From: Timothy Rue (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: Modular Systems (was QuikPak's plans (was A/BOX and Operating systems)) Date: Sun, 23 Mar 97 08:30:00 ============================================================================== >On 19 Mar 97 14:13:19 -300, Byron Montgomerie (email@example.com) wrote: >>Nicolai Thilo (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote: >>>>Heh, I would consider the A\Box to be the all-in-one hifi system. :) >>>>Audiophiles generally prefer modular systems. :) >>>The analogy is flawed, here are three reasons why: Audiophiles >>>prefer modular systems because they sound better, not because they >>>are trying to save money. >>That's right, they also have more selection to get the best sounding >>system. Just because one company makes good amps doesn't mean they >>have as good CD players. >Dave Haynie (email@example.com) wrote: >I have 13 separate audio/music components here in my office, not >counting computers. The modular approach is the right one. I don't >have to replace may amp or mixer just to change to new montiors or a >new DAT deck (as if). >Same goes with computers. There are two reasons for thiis need. The >first one is that different technologies don't always change at the >same rate. If you can replace just the pieces you want improved, you >ultimately do save money over replacing the whole thing. >The second thing is user preferances: not everyone wants or needs the >same things. This is a problem we always had at Commodore: what should >a new graphics chipset do? Do you want it video oriented? That's not >going to please CAD or DTP users. The ideal gamer's solution isn't the >same as the guy doing MIDI work. So a modular system is more easily >tailored to your needs. That's not so necessary on the PC, where you >can pretty much find the unit you want if you're not married to one >company. On the Amiga, one model had to be everything to everyone for >awhile. That's also not the case for PowerPC machines. And yet, at >CeBIT, the PIOS One was only one of three CHRP machines being shown. >This, at the world's largest electronics and computer show. That >implies that for some time, the market will more resemble the Amiga's >than the PC's. Also, once you've plunked down your money, you're stuck >with what you have, unless the various pieces are easy to change or >add to. [smip...] Dave, I like your analogies. A little of what I had sent VIScorp (A Gif Image is attached). Access Image There are three topics covered. 1). Incorporating the Amiga "check-mark" into the VIScorp logo. Art-work included as well as rendering files. *** Here is the relative part to this thread *** 2). Hardware considerations that can satisfy the wide variety of user and developer interest, applications and wants. Yet reducing re-packaging cost to a minimum, while increasing versatility and stability of product line. And as such, lend to improving sales and support by establishing standards with user versatility in mind as well as being easier on the support and warranty service. 3). OS considerations that need to be addressed. To the point, one bad apple shouldn't spoil the bunch. Meaning that in a multi-tasking environment, one faulty application program should not crash the whole system, but be removed. And this ability should be integrated into the OS and not some application program. If there is any one thing about the Amiga OS that ticks me off, it is this by far. After working for hours on something, having the system crash or lock up, keeping me from continuing with otherwise trouble free applications. 1) - VIScorp LOGO and Amiga check mark. (see web page at address below and "article 12" thru the "Samples of social industrial issues" link. 2) - Amiga packaging (Hardware). The Amiga seems to be the computer that fits into all the cracks, gaps and holes in reguard to the computer industry. As such it is difficult to fill the wants and needs of so many when it comes to packaging. It does seem that one thing everyone wants is expandability. I believe there is a workable solutions that most will find satisfactory and perhaps as a pleasent suprise. The concept is to produce the Amiga into parts or blocks that may be attached and even re-configured to fit the packaging needs of many. Such configuring abilities certainly would increase the versatility of the system as well as allow users to expand their system as they see fit. I think from the manufacturing and service perspective, cost would be reduced as a result of dealing with standard packaging blocks. Electronically, the Amiga seems to have it's Amiga primary board, an ability add/enable board and a CPU board. The Amiga primary board would be standard in all Amigas where the ability add/enable board is used to add or make available additional features of the Amiga. The CPU board of course may also contain ram expansion and scsi or IDE interface. The variables here would be the ability add/enable board and the CPU board and this will allow price differences with the Amiga block. The blocks attach to each other through a slot that is accessable from both the top and bottom of the right side of the block (see dark gray slot panel cover on the units top right side, back-side top for the lap-top and hidden in the set top base.) There is a "T" pass-thru card the internal boards plug into, which has a card edge connector on it's top and bottom edge. The blocks are connected using what would be a double sided card edge connector. Securing the blocks together is done by removing the light blue rubber molding, behind which is the securing screws. This rubber molding also functions as the feet so the tower/stacked system, or even the desk-top may be layed/sat on it's side (preferably on the right side, due mounting direction of the cards that internally plug into the T pass-thru card.) The systems in the image: Lap-Top - Though not a slim unit but more like a small brief-case, uses the standard Amiga Block (bottom), Floppy-plus block (may contain up to two hard-drives), Key-board (full size standard), LCD panel (near the size of a 13" monitor.) The block on the lower far end is the battery pack and external port pass-thru. Additionally the LCD panel may contain additional battey power, LCD interface and speakers. Note: the LCD panels VIScorp logos - if the LCD panel is mounted to the towers top, the LCD panel can fold down the right side of the panel and be switched to allow correct viewing/listening. Tower/stack - Custom sizable so mini, mid and full don't really apply. From the bottom up, Standard Power supply block (this block might contain up to three power units (allowing lower cost for those going with the basic as well as upgrading as they expand the power requirement - while adding another power block is also allowable). Next up is the standard Amiga block followed by a card expansion block. The Floppy Plus block is next and is followed by a Drive bay block (actually the Card expansion block and the drive block could be the same standard block, giving the user the option on use). Topping the stack is a standard expansion block like the two larger blocks but just small (same heigth as the floppy) Desk-top - bottom left and clock-wise. Drive/card expansion block and Floppy Plus Block. The top is a connector panel that allows stacks to be used side-by-side. Then the shorter expansion block followed by the Amiga block and finally the Power block. Setting on top of the desk-top is the set-top box. This is only the Amiga Block with attached (same size as the floppy plus block) card swipe block. The base might contain the power supply. Personally I think the Set-top box concept is fantastic. It should get the Amiga into many homes where it can be expanded as new users are introduced to computers and electronic communications. As to third parties wanting to license the technology, if the primary Amiga board is versatile enough, the boards could be sold in quanity/discount and be used as the buyer sees fit or within agreed upon limits. Correct me if I'm wrong, but is not the whole idea to generate the finances to payoff debts, improve the technology, and earn a nice income for those responsible just the business cycle of advancing technology? Somewhere is all of this there is a rack-mount and variations of portables. As you can see, applying some block/modular design to the Amiga packaging, it is possible for one to have such a system that may be changed around to fit their needs. Such a design has many advantages. One of which may be the ability to up-grade the whole system by simple upgrading the Amiga block (with newer technology). Through standardization and versatility, cost are reduced in areas that don't need to be high, for both consumer and manufacture. With the price of computer dropping so fast there must be an extra edge and I believe this is it. Value added reselling and real Plug-N-Play. The casing might well be plastic injection mold, with the back out. The electronic slides in from the back and included whatever sheilding (thin metal as required). Third party developers no longer need to be so concerned with users installing there hardware via real Plug-N-Play. And users don't need to be so fearful to expand due installation expense or do it yourself fear. Ventilation and external connectors are not included in the files but I'm sure it's no problem to figure it out. I can easily see it in my head. All in all there are, given the included files, basicly three different heights to the blocks, something a little over 1", 2" and 4". All with a width of about 8". Of course the keyboard, battery pack and perhaps the LCD all break the depth of about 15" and the two stack panel connector breaks the standard width, but all these do so in a very functional way. See and study the LightWave files which are done to scale. From the hardware developer perspective, I can see the slot being use to plug a development/prototype board directly into while leaving accessability to both sides of the prototype board. From the software developer perspective (especially the team) I can see where there is the ability to directly plug a take along unit into a main Amiga to transfer code/application. This does bring up networking but to have the ability to directly connect Amiga's to the same bus lines (given additional control lines as would be needed) could and probably would have worth while advantages. I do recall something having been developed for the Amiga along the lines of a transputer/ parrallel processor system (via add on boards) many years ago. Personally, I have an Amiga 1000 and an A4000. The reason I didn't up-grade over the years is because I simply didn't see enough of an advantage to do so. My purchase of the A4000 was just before Commodore went bankrupt and the hardware problems resulted in something of a nightmare for me that lasted about a year. Still I'm not completely satisfied and sometimes wonder if I'm not still having hardware problems but I believe it more an OS and software problems than hardware. Had such a modular system existed I have no doubt I would have felt more comfortable and probably would have spent more over the years to up-grade and expand. Knowing that replacing or adding blocks would be a smaller investment than buying a whole new system. And the block/modular components would hold value longer due to reusability. There is absolutly no doubt in my mind that I'm not the only one whom feels this way (or would should others preceive the advantages and versatility of a block/modular system). In all the years of the Amiga I have only heard a few positive things about the packaging of the Amiga, mostly I hear complaints. Of the positive, the one that stands out with consistancy is that of the Amiga 2000 having room for expandability. What everything I've heard tells me is that people don't buy an Amiga for it's looks or small size, but for what they can do with it. A block/modular system is much more than any one design but that which allows users to create their own design(s) as needed and to change the design to fit their current need. Part #3 (see web page at address below and "article 12" thru the "Samples of social industrial issues" link. ----------------------- There is a bigger picture than just the hardware end. Due to reasons I'll not go into here (except to say there is much more I haven't communicated), I feel I must point out that this is nothing new from myself (though the images may be new to the masses - even these images have made it around a bit). ============================================================================== 6/24/97 For an idea of the possible in additive modularity: Link to Raritan Computer, Inc.
Copyright © 1975, 1988, 1994, 1996, 1997 Timothy V. Rue