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Re: Shablamm!

To: linux-mips@fnet.fr
Subject: Re: Shablamm!
From: Dom Sweetman <dom@algor.co.uk>
Date: Thu, 15 May 1997 08:11:20 +0100 (BST)
Cc: linux-mips@guadalquivir.fnet.fr
In-reply-to: <Pine.LNX.3.95.970514172128.3930A-100000@ravage.labs.gmu.edu>
References: <Pine.LNX.3.95.970514172128.3930A-100000@ravage.labs.gmu.edu>
Ryan Rafferty (ryan@ravage.labs.gmu.edu) writes:

> I am thinking about buying a Shablamm! Nitro VLB card.  This is
> quite an unusual animal--a MIPS R4600 with 32 megs of (what I've
> been told) cache, and designed to run NT.

Yes, it was one of the odder spin-offs of the Great MIPS/NT Hype.  T
talked to the guys who made it, but only ever saw a non-functional
prototype. 

The memory uses unusual DRAMs (from RAMtron?  something like that)
which were described as "cache DRAM"; when you read a location the
page around it (4Kbytes or so) is kept in an auxiliary static memory.
All DRAMs do this, because it's by copying the data from the main
array into the page buffer and back again that they get refreshed...

But the cache DRAMs had the feature that the last-accessed page of
data stayed in the static memory and would be returned quickly if the
next access was to the same page.  On other DRAMs (fast page, static
column or EDO) you can do something similar but the memory controller
has to make it happen, and there aren't enough control signals...

More useful for the Shablamm!! (two exclamation marks, I seem to
remember) was that the DRAM was fast at doing ordinary things.
Performance should be pretty respectable.

It plugs into a PC.  I hope that's an ISA socket, because at that time
it might have been VL bus.

> Does anyone know much about this card?  I saw mention of it on the
> homepage.  I'm probably gonna buy it anyway, since it's such a
> unique and wierd thing =).

It deserves a place in the museum...  But do try to get hold of an
original marketing flyer too, it's charming.

Dominic Sweetman
Algorithmics Ltd
dom@algor.co.uk

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