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Re: What do we *really* want ?

To: riscy@pyramid.com (project riscy)
Subject: Re: What do we *really* want ?
From: ronald%csunix.urc.kun.nl@kunrc1.urc.kun.nl (Ronald Schalk)
Date: Fri, 2 Jul 1993 15:06:29 +0200 (CET)
> Dear Mipsers !
> 
> But: I think it's time to lay back, cool down and think
> about WHAT DO WE REALLY WANT ?

I can't agree more
> 
> Remember, the whole thing started as an ISA card with
> CPU, some RAM and a way to use the rest of a PC as
> I/O subsystem, right ?

That's still what I prefer, just a card that pops in my pc.
> 
> Now we're on the way to build a complete workstation
> with lots of features, on-board intelligent video, scsi,
> ethernet, serial, sound and whatever.
> That all sounds good, but I doubt that all this is really necessary.
> 
> Things we *do* need and things we *might* need:
> 
> * A CPU. This is a *must* :-). Should be a 3051E, better 3081E. 
>   They are pin compatible, so the choice is no problem at all.
>   If the R4K2 is in fact that cheap: YES ! We should use it.
I agree
> 
> * Ram. The more, the better. Someone suggested to use
>   those 36bit by 512k or 2M modules. That saves boardspace,
>   right, but they are nearly twice that expensive than four of
>   the good old x9 modules.
>   I would say, 64 Meg on board is *definitly* enough.
OK

> * Keyboard controller. This is a *must*.
Disagree, if it's a card in the pc then hook up a cable from pc's serial
port to card's serial port and voila you've got a terminal.

> * Serial I/O. For starting the Linux port, we will need
>   two ports; one for a dumb ascii terminal, one for downloading
>   code.
>   Two ports are still sufficient for a workstation:
>   One for the mouse, the other one for the modem.
>   A third port is an *option*. It could be used for a printer
>   in case we don't have a parallel port.
Yep, see above
> * Parallel port. This is also an *option*. It might be
>   cheaper than a third serial line. Take a LS374 and one GAL
>   and the printer port is ready.
> * SCSI. This is a *must*.
>   I can't imagine a workstation without SCSI...
> * IDE. This is an *option*.
>   We do not really need it, although it would make the
>   complete machine cheaper.
> * Ethernet. This is a *must*. We can't call the thing
>   "workstation" if it doesn't have an ethernet port.
> * Real time clock. This is a *must* too.
In general YES

> 
> * Video on board. Don't laugh, but this is an *option*.

OK I did laugh, you seem to contradict yourself: you regard SCSI&Ethernet as
an important thing and video not? Nowadays my picture of a workstation is
running xwindows with a big monitor  (Well at *LEAST* 1024*768 >70Hz) It
seems that video keeps this group active. :-)

> 
> * Color graphics on board. I'd say, this is even more an *option*.
I keep laughing (well smiling actually), but I've got a color monitor, so
I want colors.
> 
> * Intelligent video on board. This is definitly an *option*.
Ok, it's an option. But VERY high on my wish list.
> 
> * Sound I/O. This is an *option*.
OK
> 
> * ISA Bus... I would say: we *do* need exactly one slot.
>   Every slot more is an *option*. Why ?
> 
> Ok, my idea is the following: We design the complete
> machine, preferably without any video stuff. I could imagine
> that we provide a simple dma channel for monochrome video
> with a resolution and timing which a standard VGA monitor
> can handle. But even this is not really necessary.
> And we provide exactly one ISA slot for an off-the-shelf
> VGA card. No provisions for dma, bus master stuff, no
> 8/16 bit detection and all that. That ISA slot must provide
> all signals necessary for controlling a VGA card and
> nothing else.

Decent performance is the issue, standard off the shelf (==cheap vga) 
doesn't stack up in performance against workstation performance, and
I'm certainly not comparing against top of the line!

> 
> This way we don't have the trouble to write our own
> X11-driver nor do we have the trouble with timings which
> most monitors can handle but exactly the one *you* have not.
>
It's been said before, some people like writing device drivers.
 
> Yes, I know, it would be slower. The ray tracing guy
> (sorry, I've forgotten your name) will kill me, but:
> Please, go ahead and buy a SGI Indigo. We will never ever
> reach the graphic performance of such a machine, not
> with a 75MHz R4400 and not with tons of off-the-shelf
> pseudo-intelligent video-controller stuff.
>
This is not what we (I guess) want: we want a reasonable performance for
a reasonable price.

 
> A nice story about mips's and "intelligent" video:
> When Mips Inc. introduced the Magnum 4000 workstation
> last year (I have one of these rare things), they
> thought about using a SPEA video card with an i860
> on-board. After some benchmarking with this and some
> dumb cards they have thrown out the i860. Letting the
> R4000 doing video itself was faster than telling the
> i860 what it should do. Believe it or not...
>
I believe it, the R4K is *EXTREMELY* brute force.
 
> I'll summarize:
> 
> * 40 MHz 3051E/3081E, perhaps R4K2.
> * 16 standard SIMM slots for memory sizes
>   from 8 Meg (with 1Mx9 modules) to 64 Meg (4Mx9 modules).
> * 2 serial ports.
> * One parallel port or one extra serial port.
> * SCSI controller
> * Ethernet controller
> * Keyboard controller
> * Realtime clock
> * No video, monochrome video if people mind.
> * One ISA slot for a VGA card of your choice.
> STOP. Nothing else.

Well video is still important to me.

> 
> You're missing something ? Well, you still have
> your old Intel box. Get a coax cable and connect
> it with your new Mips box !
> 
> Hmm. I'm looking forward for your bombs :-)

Ok this was a soft bomb :-)

> Bye,
> Andy
> Waldorf Electronics GmbH, R&D Department
> c/o Andreas Busse
> Neustrasse 9-12
> D-5481 Waldorf
> Phone:  +49 (0)2636-80294
> Fax:    +49 (0)2636-80188
> e-mail: andy@resi.waldorf-gmbh.de

Greetings
Ronald Schalk

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 * ing. Ronald Schalk                                               *
 * sectie COOS                                                      *
 * Universitair Centrum Informatievoorziening (UCI)                 *
 * Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen (KUN)                           *
 * e-mail : R.Schalk@uci.kun.nl   snailmail: Geert Grooteplein 41   *
 * tel.   : +31 80 617993                    6525 GA Nijmegen       *
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