Yokemate of Keyboards
Posts: 11764 from 2003/5/22
Strong opinion piece on Tabor:
"My disenchantment with the current crop of PowerPC-based Amigas [...] is well-known. At their various asking prices you got embedded-class CPUs at mid-high desktop level prices with performance less than a generation-old Power Mac. (Many used and easily available models of which [...] can run MorphOS for considerably less cash out of pocket.) A-EON's AmigaOne X5000 in particular attracts my ire for actually running a CPU that doesn't have AltiVec to replace the X1000, which did. Part of this problem was the loss of availability of the PA6T-1682M CPU [...], but there were plenty better choices than the NXP P5020 which wasn't ever really intended for this application. [...] the original A1222 "Tabor" board [...] was specced [...] with [...] most controversially another grossly underpowered embedded core, a QorIQ P1022 at 1.2GHz. Based on the 32-bit e500v2 microarchitecture, it not only also lacks AltiVec but even a conventional FPU, something that for many years was not only standard on PowerPC CPUs but considered one of its particular strengths. As an embedded CPU, this was forgivable. As an embedded CPU in a modern general-purpose computing environment, however, this was unconscionable. Even by Amiga standards this was an odd choice and one with potential impacts for compatibility, and one a G5 or high-end Power Mac G4 would mop the floor with. [...] various other components needed updating. Strangely, the CPU was not among them. [...] if A-EON chose this CPU deliberately as an attempt to make the price of the system lower, they chose wrong. [...] Amiga has a long history in computing consciousness and most computer nerds would at least recognize the brand. Similarly, people still remember Power Macs, and [...] there's a rather pernicious and commonly-held belief that Apple's migration to Intel somehow "proved" the inferiority of Power ISA. Today, along comes yet another underwhelming PowerPC-based Amiga to confirm their preconceived notions: because it's Amiga, it sticks in people's minds, and because it confirms their own beliefs about PowerPC, it reinforces their unjustified biases. Regardless of the fact that POWER9 systems [...] outpace ARM and RISC-V and compete with even high-end x86_64 offerings, the presence of Tabor and X5000 et al simply gives the resolutely underinformed yet another stick to beat Power desktops with. These Amigas suck compared to PCs, they reason, so OpenPOWER must suck too. At the very least modern Amiga systems need to beat these decade-plus-old Power Macs to be even vaguely taken seriously. If they must go embedded then at least an e6500-series processor would do better than anything that they're running, and [...] going with a minimally-redesigned reference design board for a POWER8 or POWER9 in big-endian mode could still free up development resources for such a task that would otherwise be sunk into yet another quixotic product. As it is, these Amiga systems don't do the Amiga community any favours, and from this outsider's view their performance even seems to be going backwards. [...] weaksauce systems like this being sold as desktop machines continues to tar the architecture as underpowered and does nothing to expand the market beyond the shrinking circle of faithfuls. When there exist today at this very moment Power ISA workstations that can be every bit as utilitarian and functional as Intel workstations, the last thing any of our two communities need is yet another Amiga that people don't want.
My 2 cents as to notions I disagree with:
1. The Tabor board design change to replace some obsolete components by more recent ones couldn't have involved a change of the SoC as this would have required a new from-scratch design.
2. There was no better choice than the e5500-based QorIQ P5 series in 2012/2013 when the X5000/Cyrus was conceived. There was neither e6500 nor OpenPOWER back then.