We completed the AmigaOne specification three months ago, and dubbed it the "zico". It is a specification and not a product because Amiga is a software company, not a hardware manufacturer. The ability of the Amiga DE to host itself on multiple hardware and operating system platforms frees us from hardware dependency and gives our partners and our customers the freedom to chose the hardware that best suits their needs and tastes.
The zico specification is as follows;
- One AmigaDE friendly host processor (PPC, x86, Arm, SH4, MIPS)
With the completion of the specification stage of the Amiga One, we contacted several respected hardware companies with a view to selecting partners who would be interested in creating AmigaOne products.
The AmigaOne process involves close co-operation between Amiga and our partners' hardware groups, the running of the AmigaDE on the hardware, and a thorough quality certification of the final product. Only then can the product be called an AmigaOne.
Whilst still in detailed negotiation with several companies, we are delighted to announce the first partner company and its initial set of AmigaOne products.
The Eyetech Group Ltd, of Stokesley, U.K. already has an excellent reputation in the Amiga community. They have done much to keep the classic Amiga alive during the last five years, and we feel that in the creation of the first new Amiga machines and the transitioning >from the classic to the next wave, that experience will prove invaluable.
Bill McEwen President of Amiga Inc commented: "This arrangement builds on and extends our existing partnership agreement with Eyetech, first announced in April of this year. Our experience during this period has shown Eyetech to be a no-nonsense company capable of delivering what they promise on time and this consideration also weighed heavily in our choice of a hardware partner for the PPC based AmigaOne."
Alan Redhouse, Managing Director of UK-based Eyetech, said; "I am delighted that we have been able to build on our existing partnership with Amiga and continue our close working relationship with them on both a technical and manufacturing level. Our decade of Amiga experience, plus our hardware and software efforts to push the Amiga forwards means that we are able to work with Amiga to deliver a proven upgrade solution to Amiga users which gives their existing 'Classic' applications an immediate and substantial performance boost whilst providing full forward compatibility with the new Amiga DE. Our work on the Predator line of boards means that we can help Amiga to fulfill its requirement of maximising the investment of the current community as it moves forwards."
Fleecy Moss, Chief Technology Officer, Amiga Inc added: "After talks with the hardware development staff of several companies I am convinced that working with Eyetech will allow us to offer an elegant solution that gives both an excellent level of backward compatibility and a powerful basis for the new Amiga Digital Environment. Top of our requirements list was to ensure that those Amigans who have spent considerable money in staying with the Amiga would not be left out in the cold. Whilst you can't please all of the people all of the time, we think we have come up with a set of products and solutions that will put a smile on as many faces as possible."
Eyetech is focusing on an immediate need in the existing Amiga market. Many have already invested considerable resources in their classic Amigas, both in terms of hardware and in terms of software. Whilst keen to move forwards with the AmigaOne, they also want to maximise their investment in the classic platform.
The Eyetech AmigaOne PPC 1200 is a custom board which uses Eyetech Predator technology with the "zico" specification to provide a perfect synergy of classic and next generation. It provides all the functionality of the standalone AmigaOne PPC, but has been extended to mate with a classic Amiga A1200. This allows customers who have a serious investment in the classic Amiga to continue to use their machines whilst also having a brand new Amiga at their disposal. The 68k processor in the A1200 will be emulated at a substantially increased level via the PPC processor on the AmigaOne, whilst the classic operating system can take advantage of the AmigaOne's next generation hardware resources.
The AmigaOne PPC 4000 machine is similarly designed to allow customers who have a significant investment in their classic Amiga A4000 to be able to move that investment forwards whilst also benefiting from the next generation capabilities of the AmigaOne.
The Eyetech AmigaOne PPC 1200 will be available as an upgrade for owners of towered A1200 computers, the Eyetech AmigaOne PPC 4000 as an upgrade for Amiga 4000 desktop computers in tower conversion cases. Options for producing AmigaOne PPC upgrade designs for other Classic Amiga designs (such as the A3000 and Amiga International A4000T) will be looked at (subject to demand) once the A1200 and A4000 products are released.
In order to implement all the features of the AmigaOne specification the, A1200 and A4000 upgrade versions will feature one AGP and six PCI slots, a user-upgradable G3/G4 (Macintosh-type) cpu slot, up to 512MB SDRAM and a high speed IDE/ATAPI interface. The system will be dual-bootable both into the Amiga DE and into Classic Amiga Workbench. This latter feature will allow purchasers to have the performance benefits of full G3/G4 cpu speeds and 512MB of SDRAM memory whilst running Classic Amiga software. Both these boards are scheduled to ship in 1Q01, with developer versions being available in December 2000.
Design of both the Eyetech AmigaOne PPC A1200 and A4000 products has been done with great sensitivity to the existing user and developer community.
"By releasing the classic compatible AmigaOne PPC products first," said Alan Redhouse. "We are providing a transitional path forwards for the existing community, enabling them to maximise their current investment whilst also leaping ahead with the new Amiga DE."
In order to facilitate this transition, the classic Amiga operating system will see its lifeline extended. OS3.9, to be launched before Christmas will add a raft of new features and functionality, and will be able to run on the Eyetech AmigaOne PPC classic products.
Eyetech are also keen to talk to existing hardware manufacturers about possibilities for licencing, manufacturer and other co-operation in order to ensure a smooth transition of the existing Amiga community from the present to the future.
Amiga is also very close to signing up partners for a standalone AmigaOne machine. The ATX form factor AmigaOne has been designed to run the full consumer version of the Amiga Digital Environment (DE) allowing the best of the Classic Amiga software which has been ported to run directly under the Amiga DE, and the use of a wide range of Amiga DE-based digital content - such as productivity software, content creation suites, development environments and 3-D games - to be used 'out of the box'.
All this work - including extensive testing of hardware and software components - is scheduled to be complete in time for end user deliveries 3Q01. Amiga Inc is currently in negotiation with several potential partner companies for the development and manufacture of the stand-alone AmigaOne and its related digital content/software. Companies interested in producing this version, utilising the PPC processor family include Eyetech, and bplan GmbH of Germany. We hope to have announcements to make on this within the next few weeks. Other companies and other processors are also under negotiation.
A new website is being set up, specifically to provide a focal point for news, questions, comment and discussion on the AmigaOne, and we encourage people to visit it and participate.
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