Amiga Accelerators design and production is not a CS-Lab's main activity.
It is a side project that was born from nostalgia and passion to Amiga computers on which I and my business partner and friend started our long adventure with electronics and software development.
In April 2018 we got an idea to make some expansion card for the Amiga, you know - just for fun :) There was no plan to do any commercial project. We wanted to do something just for ourselves.
First, we started studying datasheets of 68K CPUs and playing with a TF530 board to learn about 68k family bus specifications, etc. A two-layer PCB of the TF530 shortly became a major limitation because of poor signal integrity, and then somewhere in July 2018, we built our first prototype for A500 with MC68030+MC68882 50MHz and 64MB SDRAM turbo. It was large, quite ugly, but it worked :)
In August 2018, the first prototype for A500 with MC68040 was built and also the second prototype with new FPGA (Artix-7), DDR3 RAM, and all integrated on a single PCB. DDR3 memory was very problematic at the beginning. It is very demanding in terms of PCB design, signal integrity, etc. We had had a lot of moments of desperation before we finally got this working.
Another problem with DDR3 memory is that despite its bandwidth is high, latency is huge. This huge latency is also the effect of the memory controller in FPGA. So why the hell we put DDR3 on this board? Because it is cheap and has nice bandwidth, and except CPU, there was also RTG graphics in mind.
For the graphics, DDR3 was perfect, and for CPU - well... modern CPU's have a lot of caches, so memory latency is not impacting them as much as old 68K's, which have only a few kB.
We decided to give this memory a chance and designed an L2 cache in between RAM and 68K CPU. It was a lot of work but made it possible to 68K run quite effective from this type of memory. It's not perfect, though. In the future updates, L2 cache will change to the so-called a two-way, or maybe a four-way cache solution and will also get some optimization.
Finally, in April 2019, we had working prototypes with MC68060 CPU.
This CPU is very special to us because back-to-back days in the '90s 060 accelerators were so expensive that we could only dream of owning one. By the way, recent prices on eBay of such accelerators are also crazy. After successfully running 060, there was a lot of work with additional board hardware. ARM <-> 68K communication and DMA, P96 driver, communication with ESP32 WiFi module, bootloader, and lots of other stuff...
In the meantime, we realized that there is a high demand for such boards on the Amiga retro market, and lots of people asked us if it would be possible to purchase these boards. So the fun was over, and the project became commercial ;) This is not as easy as it might sound. There is far more work to make such a project ready to use for anyone. But we decided that we want to create something for the still alive and very active Amiga Community.
Now, many days, a lot of prototypes and fixed bugs later, we're almost ready to start shipping to the first users.
Two years and only two people working on this project, so if you purchase this board and find some issues, please be patient. Write to us, and you will get support for sure. Just keep in mind that we're not Apple and don't have a 24/7 support center ;)
It is still a lot to do, but there will be updates. We are now primarily focused on the integration of various hardware features with the AmigaOS. Optimizations will be done later, to squeeze every single MIPS from this old, good 060 :)