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Amiga Operating Systems

A New Amiga Will Go On Sale In Late 2017 (theregister.co.uk) 185

An anonymous reader quote the Register: The world's getting a new Amiga for Christmas. Yes, that Amiga -- the seminal Commodore microcomputers that brought mouse-driven GUIs plus slick and speedy graphics to the masses from 1985 to 1996... The platform died when Commodore went bankrupt, but enthusiasm for the Amiga persisted and various clones and efforts to preserve AmigaOS continue to this day. One such effort, from Apollo Accelerators, emerged last week: the company's forthcoming "Vampire V4" can work as a standalone Amiga or an accelerator for older Amigas... There's also 512MB of RAM, 40-and-44-pin FastIDE connectors, Ethernet, a pair of USB ports and MicroSD for storage [PDF]. Micro USB gets power to the board.
A school in Michigan used the same Amiga for 30 years. Whenever it broke, they actually phoned up the high school student who original set it up in 1987 and had him come over to fix it.
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A New Amiga Will Go On Sale In Late 2017

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  • by chuckugly ( 2030942 ) on Saturday August 12, 2017 @10:16PM (#55001165)
    My 3rd computer was an Amiga back in the late 1980s. Good machine, had some really good concepts for the time, and it was great to learn programming on.
    • 680x0 Assembly was elegant, intuitive, and a crap-ton better than Intel's nonsense. :)

      • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Sunday August 13, 2017 @01:20AM (#55001701)

        680x0 Assembly was elegant, intuitive, and a crap-ton better than Intel's nonsense. :)

        But there is a reason it is no longer used much. A single instruction could generate up to six page faults. The 68k put the C in CISC.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          But there is a reason it is no longer used much. A single instruction could generate up to six page faults. The 68k put the C in CISC.

          That isn't the reason why it isn't used much anymore.

          Number of page faults generated in total doesn't have much to do with architectures. If you try to do the same thing on x86 you will get just as many page faults but spread out over more instructions.
          The main reason 68k assembly isn't used anymore is because ARM is a cheaper design than ColdFire and in most cases where they were competing the controller didn't even have cache.

          It's a bit of a shame really. While ARM assembly is a bit nicer than x86 it is s

          • by Anonymous Coward

            > Number of page faults generated in total doesn't have much to do with architectures. If you try to do the same thing on x86 you will get just as many page faults but spread out over more instructions.

            Ur missing the point, totally. Resuming or restarting instructions complicates things, and the more resume/restarts one instruction can have, the more complex that single instruction gets. It does matter.

            • by dfghjk ( 711126 )

              "It does matter." But not to why it is no longer used much.

              68k lost because it did not remain performance-competitive. It was a CISC processor that did not have the benefit of a huge software base that could fund its continued development. Motorola/Freescale lacked the engineering talent to overcome the challenges required and chose instead to focus development on the 88k family that was far more modern. That family was also a failure and Moto lucked into the gift of the PowerPC family from IBM (who did

          • by Megane ( 129182 ) on Sunday August 13, 2017 @10:53AM (#55002785) Homepage

            The real, real reason that 68k isn't used anymore is that Motorola fell for the PowerPC meme. 88K was supposedly a pretty decent architecture, and they killed both at the same time. Coldfire was just the scraps of 68K for the embedded market. Apple switched architectures twice because Motorola couldn't stay interested in making high-end desktop CPUs.

            The x86 instruction set was horrible, and Motorola could have used the same tricks on 68K that kept x86 going so long.

            But really, the root cause reason that 68k isn't used anymore happened in 1981 or so when IBM picked the 8088. There are various legends about what happened, but the most coherent intersection of them that I have been able to deduce is that Intel wanted the 68008 (because the 8-bit bus would let them make a cheaper system), Motorola didn't want to commit to their deadline, Intel went with the 8088, and then Motorola had the 68008 out by the deadline anyhow. It surely didn't help any that at the time (as related in the DTACK-Grounded newsletter), Motorola's marketing group really only wanted to sell the 68K for $10,000+ Unix systems, and couldn't be bothered with embedded or consumer customers.

            • by trampel ( 464001 )

              DTACK Grounded newsletter ... wow, that brings back fond memories about cutting edge algorithms from the FNE, printed on red paper to thwart copying ...

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          It isn't used much any more because it was beaten by x86, three times:

          First, it lost to the x86 because x86 is assembly-source-code compatible with the 8080, making it easy to port CP/M software to PC/MS-DOS, giving the IBM PC a huge advantage over any 68k-based system in the early '80s, giving that platform a momentum which it never lost.

          Second, it lost to x86 because Intel was able to pump far more money into developing their architecture than Motorola was able to spend on theirs (see my first point!), so

        • A single instruction could generate up to six page faults.

          I'd be surprised if x86 couldn't do the same nowadays in extreme cases.

        • there is a reason it is no longer used much.

          Because Motorola would not budge on price when IBM came to them wanting to use it in their new "PC", while second choice Intel would.

          • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

            Because Motorola would not budge on price when IBM came to them wanting to use it in their new "PC", while second choice Intel would.

            Actually, because the 68000 wasn't in production yet when IBM came around. Motorola had sample chips, but they weren't production ready (The 68000 was in production in November, 1980. The IBM PC launched in August, 1981).

            Whereas the 8088 was long ready and in production, so IBM could get it all done in 12 months. The 68000 would be 3 months into the IBM design before it was re

        • Personally, I like the Thumb2 architecture in ARMs.

      • Perhaps it's ironic, but after using assembly on the Amiga I got a 286 PC, looked at the instruction set, and then learned C back on the Amiga. Ironic because that's the best language choice I ever made, but motivated by loathing.
      • Many of the worst issues with x86 assembly were resolved with the 386. The instruction set was more orthogonal and the memory layout was simpler to use. That said, there are three things I wish that Intel or AMD had included with the 386:

        1) a couple more address base registers (ie, EAB, ECB, EDB) so we didn't have to borrow general purpose registers for address indirect ops, or just add more GPRs like they did with AMD64 and the Z8000
        2) support for index and displacement address modes with the CALL instru

        • The 68000 came out in 1980. It and Motorola weren't hobbled by "100% backwards compatibility" something Intel was with their dysfunctional relationship with Microsoft. But that aside, sure the 386 fixed some, but not all, of the issues with x86 assembly. It would take many more years to do even a little bit better (no pun intended). If Motorola hadn't PPC/mobile abandoned the 68000 architecture, who knows where we'd be? (Hindsight is 20/20, but we're projecting too much to think Motorola wouldn't have been

  • Recipe... (Score:5, Funny)

    by null etc. ( 524767 ) on Saturday August 12, 2017 @10:16PM (#55001167)

    This approach is a recipe for failure.

    One of the smartest people I know used to program emulators in FPGA. He programmed emulators for everything: TRS-80, TI-99/4A, Sinclair 1000, PDP-8, PDP-11, IBM zSeries, Cray, you name it. He eventually started doing contracts for major government contractors such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, etc., and often for $200K to $600K a pop. He was very well respected in that community, and knew how to get around most of the problems inherent in FPGA emulation.

    Anyways, he was paid to do a few contracts for Amiga computers, and had the most trouble with them. Apparently, their custom, decentralized architecture introduced severe "resolution artifacts" (his words, not mine) into any emulated FPGA bus. Another huge problem was something that had to do with feedback loops introduced by eddy currents caused by some of the FPGA parallelization circuits that came about due to optimization algorithms for the silicon etching process.

    At the end of the day, he was very, very close to solving all of these problems, and he went outside to walk to the local 7-11 to get a Mountain Dew to refresh his energy. He crossed the wrong basketball court, however, and some local residents started getting into a beef with him, causing a lot of trouble. Those guys were clearly up to no good. End of story, his mother was afraid he'd get into more trouble in his neighborhood (after all, Philadelphia has one of the highest homicide rates in the country), so she sent him to live with his aunt in California. He took a cab to his aunt's house when he arrived at the airport, and was inspired by a pair of dice he saw hanging from the cabbie's review mirror. He thought to himself, "Life is a gamble, why waste time solving FPGA bus problems for antiquated architectures?" and gave it up in an instant. "Smell you later, dude!" he said, and sold all of his FPGA patents the next day.

    • Re:Recipe... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gumbi west ( 610122 ) on Saturday August 12, 2017 @10:19PM (#55001177) Journal

      Wait, Will Smith used to write emulators?

    • I knew Will Smith was good with the ladies... but FPGA's? No wonder he's a Scientologist. :)

    • The current vampires I don't think accelerate all of the old stuff / the whole machine but they do have additional video modes and such so if there's any truth to your story if they doesn't implement it all it may be without those issues but less compatible.

      Now for a full machine rather than expansion I would assume they will actually implement it all plus much more considering the extra capability.

      Their accelerators still run m68k but are very fast vs "even" a real m68060.

    • You're confusing FPGA with FPBA.
  • Loved my amiga. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Saturday August 12, 2017 @10:19PM (#55001175)

    It was a wonderful machine.

    Great archictecture. I wrote "Spppaaaacee Acccce" (aka Space War) and got sued by Don Bluth for using the name (had no idea about the animated dragon's lair type game.

    Loved the implementation of Mech Force . We had 3 people buy amigas just to play that game on the amiga.

    Then it was ruined when ported to the PC as "Titans".

    • I wrote "Spppaaaacee Acccce" (aka Space War) and got sued by Don Bluth for using the name (had no idea about the animated dragon's lair type game.

      Thank you for your service.

      I loved my Amiga, but now it's time for me to put aside childish things and have a computer that has more than 512mb of RAM. But I will forever remember fondly those days.

      • Software Emulator (Score:4, Informative)

        by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Sunday August 13, 2017 @12:06AM (#55001525) Journal

        I loved my Amiga, but now it's time for me to put aside childish things...

        ...and just use a free, open source software emulator [fs-uae.net] if I ever want to reminisce. Why would you want to spend good money on hardware to emulate an old machine when there is a free software emulator to run it on the machine you already have at faster speeds than the original?

        • by t0qer ( 230538 )

          > ...and just use a free, open source software emulator [fs-uae.net] if I ever want to reminisce.

          I can dole out upvotes in the thread, but I feel it's important to address this.

          Emulators miss ALOT. It's just not the same. It's like the difference between CRT and LCD monitors. LCD's are convenient because they're portable (much like an emulator), but I've had CRT's that could do 120hz in the 90's. I love using SID as an example because so many people know what a SID chip is. Sure, you can emulate a S

          • But this "new" Amiga is still an emulator. The only difference is that the simulation algorithm runs in an FPGA, not a CPU.
            • This doesn't mean it can't get closer to the original. Hardware emulation introduces less latency than software emulation. This might not be important for turn based games or whatever but having responsive controls not only makes fast-paced games easier to play, it makes them feel more fun.
              • Have you tried a software emulator? Modern machines are easily powerful enough to emulate it accurately at full speed without glitches. For 8 bit machines like the BBC Model B there is even a full speed emulator in javasscript that runs in a webpage. This even plays the tape and disk sounds when loading! When you have several orders of magnitude more computing power you don't need hardware emulation to provide an amazingly accurate simulation.
                • The games can run 100% accurately at full speed and still have latency. Latency means how quickly the output of the program reacts to the input, not how fast the program runs. Emulators will typically add several frames of latency. It's not all even the emulators' fault, audio buffers, USB polling speed, frame buffers, LCD display all contribute to latency. Old hardware typically didn't have the memory for audio or video buffering so trading latency for quality wasn't even an option.

                  This video [youtube.com] demonstrates

          • Emulators miss ALOT. It's just not the same. It's like the difference between CRT and LCD monitors.

            It's interesting you mention this (To me) since my Amiga 1200 is connected to a Sharp AQUOS 4:3 countertop LCD TV that I picked up at the Salvation Army, cheap. It looks remarkably good for using just CVBS.

          • I think Fatboy Slim still has an atari ST for stuff. Sure he could use an emulator

            I wish he could. Unfortunately, he can't.

            There's no Atari ST emulator that will support MIDI ports on the host, and no way to emulate those secretive dongle cartridges that music software from way back used as copy protection.

      • That's why you got one of these:

        http://amiga.resource.cx/photo... [resource.cx]

        No ram issues. :) And with an A500+, you got 1MB of chip ram. :)

      • The Amiga 500 had 512 kB of it.

        512 MB for an Amiga is a lot. Sure for a modern Web browser and 8k video editing maybe not but ...

  • by Stormwatch ( 703920 ) <rodrigogirao&hotmail,com> on Saturday August 12, 2017 @10:22PM (#55001185) Homepage

    The PDF says it will probably cost more than the current models, which go for ~$300 or more. Kind of expensive when you could easily get a modern PC for about the same price. I mean, it's not an absurd price, but definitely niche stuff.

    • Indeed. Honestly - I'd be more interested in an Amiga OS for something like a Raspberry Pi. Compared to the original Amiga hardware those $25 boards are like a darned super computer.

      Even if they came up with their own board, it's got to be something in that $25-50 price range if they want people to really "play" with it. At hundreds of dollars the only people who are going to get it are people fondly remembering the Amiga - a demographic that is shrinking every day.

      I never owned an Amiga (I did have a Co

      • I always wanted an Amiga. Recently I started looking into buying some old hardware on Ebay and the prices put them beyond what I was willing to pay.

        I'm not spending that kind of money on a 30 year old computer.

        LK

      • The vampire cards are like supercomputers measured by old standards too.

        And it's not really the old hardware since its FPGA but acting like it + more + faster.

        But basically it's an alternative to a real amiga + replace all caps + the accelerator card + maybe mod case for USB and so on.

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )
        There's Morphos out there. It will run on the powerpc imacs that are not all that ancient yet and possibly a few other things.
        Some of tiny little powerpc macbooks are probably as fast as some reasonably recent netbooks if not quite up to Raspberry Pi speed.
        • There's Morphos out there. It will run on the powerpc imacs that are not all that ancient yet and possibly a few other things.

          It's a pity that it doesn't run on the last PPC iMac, because I actually have one of those :p

          • by dbIII ( 701233 )
            Now that's a pity. I was looking for something for the approx 2003 stuff when I came across Morphos (but ran FreeBSD11 and an old version of Ubuntu on ppc instead).
  • Amiga (Score:1, Troll)

    by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
    The thing about Amiga owners is you can't get them to shut up about their Amiga. It's like the guy who doesn't have a TV, or the guy who rides a bike to work. We don't give a shit about your Amiga, dude.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I care deeply about the smelly love many unwashed nerds have for their Amigas, you insensitive clod!

    • They're like vegans.

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )
        Nope. My daughter-in-law is vegan but doesn't brag about it at all. It only ever comes up when someone who doesn't know her offers her something that isn't on her preferred menu.
        • by lucm ( 889690 )

          My daughter-in-law is vegan but doesn't brag about it at all.

          She doesn't have to, her father-in-law takes care of it.

      • I still have my 500+ and 1200 and I'm still vegan.

    • fan cults (Score:5, Funny)

      by unixisc ( 2429386 ) on Saturday August 12, 2017 @11:12PM (#55001371)

      How is that different from Linux users?

      • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

        Run Linux on Amigas, then you'd really have annoying fanboyz.

        • Same problem as this product. Most Amigas lack an MMU out of the box, so you need an accelerator with a non-LC processor mounted on it, which jacks up the price. This is why I ran netbsd on a Macintosh IIci instead of my Amiga 1200. It just worked, and supported all the onboard hardware. A Mac II is a much nicer place to run netbsd/68k, and the IIci is the nicest Mac II. (An SE/30 would be another obvious candidate.) The 68030@25 is perfectly adequate if you have a cache card, and IIRC it has fast SCSI-II w

    • The best way to get to an Amiga fan boy is to tell them that Atari was first. Everyone has a button
    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      I admit it's true. The machines were pure magic in the 80s and into late 90s. Sadly I had to move on and I learned to love linux after many years. I still have my Amiga collection though and bought a Vampire II a few months ago. I remember how pissed off and aggravated most of my pc owning friends were with their windows problems in the 90s and they looked longingly at my amiga but just couldn't handle the cost. It was dreadfully expensive. I was about to buy an Amiga 4000 when Commodore tanked and the cost

    • by MrDoh! ( 71235 )
      Ah, let me guess, you owned an Atari ST.
    • Re:Amiga (Score:5, Funny)

      by lucm ( 889690 ) on Sunday August 13, 2017 @01:43AM (#55001737)

      The thing about Amiga owners is you can't get them to shut up about their Amiga. It's like the guy who doesn't have a TV, or the guy who rides a bike to work.

      A tornado just tore a path across your city, leveling buildings and splintering concrete structures. Your home is no longer safe, subjected to countless fires, seeping sewage, wild animals and violent looters that even the National Guard can't tame, so like hundreds - thousands - of other citizens, you find yourself waiting in line to get into an emergency shelter put together haphazardly in the mold-infested gymnasium of the nearby middle school.

      The line doesn't move fast, and you're worried as you see the absurdly small crate of water bottles shrinking quickly as people ahead of you greedily grab two, three or even four bottles as they walk by. You try to do the math, half-guessing, half-dreading that there won't be any water left by the time you reach the gate. You already have a debilitating headache because of dehydration; the situation is dire, the future uncertain.

      Then someone puts a hand on your shoulder.

      "Friend," says an older gentleman, his voice so soft, so quiet, like a cool summer breeze. "Friend," he says, "are you okay?"

      There's something in his eye. A glint, a shadow, a whisper of past experiences so painful that they left a permanent mark on his soul.

      "I'm okay," you reply, weakly, with a voice crackling like a pane of glass shattered by the axe of a firefighter. "I'm okay."

      The kind man nods, although you can tell he's still worried.

      "I'm okay," you repeat. "I just wish I could go back home, to my Amiga computer."

    • At least my Amiga doesn't run systemd.

      Former Amiga owner. No TV. RIdes bike to work. Yep, all three boxes crossed...

    • by Sique ( 173459 )
      The problem with your statement is that it is purely confirmation bias.

      You only know about people owning an Amiga if they tell you about it. You only know about people not owning a TV if they tell you about it etc.pp.

      Thus you falsely conclude that Amiga owners always tell you about owning an Amiga, because the only Amiga owners you know are those who told you about it.

      • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
        Wrong. Considering the market share of Amiga versus the amount of people that have told me about it, I'd say I've heard from almost every Amiga owner on the planet.
        • by Sique ( 173459 )
          I know about everyone who complains about people with particular interests, that they would constantly speak about their particular interests, because those complainers never stop complaining about people with particular interests being so verbose about their particular interests.
        • Wrong. Considering the market share of Amiga versus the amount of people that have told me about it, I'd say I've heard from almost every Amiga owner on the planet.

          Well just to validate you, now you've heard from me...Oh wait.

      • It's not just whether they tell you or not. It's how they tell you, and whether or not they ever shut up about the damn thing.

  • The only stories we run on Amiga are about the release of a new computer. The comments then always boil down to the same thing:

    a) My first computer was an Amiga
    b) There's places where the original Amiga is still running
    c) This company is a shell with nothing to do with the Amiga that made the Amiga great.
    d) This product is too expensive and completely irrelevant.
    e) This is a shameless Slashvertisement and is about the only Amiga related stories that gets run here anymore.

    This post is in line with e.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      In this case, at least, C) is incorrect. I assumed this was yet another company that had gotten questionable ownership of the trademark and was planning to launch an overpriced generic PC with "Amiga" on the case and a glitchy open-source emulator preloaded, but this is a real implementation of the architecture in hardware by people who care about the platform.

  • So what exactly is this based on? The original Amiga was a Mot 68k, then it was ported, iirc, to the PowerPC. So has it moved to ARM now, or x86? Also, is the OS still a 16-bit one, or is it now 64-bit? I read the PDF: what instruction set does the Altera cyclone follow? I do think it's neat that they've put this all on an FPGA: hopefully, that'll help make this device somewhat competitive.

  • I had an Amiga back in the day. It was great.

    But a modern version is pointless. AmigaOS - even the latest version - is hopelessly outdated. And what Amiga software is out there that anyone would actually want to use? Besides games? Which can be emulated *perfectly* on a $50 Raspberry Pi?

    • And what Amiga software is out there that anyone would actually want to use? Besides games?

      SYSINFO, that is the sole purpose of Amiga hardware accelerators these days.

  • The bowling alley here in town still uses a few Amigas to keep the score for each lane. I'm not entirely sure how it works or exactly what it does (since I don't know anything about bowling), but the machines somehow track the scores and post them on monitors over each lane.

    The owner told me once that he has a whole pile of Amigas for spare parts in the back.

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      Some cable companies used them for many years. I picked up a Commodore PET from a local library sale not long ago, they used it for some database for 30 something years. It had a huge double 5.25" floppy drive hooked to it with a huge IEEE cable. $20

    • I'm not entirely sure how it works or exactly what it does (since I don't know anything about bowling), but the machines somehow track the scores and post them on monitors over each lane.

      Ten pins in bowling, ten (or was it eleven?) pins on the Amiga parallel port which can be used as inputs. Pinsetter connected to the Amiga somehow. Some Amigas have color composite video output onboard, eg CDTV, 1200...

  • This is one of the most exciting devices to come out of Amiga land in a long time. What this new hardware and core is doing is bringing back to life the Classic 68k CPU, and the Amiga hardware chip-set. To give everyone an idea what they are planning (this info taken from various postings):

    1) Apollo Core 68080 is not only the fastest 68000 series CPU ever, it also is the most fully featured and compatible (even fixing old 68k bugs). It includes technologies from newer CPU's such as AMMX (AMMX is the 68k ver

    • by dfghjk ( 711126 )

      And who wouldn't be excited over the 44 pin IDE connector? At last a use for those hard drives in your shoebox that have been obsolete for a decade.

      • by Megane ( 129182 )
        Yeah, you can hook up a 500GB drive to it, that ought to be enough for the entire Amiga game software library! If you're lucky, you might even find one of the rare 750GB or 1 terabyte drives that were made right as IDE got deprecated! Then you can have all that extra space ready to fill up after the army of Amiga developers makes hot new games to run on the 2000 or so of these that will ever get built! Amiga forever, maaan!

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