Friday, August 09


Daily News Stuff 9 August 2019

A Wiseguy Eh Edition

Tech News

  • Intel is preparing a workstation-class NUC called Quartz Canyon.  (Tom's Hardware)

    Up to 8 core Xeon CPUs, ECC RAM, dual Thunderbolt and dual Ethernet, room for a full-size graphics card, and a 500W power supply.

    In what sense is that a NUC?

  • Seriously guys, check that you have everything with you before you get out of the car.  (Tech Crunch)

    It was only three months ago that you lost a billion dollars, Uber, and now you've done it again?

  • Left-wing crazies were camped out on Senator McConnell's lawn threatening bloody mayhem.  McConnell's communications team posted a video of these activities to Twitter.

    Twitter suspended their account.  No, not the violent crazy people, the communications team.

  • Phison, the company that had PCIe 4.0 SSDs ready to go the day PCIe 4.0 landed on the desktop, has announced their second generation PCIe 4.0 SSD controller chips.  (AnandTech)

    These won't hit the retail channel until this time next year, but when they do they'll be capable of 7GB per second read and write speeds, not the miserable 5GB per second of current models.  Random I/O will increase from 750K IOPS to 1M for both read and write.

Retrocomputing Journal

I've found an alternate source selling the H750 CPU for A$6 in qty 5.  I thought at first it was an error and that was the US price (which would be about right) but it seems to be real.  That's just over half what I was looking at for qty 1, and I'll go through five in zero time once I start making prototypes.  Particularly if I do the soldering.

Still a markup on the volume price (US$3.30) but they can't be making a lot of money. 

So, anyway, this means I could use two of them.  And still come out cheaper, now that I've eliminated the FPGA.  That would let me zap the two CPLDs as well, because one was serving as the console output and with two CPUs I'd have two LCD controllers, and the other was a port multiplexer, and with two CPUs I'd have (almost) twice as many ports.

I still need to put the pinout into a spreadsheet and work out which ports conflict with which other ports.  The configuration for pin 5 on the TQFP-100 package, for example, is:
You get to pick exactly one of those functions.  Since I'm using the LCD controller, I need LCD_G1, so SPI4 is disabled - or at least, I can't use it on that pin.  Some peripherals can be routed to more than one pin.  I need the LCD controller and Ethernet - there's only one of each - and then at least two of the SPI ports and two of the I2C ports.  And both the USB ports, and one of the MMC ports if at all possible.  I expect some juggling to be involved.

If I use two CPUs I can drop the internal USB hub as well.  That will reduce the total number of ports from five to four, but that's okay.  External USB hubs are not hard to find.

Let me throw that all into the BOM tool...  A$34.58 each for qty 5.  A$29.85 in qty 50.  I use a bunch of tiny surface-mount resistors and capacitors, and those are expensive if you're only buying five or ten; you really need to buy hundreds at a time, and they want you to buy thousands.  But since I use a bunch of them, qty 50 is enough to push through several price breaks.

But $35 in tiny volumes with dual processors and dual video displays - and double the RAM and ROM; I budgeted that in as well - is not bad at all.  I like the Renesas RZ/A1M partly because it has dual LCD controllers, but so do two H750s, and they're a lot cheaper.

Back before the Amiga 1500, there was something called the A1500 from Checkmate, a tiny computer reseller in the UK.  They didn't make computers; what they did was make desktop cases, buy Amiga 500s, and put the motherboard into the desktop case.

Then Commodore stomped on them.

Years later Commodore is gone but Checkmate is back.

It looks a lot like the A3000 in fact.  It takes both classic motherboards from the A500, A600, and A1200, and modern Amiga clone boards, or Raspberry Pi emulators, or mini ITX or micro ATX PC motherboards.

Video of the Day

Disclaimer: Tea.  Can't stand tea.

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Apple pies are delicious. But never mind apple pies. What colour is a green orange?

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