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NeXTStep on FPGA / new m68k

 
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kolla



Joined: 23 Feb 2015
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 8:52 am    Post subject: NeXTStep on FPGA / new m68k Reply with quote

Hello!

I am curious, if there is a new affordable/cheap m68k system available, in shape of either an FPGA and softcore m68k, or an ASIC m68k, would the NeXTStep community be interested?

The reason I ask is a discussion in the Amiga communities as the Apollo softcores for FPGA have matured to reach speeds that of fast 68060, and the developers intend to continue to improve the core both in terms of features (MMU for example) and efficiency. Some are playing with the idea of making the result into ASIC and build an m68k Raspberry-Pi type of board. And of course it would be beneficial if more of the m68k communities could join in on the effort.

I know NeXTStep from having a NeXTStation black pizzabox back in the days, and remember that it was 68040, it is unclear for me exactly what CPUs the OS supports. Also I have no idea if it is possible to tweak NeXTStep to run on new hardware, or if the only way would be to fully reimplement existing NeXT hardware.

Anyhow, just thought I'd throw this out there Smile

http://www.apollo-core.com
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barcher174



Joined: 07 Dec 2012
Posts: 560

PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very interesting. I'm interested in more details about their drop-in chip replacement:

http://www.apollo-core.com/index.htm?page=releases
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cuby



Joined: 12 Jan 2006
Posts: 164
Location: Coburg, Germany

PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 3:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Apollo core has been mentioned here and there - so far, from my point of view it seems to be mostly vaporware (but I would love to hear otherwise). In addition, the web pages promise an implementation of the 68000 only.

There are about half a dozen 68000 core implementations available (tg68, ao68, j68, wf68, a 68k core for an hp emulator) - these are already used in various Atari/Amiga/Mac FPGA implementations. However, only one, Tobias Gubener's tg68, supports at least a subset of the additional 68020 instructions and addressing modes.

For running NeXTstep, we would need at least a 68030, which means someone will have to implement the MMU and 68881/82 FPU. Not trivial at all... it would be easier to build something like a Sun 3/50 (the Sun MMU for the 68k machines was far more simple than the 68851/68030 MMU), but I suspect that none of the alleged early NeXTstep versions for Sun workstations have survived...
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kolla



Joined: 23 Feb 2015
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The web pages are a little behind, the latest cores now identify as 68EC020 and more and more 020 instructions are added from what I understand.

There is a product, the Vampire600 FPGA CPU/RAM card for Amiga A600 has been for sale for a few months, and various benchmarks shows it acting like a 200MHz 68020, equivalent of a fast 68060. So the core itself is not vapour, search youtube for "vampire600" and there's several videos. But sadly, yeah, it is not an open source core.

Anyways, it is evolving. I am trying to connect the various m68k communities who may have interest in more capable implementation, and try to figure out what it is people would want. Personally I want something to run Linux/m68k again (don't ask why, it's a fetish or something), and it would be awesome with a generic FPGA based box one can load with profiles for various old m68k hardware.
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cbrunschen



Joined: 09 May 2011
Posts: 31

PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 3:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Possibly of some interest in this context might be the MIST board implementing Commodore Amiga and Atari ST (and some other machines) in FPGA, including 68000 CPU core(s).

// Christian
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kolla



Joined: 23 Feb 2015
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2015 8:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is also the FPGA Arcade Replay board, for which there is also a CPU card with 68060 built. I don't know if NeXTStep can run on 68060? Anyways, some NeXT machine chipset would have to be reimplemented in FPGA, is the hardware of the NeXT machines well enough documented fot this to be possible?
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ardi



Joined: 11 Jun 2014
Posts: 85

PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 9:18 am    Post subject: Re: NeXTStep on FPGA / new m68k Reply with quote

kolla wrote:
[...]
I know NeXTStep from having a NeXTStation black pizzabox back in the days, and remember that it was 68040, it is unclear for me exactly what CPUs the OS supports. Also I have no idea if it is possible to tweak NeXTStep to run on new hardware, or if the only way would be to fully reimplement existing NeXT hardware.[...]

I'm not sure if there's documentation enough for writing NeXTSTEP m68k drivers for running the m68k version on a third party graphics board, sound card, and network card.
The other direction (emulating the original NeXT m68k hardware) seems to be hard: None of the m68k NeXT emulators I know of (Previous and MESS) have implemented sound nor network emulation. Grayscale and 12bit color graphics have been emulated, but not the 24bit NeXTDimension board.
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gilles



Joined: 03 Sep 2009
Posts: 117

PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2015 12:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sound is partly emulated in previous (at least the first level of sound commands, but dma streaming is not).
Some early nextstep versions only support 68030 processor, 68040 support was added a bit later. I suppose that nearly all soft core are not suitable to run nextStep because they lack a good MMU support (68040 will be easier to achieve, full 68030 MMU is just weird...). A basic FPU support is also needed to boot (and of course, a full FPU support is needed for many applications).
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