired me to get my upgrades I bought for my A2000 going though. So thanks!
According to the technical page (https://mntre.com/media/ZZ9000_info_md/ ... urces.html), the drivers require a 68020 or higher for RTG, but only a 68000 for USB and Network. I have both a ZZ9000 and a 68030 accelerator on the way for my A2000, so I'll be sure to report back after messing around with it. But I'm guessing that until people start writing ARM software for it, it's mainly good for USB storage, networking, and RTG (with RTG not available to stock 68000 machines).

User avatar
Zippy Zapp
CA, USA

Posted Mon Feb 03, 2020 6:12 pm

Thanks for clarifying that. I guess I missed that. Well I know iComp is working on an ACA2000 for the Amiga so perhaps that will be a good combo.





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