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Frequently Asked Questions  
Dragon ColdFire


Answers to questions about the DRAGON ColdFire:


Q: Is DRAGON a busboard or a turbo card?
A: DRAGON is a busboard with AGP/PCI slots, integrated with a turbo card.

Q: Why do you make a card with ColdFire processors only now? Motorola has been producing ColdFire processors for a long time...
A: Recently, Motorola has developed and produced several series of the ColdFire processors but none of them were compatible enough with 68k processors to be able to run AmigaOS3.x. This changed with appearance of the MCF54xx processors family. These are the first ColdFire processors based on the V4e core. MCF5475, included in DRAGON, is the most powerful processor in this family. The first production of these processors is beginning just now (January 2005). We expect DRAGON to be the first commercially produced computer board based on this newest Freescale processor from the ColdFire/68k family.

Q: Is DRAGON's processor upgradeable?
A: Yes. The modular DRAGON design allows very easy processor upgrade. The CPU card with the ColdFire processor is fitted in the dedicated processor slot.

Q: Will the ColdFire CPU be offered in higher speeds at a later date?
A: Yes, when faster processors are made available. ColdFire MCF5475 266MHz is the fastest ColdFire processor so far.

Q: Does DRAGON use SDRAM or DDR DRAM memory?
A: DRAGON uses DDR SDRAM (Double-Data-Rate Synchronous-Dynamic-Random-Access-Memory), called DDR in short. DDR SDRAM technology differs from SDR SDRAM (Single-Data-Rate Synchronous-Dynamic-Random-Access-Memory, SDRAM in short) technology in that the data are transmitted twice during one clock cycle, thus doubling data bandwidth for DDR SDRAM comparing with SDR SDRAM with the same clock.

Q. Is ColdFire MCF5475 able to fully use DDR memory speed?
A: Yes, it is. In case of ColdFire MCF5475, the memory bandwidth is doubled with DDR SDRAM instead of SDR SDRAM. This is due to the very fast external bus (266MHz) of the ColdFire MCF5475 processor.

Q: How much RAM can be installed on the DRAGON board?
A: The DRAGON comes with two DIMM slots for DDR-266 SDRAM modules for up to 1GB memory in total.

Q: Which tower cases for A1200 are compatible with the DRAGON board?
A: The DRAGON ColdFire busboard is designed to be used in the following tower systems: Mirage 1200, E/BOX 1200, Power Tower, Winner Tower and Infinitiv Tower.

Q: Will drivers for all the supported gfx cards enclosed with the DRAGON board?
A: Drivers for Radeon 9700, Radeon 9500, Radeon 9200, Radeon 9000, Voodoo 5, Voodoo 4 and Voodoo 3 cards will be enclosed in the DRAGON board package. Drivers for the less powerful Radeon cards (Radeon 7500 and Radeon 7000) will be added later if there are users interested in them.

Q: Will there be support for high-speed IDE and/or SCSI PCI cards?
A: Drivers for Serial ATA controllers (based on SiI 3114) are being developed. Initially we have not planned developing drivers for SCSI PCI cards, but we received so many requests from users with SCSI hardware that we have changed our plans.

Q: How fast FastATA 1200 MK-III run with the DRAGON board?
A: With the DRAGON board, devices connected to the FastATA 1200 controller run at its maximum speed of 16MB/s. There is no longer speed limitations, which were related to the design of the turbo cards installed into the A1200 trapdoor slot.

Q: Are the ColdFire processors PowerPC-compatible?
A: No, they are not. ColdFire processors are compatible with the 68k processors. The main ColdFire processor instruction set is a subset of the 68060 instruction set. It has been common practise in case of each new processor from the 68k family: some instructions are reduced in the new processor in order to gain better performance.

Q: What is the speed of the DRAGON's board compared with the A1200 turbo cards available so far?
A: When only clock rate of the processor is taken into account, the ColdFire MCF5475 speed is comparable with 68060 clocked at 266MHz. Much higher performance of the DRAGON board compared with the fastest A1200 turbo cards is definitely affected also by: over 25 times faster speed of DDR SDRAM as compared with SIMMs used in A1200 turbo cards, bigger processor caches, and many times faster access to peripherals. For example access to the frame buffer of the graphic card in the DRAGON's AGP slot reaches up to 264MB/s, which is over 20 times faster then the access to the graphic card from any A1200 turbo card available so far.

Q: Is DRAGON able to execute 68k apps faster than G3 based boards?
A: Yes. Most of 68k Amiga applications run faster on DRAGON ColdFire then in the JIT emulation on currently available PowerPC G3-based boards.

Q: Does power of the ColdFire processor in DRAGON allow smooth playing of Divxs?
A: Yes. Performance of the ColdFire MCF5475 processor combined with elements of hardware support for the decoding process of Radeon 9xxx cards allows smooth playing full-quality video from the compressed files (DivX, MPEG-2, DVD).

Q: Will using SharkPPC card be possible with DRAGON?
A: Yes. SharkPPC can be used in the PCI slot of the DRAGON board as well as in the PCI slot of the MEDIATOR board. What's more, due to the enhanced DRAGON's DMA capabilities, the SharkPPC card in the DRAGON PCI slot has direct access to all resources of the Amiga 1200 motherboard as well as to DRAGON's DDR memory and all cards in the DRAGON's AGP and PCI slots.
As we informed many times, SharkPPC production will not start before the final version of AmigaOS4.0 is released.

Q: Are you planning production of an A4000-compatible version of the DRAGON ColdFire product?
A: Yes, we are. We plan to offer a ColdFire upgrade for Amiga 3000(T) and 4000(T) computers.

Q: Where will the ColdFire card be installed in A3/4000 computers?
A: The Coldfire card for Amiga 3/4000 computers will be installed in a special slot in the Mediator 3/4000 boards, replacing the Mediator Core Logic card.

Q: Could I use the DRAGON logo on my website?
A: Yes, but you must follow the enclosed disclaimer. DRAGON's logos are available in the NEWS | Press Materials section.


Feel free to ask question concerning this product.


 
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