CFFA3000 vs MicroDrive/Turbo IDE Controller

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CFFA3000 vs MicroDrive/Turbo IDE Controller

I'm thinking about getting a CFFA3000 now that the fall run is in production, and I see a competing product from Ultimate Apple called the MicroDrive/Turbo IDE controller. It advertises as full DMA compatible, which makes it up to 40% faster than other controllers with reduced CPU overhead. I also read that the CFFA3000 hardware could support DMA, but it has not been enabled, and hasn't had any progress in that area for many years.

So is the MicroDrive/Turbo really that much better? Has anyone put the two units head to head?

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Re: CFFA3000 vs MicroDrive/Turbo IDE Controller

I wonder why would one need nowadays a "very fast" storage controller with an ancient very slow computer like Apple2...CFFA unlike microdrive ide card emulates not only a hard drive but also DISK II drives with their controller...DMA usage prevents those cards from running in Apple ][, ][ plus and early ][e models, and adds certain incompatibility with CP/M cards and accelerators...Microdrive controller requires a ROM chip replacement if you switch between //e and //GS models which is very unwise and inconvenient, they'd better used a double the size ROM chip with jumper to select the required ROM part or even better make the firmware autodetecting the apple model it runs on...For the price they are selling it they should have done this...

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Re: CFFA3000 vs MicroDrive/Turbo IDE Controller

I have a Microdrive Turbo. Not the nasty card that Georgel makes it out to be. It works very well in my IIe. The DMA can be turned off if you wish.

When I made the decision to buy it, it was because it was more readily available than the CFFA3000, but then I discovered the phenomenal support that seems to come with it. I would not hesitate to buy another.

As for the ROM being for one machine or the other, I can never see that as being a problem. If I had a GS and the IIe, I would likely be running different set-ups on them and have a Microdrive in each. Not a real issue. And I disagree with the comment that changing the ROM is "very unwise and inconvenient". If you have to swap between machines, you have to have the board in your hand. The ROM swap takes about 10 seconds.

On emulating a Disk-II, I can see reasons for that, but they don't apply to me. Besides, if dealing with floppies is not your idea of fun (I like it, it's part of the whole retro thing!) there are other devices out there that emulate Disk-IIs that can be had for chump change and are uber cool "must haves" for the avid Apple II enthusiast.

I don't have much experience with the CFFA3000, but I do know it's a good card. You won't go wrong either way.

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Re: CFFA3000 vs MicroDrive/Turbo IDE Controller

The rom swap takes 10 seconds and after several swaps the PLCC socket is broken. It is a primitive solution compared to controlling the most significant eprom address line via jumper!

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Re: CFFA3000 vs MicroDrive/Turbo IDE Controller

The rom swap takes 10 seconds and after several swaps the PLCC socket is broken. It is a primitive solution compared to controlling the most significant eprom address bus via jumper!

Agreed that the jumper solution is better, but you don't have to be ham-fisted in swapping the ROM. If someone is in the habit of breaking things like that, they are using bad technique and should probably have two boards anyway.

An even better solution would be auto-detect. The card could initialize with a simple routine compatible to both platforms and check which machine type it's plugged into and enable the correct code. These days it's probably nearly as easy to do that as it is to change the ROM and add a jumper.

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Re: CFFA3000 vs MicroDrive/Turbo IDE Controller

Believe me, I deal a lot with electronics, and I still brake from time to time these plcc sockets, they are not designed for many removals...To have not two but even one of these boards that are highly overpriced is not very wise (maybe)...There are plenty of storage solutions for A2 out there...

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Re: CFFA3000 vs MicroDrive/Turbo IDE Controller

The rom swap takes 10 seconds and after several swaps the PLCC socket is broken.

Thanks for letting me know! Smile

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Re: CFFA3000 vs MicroDrive/Turbo IDE Controller

Thanks for the discussions all! I have found another similar emulator, called the Floppy Emu. It seems the CFFA3000 and the Floppy Emu offer similar functionality, both offering disk image compatibility, with the MicroDrive being the HDD only option? I'm kind of leaning towards the CFFA3000 at this time, but that Floppy Emu looks like a pretty amazing device.

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Re: CFFA3000 vs MicroDrive/Turbo IDE Controller

I've seen personally Floppy Emu. It is very crude, as a hard drive it uses the slow smartport, when powered off it does not remember the last image used...

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Re: CFFA3000 vs MicroDrive/Turbo IDE Controller

Here

is another one you might want to take a look at. Several users on Applefritter have them. I love mine, although it's the older model without the little LCD display.

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Re: CFFA3000 vs MicroDrive/Turbo IDE Controller

Why thank you. I did not realize there were so many of these devices to choose from!

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Re: CFFA3000 vs MicroDrive/Turbo IDE Controller

Ok Georgel,

What would you recommend?

Steven Smile

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Re: CFFA3000 vs MicroDrive/Turbo IDE Controller

I would say the CFFA3000 wins hands down. The MicroDrive is an AMAZING device; it works as a solid state hard disk and it does it well, perhaps better than any other hard disk emulation product out there.

That being said, the CFFA is much more versatile... it emulates the hard drive via CF card OR USB them drive. You can HOT SWAP the USB thumb drive, making it super easy to move files from your MAC/PC to the Apple II without any crazy cables, adtpro, etc. Just copy the image from your pc to the USB drive, plug the USB into the CFFA3000 and you're off and running.

It emulates the DISK ][ controller with two DISK ][ drives. It emulates smart port devices (3.5" drives). You can use it to make images from floppies and create floppies from images.

It does all these things very well. The hard disk emulation is not as FAST as the micro drive, but it is plenty fast enough. If all you want is hard disk emulation, the MicroDrive may be a better option.... but with the added features of the CFFA3000, i would say that would be a stretch.

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Re: CFFA3000 vs MicroDrive/Turbo IDE Controller

I would say the CFFA3000 wins hands down. The MicroDrive is an AMAZING device; it works as a solid state hard disk and it does it well, perhaps better than any other hard disk emulation product out there.

That being said, the CFFA is much more versatile... it emulates the hard drive via CF card OR USB them drive. You can HOT SWAP the USB thumb drive, making it super easy to move files from your MAC/PC to the Apple II without any crazy cables, adtpro, etc. Just copy the image from your pc to the USB drive, plug the USB into the CFFA3000 and you're off and running.

It emulates the DISK ][ controller with two DISK ][ drives. It emulates smart port devices (3.5" drives). You can use it to make images from floppies and create floppies from images.

It does all these things very well. The hard disk emulation is not as FAST as the micro drive, but it is plenty fast enough. If all you want is hard disk emulation, the MicroDrive may be a better option.... but with the added features of the CFFA3000, i would say that would be a stretch.

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Re: CFFA3000 vs MicroDrive/Turbo IDE Controller

I would say the CFFA3000 wins hands down. The MicroDrive is an AMAZING device; it works as a solid state hard disk and it does it well, perhaps better than any other hard disk emulation product out there.

That being said, the CFFA is much more versatile... it emulates the hard drive via CF card OR USB them drive. You can HOT SWAP the USB thumb drive, making it super easy to move files from your MAC/PC to the Apple II without any crazy cables, adtpro, etc. Just copy the image from your pc to the USB drive, plug the USB into the CFFA3000 and you're off and running.

It emulates the DISK ][ controller with two DISK ][ drives. It emulates smart port devices (3.5" drives). You can use it to make images from floppies and create floppies from images.

It does all these things very well. The hard disk emulation is not as FAST as the micro drive, but it is plenty fast enough. If all you want is hard disk emulation, the MicroDrive may be a better option.... but with the added features of the CFFA3000, i would say that would be a stretch.

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Re: CFFA3000 vs MicroDrive/Turbo IDE Controller

I would say the CFFA3000 wins hands down. The MicroDrive is an AMAZING device; it works as a solid state hard disk and it does it well, perhaps better than any other hard disk emulation product out there. And the support from REACTIVE MICRO is second to none.... that is without question.

That being said, the CFFA is much more versatile... it emulates the hard drive via CF card OR USB them drive. You can HOT SWAP the USB thumb drive, making it super easy to move files from your MAC/PC to the Apple II without any crazy cables, adtpro, etc. Just copy the image from your pc to the USB drive, plug the USB into the CFFA3000 and you're off and running.

It emulates the DISK ][ controller with two DISK ][ drives. It emulates smart port devices (3.5" drives). You can use it to make images from floppies and create floppies from images.

It does all these things very well. The hard disk emulation is not as FAST as the micro drive, but it is plenty fast enough. If all you want is hard disk emulation, the MicroDrive may be a better option.... but with the added features of the CFFA3000, i would say that would be a stretch.

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Re: CFFA3000 vs MicroDrive/Turbo IDE Controller

I think it is safe to say paulhlee likes the CFFA3000 4 times better than any other device! :bigsmile:

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Re: CFFA3000 vs MicroDrive/Turbo IDE Controller

Ba-dump-bump-bump. Tishhhh!

Sweeeeet!

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Re: CFFA3000 vs MicroDrive/Turbo IDE Controller

well ... new member.... and commen mistake of newbie´s here....
would be a nice idea for kid´s game:
the bouncing keyboard keys making bouncing music watching a bouncing ball at the hires screen....

but back to the topic:
i´ve seen a lot of arguments and though the compare is limited by title to these 2 controllers -
a specific kind of compare seems missing....
both controllers store the files in ProDOS partitions....
at the other side for example several SCSI controllers also offer storage within other
native partitions of alternating OS like UCSD, CPM and DOS ( handling many numbered volumes )
- like for example RAMfast IDE, Vulcan from AE or like the Megacore Drive....

in fact the problem of most of this alternate drivecontrollers - has been the limitation in size
of amount of accessable amout of volumes ( as well as not offering a simple bootselection menu
at startup offering the choice from which partition and by that the choice of OS to startup ).....

- but the CFFA at least offers with it´s disk emulation the chance of booting alternate
Operation systems from DSK images.... but after boot from that images still the chance to access a partition
( or call it volume ) of the alternate booted OS is missing....

so if you prefer different kinds of options CFFA might be better choice
but if you use only ProDOS and want fast access to your files then
the MicroDrive might be the better choice....

But if you also often work with UCSD Pascal or with CPM and other Compilers offered at that
OS - then it´s for sure better choice to think about RAMfast controller or similar solution....
( not even giving the ability besides to access with SCSI also CD´s direct too a value in that compare )

Even though both controllers ( CFFA and MicroDrive ) have been now several years in the market - at both controllers
there has not been any attempt to expand that ability to access and support alternat OS...
That´s the reason several folks still favor SCSI controllers with their better native options...

Back in the 80´s that was a reason why i prefered the use of SCSI... ProDos was still in development
with pouring a new version nearley every 6 months (!) to the market and each time kicking of it´s
compatibility of programmable entrypoints to the OS by changing each time location of entrypoints
for access by assembler..... at the other hand the ability to experiment with a wide range of different
compilers and languages at CPM like: C, Pascal, Fortran, Cobol, Lisp, Smalltalk, Modula 2, PL1 .....
not to talk about the ability to learn a lot of stuff about databasehandling with D-Base and other
stuff
speedyG

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Re: CFFA3000 vs MicroDrive/Turbo IDE Controller

I am still waiting for a recommendation from Georgel.

Steven Smile

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