ACA500+ ideal CF cards size

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Don't Panic. Please wash hands.
  • Hi folks.


    I'm a newcomer on the edge to take the plunge and purchase one ACA500+ 8o


    As always I try to read as most as possible before I buy something and this is no exception.


    One thing I cant find information is about the ideal size of the CF cards to get to use in the ACA500+ ?


    By this I mean, what is the maximum size that the ACA500+ can handle to create partitions without leaving card space unused?


    I think I've seen someone saying that 4GB is the maximum card size that ACA500+ will fully use. Is it true?


    I'm thinking to get some Transcend 4GB 300x cards. Are those fully compatible and good for this purpose?

    Getting larger ones is in any means better?


    Thanks!


    Jorge

  • By this I mean, what is the maximum size that the ACA500+ can handle to create partitions without leaving card space unused?

    The ACA500plus supports 64-bit addressing "out of the box". In theory, this results in card sizes that you can't even buy today.


    However, the largest partition that PFS3 (our choice for large partitions) supports is 104G. As a result, I would not buy any card larger than 128G. You might even have trouble finding that much software for the Amiga - all of Aminet is under 60G, and even large game-archives don't cross the 20G boundary.


    I personally use even smaller cards, as I prefer keeping larger collections on the NAS, but that would require you to to have a network-storage system in your house already, and of course the networking card X-Surf-500. The cheaper option will be to have a well-sized boot card (16G will keep you happy for a few years), and whatever collection you want to have available in the AUX slot. A 64G card will hold the complete Aminet, and another one will keep practically all PD collections ever released and even have free space :-)

    I'm thinking to get some Transcend 4GB 300x cards. Are those fully compatible and good for this purpose?

    While there was no incompatibility report in terms of CF cards, I'd say that such cards would be OK. However, since Transcend never had any really fast CF card (compared to Lexar), you will most likely not even notice any speed difference unless you have an A1200 accelerator connected *and* make benchmark tests.


    I'd look at no-name cards first. If you're really after a brand name, then Sandisk and Lexar are my personal favourites, as they do have measurable speed advantages over no-name cards that Transcend don't have.

  • 1st thank you Jens for those great details!


    As too CF cards read speeds ... what's the maximum read / write speed limit of the ACA500+?


    What I want to know is what's the speed limit beyond there is no benefit on buying a faster CF card to use in the ACA500+!


    Thanks,

    Jorge

  • As too CF cards read speeds ... what's the maximum read / write speed limit of the ACA500+?

    The fastest I've ever seen is a bit over 7MB/s with an ACA1233n-40. The 55MHz card does not add to this performance. This is measured with Sysinfo, not even Diskspeed, which shows more real-world results, as in the "real world", you don't use 256k buffers and linear transfers.


    The raw data transfer rate is higher than that, but the cards require some time to seek/decode the data, so I don't quote the theoretical maximum, as that's never reached in practise.


    No matter how slow the card is, it is still much faster than a harddrive connected to a 68000-based A500. The higher speed of the ACA500plus is more like a bonus, not the key feature - you are getting higher speed, but the main reason why people like it is the combination of features in that easy-to-use-package. The slowest versus the fastest CF card will probably show up to 50% difference in a benchmark, but you will most likely only "feel" a difference of maybe 5-10%, which in my opinion is not worth the effort.

  • The automatic installer gives about 50MBytes space for the boot partition, then adds a tiny (normally hidden) partition for Kick/WB1.3 and the rest of the card is partitioned as PFS3-based "work" partition. The Kick1.3 partition is automatically mounted and used as boot-partition if you choose Kick1.3 in the boot menu. This lets you keep two Workbench-installations on the same CF card.


    50MBytes is pretty generous for a Workbench installation, as the basic WB3.1 is under 6MBytes. We do add some extra stuff that makes installing WHDload easier, but that's just a few hundred k.


    Remember the sizes we've had back in the days: I started off with a 49MBytes Quantum harddisk, and that lasted "forever" - even with additional programs installed. Today, you'll isntall these programs on the "work" partition and only add a few 10k of libraries (if any) to the WB partition.

  • jens, i just noticed that my A500 is a rev 5.0 with the fat agnus 8371.


    I have an 512kb expansion in the trap door.


    Question... with the ACA500Plus I'll get 512Kb of chip ram or 1mb ?


    If I'll only get 512kb, upgrading to agnus 8372a will get me to 1mb of chip ram?


    Will WHDLOAD work with only 512kb of chip ram?


    Thanks.

  • 1. you will get 512Kb only, as Agnus 8371 cannot address more than 512.


    2. yes putting an Agnus 8372a will get you to 1MB of chip ram as long as you select that option in the ACA500+ boot menu (which will now become available, whereas before with the 8371 it was unavailable).


    3. Yes WHDLoad will work with only 512 of chip, but make sure you read the info file on the game you want to play, to see how much chip ram it needs.


    Regards


    KKR75

  • Hi,

    I am having trouble reading CF cards in the ACA500Plus Aux port.

    I am perfectly using a 32GB MicroSD with and SD adapter into a CF adapter in the boot card slot and installed OS 3.1.4 (two 16 GB Partitions)

    But when I install the same setup in the Aux port, I can not recognize the card. I have also tried regular CF (no adapters) of several sizes (4GB 8GB, 16GB, 32 MicroSD with adapters) all formatted in the PC with FAT32 and none of them are visible to the amiga.

    The only card that is visible in the Aux port is a 2GB FAT CF that I have... so the Aux is working.

    Question: Does the Aux only supports FAT and not FAT32? how will I create a 16 or 32GB partition that I can use to transfer data between the PC and Amiga using the Aux in the ACA500Plus?

    Thanks!

  • I had the same problem, I don't think it's the disk format, I think it'll be the SD card adapters/cf cards. I tried 3 different SD->CF adapters, all of different design, and although they all worked okay in the primary slot, none did not in the Aux slot. I believe they draw just a little too much power or something, and the Aux port power cycles when it detects a card, so is different to the main one (Jens explained it in a post on somewhere on the forum), I believe other folks have had similar problems with some CF cards too. Have a look on the forum for other posts for more info, there are a few.

    After I read the posts I mentioned, I bought 2 real CF cards (32GB Sandisk ones, straight from Amazon, not a third party seller), and have since had no issues in either port.

  • Yes, you were right, it was not the format file system. Anything I put on the adapter does not work on the Aux even so it does on the boot slot.

    One comment about formatting. FAT and FAT32 works fine (I tried up to 16GB FC using FAT32). but dont use exFAT. it does not work no matter what partition size.

    Thank you for the info... :)

  • Hi guys, I have a large collection of Amiga apps and games. I wanted to have them available in the aux port of the ACA500Plus in a CF.

    I first tried with a 16GB CF 30MB/s but when I open folders with many files in it... it takes forever.. it is unusable. I then copied the content to a 64GB CF 120MB/s and the same effect. it just takes forever when I open folders with many files. Even when I open the parent folders that contains child folders with many files... it takes forever. I divided the files in multiple folders ... ex (A1... A2... and so on) and it is better but still too slow...

    I will continue my test and even possible just copy the files to the Boot CF to see if there is any difference in performance... but does any one knows of any way to make this files browsing faster? or what is the recommended max number of files per folders? or any other approach to make this acceptable?

    Thanks!

  • One thing that will speed up things is to only display a "list", not the icons. You have to know that every icon is a ".info" file, which needs to be opened and read. If you only display a list, this will speed things up.


    However, if the list grows bigger, it will still result in long scanning times - not because the CF card is slow, but because there's so many pointers to follow for the CPU. You can of course speed things up by increasing the speed setting in the menu, but overclocking is only guaranteed to work up to 21MHz - this may still be a considerable speed increase if you have been running at 14MHz, which is the factory default setting.


    Another possible speed increase can be achieved by adding buffers to the AUX: card. Try the "addbuffers" command - as standard, there's 30 buffers for every DOS device, but this is very conservative for systems with "not much memory". The ACA500plus has plenty of memory, so you can safely try 100 or 200 additional buffers for the AUX: card.


    Last, but definitely fastest method is to use an A1200 accelerator in addition to the ACA500plus. This will give you more and faster memory, and about twice the CF card performance due to the transparent 32-bit access to the CF cards.


    With everything you do on this computer, you need to keep in mind that the Amiga is a retro machine. It was released in 1986, and computers were just not expected to handle mass-storage of multiple gigabytes 35 years ago.

  • "list", not the icons.

    I started doing this already... and yes it is better... but not enough with just this.


    increasing the CPU Speed,

    I did to 21Mhz, but I dont want to go higher if it will be unstable

    adding buffers to the AUX: card. Try the "addbuffers" command - try 100 or 200 additional buffers for the AUX: card.

    Could you explain a bit better how to do this? and also in a permanent way so when I reboot changes will stay? is this part of the ACA500Plus menu or just an amiga command. Do I just search for the normal amiga addbuffers command?

    A1200 accelerator

    I know and I am planning to ... also I am a bit confused about which accelerator... should I wait for the 1240/60 or would that be an overkill or too expensive version for the A500 and I should go with the 1221lc or the 1233n? sorry a bit confused so ... waiting understand little by little which one is the best fit. for the ACA500Plus :)

  • Could you explain a bit better how to do this? and also in a permanent way so when I reboot changes will stay? is this part of the ACA500Plus menu or just an amiga command. Do I just search for the normal amiga addbuffers command?

    Explaining how to use the Amiga shell would go beyond the scope of product support. Yes, the Addbuffers command is part of standard Amiga OS, and it's always in the path, so it just works if you type it in a shell.


    I know and I am planning to ... also I am a bit confused about which accelerator... should I wait for the 1240/60 or would that be an overkill or too expensive version for the A500 and I should go with the 1221lc or the 1233n?

    The ACA1221lc is already really fast, especially given it's "small" processor. The ACA1233n is sold out and will be replaced by the ACA1234 in a few months. As for "what to choose" - that's completely up to you and your will to spend money :-) The ACA1221lc is a bit over 150,- EUR, the ACA1240-25 will start at "just under 500,- EUR" and the ACA1234 will be "somewhere between that", depending on the CPU speed you choose.


    If you plan on compiling large projects, then the ACA1240/1260 may be a good choice. If you need more memory than the ACA1221lc, the ACA1234 already brings an obnoxiously high amount of 128MBytes and still has a five-digit dhrystone rating at 50MHz.

  • Thank you for all your answers.

    All The ACA12xx variations are out of stock... so I will wait for the ACA1234 to be released and choose one from there... I saw that some have MMU (a bit more expensive) and others don't... (What is the MMU?, is it important?)


    By the way, I set the 28Mhz speed, a add more buffers to the CFAux drive and the others. and everything works acceptable and pretty fast, with the exeption of a single folder that only contains 10 subfolders... but it takes several minutes to list the content... is there anything that I must refresh or somthing on that folder? (the strange thing is that all the subfolders inside are fast listing their content... and all other folders at the same level as well.. but that single folder... takes minutes to display those 10 subfolders. Any ideas?

  • What is the MMU?, is it important?

    MMU stands for memory management unit, and it's mostly used by developers in the Amiga world. It lets you catch "illegal" accesses to memory areas that are neither IO nor memory, using MuTools or the popular "enforcer" tool (popular among developers, that is). The short answer is: If you haven't missed it by now, you probably won't need it. Still, most of the 68030 accelerators come with an MMU, as it's part of the CPU itself. Only the 68ec030 versions don't have an MMU, and we don't have that many of them in stock.


    everything works acceptable and pretty fast, with the exeption of a single folder that only contains 10 subfolders...

    I have no idea what WB id doing in case of subfolders - it might scan them for a .info file, but that's not more than a guess.


    Slow scanning of a directory could be a sign of the file system not being ideal. Amiga FFS is not the most modern file system, so you might want to try PFS3, just to see if it makes a difference. Copying it all to a new card might prove to be a pain, as this sounds like "a third CF slot would be handy".

  • OK,

    I will go for the MMU, since I am a developer now, Never did Amiga development before but I want to get in it. :) (for fun)


    As far as the directory, I want to mention so in case that happens to someone else... I just created another directory and moved all files in there, and notice it was perfectly fast. I deleted the old, renamed the new back to the old name and everything fine. So I have no idea what that was, but if you see extremely slow a single directory... you can try that. I also notice that in a FAT32 used by the CFAux, I should not have more than 120 files (with very long names) in a single directory. Even if it shows the files, the directory will not work properly in the Amiga. (cant delete files, etc)


    I am going to try the PFS3 files system. I hope I can find it in Aminet. :)