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fitzsteve
20th December 2013, 12:14
Hi!


You can also read this review on my Blog:

http://www.fitzstevesamigaworld.co.uk/?p=119


There’s a new kid on the block! Well not exactly new, it’s the Commodore Amiga 500 making a comeback…

Individual Computers have recently released their highly anticipated ACA500 Accelerator for the Amiga 500 range of computers giving this popular 80′s computer a new lease of life.

http://www.fitzstevesamigaworld.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Amiga500_system1-300x232.jpg (http://www.fitzstevesamigaworld.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Amiga500_system1.jpg)A common Amiga 500 setup with Monitor and external Disk drive

The Amiga 500 released in 1987 was a truly remarkable Computer for it’s time, sadly I never owned one back then but I used to enjoy using my friends A500 as it was leaps and bounds ahead of my Spectrum 128k!

With Floppy Disks becoming bit rotten and price of external expansions rising a new expansion for our beloved A500 is truly welcomed.

Currently the options to expand your Amiga 500 are limited to expensive and unreliable SCSI drives and hard to find/expensive memory. Not to mention the huge external side cars they are housed in! There are also internal options that can be very rare/expensive or tricky to install.

The ACA500 replaces this with a small PCB including 2 CF Card slots for your storage/transferring files, 2mb Ram and an interface to connect an A1200 Accelerator Card to further expand.

The ACA500 has 1.3 and 3.1 Rom on board so this will save you spending extra money upgrading the Rom. There is a 68EC000-10 processor on board clocked to 14mhz (twice the speed of the A500′s on board 68000 CPU) and 512k flash Rom for the menu system/firmware/Kickstart Roms.

Lets take a look at the ACA500:
http://www.fitzstevesamigaworld.co.uk/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/normal_P1050738.JPG (http://www.fitzstevesamigaworld.co.uk/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/P1050738.JPG)ACA500 Top

http://www.fitzstevesamigaworld.co.uk/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/normal_P1050740.JPG (http://www.fitzstevesamigaworld.co.uk/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/P1050740.JPG)ACA500 Bottom

http://www.fitzstevesamigaworld.co.uk/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/normal_P1050741.JPG (http://www.fitzstevesamigaworld.co.uk/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/P1050741.JPG)ACA500 with ACA1220 connected (bottom)

http://www.fitzstevesamigaworld.co.uk/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/normal_P1050742.JPG (http://www.fitzstevesamigaworld.co.uk/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/P1050742.JPG)ACA500 with ACA1220 connected (top)

Specifications & Features:


68EC000-10 clocked at 14 MHz (i.e. double A500 clock)
2 MB of physical RAM, entirely available for applications (minus 512 KB if MapROM is used)
External expansion, no need to open the A500
Two Compact Flash card slots (each one of them bootable and able to read/write Amiga or PC formatted cards)
Trapdoor memory expansions up to 1.8 MB FastMem still work (including RTC)
ChipMem expansions still work
Custom expansion port for local hardware (14 MHz 16-bit, double Zorro speed)
Clock port for hardware expansions, e.g. Subway USB (http://www.e3b.de/usb/main_subway_e.html).
Optionally expandable by adding an A1200 Accelerator card such as the ACA1220/1232.
Licensed Kickstart ROM images 1.3 and 3.1 included in Flash-ROM
FAT95 file system also included in Flash-ROM
64-bit device drivers allow you to use cards with capacities of more than 4GB (file system limitations still apply, so you may need to partition accordingly)
Full WHDload compatibility incl. Quit key!


Installation:

Installation of the hardware is easy, you do not have to open your Amiga as the ACA500 connects the the side expansion slot and as mentioned before due to licensed Kickstarts being available in the firmware you don’t even need to update the physical Rom, in fact it will even work without any Rom in the socket!

Once connected to your A500 it will look like this:

http://www.fitzstevesamigaworld.co.uk/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/normal_P1050651.JPG (http://www.fitzstevesamigaworld.co.uk/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/P1050651.JPG)ACA500 installed on A500 expansion slot

The ACA500 has been criticised for not having a case but I quite like the fact it’s a bare PCB as it’s a very sleek design and nice to look at, you of course have easy access to the CF slots and expansion ports. I would be happy with a simple dust cover from molded plastic or acrylic.

I imagine we will see a plethora of custom cases and enclosures in the near future.

Amiga 1200 Accelerators are connect face side up, I will cover compatibility later in my review.

ACA500 tested:

When you power you A500 on for the first time with the ACA500 connected you will see the boot menu as below:
http://www.fitzstevesamigaworld.co.uk/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/normal_P1050652.JPG (http://www.fitzstevesamigaworld.co.uk/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/P1050652.JPG)ACA500 Main Menu

You can configure the settings to your requirements in the ‘Expert Menu’ or boot your A500 with the basic settings with 3.1Rom or 1.3 Rom (F1 or F2)
http://www.fitzstevesamigaworld.co.uk/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/normal_P1050654.JPG (http://www.fitzstevesamigaworld.co.uk/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/P1050654.JPG)ACA500 Advanced Configuration Menu

It’s recommended the first time you use your ACA500 to make a backup (recovery Disk) to Floppy Disk of the firmware/flash in case at any time you need to restore the flash. New features will be brought to the ACA500 with Flash updates which are easy to apply, you simply put the update file in the root of a FAT formatted CF card and place it in the AUX CF slot and run the flash update from the main menu (F)

For my first tests I connected my ACA1220 and used the CF card from my A600 booting the standard 3.1Rom configuration, I was pleased to see Workbench booted up with no drama.

http://www.fitzstevesamigaworld.co.uk/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/normal_P1050657.JPG (http://www.fitzstevesamigaworld.co.uk/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/P1050657.JPG)ACA1220/ACA500 connected to A500+

http://www.fitzstevesamigaworld.co.uk/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/normal_P1050659.JPG (http://www.fitzstevesamigaworld.co.uk/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/P1050659.JPG)A500+ with ACA500/ACA1220

I would recommend preparing your Workbench setup in advance via WinUAE, I normally use the Classic Workbench (http://classicwb.abime.net/) packs and highly recommend these if you’re dusting your Amiga off for the first time in years as they come pre-installed with many tools and utilities that will make your return to the scene much smoother.

You can see my tutorial here (http://www.fitzstevesamigaworld.co.uk/?p=65) if you need guidance on setting up your CF HDD.

For a stand alone ACA500 I would recommend Classic Workbench 68k (http://classicwb.abime.net/classicweb/68k2.htm) as this is a very light pack based on Workbench 3.1 for ECS machines. It will save you valuable Ram that you will need for applications and Games. If you have an ACA12xx card attached you can use the heavier packs but remember to disable the copper background as this requires an AGA chipset.

Screenshots and benchmarks: (Taken with ACA1220/26.7mhz connected)

http://www.fitzstevesamigaworld.co.uk/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/normal_P1050660.JPG (http://www.fitzstevesamigaworld.co.uk/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/P1050660.JPG)Classic Workbench FULL (Custom Icons)

As I am using an A500+ with 1mb upgrade I already have the full 2mb Chip Ram, the ACA500 has an advanced feature whereby if you have an A500 (Rev6+) you can map your trapdoor 512k upgrade to give you a full 1mb Chip Ram.

Here are some system information screens and benchmarks:

http://www.fitzstevesamigaworld.co.uk/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/normal_P1050661.JPG (http://www.fitzstevesamigaworld.co.uk/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/P1050661.JPG)WhichAmiga Evaluation

http://www.fitzstevesamigaworld.co.uk/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/normal_P1050662.JPG (http://www.fitzstevesamigaworld.co.uk/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/P1050662.JPG)SysSpeed Info and Mips Benchmark

http://www.fitzstevesamigaworld.co.uk/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/normal_P1050663.JPG (http://www.fitzstevesamigaworld.co.uk/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/P1050663.JPG)SysInfo Benchmark

http://www.fitzstevesamigaworld.co.uk/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/normal_P1050664.JPG (http://www.fitzstevesamigaworld.co.uk/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/P1050664.JPG)SysInfo IDE Speed test


What can I do now I have an ACA500?

Usage will entirely depend on your own interests but the ACA500 will open many doors for you! If you just like to play Games you have access to Amiga and FAT storage devices (CF Cards) making transferring Games to your A500 a doddle.

Even as a stand alone unit there is a new version of WHDLoad that is less memory hungry which includes full quit key support so you can jump right into playing games from the huge WHDLoad library.

The larger Multi Disk Games will need some more memory so if you’re an avid gamer you should consider adding an A1200 Accelerator Card to boost your Ram.

If you like to run applications, watch Demos or create/listen to modules then the ease of transferring data will be advantageous as well as 1.3Rom fallback which still has full Amiga/FAT file system support giving you modern flexibility but still compatibility with older software.

For me I enjoy pushing the boundaries with my Amiga’s, getting the most out of them that is possible for the hardware level. I have taken a short Video running some 3D Games which previously wouldn’t have been possible on such a machine at least not without the expensive and rare GVP530 (http://amiga.resource.cx/exp/gvp530) or ultra rare Viper530 (http://bboah.amiga-resistance.info/cgi-bin/showhardware_en.cgi?HARDID=67).

This test was made using my ACA1232 which has a 33mhz 68030 processor and 128mb Ram.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Noqubhem-8



Compatibility:

As promised I will now talk about compatibility, I have been collating information from various forums on users tests as well as my own with the ACA500.

The ACA500 is designed for use with the A500 and A500+, there will be a special version for the A1000 which will give your A1000 a full 2mb Chip Ram, this will require some internal installation as it has a connector to the Agnus socket.

There is also an A2000 version planned which will connect to the internal CPU slot, you can follow news on these at this (http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=65087) thread over at the English Amiga Board (EAB.) You will also find discussion on other forums such as Amibay. Jens Schoenfeld also posts news at A1k.org (http://www.a1k.org/) however this is mainly a German speaking forum.


CF Cards tested.

I have tested the following CF cards with the ACA500:


Sandisk – Working
Transcend 133x – Working
Kingston(flower) – Working
Generic (Chinese unbranded) – Working
Verbatim 133x – Not Working

The Verbatim CF cards stop the A500 from booting at all.
Other users CF cards tested:


Integral – Working


A1200 Turbo Boards tested.

I have compiled the following information based on reports from fellow Amiga users, please note there is no official support for Accelerators other then the ACA12xx from Individual Computers but some boards such as the Blizzard 1230MkIV are known to work with the ACA500.


ACA1220 – Working but cards bought before Sept 5th 2013 will need a fix (contact Individual Computers at icomp.de (http://icomp.de/))
ACA1232 – Working
ACA1230 – Working (might need to update your ACA500 Firmware to a beta release, some A500′s might cause issues)
Blizzard 1220 – Not Working (Black screen)
Blizzard 1230MkIV – Working (Update Firmware to Beta version) *Might not work on some A500′s
Blizzard 1240 – Possibly working (need conformation) (Update Firmware to Beta version) *Might not work on some A500′s
Blizzard 1260 – Working(with hacked 060 libs) (Update Firmware to Beta version) *Might not work on some A500′s
GVP Jaws II 1230 – Not Working (Black screen)
DCE Typhoon 1230 MK II – Not Working (Black screen)
MTec 1230/28 – Not Working (Black screen)
Viper 1230/28 – Not Working (Black screen)
Apollo 1240/1260 – Booting but without any Ram
4mb/8mb Trapdoor Upgrades – Not Working (These cannot work with the ACA500 as they do not have their own CPU)

As stated this information is compiled from other users and my own tests, your own results might be different, I’d be interested to hear of any other tests made. Of course if you connect any unsupported hardware to your ACA500 it is at your own risk!

Although the manual states the ACA500 should not be connected to an A1000 some users have reported that it works with theirs although others have said it doesn’t, my advice is to wait for the official ACA1000 :)

Verdict/Conclusions:

I am really pleased with my ACA500, the build quality seems very good. The CF slots feel a little bit delicate when inserting CF cards so I would advise to be careful but I’ve not had any issues and have inserted and removed my CF cards dozens of times.

If you are intending to use the ACA500 as a stand alone solution you might find 2mb Ram isn’t enough for your needs, if you use Maprom to load in 1.3/3.1 Rom you will loose 512k of this leaving you just 1.5mb Fast Ram.

My opinion though is that even with the little Ram the features and benefits it brings to a standard A500 are excellent value for money and I highly recommend one to any A500 user!


Other options:

Whilst there are the tradition side car expansions on the market and the rare internal expansions I mentioned before there are a couple of other upgrades for the A500 on the market or coming to the market such as Kipper2k’s combined 8mb and IDE board (http://kipper2k.com/amigaforsale/), this installs internally and offers a slightly cheaper upgrade path if you just want memory and storage.

A new accelerator (TurboFlyer 530 (http://www.elbox.com/news_13_12_06.html)) has also been announced by Elbox which will have an 030 processor, 16mb Ram and a FastATA built in, it is due to hit their Web store in February 2014 although I’m a little skeptical given the previous announced hardware from Elbox which has failed to materialise, we shall see!

A final consideration is Zeus68k, I have been watching updates on this via EAB which is another internal CPU/IDE solution with some other features. You can read about it over at EAB (http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=65047).

I am very excited by the new hardware options coming to the Amiga at the moment, there is certainly still a lot of interest in the Amiga community for our beloved machines.

That’s it for now! I hope you enjoyed the article, I will bring you more news and updates as I have them.

Thanks for reading,
-Fitzsteve.

liviux76
20th December 2013, 12:31
Awesome!
Thanks for this review... I am seriously thinking to give new life to my A500... :thumbsup:

z3spacial
20th December 2013, 12:31
Excellent, informatiive and very readable review - Thanks Fitz! :thumbsup:

fitzsteve
20th December 2013, 12:36
Thanks guys, glad you enjoyed the read :thumbsup:

I notice I still have a few typo's to iron out and will update the thread when I add more info :)

Zetr0
20th December 2013, 13:03
A truly fantastic and thorough review my friend, a delight to read!

Nick1977
20th December 2013, 13:21
Excellent review!!!:bowdown:

fitzsteve
20th December 2013, 13:29
A truly fantastic and thorough review my friend, a delight to read!


Excellent review!!!:bowdown:

Thanks guys :)

DutchinUSA
20th December 2013, 13:33
Nice job Steve :thumbsup:

I do disagree with the statement about the "huge external side cars", I love the look of the GVP side cars but that's a personal opinion :D

Very helpful review and I am definitely considering getting one :thumbsup:

fitzsteve
20th December 2013, 13:43
Nice job Steve :thumbsup:

I do disagree with the statement about the "huge external side cars", I love the look of the GVP side cars but that's a personal opinion :D

Very helpful review and I am definitely considering getting one :thumbsup:

Glad you found it informative, I'm sure you wont regret it of you get one.

Of course the review is only my opinion, I used to own a GVP 530 and it was a terrific bit of kit but for me seemed to consume my whole desk :coffee:

It did look pretty slick though, I give you that :)

http://www.amibay.com/showthread.php?t=36764

Snoozy
20th December 2013, 13:44
Interesting reading.

If I had a 500 with one of these is there any advantage compared with my 1200 with ACA 1230 ? (and whdload)

Are there some whdload games that are for 500 only and don't work on 1200 whdload?

demolition
20th December 2013, 13:49
Interesting reading.

If I had a 500 with one of these is there any advantage compared with my 1200 with ACA 1230 ? (and whdload)

Are there some whdload games that are for 500 only and don't work on 1200 whdload?

I can't imagine there are any advantages to an A500 compared to a 1200, except if you have too much desk space and want to fill it up. You might also just like the looks of the 500 cabinet.

Most WHDLoad slaves are made for 020+ with AGA.

You don't need to take the 500 apart if you want to replace the boot CF card, although one of Kipper2k's external CF adapters could solve that problem as well in the 1200..

fitzsteve
20th December 2013, 13:50
Interesting reading.

If I had a 500 with one of these is there any advantage compared with my 1200 with ACA 1230 ? (and whdload)


None, unless you don't own and A1200 then it saves you buying one.

The disadvantage would be no AGA.





Are there some whdload games that are for 500 only and don't work on 1200 whdload?

Not that I know of, the whole idea of WHDLoad is to make the games compatible with newer Amiga's :)

coltch
20th December 2013, 14:07
Got my ACA500 delivered yesterday but haven't had time to test it yet, will be intersting to see how my A500 coupled to an ACA1231 compares to my A1200. :)

fitzsteve
20th December 2013, 14:30
Got my ACA500 delivered yesterday but haven't had time to test it yet, will be intersting to see how my A500 coupled to an ACA1231 compares to my A1200. :)

Good luck with your project, it runs very similar of course without the AGA

You will find performance slightly faster on the A1200 for this reason especially with higher resolution/colours in Workbench and also because ACATune on the A1200 can give you an extra boost from the enhancements :)

VincentGR
20th December 2013, 17:17
That is a great piece of hardware there.
My dream was always an 1.3 Amiga with HD and RAM! and now I can get one with 3.1 as well.
I have many 1200 with accellerators (030, 040, PPC) but this is the dream machine.
I don't care about the size of it nor that lacks of a case. We, the Amiga users are used to Frankenstein machines :p
As for the main CPU it is the best choice like the ACA620, what to do an 030 to run Doom or Gloom? They don't play well even with an 040 so it is a great deal for a 68000.

The only problem to this card from my personal opinion is the amount of RAM.
I would expect 8MB or at least 4 with the choice of expansion.

Do you think they will make one with 8MB in near furture or just I have to shut up and give you them money now :roll:

Thanks for your time making us happy :D

woodycool
29th December 2013, 12:37
Awesome review Steve, I' really happy with my ACA500 too and reckon it's "about time" we had some awesome A500/A500+ hardware

fitzsteve
29th December 2013, 14:25
Thanks guys, I'm glad you like the review. I must update the compatibility stuff :)

VoltureX
29th December 2013, 14:38
Thanks for the info :eek:

protek
29th December 2013, 16:48
A thorough and detailed review as always, Steve. Thanks! :thumbsup:

AMike
29th December 2013, 17:32
Thanks guys, I'm glad you like the review. I must update the compatibility stuff :)

The Blizzard 1240/40 works with the new libs from Toni. ;)

woodycool
29th December 2013, 20:12
Thanks guys, I'm glad you like the review. I must update the compatibility stuff :)
Your review (and some others too) helped my descision to purchase the ACA500

LTAC
29th December 2013, 23:51
fitzsteve: you are 'Numero Uno'! :thumbsup:
Thanks for this thread!

DonutKing
23rd February 2014, 23:25
I've just ordered an ACA500, although it will take a few weeks to arrive.

Should the lack of RAM become an issue, what's the best way to get some extra into my A500? I've got a 512K trapdoor expansion but otherwise the A500 is totally stock. My budget won't stretch as far as to buy one of the ACA1220's.

demolition
23rd February 2014, 23:34
Your cheapest option for more RAM would probably be the ACA1220 unless the ACA500 works with A1200 8MB boards. The ACA500 won't work with regular A500 fastmem upgrades.

VincentGR
23rd February 2014, 23:50
I've just ordered an ACA500, although it will take a few weeks to arrive.

Should the lack of RAM become an issue, what's the best way to get some extra into my A500? I've got a 512K trapdoor expansion but otherwise the A500 is totally stock. My budget won't stretch as far as to buy one of the ACA1220's.

I bought 1MB chip ram.
Now A500+ has 2 fast 2 chip.
I am so mad for this though, only 2 megs? :mad: That is the reason I won't buy another ACA for it...
It will fuction just with that config forever.

fitzsteve
24th February 2014, 00:43
Instead of focusing on the amount of ram or lack of consider that the aca500 will put a bog standard A500 on a par with a stock A1200, 2mb ram and storage options.

If the specs of the aca500 are not enough there are other solutions out there.
Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 2.3.5; en-gb; HTC_DesireHD Build/GRJ90) AppleWebKit/533.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile Safari/533.1

---------- Post added at 23:43 ---------- Previous post was at 23:40 ----------

By the way sorry 8mb boards do not work with the aca500 nor will any upgrades that connect to the cpu socket to my knowledge.

The only non aca cards that work with the aca500 are the blizzard mkiv and above. Although not guaranteed.
Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 2.3.5; en-gb; HTC_DesireHD Build/GRJ90) AppleWebKit/533.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile Safari/533.1

DonutKing
24th February 2014, 01:23
So FastRAM upgrades that connect to the Gary socket won't work either? like this one http://amiga.resource.cx/exp/alfaram502

I'm going to wait until I actually get it before worrying about buying any further upgrades, just curious as to what other options are out there.

Sardine
24th February 2014, 01:33
I think what steve is saying is if you dont want the ACA500 you can get the sidecar or internal options but they are very thin on the ground.

My personal opinion of the ACA500 is that it was NOT designed for the Amiga community, if it was then it would have either/or 8mb ram and 28mhz 68000, no one , i mean NO ONE would say yes, 2mb is enough ram go ahead and build it.

Ive heard cost of the 2mb was the factor, so why does the ACA1220 have 128mb ram and ACA500 only 2mb (1.5mb after Maprom).

Again my personal opinion, but would a small 2mb ram upgrade with the "option" to add another upgrade on top be in anyway part of the reason for only 2mb ram ? I just dont see how cost was an issue when other ACA product sport 64 times the ram at the same / cost.

<<<confused.

DonutKing
24th February 2014, 02:16
I read somewhere that appropriate RAM chips of such small sizes are getting harder to come by, as RAM is so cheap its usually used in much larger amounts in modern hardware.
So its actually easier to get 32MB or 64MB chips than 1MB or 2MB chips. At least, in sufficient quantities from a reliable supplier, for commercial production.

The 68000 can only address 16MB of RAM at maximum, the 68020 bumps this up to 4GB.
To include a 68020 processor would dramatically increase the complexity and cost of the ACA500 - so instead they give you an expansion port and you can choose which accelerator, if any, you want to use, while keeping the cost of the base ACA500 down.

Assuming the smaller RAM chips are the largest that were available, doubling the number of RAM chips would again increase complexity and cost of the board.

Maybe they could have used the larger RAM chips with the 68000 and tied the extra address lines to ground or something, I don't know. I also remember reading somewhere that the larger size chips on the ACA1220/1230 etc are actually DDR-SDRAM as it's easier/cheaper to get nowadays than standard SDRAM, and maybe you can't just do this with DDR.

I'm not a hardware designer so this is all speculation/postulation, everything I just said could be completely false :)

It seems to me that the ACA500 is offered as a base, it adds a lot of cool features like kickrom and CF/IDE even without the extra memory and processor upgrade. If you want the extra RAM and processing power then that's your prerogative, and you have various options with the ACA500 to achieve that.

I'm just curious as to whether there are any cheap and nasty options out there just to increase the amount of RAM as I think the CPU speed won't be an issue for playing games and watching demos that I plan to do. If I run into any issues with the amount of RAM then I gotta save some more pennies for that either way.

Sardine
24th February 2014, 09:27
well there are 2 things.

i agreee 1mb / 2mb chips possible reason why and some technical reason why 32mb chip could not be used and only address 8mb of it.

1st thing, competitors kipper2k and vampire600 , mainly kipper2k home hobbyist , his price of 4mb or 8mb for a500 does not hold water for expense of 4mb on aca500 if he can do it why not a company as large as amigakit with the design and resources thay have.

2nd Vampire 600 uses more modern ram chips but with firmware cut the amount of ram available to the A600 for compatability. again home hobbyist why can amigakit not do the same, use a modern ram chip but limit the amount available ??

I still think although the ACA500 is a great piece of kit, it was designed to have a small amount of ram to "force" the user to add an ACA1220 to it. ch-ching.

VincentGR
24th February 2014, 10:57
i agreee 1mb / 2mb chips possible reason why and some technical reason why 32mb chip could not be used and only address 8mb of it.
I still think although the ACA500 is a great piece of kit, it was designed to have a small amount of ram to "force" the user to add an ACA1220 to it. ch-ching.

I totally agree with you. It is a great piece of hardware. As I can see cpu is a used chip, propably from an A600. I don't care about that, I don't care either for the speed, I think 68000 is the best for my 500. But this kind of ram is available and costs from 1 to 5 euros... It was a bad move just to make us buy another aca.

fitzsteve
24th February 2014, 11:01
i agreee 1mb / 2mb chips possible reason why and some technical reason why 32mb chip could not be used and only address 8mb of it.
I still think although the ACA500 is a great piece of kit, it was designed to have a small amount of ram to "force" the user to add an ACA1220 to it. ch-ching.

I totally agree with you. It is a great piece of hardware. As I can see cpu is a used chip, propably from an A600. I don't care about that, I don't care either for the speed, I think 68000 is the best for my 500. But this kind of ram is available and costs from 1 to 5 euros... It was a bad move just to make us buy another aca.

Unfortunately guys even Jens has bills to pay and if this was the case well it makes perfect business sense.

If we want to see more hardware being developed the companies associated have to make some money to keep them in the game.

The Amiga community seem to expect everything to be cheap or for free just for the love of the name Amiga, sorry this isn't how the real world works!

demolition
24th February 2014, 11:02
So FastRAM upgrades that connect to the Gary socket won't work either? like this one http://amiga.resource.cx/exp/alfaram502

No, that expansion won't work with the ACA500. Actually I think the 68000 can internally address 4GB as well, however it doesn't have the pins connected for more than 24 bits.


I totally agree with you. It is a great piece of hardware. As I can see cpu is a used chip, propably from an A600.
I thought the CPU was an 68EC000? I haven't seen that version on any 600s (I think they're newer?).

DonutKing
24th February 2014, 11:04
With the Vampire 600, since that's a programmable FPGA device, it is a lot more flexible than the fixed 68k CPU on the ACA's.

I'm sure there are many technical and business reasons for the final hardware design that we aren't privy to.



I still think although the ACA500 is a great piece of kit, it was designed to have a small amount of ram to "force" the user to add an ACA1220 to it. ch-ching.

well, that could be a possibility, but at the end of the day they're in it to make money, can't blame em for that. We should be happy anybody is making upgrades for our 25 year old computers at all.

On the flipside, he could have designed it without the CPU and RAM and just added the CF/IDE, clockport, and maprom functions (which you'd need an expansion to use anyway).

fitzsteve
24th February 2014, 11:11
So FastRAM upgrades that connect to the Gary socket won't work either? like this one http://amiga.resource.cx/exp/alfaram502

No, that expansion won't work with the ACA500. Actually I think the 68000 can internally address 4GB as well, however it doesn't have the pins connected for more than 24 bits.

Are you sure, I read that expansions that use the Gary adapter could/should work, I think it needs to 'Ranger' slow Ram though.

There are a couple of discussions at EAB.

By the way I have commented in Jen's thread at EAB to ask if there is the viability for a 4mb or 8mb adapter that would just upgrade the Ram on the ACA500.

demolition
24th February 2014, 11:16
Are you sure, I read that expansions that use the Gary adapter could/should work, I think it needs to 'Ranger' slow Ram though.

You could be right. It works with 512kB slow mem upgrades, and then possibly up to 1.8MB slow mem I should think. But it won't be able to do any kind of fast mem other than what's on the ACA500 expansion connector.

I have a 1.8MB slow mem upgrade here but no ACA500 unfortunately so cannot test it together.

moijk
24th February 2014, 11:42
Might be covered before, but what can't you do with 512+512+2M of ram with the 500 and aca500 plus whdload? I also got some hardware kickstart switches so I can use that option (if the aca500 likes the hw switch that is) to keep that extra 512kB of ram for other purposes.

I would like to set up a spare a500 for a returning amiga user. So I'm curious. Since I'm not going to use it myself I'm not getting a 1220 for it.

fitzsteve
24th February 2014, 11:48
I used to run an A600 with 1mb Chip and 2mb Fast, a surprising amount of WHDLoad Games ran perfectly fine, all 1/2 Disk games without any problems at all.

4 Disk and above might have to stop for loading the game which is a little annoying, no more so then loading from floppies.

I guess there are some bigger games that might not work at all.

But most of these had their own HD installers so you could run from those (think beneath a steel sky for example)

I genuinely think you can achieve whatever you like from it within reason, some things might just take a little more effort and for sure you ave to run a very light workbench.

liviux76
24th February 2014, 11:56
I haven't done many tests for now but I have an A500+ with 2MB of chip Ram and a plain ACA500.

I installed on a very small 128MB CF card a CW 68K and a few WHDLoad games.

I was surprised that, even using the maprom option, SWOS 96-97 ran quite well. The play-game was perfect, I just had to wait a few seconds before starting the match for some loading but that was not an issue for me.

I think that using a 3.1 ROM on-board I should be able to play SWOS flawlessly and many other whdload games as well without adding any ACA1220 or more...

VincentGR
24th February 2014, 12:01
The Amiga community seem to expect everything to be cheap or for free just for the love of the name Amiga, sorry this isn't how the real world works!

You got me wrong, I would give 100-120 euros for the same card with 8MB.
I don't believe that the most of us demand cheap hardware as we donate many times to developers.
It is a great move and we thank him, just the ram issue is that reason I am sad.

---------- Post added at 13:01 ---------- Previous post was at 12:57 ----------


I also got some hardware kickstart switches so I can use that option (if the aca500 likes the hw switch that is) to keep that extra 512kB of ram for other purposes.

Yes it works, I have 1.3-3.1 and no maprom function.
I have 2MB chip free and aca 1.7 fast (from 1.2 with map) at boot now.

moijk
24th February 2014, 12:32
Well, some inconvenience isn't worth sweating over. it is what flat out doesn't work that is. It is to have the majority of games working that is the goal. Not necessarily every. Could of course be a challenge to try get as many as possible.

I've understood that it doesn't work on the models that came with the 1.2 rom?

Very light workbench isn't a problem either.

Sardine
24th February 2014, 12:58
100% agree with Vincentgr

Totally agree the aca500 is a great piece of kit.

I also would pay more for a 4mb or 8mb version.

I don't want it for little money. I would gladly pay more for more ram. Like many here who want whdload setup but don't want to add a a1220.

100% compatibility from 68000 and 8mb fast ram would have been perfect.
AmigKit know that's what we want. They want to sell aca1220 :(

kerkyra2007
24th February 2014, 13:24
After checking a lot of memory boards on my Amiga 500 rev6a 1MB chip (the hack) a Greek Amiga guru gave it back to me with the SupraRam 500RX with 2 MB on bard with a pass through to connect the ACA 500.
I installed also a 3.1 rom on board and have on Workbench 3.1 : 1 MB chip ram and 3.7 MB other ram which run my Whdload setup pretty good and stable.

fitzsteve
24th February 2014, 21:04
Got an answer to my question from Jens:


ACA500 RAM: Not as easy as you might think, because the memory map of the ACA500 is pretty full. Also, the bus for the A1200 accelerator is not meant to be used bi-directional as in the A1200, so the only way to add memory would be the 7MHz bus on the A500 side or the 68000 socket inside the A500.

If you come up with enough orders, I could design something for the 68000 socket. However, I don't really believe that people would spend 60,- EUR on 2MBytes if they can have 128MBytes and more CPU horsepower for 90,- EUR (let alone open the computer!).

Remember the ACA500 is a low-budget design. The only way to make it possible at this price was to make the assumption "the A500 is totally un-modded" - this takes a lot of logic, testing and other effort out of the equation. Look at all the options that the ACA500 offers, and ask someone educated enough to rate the amount of required logic. Or ask if he/she can fit it in 72 macrocells (as used on the ACA500). I bet that the standard answer will be "you'll need the next bigger chip with 144 Macrocells" - which would result in at least 10,- EUR higher sales price.You can follow the thread here (http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=65087) and this one (http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=71495) too :thumbsup:

So has anyone tried a 4mb Kipper Ram?

Sardine
25th February 2014, 01:10
So has anyone tried a 4mb Kipper Ram?

That's excactly what I asked you in PM last week, we need an owner of the 4mb or 8mb kipper2k device to see if the aca500 does not conflict.

also I dont understand his 10euro increase for a larger chip being such an issue, I would pay 10euro more.

he says for a little more get more horse power etc... thats not the point, the point is to expand the A500, not turn it into an A1200.

booting a 100% compatible 68k with 8mb fast ram, 3.1 map rom and 2 CF slots is a dream. he keeps mentioning this is a budget card. WHY!! make a NONE budget card with more ram i'm betting there would be a que even if the price passed ACA1220 costs.

I've seen what members pay for GVP sidecar 030 or the internal 030 card or the sidecard scsi HDD and ram or the supra 28mhz or...or.. the list is endless. his solution ACA500 with 8mb ram would sell like,,,, well like hot cake for sure even if it reached double what it costs now.

I would be very surprised if we ran a POLL and asked would you pay double for an ACA500 with 8mb ram and the poll said no.
I would guess the poll would side on the "scrap the word "budget" and go for 8mb ram deluxe version", I would rather pay more for my A500 rather than settle for a budget card for sure.

DonutKing
25th February 2014, 09:26
I would be very surprised if we ran a POLL and asked would you pay double for an ACA500 with 8mb ram and the poll said no.


The ACA1220 is only 10 euros more than the ACA500, and comes with 128MB RAM and a 16MHz 68020 processor. I'd rather get that than pay twice as much for an ACA500 with 8MB RAM and a 14MHz 68000.

I do agree that for an extra 10 euros, an 8MB ACA500 would be awesome. And I wouldn't bother buying with another accelerator.

From what Jens said on EAB I get the impression that the 80 euro price point was decided before he finalised the hardware design.

It sounds like there is little margin on the ACA500 and he's trying to use the ACA500 to drive sales of the ACA12xx's.
I can't really blame him for that, he's running a business and with no profit the business shuts down, and no more cool amiga hardware.

Sardine
26th February 2014, 09:21
It sounds like there is little margin on the ACA500 and he's trying to use the ACA500 to drive sales of the ACA12xx's.
I can't really blame him for that, he's running a business and with no profit the business shuts down, and no more cool amiga hardware.

that's what I think but it was dismissed by other members here, Jens is a businessman and like i've said not really doing what the community wants.

if he was then it would be 28mhz 68k and 8mbram
he would also build 060 cards for a1200 also, plenty of chips around but that would put a nail in the coffin of his current ACA range if an ACA1260 was released.

fitzsteve
26th February 2014, 10:29
@Sardine, the problem is these specs would rise the price and for those that want to use the ACA500 with a turbo board they already own would have to spent more on the ACA500 and they might not even bother so Jens could lose sales.

I'm all for an expansion that simply gives it more Ram but you can't ask a developer to sell a card at a loss just to please the community.

I don't understand why people hold a grudge against new items if they are not up to your spec don't buy them.

Don't forget there are other options if you just want 68k + Fast Ram and others on the horizon like the Zeus68k. These smaller projects will be more community driven as they don't have board of directors to please!

roy_bates
26th February 2014, 12:50
im happy with mine to be honest.

if it was made with its own cpu and memory and no passthrough for other cards it wouldnt be upgradeable,just like cards of old,thats the way i look at it.

as it stands at the moment i see it as a cheap adaptor to allow most good cards to work from 020 to 060 with lots of memory,so i cant really complain..

the only down side that i can see is,it dont come in a case:D
and thats not really a problem for me..

Lozspd4
10th September 2014, 21:15
Well After reading this Thread im quiet suprised the diffrent Opinions from so many People, so ill say my salt.
I Thinks Jens has done his home work well on the Aca500, I dont think 8mb would make a big diffrence, The Aca1220 as addon is a much better Option plus its32bit ram, leaving more Local 24bit ram on the aca500 free for whdload games, the 89 for the aca1220@16mhz can easliy be upgraded with a better 68020 with the right Equipment if needed, ive done it FritzSteve has done it. But the Aca500 is a fantastic starting platform to build on for future Upgrades.and the Aca1220 is more the enough for whdload games.

If you have a good restored A500+ the Aca500 is enough and you dont Need a clock on the ACA500 waste of Money, Extra 1mb for chip you can "order Dont know if im allowed to say Website" for 15 and build it yourself. Then you have a perfect whdload machine.

If you wont Os3.9 then Honestly your using the wrong Amiga, I think Aca 1232 personelly Overkill. The Housing for the Aca500 you can make yourself if it bothers you for under 10 using plexi Glass. I Think its a Great Entry product for Older and Newer User. :)

voyager_1701e
11th September 2014, 14:48
Well After reading this Thread im quiet suprised the diffrent Opinions from so many People, so ill say my salt.
I Thinks Jens has done his home work well on the Aca500, I dont think 8mb would make a big diffrence, The Aca1220 as addon is a much better Option plus its32bit ram, leaving more Local 24bit ram on the aca500 free for whdload games, the 89 for the aca1220@16mhz can easliy be upgraded with a better 68020 with the right Equipment if needed, ive done it FritzSteve has done it. But the Aca500 is a fantastic starting platform to build on for future Upgrades.and the Aca1220 is more the enough for whdload games.

If you have a good restored A500+ the Aca500 is enough and you dont Need a clock on the ACA500 waste of Money, Extra 1mb for chip you can "order Dont know if im allowed to say Website" for 15 and build it yourself. Then you have a perfect whdload machine.

If you wont Os3.9 then Honestly your using the wrong Amiga, I think Aca 1232 personelly Overkill. The Housing for the Aca500 you can make yourself if it bothers you for under 10 using plexi Glass. I Think its a Great Entry product for Older and Newer User. :)

Im really sorry all, I couldn't help myself.......is this FritzSteve fitzsteve's German cousin? :)

I think the ACA500 is a good entry level product.....just to be back ontopic...and thanks to the Steve's for reviewing!

Lozspd4
11th September 2014, 18:54
Glad someone saw the mistake, yes it is Lol:))

ad-rs1600i
7th February 2015, 16:32
Very late to the party, but just wanted to say thank you for a wonderful review!

What an awesome piece of hardware as well. I love the fact that ROMs for 1.3 and 3.1 are included.

Thank you :)

voyager_1701e
20th March 2015, 16:35
Just wanted to add these 2 cards to Steve's thread.

The MicroDia card pictured works as a boot card "82X CompactFlash Xtra Plus 4GB"
85059
The "Memory Technology Company 4GB CompactFlash card" pictured does not work as a boot card. The system just shows a blank screen and nothing else.

I didnt try either as the "AUX" card

VincentGR
20th March 2015, 17:10
A strange thing! just to mention it, no prob from me.
Sometime ago I bought a Mega fast ram. It is a board that sits on 68k socket and gives you 2MB of ram. You can keep your existing 68k or swap it with a 010.
I kept mine and I type the command to enable the ram.
As a result I got 2MB chip (1 from my A500+ and another on trap) 2MB fast from the mega board and another 2 from aca.

What is the strange thing?
68K falls from 14MHz to 7 :D
CF cards both work fine on aca though.

Now this is true compatibility for old games.

fitzsteve
20th March 2015, 18:53
@Voyager, I'm using one of the Generic Cards as my Boot card however they're all different so mileage will vary. (Mine is 8gb so I have the whole WHDLoad ECS pack at my disposal!)

It seems even across the same brand sometimes no two CF are created equal!

@Vincent, I'm doing the exact same thing as you:

http://www.amibay.com/showthread.php?61266-2mb-Upgrade-working-with-stock-ACA500-setup-D

santafe
16th June 2015, 22:27
Really nice stuff, like to get some new stuff to hack with them.

Dejavu
3rd August 2015, 23:27
I do not know, it mentioned before but using rapidroad USB with ACA500 is possible.
I have used with several USB sticks, mouses, HDDs & even tried with usb ethernet adapter (with posedion stack)