Strange SBC with AMD29030 RISC CPU - clues?

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DrBunsen's picture
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So I picked up what appears to be the motherboard out of a Selectronic laser printer, thinking I might be able to do something with it. It has an AMD 29030-25GC RISC CPU, four 72 pin RAM sockets, a SCSI controller with a 3.5" disk on it and an HDI-50 (Powerbook) external SCSI port, 10B2, 10BT, parallel, DB-25 serial, and Apple serial...

Problem is, I have absolutely no idea what to do next. I have a hunch there's a *nix port for the CPU, but I haven't been able to turn up any of the silkscreened serial numbers on the board on Google. So I'm open to suggestions.

If nothing comes of it, it's worth the few bucks I paid for the disk and RAM.

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Eudimorphodon's picture
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Re: Strange SBC with AMD29030 RISC CPU - clues?

DrBunsen wrote:

I have a hunch there's a *nix port for the CPU

You got me curious, so I did I bit of searching. From what I can tell, no one ever actually used the AMD 29000 series as a workstation CPU. It appears there were a few obscure systems that used it as a coprocessor or graphics accellerator, but nothing that actually "ran" UNIX on it.

NetBSD doesn't have any AMD 29000 ports, which is rather telling.

--Peace

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Lots of sucky printers used t

Lots of sucky printers used the AMD 29K series RISC CPU. I say sucky printers, because the CPU was sucky enough to drag down even the best print engine. Apple really had an affinity for way too long.

It's really more of a DSP than a CPU anyway, so it wouldn't be appropriate for running an operating system like a full featured desktop CPU.

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Re: Lots of sucky printers used t

drbob wrote:

Lots of sucky printers used the AMD 29K series RISC CPU. I say sucky printers, because the CPU was sucky enough to drag down even the best print engine. Apple really had an affinity for way too long.

It's really more of a DSP than a CPU anyway, so it wouldn't be appropriate for running an operating system like a full featured desktop CPU.

Feh. The 29000 gets a bad rap. It was a perfectly good CPU. The real "problem" with it was that it was tolerant of cheap, lousy supporting hardware. Exactly like one might find in a cut-rate printer controller.

By today's standards it might of been nothing to write home about, but the 29000 completely blew the doors off of Motorola 68000-based print engines. My old TrueImage dual-mode Laserwriter/Postscript clone printer could run rings around an HP Laserjet IIp or IIIp using the same Canon engine.

("Run rings around" meaning it could actually approximate it's 4 page-per-second engine rating on pages including some light graphics. Unlike the 68K HPs, which would sit there digesting for three minutes on the same pages.)

I did find several references which implied that both "Plan 9" and a cross-platform OS called "Inferno" were at one point running in at least an experimental capacity on 29000-based devices at Bell Labs, so it does appear it was at least possible to use the CPU in a workstation. I'd be curious as to how it performed in that capacity.

--Peace

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bad rap

At the time when the 29000 was current, it's principle competitor was the i860, which pretty much ate it for lunch. Comparing a risc cpu highly optimized for DSP against a 68K is kind of an apple's and oranges argument. Anyway, when the i960 and the ColdFire came out, those pretty much sounded the death knell for the 29K.

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Uses?

So can anyone suggest an actual use for this board, apart from cannibalising the RAM etc?

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