Cold Fire (Homebrew)
1993 – ?
Above: Atari Coldfire Motherboard
A significant user based existed to justify more processing power to develop more advanced TOS applications, paving the way for a number of “clone” machines, such as the 68040-based Milan and 68060-based Hades, both of which were considerably more powerful than the 68030-based TT and Falcon and 68000-based ST/STe.
The coldfire hombrew project team currently consists of some 37 members.
These machines support ISA and PCI buses, which make the use of network and graphics cards designed for the PC possible, something no original Atari machines could do, and also tower cases, making it possible to use internal CD drives.
A new clone named Phoenix never made it to market in final form, however the powerful rev. 6 68060 CPU did make it into a new accelerator board for the Falcon, the CT60 / CT63 series, which meant for the first time that the Atari platform had a CPU rated at over 100 MHz.
The use a high-speed bus and PC133 RAM also accounted for a big performance improvement, and significantly increased the Falcon’s on-board memory limit from 14MB to 512MB with a CT60.
However these systems were not mass-produced and are consequently hard to find and expensive, and they too are now showing their age, while the CT60/CT63 needs a Falcon “donor” system, and is still not as powerful as the ACP potential system.
Above: Atari Coldfire ACP Firebee Motherboard
The ACP will use a completely new design, moving away from 68K CPUs to the newer ColdFire class, more powerful than even the fastest 68K chips while still having a largely similar, but not completely compatible, instruction set. It will also allow for the integration of many IO ports that are currently only available though extensive hardware modification on the Atari platform.