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[News] ELBOX about SharkPPC, Sound and TV card drivers and Warp3D supportANN.lu
Posted on 26-Jun-2001 18:06 GMT by Christian Kemp92 comments
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Darek Dulian wrote: Below are the answers from Elbox to questions asked by Kay Are Ulvestad. The questions (asked in a message to Elbox) refer to SharkPPC cards, drivers to Mediator PCI for Sound, TV and other cards, Warp 3D support, etc.
Kay Are Ulvestad wrote:

I'm sorry to hassle, but you know how the Amiga market is. . . keep public relations quiet for a while, and wild rumours start circulating.
Anyway, I was hoping you could provide this impatient user with some info by answering some questions. With your permission, I will post the info on the Amiga Mediator ML as well, hopefully calming some people down. The questions may look kind of long, but I think they're mostly easy to answer. Ok, here I go:

1. There recently was a claim (outside of Elbox), that the Shark products were cancelled. Although I myself don't really believe this on such a weak basis, the recent lack of information about the products as well as the successful marketing of the AmigaONE might lead to some users feeling they've invested in a "dead end" expansion-wise. Perhaps you could tell me how the development is going? Any estimated release date?

As we have explained many times, we will start producing SharkPPC G3/G4 and ShakPPC+ cards when AmigaOS 4.0 is ready for releasing.

"2. When is the next driver release from you? What kind of drivers can be expected, and how soon?"

Tomorrow we will make available the MediatorUP2.3 update, which is a simultaneous update for the users of Mediator PCI 1200 and Mediator PCI ZIV. All the system files and the enclosed drivers have been optimized and adjusted to operation with Mediator PCI 1200 and ZIV. In the pci.library, workaround has been made to avoid the incorrect recognition of 68LC060 processors by the LC060.library.

The next drivers to be made available within the coming two weeks will be drivers for SoundBlaster 128 music cards.

Drivers to TV cards, which were presented in WOA 2000 in Koln are ready and will be released in one package with drivers for SounBlaster 128 music cards.

Further drivers, on which we are now working, are drivers for SoundBlaster Live! cards. The work is advanced in ca. 80% on these drivers.

Writing drivers is a very time-consuming work. Unlike drivers to the previous Amiga cards, like those in Zorro slots, writing drivers for PCI cards requires much more time. The reason is that drivers for Amiga cards were prepared usually for one specific series (mask) of chipsets around which they were produced. For example, CyberVision 64 3D cards were produced around the S3 ViRGE 86C325, chipset but always only and solely for one series (mask) of these chipsets. Our drivers for S3 cards support various chipsets of the S3 ViRGE, but also have to run with all the series (masks) of these chipsets.
This applies to other drivers written by us, as well.

In the recent several months, production of other PCI busboards for Amiga was announced. Probably many people believed that this would result in co-operation of companies for writing drivers for PCI cards. We guess such co-operation would be beneficial for users of Amiga with PCI slots.

Elbox has written drivers for Voodoo3, Vooodoo4, Voodoo5 and S3 Virge graphic cards and Ethernet cards.

We hoped that if a new busboard is to be introduced to the market, its authors will prepare drivers for these PCI cards, for which no Amiga support is available as yet. Then, by licensing, they would make available their drivers for working with Mediator, receiving in return licences for drivers prepared by Elbox.

Well, as we see, the trend is completely different:

The only drivers which are made for other PCI busboards are drivers to these PCI cards, to which Elbox has already written drivers.
Writing drivers to these PCI cards, to which drivers have been written and made available by Elbox, is like solving a difficult problem in physics, when you already have seen its solution...

Therefore, soon we will make available drivers for Mediator to such PCI cards, which due to technical reasons cannot work in PCI busboards other than Mediator.

We also hope that external developers will write drivers for PCI cards. SDK for Mediator is available free of charge after signing NDA.
However, prospective developers have to remember that:
- They should approach appropriate companies about documentation to PCI card chipsets, to which they want to write drivers. Usually, such companies require signing an individual NDA. Also, questions about operation of the PCI cards of interest to them must be asked with these companies.
- PCI specifications are property of PCI SIG and may be acquired at http://www.pcisig.org

"3. Is there a solution within reach to the 4mb memory window problem on early mediators with BlizzPPC cards? Or will AND have to wait for the Shark?"

For users of BlizzPPC cards with Mediator PCI 1200 produced last year we are preparing a special offer for upgrading to the appropriate MACH chip.

"4. It seems Hyperion has mostly completed the Warp3d drivers for Voodoo3. How long until we can see the true power of Voodoo3 on the Mediator?"

This question should be asked to Hyperion.

Elbox accepted financial conditions of the Hyperion company.
However, the Hyperion company so far was not able to give any specific date when their Warp3D drivers to Voodoo3 for Mediator 1200 could be released, despite numerous earlier assurances (since December 2000) on the part of the Warp3D team that preparing such drivers is only a matter of a few weeks.

As soon as Hyperion are able to give a definite date, there will be nothing to be an obstacle for signing the contract.

"Well, that's all I can think of for now. Thanks in advance, and keep up the good work for the Amiga market!"

June is a month of very intense work for us, as, apart from all the things I have already written above, we now begin production of three more Mediator busboards:
- Mediator PCI ZIV for the Z-IV busboards,
- Mediator PCI ZIII for any Amiga with Zorro III slots,
- Mediator PCI 4000 for controlling Elbox Zorro III/PCI (7xZIII, 5xPCI, 1xVideo) busboard of the E/BOX 4000 tower system (known also as Power Tower 4000 or Winner Tower 4000) for Amiga 4000D.

The two last models of Mediator are technologically the most advanced busboards in the Amiga market for Amiga 3000/4000 computers.

Mediator ZIII and Mediator 4000 busboards for Amiga 3/4000 computers, unlike other simplified bridges offered for Amiga with Zorro III slots, support the most advanced Zorro III mechanisms like e.g. DMA between PCI cards and memory in the turbo card and other features omitted in these bridges, which are necessary for cards like SoundBlaster 128 or SoundBlaster Live! to work properly.

We are glad to be able to answer your questions. If you still have any doubts, please drop us a line.

Best regards,

Darek Dulian
ELBOX COMPUTER, Support Department
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