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RetroMatt

Return to the Amiga 1200 - My Journey - Part 5

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Quote Originally Posted by RetroMatt View Post
Part #5 - If the universe is ever expanding, what's it expanding into ?

Well, another day with two updates - but, I felt it prudent as I can approach the topic I've had the most comments on so far.. expansion cards !

OK - this is perhaps the BIGGEST rabbit hole of them all. My research into this is still ongoing as to what's possible - there's just so many options & choices out there. What I figured quite quickly was I needed to approach this the same way I did with my Mini ITX PC build when it came to configuring.

Let's separate this out into what I want, then look at what I need right now, and in the foreseeable future.

So, let's deal with what I want - let's imagine money is no object and work back from there into my needs.

The core of this is pretty simple. I want a nostalgic feeling with the Amiga 1200, keeping as close to the core original as possible but running fast enough for modern day needs. As I've outlined in earlier posts the primary purpose for me really is retro gaming. I may dabble with a bit of audio work at some point, but for now - getting games running fast and smooth is my main aim here.

So - with that in mind, apologies to those in the community who get their kicks out of this - I'm not really looking to Tower my 1200. I'd probably have gone the A4000 route if I was looking to go all out super upgrading - so all those mods are out. No fancy 060's for me ! Which also eliminates the Vampire stuff in actuality. Again, it's not really the direction I'm wanting to take.

With that in mind, what do I want ? An 030 processor really. It will improve performance no end and not run into any pesky compatibility issues I've read about with 040's and 060's. For what I'm planning for my Amiga 1200 an 030 really will be the bee's knees.

So - 030 Accelerator Cards. Another rabbit hole in itself. I could list out all of the options out there and what I looked at, but I'm not going to do that. I'll leave it for other people to do their own research - as honestly - it's half the fun. What I did settle on as my main want is...

<fanfare>

The Blizzard 1230 MK IV with 68030 Processor, 68882 FPU & 64MB RAM.

This removes compatibility issues with PCMCIA so I can use it quite happily with my Wireless Card and it gives a super huge kick to system performance.

Here's a picture of one, just to drool over:

Attachment 157133

OK - money was no object for looking at my wants, but let's be realistic now. The Blizzard is *not* cheap. Even if I got one for half price, it's still way outside my budget for the moment. It looks like a thing of beauty and is definitely on my wants list but maybe at some point in the future. I could go MK2 or MK3, but this is my want - money no object - I won't settle for anything less, so those are out too. For now though, I'll have to settle for something functional which serves my immediate needs.

So - what do I actually need ?

Well.. I need enough of a boost to run the vast majority AGA WHDLoader games without issue but at the same time, can remove the pesky PCMCIA compatability problems encountered with 8MB expansion cards. For those interested, the problem as best explained by LaserBack over on another forum is:

The 8MB thing comes into play when an accelerator does not remap the 8MB of memory out of the Zorro-II window. As the A1200 accelerator bus only carries the first 24 bits of the address bus, the accelerator slot can only support 8MB of RAM. The more basic accelerator boards simply use this bus and so are also limited to 8MB RAM. The problem comes from the PCMCIA slot being mapped at an address 4MB into this 8MB window, so effectively it conflicts with the upper 8MB on the accelerator.

Still being realistic, all of the cheaper expansion cards are going to run into this problem - so getting one which has a jumper to switch between 4MB and 8MB is key at the minute. Let's not forget, I want the Blizzard, so this is all compromise for the moment.

4MB is enough for WHDLoad and for basic internet connectivity and surfing. Performance won't be lightning - I've accepted that, but it will be functional and usable. I'm sure the more annoying it gets, the more likely I will be to start seriously looking for the Blizzard, but for now - it'll do.

Now my need is known, it was time to go trundling around the various cheaper end expansion cards. Again, there's a lot of choices out there, but I only want something cheap and functional. Fast forward a lot of googling later and I've finally settled upon the Amiga 1200 8MB Fast Ram Expansion from AmigaStore.eu

Attachment 157134


It fits the bill quite nicely - on a budget. It's got a jumper for 8MB/4MB mode, proclaims to be a great choice for WHDLoad and in 8MB mode has a 230% boost. Let's be conservative though and say in 4MB mode it gives me a 100% boost. Still plenty enough for now.

That Blizzard though...

Anyways, moving on. Having now made my mind up, I've gone ahead and ordered it. Whilst I was there, I also picked up some 3.1 Kickstart ROMs as they were relatively inexpensive. I did toy with 3.x ROMs, but at the minute it's overkill and standard 3.1's are more than enough for me.

More updates to follow as more things arrive.

Until next time !

Best regards,
Matt.

Updated 19th May 2020 at 20:17 by RetroMatt

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Comments

  1. limboy777's Avatar
    Good posts.
  2. zChris's Avatar
    Good read, im on the same place. So far i have A1200 in a tower with Blizzard 030, CF card, PCMCIA network