It all started with idea of one smart amiga user who most probably challenged himself with typical Top Gear question: „How hard it can be?“. In this case how hard it can be to make Sonnet Crescendo 7200 G3 PCI card working with Amiga via Mediator PCI busboard. For those who does not know what Sonnet Crescendo is, it is a PCI card with CPU and memory used to upgrade old PowerMACs. There are plenty of various Sonnet models and the one I am talking about now is model 7200 for PowerMAC 7200/8200 (originally equipped with PowerPC 601@75-120 MHz). The Sonnet Crescendo 7200 was made in 4 models:
- G3@400 MHz (512 kB L2 @ 133 MHz)
- G3@400 MHz (1 MB L2 @ 200 MHz)
- G3@500 MHz (1 MB L2 @ 166 MHz)
- G4@400 MHz (1 MB L2 @ ? MHz)
I was paying attention about this project since the beginning because I was always fan of PowerPC running in Classics. First idea of bringing G3/G4 to Amiga classics came out of phase5 when they announced new G3 and G4 Blizzards and Cyberstorms. But it all ended on the paper and we have never seen even a prototype picture. Then Elbox came out with their Shark PPC which is most probably just Sonnet card dressed with custom passive cooler and it ended somewhere in the software development phase. Where both companies with teams of developers did not succeed only one smart guy moved way further and started to have very good results. This was impulse for me and my friend to start looking for Sonnet cards available on e-shops around the world. Thanks to my friend’s detective abilities we both soon became owners of Sonnet Crescendo 7200 400/512 models which is the lowest of the 7200 model family, but it is absolutely enough anyway.
Before I get to the report of the real Sonnet usage let me quickly describe how this thing works (from the user, not developer perspective). Sonnet card is a PCI card that has own memory (typically 128 MB) and of course own CPU. The best comrade for Sonnet is Voodoo3/4/5 card (Voodoo4 in my case). The other PCI cards are not recommended since they may interrupt the entire symbiosis between CPU and GPU cards. Both cards communicate over the fast PCI BUS using their own memory allocated withing the 512 MB PCI memory space provied by the Mediator and they do not care about the rest of Amiga (well except paula DMA audio). That is why I have no other PCI card used in the Mediator and my Deneb is rather set for Zorro2 mode.
I wont describe installation process or any details. Right now I will just show how this works in my Amiga 4000.
Lets start with some photos of the HW:
Now lets check what is on the screen. Here is pciinfo listing all PCI hardware I have attached:
Whichamiga command shows then the entire hardware configuration:
Getinfo shows some more details about PowerPC:
Syspeed comparing to other Blizzards and Cyberstorms PPC (check also the memory organization):
And some math benchmarks:
In the Part 2 I will continue with Sonnet demonstration this time with more entertaining stuff. Stay tuned…