Linux Kernel Patches Sent Out For A More Powerful Virtual M68k Machine

Written by Michael Larabel in Virtualization on 24 March 2021 at 12:00 AM EDT. 3 Comments
Right now when it comes to Motorola 68000 "m68k" emulation with Linux the most powerful target is the Quadra 800 that is limited to just 1GB of RAM and specific interfaces. But on the way is the new "Virtual M68k Machine" that is much more powerful.

The Macintosh Quadra 800 is from 1993 with its Motorola 68040 running at 33MHz with 8MB of RAM. Linux and QEMU has supported the Quadra 800 as an emulated target but this new Virtual M68k Machine will allow for greater capacity and more modern amenities. The QEMU side support for the new Virtual M68k Machine is coming with QEMU 6.0 while the Linux kernel bits for this virtual machine were sent out today in patch form.

Laurent Vivier explained of the new Virtual M68k Machine, "The Virtual M68k Machine is based on Goldfish interfaces defined by Google for Android simulator. It uses Goldfish-rtc (timer and RTC), Goldfish-pic (PIC) and Goldfish-tty (for early tty). The machine is created with 128 virtio-mmio buses, and they can be used to add serial console, GPU, disk, NIC, HID, hwrng, 9PFS...The virtual m68k machine has been merged in QEMU and will be available with the release 6.0. This series introduces the support of this new machine in the linux kernel."

The Virtual M68k Machine support on the kernel side is just around 700 lines of new code. The patched kernel running with QEMU 6.0 development code is good enough to get a pre-installed Debian 10 disk image booting.

For now the kernel side support is available via these patches. More details on the Virtual M68k Machine for more capable Motorola 68000 series emulation can be found via the presentation embedded below.

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