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(fwd) Re: MIPS 4200 systems

To: riscy@sunsite.unc.edu
Subject: (fwd) Re: MIPS 4200 systems
From: Bill Broadley <broadley@neurocog.lrdc.pitt.edu>
Date: Thu, 9 Dec 1993 04:23:10 -0500
Newsgroups: comp.sys.laptops, comp.sys.mips, comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware
Organization: Learning Research and Development Center at U. of Pittsburgh
From: machale@royalty.mti.sgi.com (James MacHale)
Newsgroups: comp.sys.laptops,comp.sys.mips,comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware
Subject: Re: MIPS 4200 systems
Message-ID: <2e0sf3$3t3@miranda.mti.sgi.com>
Date: 7 Dec 93 03:14:43 GMT
References: <MCGRANT.93Dec2015820@rascals.stanford.edu>
Organization: Silicon Graphics, Inc.
Lines: 97
Xref: pitt.edu comp.sys.laptops:11005 comp.sys.mips:1744 
NNTP-Posting-Host: royalty.mti.sgi.com

In article <MCGRANT.93Dec2015820@rascals.stanford.edu>,
mcgrant@rascals.stanford.edu (Michael C. Grant) writes:
|> Apparently there was some interesting talk/show/demo(?) of MIPS
|> 4200-based systems at the latest Comdex. According to the little
|> I've read, these chips are cheaper than the Pentium, consume a 
|> tenth of the power, and are more than competitive with the PowerPC,
|> Pentium, and Alpha... of course that's a short article's summary.
|> I know that MIPS chips in general seem to run Windows NT rather well
|> too...
|> MIPS has designed four prototypes around the 4200: high-speed and
|> low-power notebooks, and high-speed and low-cost desktops. If anyone
|> has additional information concerning the availability timetable,
|> software availability, and feature/performance descriptions of
|> such systems, I would appreciate it if they would share it here...

MIPS announced the existence of 4 different reference designs in which
the R4200 runs today. Of these, some will be offered as design kits
through MTI's Open Design Center, according to demand. Documentation and
support structures need to be in place before kits are offered and that is
why all 4 may not necessarily be made available.

The four systems are:

1/ riscPC/LC
This is a low-cost desktop design which was demonstrated by MTI at
the NEC booth at COMDEX. It uses a standard PC Opti-based baby-AT
motherboard and substitutes a MIPS cpu daughtercard for the
486 one which would normally fit in the 486-bus local slot.

The daughtercard uses the Tigershark bridge chipset (from Toshiba)
to translate R4x00 signals into 486 signals. Tigershark also
supports a Level2 cache. The riscPC/LC is effectively an R4200-based 
derivative of the earlier R4000-based riscPC/ISA design kit.

The riscPC/LC can be built from discrete parts for about $1,500.
(The daughtercard is the only hardware piece that you can't buy
from your local store). Firmware and Hardware Abstraction Layer
(HAL) have also been developed.

Current speeds are limited to 33MHz by the Opti chipset: the processor
pipeline will run at twice that speed. The system has not yet been
benchmarked (good NT benchmarks are hard to come by!) but by visual
inspection runs between a 486-DX2-66 and a Pentium.

2/ risc/Pico-Note
This is a low-power notebook system, a mechanical sample of which
was shown at COMDEX. The system is derived from an original AMI design 
based on the Evergreen chipset from PicoPower which manages system 
power dissipation. The LCD screen is controlled by a Cirrus Logic
VGA controller. Tigershark bridge ASICs allow the R4200 (or R4600)
to interface to the PicoPower chip.

The design includes up to 32MB DRAM, an IDE controller, PCMCIA interface,
and an AT slot for system debug. The design is currently laid out as a
daughtercard lying parallel with the motherboard. The system is intended
to be used initially for prototyping and system software development. It
be productized in its current form factor or relaid out as a single

Current speed again limited to 33MHz by the Evergreen chip. Processor
pipeline speed is 66MHz.

3/ NEC R4200 notebook prototype
NEC, who is the primary vendor of the R4200, demonstrated an R4200-based
notebook system packaged in a Versa (NEC's x86 notebook line) case at
The system was based on the ARCSet ASICs, a high-performance chipset used
in the Magnum desktop system. For details and availability information,
contact NEC Electronics.

4/ High-performance desktop
A fourth system is based on the ARCSet ASICs and may be used to implement
a high-performance design with the R4200 running up to its full speed of
80MHz (pipeline). The design is similar in functionality to the R4400
desktop but supports fewer EISA slots.

General availability of selective design kits to be announced at a later

James Mac Hale,
MTI Marketing,

|> Thanks a lot!
|> Michael C. Grant
|> mcgrant@rascals.stanford.edu
|> --
|> "Long hair, short hair--what's the difference once the head's blowed
|> off?"
|> "When you get right down to it, your average pervert is really quite
|> thoughtful." (Letterman)

Bill Broadley@{neurocog,schneider3,lrdc5}.lrdc.pitt.edu (in order of preference)
Linux is great.         Bike to live, live to bike.                      PGP-ok
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