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Alive 6

 CT060 is surely the  most promising  accelerating card  for our  Falcons. The
story of  the CT  series  is  quite long  and filled with good and bad news...
Lastest news about  the CT060 informed us that  we had to endure another delay
due to manufacturing problems. Here I gave you the opportunity to send me your
question to Rodolphe and  he kindly accepted to  answer the 20 or so questions
quite fast I have to say.

1. How much longer are we  to wait for the CT60 ? A lot of people have prepaid
earlier this year, and have been very patient so far, when will  this patience 
be rewarded? (Hopefully some positive news by the time this interview hits the 
streets ?) 

I started a new job in Switzerland  back in March while I hoped by late January
that I would have  enough time to complete  work on the CT060... Since  then my
spare time has been higly reduced and above all the main trouble now comes from
the fact that I live in two different places during the week and on weekends. I
cannot travel by train with my Falcon, a monitor AND an oscilloscope...

Already I had to buy a laptop PC so that I could work in the train and in the
evening after leaving  the office. Of course I  also work on  weekends on the
CT060. I cannot give you a release date  yet but I can tell you that the wait
won't be long... As far as I know no buyer has blamed me for this delay...

2. How frustrating were your experiences with getting the boards manufactured ?
I remember that  the  manufacturer made  a fairly  silly error, and  the boards
had to be returned to be reworked ! 

This kind of incident happens in hardware manufacturing. That didn't slow me
down a lot since logic development wasn't completed yet...

3. Was bringing the CT60 to a conclusion more or less difficult than you first
anticipated ? How  would it  compare, effort and  time-wise, against, say, the
CT2 ?

CT060 was piece of cake ! Getting 50 MHz access to the Falcon bus with the CT2
was really hard to get to work !

4. How does CT60 compare with other hardware boosters for the Falcon? Yes, we
all know it is the first with an '060 (grin!)

No benchmark has been done as GEM isn't working yet due to blitter problems...
We'll have to wait until the bus works properly with the  Falcon and CT060 for

5. To what extent will the CT60 improve over a standard Falcon. How much 
quicker will everyday GEM-Legal software, such as web browsers, graphics 
packages etc, be on a CT60 enhanced Falcon ? Feel free to quote whatever
figures you  like at this  point, say 10 or 20x  faster than a  standard

We can expect a machine 20 times faster...

6. How compatible with the  standard Falcon will CT60 be ? I know there is a
standard mode to switch down to, but for using  it in enhanced mode, I would
imagine a compatibility rate similar to something like Afterburner, but what
are your views on the subject ?

Compatibility will be much better  than AB40 ! CT060 snooping is working ! It
means addresses in the 060 cache aren't validated if the SDMA  write to these
addresses  in  ST-Ram... It is  not the case of  the  AB40. Besides, the  DPS
routines of the TOS are modified  so that transfers  work well... And finally
the use of the PMMU will be optimal and better than on AB40 with the horrible
things in the AUTO folder!

7. Are there any future enhancements, add-on boards or cards planned for CT60?
I know that the Nature  Brothers  are  thinking  of producing  a graphics card
for it, for example.

It's more than a project seems work is currently be done !

8. What are your plans after CT60? I remember you working on something called
RioRed ?  Also, are  there  any  future  plans  for  anything  Atari hardware
related ? Rumours say you may continue the Xtos project ?

Can't tell right now, no idea... I still have to fix a few things with Riored-J
before it can be  made public... Riored (without  a J) has been  a dead project
since September 2000. Regarding Xtos, I  still don't  know if I'll  work on it.
If I do, I want it to be cheap and  available VERY soon  thanks to everything I
have already done on other projects.

9. A historical curiosity. We all remember the Phenix, the dual '060 based
super  Falcon  concept  that  didn't  make it. I  even remember  seeing  a
motherboard at the AMS Show in Stafford a few years ago. Shortly after, it
all fell apart  from the  firmware developers  side. How close  did Phenix
actually get to being fully realised?

A single motherboard was produced and  indeed it WAS  shown in Stratfford, I
still remember that tho it  takes us back  in... November 99 ! But  no other
motherboard was produced after that... Unfortunately developers gave up that
project and I can't tell how far they really went into development. Sure 060
would boot in flash  mem and  wrote into  hard registers of  the ALPINE card
therefore blinking some leds here and there

Moreover, accesses to the IDE ZIP drive on the Alpine board worked and the PCI
graphics board was well initialized - it showed a checkerboard, so the PCI bus
was OK. What a shame those big idiots had to create an OS.

10. The first wave of CT060s  will only  count 150 items, all  of them being 
already sold. We can guess there will be another wave of CT60s but maybe you 
already have plans ?

You'll have to wait until the first benchmarks are made public...

11. What happened to the CTT project (accelerating card for TT) ?

It never started and it's no use asking again... There are just not enough
people interested in that ! TT machines are already old...

12. The CT060 is said to use the Falcon as an IO peripheral, is it true ? Could 
other computers be used as such peripherals ? Can I hope to get  rid of that P4 
2.4 Ghz standing on my desk ?

Yes the way CT2 also did. and NO, other computers won't be used as such. The
Riored-J project does plug a PPC to a P3 motherboard instead of the P3 !

13. Did you feel pressured by the heavy expectations of the Atari community or 
did it act more like a strong motivation ?

It motivated me ! Even some negative attitudes found me more motivated ! Here
I'm thinking of 2 people from the former CENTEK team who said I couldn't code a
BIOS boot. Sure I can't do that but we're lucky there are still skilled people
out there...

14. Is CT060 your ultimate master piece or are you already considering a 
sequel ? More powerful motherboards or CPU ?

I've been thinking about it a lot... But I'm getting older and try to have
peaceful weekends...

15. What projects for the future ? A CT060 killer or rather peripherals for the 
CT060 ?

Neither... The SuperVidel card is a great enhancment... Therefore there's no
real reason to continue with PCI... PPC card is essential  tho provided some
developers are ready to adopt it.

16. Would it have been possible to make some sort of adapter for amiga
expansion boards such as PPC and graphicscards ?

Too twisted...

17. What will be your next project after the ct60  is finished ? We've all read 
about an AGP/PCI board, will this be released for certain ? If yes, when can we 
expect this add on ? 

SuperVidel being 100% compatible with Videl, it's much better !!

18. Have you completely taken over the hardware bit for the atari coldfire 
project from Fredi ? 

I've just started thinking about its design...

19. How many falcons have you broken over the years of developing  
accelerators ? :) 


20. What about the dsp transfer bug : is it the hostport or dma/ssi ? 

CPU-DSP transfers are always done thru the host 8-Bit port of the DSP !

21. if it's the hostport, is it about the 060 and ttram being _way_ to fast for 
the dsp. ie. do we have to handshake ??  

No ! Besides tests don't use  SDRAM... The DSP routs  of TOS were rewritten by
Didier Mequignon so that handshaking works in both directions IF software uses
the TOS commands. In other cases, no chance, too bad !

 Thanks are  sent to  Rodolphe and  too the  many Atarians  who sent  me their
 questions, here  answered. Thanks are  also sent  to Strider  who  helped  me
 translate some answers as  the whole  "interview" was conducted  in French at
 first. We hope these answers have brought some light to the many CT606 future
 users... Let's hope CT060 will be out before the end of this year !

Alive 6