The Smaky 400 Home Page
Motorola 68040 & 68360, Real-Time OS, Swiss-made !

Last updated December 2000.

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The Smaky 400 is a PCI board based on a Motorola 68040 microprocessor, a 68360 Quad Integrated Communications Controller (QUICC) and a QSpan PCI bridge, the CA91C860 (see picture) developed by Tundra, formerly Newbridge, and manufactured in Motorola's fabs.QSpan snapshot

The board has to be plugged into a PCI based computer and cannot be used as a stand-alone solution without additional hardware. The QSpan can initiate PCI configuration cycles, which means it can be used to set up other PCI boards while booting. All you need is a backplane with PCI bus arbitration, as provided, for example, by DEC's PCI-to-PCI bridges in order to build a complete 68040 based PCI system.

The QSpan gives access to the whole PCI bus from the 68040 side and is quite more efficient than the previous Spanner CA91C068, due to larger buffers and improved logic in the PCI/host bridge. The Spanner did not support initiating PCI configuration cycles.

Hardware configuration

The Smaky 400 provides a single SIMM socket which can handle up to 32 MB of DRAM. It has no ROM at all, since it is possible to initialise the RAM from the host computer's side and start the board this way. The processors run at 33/66 MHz (or 40/80 MHz) and are independent from the PCI bus clock.

An expansion connector (with address bus, data bus, control signals and power) is provided to help in debugging the board, to add EPROM or to upgrade from the 68040 to the 68060.

A tiny piggy-back board could add ISDN, RS-232 [...] and LocalTalk capability to the board (the QUICC provides the signals and supports part of the protocols in hardware or by microcode, so you just have to add some analogic glue). Ethernet could also be added on board thanks to the QUICC and MC68160 duo.

The Smaky 400 is the latest hardware-based Smaky computer. It was designed at former LAMI and is running PSI-OS, EPSITEC's real-time OS. It provides Mubus (a simple buffered 8-bit bus, with up to 32 different addresses) for experimental purposes and teaching. A network connector, compatible with Smaky's Z-net (local area network using a proprietary protocol allowing up to 1 Mb/s) is also available.

Chips, packages, logic and clocking

The 68040, the 68360 (QUICC) and the QSpan are packaged in SMD QFP (quad flat pack). They are running at 33 MHz under a 5 V supply. The QUICC is placed on the bottom of a four-layer PCB (printed circuit board)..

The optional Mubus and Z-net interface chips are ordinary socketed DIPs. This is needed, since it is always possible to produce involuntary short-circuits while experimenting.

There is just one synchronous 22V10 PAL on the final revision of the board. It provides a bus arbitration scheme which is compatible with both the 68360 and the QSpan. The 68360 operates in slave mode (not in companion mode) and works as a standard 68040 bus master; this is required since the QSpan does not fully comply to the 68040 arbitration scheme.

The whole board is designed to be used at a nominal 33 MHz bus frequency. The Smaky 400 clock is derived from an on-board oscillator, using a PLL to distribute it point to point to the QSpan, to the QUICC and to the 68040. The 66 MHz processor clock is also delivered to the 68040 by the PLL.

Test have shown that the board also works up to 40/80MHz frequencies.

PCI compliance

Thanks to the QSpan, the board fully complies to PCI revision 2.1. An optional EEPROM can be added on the board in order to allow PnP functionality (differenciating between a Smaky 400 board and another QSpan based product).

Hardware information

The Smaky 400 was shipping from october 1997 to end of 2000 (about 300 hundred boards were sold). The LAMI was equiped with 50 machines running Windows NT 4.0 Workstation and Smaky 400 boards. This allowed keeping the experiments based on the former Smaky 196.

The Smaky 400 was officially presented on EPSITEC's 20 years celebration.

It is available either as a full product (including the Smaky operating system and applications) or as a single board for use with another OS. Please contact EPSITEC ( if you are still interested in the product.

Hardware documentation for setting up the board yourself can be found here.

Smaky 400 PC


The Smaky 400 is supported by an NT kernel-mode driver. Smaky applications run in the Windows environment thanks to a Win32 display and input/output server. This server application provides access to the keyboard, mouse, printer, buzzer, sound, midi, floppy and hard disk drives.

The Smaky 400 is about 4 times faster than a Smaky 130, which provides indeed a pleasant feeling of speed for the current Smaky users.

About the Smaky 400 development

The Smaky 400 has been developed jointly by the LAMI (the former Laboratoire de Micro-Informatique of the EPFL) and OPaC bright ideas. The hardware design has been done by Pierre Arnaud. The PCB layout and routing by Georges Vaucher at the ACORT. The PCB was manufactured by Photochemie AG and assembled semi-automatically by Precel.

Part of the software has been developed by two former students, Daniel Marmier and Alain Malek, who implemented the first version of the kernel mode driver and server application as their diploma projects. Daniel Roux and Pierre-Olivier Vallat contributed with additional driver support. Pierre is currently maintaining the whole software.

Feel free to contact Pierre (that is me) for further information about this project.

Amiga, Atari, Linux...

The Smaky 400 platform could have been used for other operating systems, such as Amiga-OS or TOS (Atari). With little additionnal hardware, it might have been used as a powerful independent network interface board, running an OS like Linux/m68k.