Just finished playing with Killer M1 accelerator and I have another toy to play with. As the article header says it is gonna be “some 800MHz PowerPC”. Is it really possible to have 800 MHz PowerPC in classic Amiga? Yes it is and its all thanks to the Hedeon who added new supported cards to the Sonnet Hacking project. These cards are so called PMC (PCI Mezzanine Card) which are used in industrial environment IT, Telco, etc. PMC uses their own ZIF connectors, but what is important these are PCI compatible.
That would be very simple definition of PMC (more detailed definition on Wiki). When you try to google some of the PMC models, you will find huge number of various models, some focued on networking, some on development, some just for RAM and some for computing power.
The common features of all Sonnets, Killers and many PMC cards are PowerPC CPU, own RAM and PCI compatibility. Most of the PMC cards uses PowerPC CPU which is no surprise for me, these CPUs have been proven as stable, powerful and cool.
So on the one hand we have a special PMC card, with a special PCI compatible bus in a special physical format, then we need a PCI card which can “carry” the PMC card on itself. These are called PMC Carrier Card PCI. When you put both together, you have an ultimate PowerPC Amiga accelerator to the Mediator PCI!
Let me introduce 3 models:
What I have right now on my table is brand new Ragnarok (PrPMC-8150) and Abaco Ramix PMC239/F carrier PCI. They look sexy, right?
Plug them both together… What a sexy looking hardware combo!
When Ragnarok is in and Amiga booted, ensure you have the latest PCI.library from Elbox in version 13,6+ and also latest powerpc.library from the Sonnet Hacking project. Then use command “pciinfo” which will show list of PCI devices in your Amiga. In my case I have just Voodoo3 and Ragnarok.
Everything interesting starts with InitPPC command. 384 MB RAM is added to your Fast RAM what amaze you already at first impression. Hey why 384 and not 512 you may ask? Answer is simple, because Elbox didnt count with it and allocated only 512 MB for entire PCI space. Out of the 512 there are 64 megs for Mediator itself and 64 megs for Voodoo3. That means “only” 384 MB is available for the PowerPC PCI accelerator. Situation is even worse when you use Voodoo4/5 or Radeon because these cards allocate 256 MB of the PCI space, then only 192 MB is left for the PowerPC card.
“Hey ELBOX – in 2019 – your 512 MB PCI space for Amiga MEDIATOR is not enough anymore!” ;o)
OK lets go on with our testing. I usually check the PowerPC with “getinfo” command which tells you all features and parameters of the PowerPC like frequency, bus frequency, L2 cache, etc.
You can see the Bus frequency is 100 MHz which is very nice for a SDRAM card. Maybe just 512 kB of L2 looks a bit small for high-end G3 processor. 2 MB would suit better it Ragnarok. Anyway you may be wondering how many MIPS makes such 800 MHz cpu in Syspeed, lets find it out ;o) (comparison with 604e/200)
912 MIPS that’s more than 3 times faster than stock Cyberstorm PPC! Stunning! So how fast it can do some math test?
There is one more feature especially made for PowerPC 750 FX and thats the overclocking. Part of the software package from the developer are 3 commands “getspeed”, “gettemp” and “setspeed”. Overclocking never been easier! You just write command “setspeed 850″ and your clock raise from 800 to 850, or 900, or 950, … Reboot makes clock back to default. But use that comman only at your own risk!
With slight overclock to 950 MHz – MIPS breaks 1000 …
I will not make paricular videos for each of the game now. I prepared another commented video where I show usage of Ragnarok from initial installation, initiation, testing and playing games. So enjoy.
Congratulation you made it to the end of this article. Let me summarize what Amiga Ragnarok is about. I remember when Hedeon published first screenshots of his attempts to hack Apple origin CPU card to work in Amiga hardware / OS back in February 2015. Initial results were so synthetical, just Cyberman command in shell. Back then, who could imagine how far this project will evolve. 5 main hardware models now supported for bigbox Amiga mediators. Its a huuuge achievement of Hedeon, author of the Sonnet Hacking Project. Its unbelievable how smart some Amigians are I mean re-purpose general hardware into Amiga is simply genial. Especially with Killer K1/M1 running as Amiga CPU accelerator – than phrase “Turn Lead into Gold” comes to word. With the latest evolution of the project – PMC cards – it looks like we are hitting limits of Classic Amiga architecture. Its unbelievable how far beyond CyberstormPPC speed was achieved. I wish Elbox pay attention to this project, because only Hedeon made Shark PPC dream the real thing.
New WarpOS game ports have been made (by Cowcat and Wrangler) since the project started (DukeNukem, BlitzQuake, BlitzQuake2, Hexen2, Quake 3 Arena, OpenArena, SmokinGuns, ReturnToCastleWolfenstein). Classic Amiga is in the renaisance not just because of Apollo Core, but also because of Sonnet Hacking Project.
I wish one more thing, actually two ;o) I wish Radeon Warp3D for OS3.X will actually happen and for second Elbox will update Mediator to support more memory. It seems the old Amiga Voodoo driver got to his limits (for example overclocking from 800 to 950 did not cause any FPS increase in Quake3, which is strange). Maybe someone can improve Voodoo driver or even better make a Radeon one, then I think we will be able to enjoy Ragnarok power even more.
I am curious what the Sonnet project will evolve next. Maybe we will see another hardware supported, maybe new game and software ports, maybe graphics speedup due to some hw/sw breakthrough and maybe somebody will hack it to boot PPC OS (Amiga/MorphOS/AROS/Linux) ;o) Thanks to Hedeon and all involved to keep the Classic Amiga spirit alive!