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The Viper is the AMD south bridge you can find on many Athlon boards. The Viper was used so the platform could use standard PC components for the "non-performance areas". The board will support Ultra DMA66; therefore working with the fastest new IDE hard drives.

Here is a diagram of the actual ATX motherboard:

You may also notice that the processors are used in a slot format, which are indeed Slot 1, but with different pinouts. However, the power and ground pins will be the same to prevent someone from damaging any x86 CPUs mistakenly put on the motherboard.

Silicon Fruit plans on shipping 50 boards out to developers in the first quarter of 2000, and then have a first production run of about 2,000. In the late second quarter, at the earliest, the RioRed motherboard will be shipping inside a workstation tentatively entitled the Metanium.

The Metanium workstation will be a very fresh workstation product with a lot of interesting new features. One example is the use of an LCD display on the tower that a person can use to see what is happening when the machine boots, and view in clear text what is wrong if problems arise, rather than relying on beep codes. It will also continuously display the uptime, CPU usage and temperature. For the over-clocking folks, there is even a function for automatically reducing clock speed it the CPU gets too hot. The workstation is also likely to ship with a Digital Signal Processor add-in card (also in development by Silicon Fruit) for very high-end multimedia processing.

Initially, Silicon Fruit will have a VA Linux-like business agenda, but also plans to sell boards to other Linux assemblers. The motherboards will ship with a copy of Yellow Dog Linux tuned for the RioRed.

Silicon Fruit is also making motions in an attempt to get the BeOS to run on its platform, as the OS would run very well on double G4 processors, and could work very well with the multimedia-enhanced AltiVec processing extensions.

Initial pricing for systems based on the RioRed should fall somewhere between the cost of a high-end PC and a dual G4 Power Mac, should they be released. Considering the power of the G4 processor, the RioRed will make a great foundation for an extremely powerful, yet low priced workstation.

Silicon Fruitís new platform may also be great for custom applications, as they are working with Berkeley University to make an advanced server cluster running highly processor intensive software applications.

Only time will tell if this second attempt at creating an open PowerPC platform will succeed. Considering the credentials of the PowerPC processor, and the openness of the Linux community, there should be room for Silicon Fruit to grow and succeed. At the very least, Silicon Fruit has potential in vertical applications.





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