PowerUP (accelerator)

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CyberStorm PPC604e accelerator board

PowerUP boards were dual-processor 68kPowerPC accelerator boards designed by Phase5 Digital Products for Amiga computers. They had two different processors working in parallel, sharing the complete address space of the Amiga computer system.

History[edit]

In 1995 Amiga Technologies GmbH announced they were going to port AmigaOS to PowerPC. As part of their Power Amiga plan, Amiga Technologies was going to launch new Power Amiga models using the PowerPC 604e RISC CPU and in co-operation with Amiga Technologies Phase5 would release AmigaOS 4-compatible PowerPC accelerator boards for old Amiga 1200, Amiga 3000 and Amiga 4000 models.[1][2] However, in 1996 Amiga Technologies' parent company ESCOM entered into deep financial problems and could not support Amiga development. Due to a lack of resources, the PowerPC project at Amiga Technologies stalled and Phase5 had to launch accelerators without a PowerPC-native AmigaOS. As a stopgap solution, a new PowerUP kernel was created allowing new PPC-native software run parallel with 68k Amiga OS.[3] To complicate things even further, former Commodore International chief engineer Dave Haynie questioned Phase5's plans to develop PowerPC boards without Amiga Technologies: "Their approach on the software front is kind of a hack, and on the hardware front it's just too much like the old Commodore; at best, they'll wind up with interesting, non-standard, and overpriced machines that can't keep up with the rapid changes in the industry."[4]

Nevertheless Phase5 had decided to go their own way and develop a PowerPC-based AmigaOS-compatible computer without Amiga Technologies. They also announced plans to write a new Amiga OS-compatible operating system.[5] Wolf Dietrich (managing director of phase5) earlier commented that "we found that Amiga Technologies offers us no sort of outlook or basis for developing into the future".[6]

There is no detailed information about how many PowerPC accelerator boards Phase5 (and later DCE) sold. According to Ralph Schmidt in an AmigActive article featuring MorphOS, there were about 10,000 people using Phase5 PowerPC accelerator boards.[7] The unofficial PowerUP support page estimates similar figure.[8]

PowerUP software[edit]

PowerUP kernel is a multitasking kernel developed by Ralph Schmidt for Phase5 PowerPC accelerator boards.[9] The kernel ran alongside the AmigaOS where PPC and 68k native software could run parallel.[10]

The PowerUP kernel used ELF as the executable format and supported runtime linking, relocations and custom sections; it used GCC as its default compiler.[11] This caused controversy in the Amiga community when developers thought that phase5 was bringing "too Unixish stuff" to Amiga.[12] [13] It was feared that PowerUP kernel introducing shared objects and dynamic linking would replace the original shared library model and shared objects were indeed adapted into AmigaOS.[14][15]

Another controversy was caused by different designs and purposes of Blizzard PPC and Cyberstorm PPC boards. The Blizzard PPC was designed to fit Amiga 1200 as a standalone device which would not need installing additional software but utilised Amiga's unique AutoConfig feature. This caused problems to some 3rd party developers who developed their own PPC kernels for PowerUP cards since they could not work on Amiga 1200 without removing the PowerUP kernel first.[16]

A few hundred titles were released for PowerUP including TurboPrint PPC, Amiga datatypes, MP3 and MPEG players, games (Quake and Doom video games to mention few) and various plugins including Flash Video plugin for Voyager web browser.[17][18]

PowerUP hardware[edit]

Blizzard 2604e[edit]

On May 12, 1997, Phase5 announced PowerUP accelerator board for Amiga 2000 computers. The card never got past the prototype stage and hence never released to the public.

  • PowerPC 604e at 150, 180 or 200 MHz
  • 68040 at 25 MHz or 68060 at 50 MHz
  • Four 72 pin SIMM sockets accepting 128 MB RAM, 64 bit wide
  • Ultra Wide SCSI controller
  • Expansion slot for the CyberVision PPC[19]

Blizzard PPC[edit]

This accelerator board was designed for Amiga 1200 and plugged into the trapdoor slot. It used a low cost, low end PowerPC 603e processor designed for portable and embedded use.

  • PowerPC 603e at 160, 200 or 240 MHz
  • 68040 or 68LC040 at 25 MHz or 68060 at 50 MHz
  • Two 72 pin SIMM sockets accepting 256 MB RAM, 32 bit wide
  • Ultra Wide SCSI controller (Blizzard 603e+ models only)
  • Expansion slot for the BlizzardVision PPC[20]

CyberStorm PPC[edit]

This accelerator board was designed for Amiga 3000 and Amiga 4000. The accelerator board was notorious for its high performance due to its 64 bit wide memory bus and PowerPC 604e processor. According to Phase 5 it could sustain memory transfers up to 68 MB/s on the 68060 and up to 160 MB/s on the 604e.

  • PowerPC 604e at 150, 180, 200 or 233 MHz
  • 68040 at 25 MHz or 68060 at 50 MHz
  • Four 72 pin SIMM sockets accepting 128 MB RAM, 64 bit wide
  • Ultra Wide SCSI controller
  • Expansion slot for the CyberVision PPC[21]

CyberVision PPC and BlizzardVision PPC[edit]

CyberVision PPC and BlizzardVision PPC (BVision PPC) were graphics board add-ons for CyberStorm PPC and Blizzard PPC accelerator boards. BlizzardVision PPC could be fitted into an Amiga 1200 desktop case. They had a RAMDAC with a bandwidth of 230 MHz capable to display resolutions with 80 Hz vertical refresh rate up to 1152×900 pixels at 24 bits or 1600×1200 pixels at 16 bits.

Resolution 8 bits 16 bits 32 bits
640 × 480 60 – 140 Hz 60 – 140 Hz 60 – 120 Hz
800 × 600 60 – 120 Hz 60 – 120 Hz 60 – 120 Hz
1024 × 768 75 – 120 Hz 75 – 120 Hz 75 – 120 Hz
1152 × 900 75 – 120 Hz 75 – 100 Hz 75 – 100 Hz
1280 × 1024 60 – 100 Hz 60 – 90 Hz N/A
1600 × 1200 60 – 80 Hz 60 – 75 Hz N/A

References[edit]

  1. ^ Amiga Technologies GmbH (7 November 1995). "Amiga goes POWER PC (TM)". Retrieved 2010-08-14. 
  2. ^ "Speech by Petro Tyschtschenko in Cologne". 11 November 1995. Retrieved 2010-08-14. 
  3. ^ "PowerUp - The Next Generation". May 1996. Retrieved 2010-08-14. 
  4. ^ Dave Haynie (22 May 1996). "Comments From Dave Haynie on the Current Situation". Retrieved 2010-08-14. 
  5. ^ Wolf Dietrich (25 May 1996). "phase 5 Answers Comments Made by Dave Haynie". Retrieved 2008-12-02. 
  6. ^ phase5 (May 1996). "phase 5 digital products announces an Amiga-OS-compatible computer for 1997". Retrieved 2008-12-02. 
  7. ^ Korn, Andrew (July 2000), "MorphOS? What's that, then?", AmigActive: 14–17 
  8. ^ "Registration PowerUP Products". 2010-04-21. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  9. ^ phase5 (25 February 1997). "phase 5 Announces the Cyberstorm PPC Power-PC Accelerator for Amiga 3000/4000". Retrieved 2008-12-02. 
  10. ^ "The Concept of the PowerUP Accelerators Boards". Retrieved 2008-12-02. 
  11. ^ phase5 (1997). "PowerUP.guide". Retrieved 2008-12-02. 
  12. ^ Steffen Haeuser (6 January 1999). "Snes9x (PowerUP) kicks Warpsnes ass! (NOT)". comp.sys.amiga.games. Web link. Retrieved 2008-12-02.
  13. ^ Steffen Haeuser (7 January 1999). "Snes9x (PowerUP) kicks Warpsnes ass! (NOT)". comp.sys.amiga.games. Web link. Retrieved 2008-12-02.
  14. ^ Steffen Haeuser (12 February 2002). "blast from the past". Retrieved 2010-07-28. 
  15. ^ Hans-Joerg and Thomas Frieden. "Shared Objects". Retrieved 2010-07-28. 
  16. ^ Steffen Haeuser (12 June 2000). "PowerUP vs WarpUP". comp.sys.amiga.games. Web link. Retrieved 2008-12-02.
  17. ^ "VFlash". Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  18. ^ "PowerUP software". Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  19. ^ Phase 5 Digital Products (12 May 1997). "Phase 5 Digital Products Expands The Powerup Product Line". Retrieved 2010-08-14. 
  20. ^ Phase 5 Digital Products (1997), Blizzard PPC User's Guide 
  21. ^ Phase 5 Digital Products (August 1997). "CyberStorm PPC User Manual". Retrieved 2010-08-14. 
  22. ^ Phase 5 Digital Products (1998), BlizzardVision PPC User's Guide 
  23. ^ Phase 5 Digital Products (July 1998). "CyberVision PPC User's Guide". Retrieved 2010-08-14.