Developer Talk

What's happening now with the CT60 on the landscape? MyAtari goes straight to the source...


Roger Burrows, Canada
[Photo: Roger Burrows]My main concern with the CT60 has been ensuring the compatibility of my existing programs (I released v3.4C of EXTENDOS.PRG to fix a compatibility issue).

The extra memory that is possible on the CT60 should make it easier to add FAT32 support to Diamond Edge, and the extra IDE speed that should be available through the CT60 should allow for higher write speeds in CD Writer Suite. That would make writing DVDs feasible.

Frank Naumann, Germany
[Photo: Frank Naumann]I'm a professional software engineer and developer. My major hobby is Atari computers (the first computer I ever had). I'm working on the FreeMiNT kernel and XaAES.

FreeMiNT is a TOS-GEMDOS compatible Unix style kernel, XaAES is a modern multi-tasking capable AES running on top of FreeMiNT, and for sure intended to run on the CT60. The extra power is useful for compiling large software packages and for development in general.

Reimund Dratwa, Germany
[Photo: Reimund Dratwa]I'm also known as "ray", coder of the scene group .tSCc.

Some time ago I programmed an optimized 3D engine for Atari's 030 machines and I'm going to optimize and improve it to an OpenGL-like API, taking advantage of the 060's superscalar architecture. People could use this for creating games, demos or even CAD software and stuff.

You can find news about my current projects, such as porting Wolf3D to the 16/32bit range of Atari computers and some coding articles I've written in the past on my web site over here:

[Screen-shot: Torus]

[Screen-shot: Glass]

Thomas Binder, Germany
I bought the CT60 to "re-animate" my Falcon and start working on Thing (the alternative desktop) again, as well as contributing to FreeMiNT, if possible. I already own a Milan040, but the CT60 is quite a lot faster and using the Falcon is still something special - though I wish it would offer better (and faster) graphic modes, like the Milan does with its VGA card.

Florent Lafabrie, France
[Photo: Florent Lafabrie]
I have three Falcon030. One with a CT60 at 100 MHz (see my web site), one with a Centurbo II rev. B and the ultimate is a normal Falcon 030. I have worked with Atari computers since 1987 (Atari ST, STE, Mega STE).

I am working on the new version of Icon Extract 1.50 which benefits the best from the CT60. The computing times are faster. In this version, I manage to decrease the processing by 50 to 70% compared to version 1.41. For example, the processing of 200 icons in 8-bit mode decreases from more than one minute to 32 seconds in this new version! I must still solve some problems on the management of long filenames during drag and drop with Interface. I am also working to port UNZIP and ZIP with a GEM interface.

[Screen-shot: ICON Extract]

[Screen-shot: Lots of icons]

Joe Venor (Atariowl), UK
Regarding my CT60 stuff, I've put UMRS (Universal Motor Racing Simulator) on the back burner for now. What is happening instead is a development of a game for CT60 and Jaguar, with development in parallel. Basically I have been working it out on the CT60 first, since it's easier to code, and then moving it across to the Jaguar.

The games will have the same graphics and sound so it's not so bad as doing two games at the same time. It's still a bit early to declare much, and I recently had a hard disk disaster so that both work disk (loads of bad sectors) and backup disk (won't spin) failed.

This affected the CT60 coding but not the Jaguar coding so in truth the Jag is now ahead. This may mean that I decide to push on the with the Jag first. UMRS should be able to use some of the same code later though, so it's definitely not dead, just pausing.

Miro Kropacek (MiKRO), Slovakia
[Photo: MiKRO]Let's begin with the reason why it's so fantastic to buy CT60. During the last ten years we saw many accelerators for our bird. It started with simple DSP overclockers, continues to general overclocking of CPU, FPU, data bus, Videl up to AB40 and, in my eyes, the most technically complex turbo card, CT2. Nemesis (Phantom) becomes practically a standard, it's very easy to build and, this is very important, extremely compatible. But none of these turbo cards gave you the real power. OK, AB40 is equipped with 68040, but it's not very well designed (in some cases it's even slower than a normal Falcon!), so OK, we have a fast CPU, but we can't use it since the overall architecture is bad and the price of that turbo card was horrible. So why I chose CT60:
  1. It's still your falcon. On Milan/Hades/Aranym/anything-but-Atari you can never use DMA, DSP, blitter and other hardware goodies which make demo coding such fun and so clever. If you know your Falcon, there's no way your demos will not be 060 compatible.
  2. 68060. Yes, 68040 is pretty fast, but it lacks some of 060 "ass-kicks", let's name for example the superscalar pipeline. This thing can speed up your code even up to 200%! Some simple instructions can be executed in parallel with each other and, if that was not enough, your FPU can still do another operation! So yes, you can execute three(!) instructions at the same time without any overhead. Or four-stage FIFO buffer. We all know how Falcon is with ST RAM: slow, slow and once again, slow. This thing allows you to "send" the data via the data bus and if it's halted, the data will be stored into into this buffer and your code continues!
  3. Fast RAM. Take a look at the table at, you know, what I mean. One long access per 66 MHz clock cycle, that's unbelievable data transfer. And this allows you to do so called "copy speed chunky to planar" routines, simply, your C2P routine is as fast as copying from fast RAM to ST RAM (screen).
  4. Eexpansion possibilities. Now the CT60 looks like an ultra-fast boat with a 1,500 Kg anchor. And what is that anchor? Yep, Falcon's data bus. You probably know, that Videl can show only data from ST RAM. So you can code an ultra-fast texture mapper, but you still need to copy the whole screen into ST RAM. This is extremely slow and there's no way to speed it up in software. But... when SuperVidel is finished, or PCI is implemented, this anchor goes away and I guarantee you all applications will be speeded up around 300-400%.

Let's say these are the four main reasons why I, as coder, chose CT60 as the only possibility to expand my Falcon. One of the most fantastic things is that 060 is optimized for applications (it's based on real tests in Motorola with applications software), so in MiNT for example, it nearly doesn't matter if your application is coded for 030 or plain 68k, speed is the same. So it's really useful not only for hardcore demo fanatics, but it gives you a lot of power for real world applications.

CT60 projects: Mainly demos/intros (DSP56K and CT60 compatible, but I plan to code some demos CT60-only). If Déesse will be finished, for sure a lot of DSP56301 stuff, some GEM stuff for 8-bit Ataris (communication Falcon to XE/XL, debugger, assembler, maybe some kind of emulator).


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MyAtari magazine - Feature #10, June 2004

Copyright 2004 MyAtari magazine