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Executive Update - Amiga Status Announcement

Bill McEwen - March 25, 2002

Greetings once again - To One and All:

Fresh from a fantastic showing at the Embedded Systems Conference in San Francisco, where Amiga Anywhere wowed and amazed commentators, developers and potential customers alike, I wanted to take the time to get the Amiga community caught up on our flagship project, the AmigaOS.

Contrary to the nonsense that is being spread about by a few very noisy people, the AmigaOS is more than alive and well and we have very exciting plans for the future with more hardware designs and exciting new features. We have very long term life and long term goals for this amazing product.

We look to the AmigaOS as the desktop solution and Amiga Anywhere as the embedded solution for Cell Phones, PDA's, Set Top Boxes, Internet Appliances and some other new products. When AmigaOS 5.0 hits the road then you will see these code bases merging and the two worlds will allow the content to co-mingle and proliferate.

Another way to view this is that AmigaOS is for the Amiga Community whereas Amiga Anywhere introduces Amiga to the rest of the world. It is then that they can join us and be part of the Amiga community. It is all about market share and the opportunity to further expand and grow the Amiga market and user base.

As you know, we took the strategic decision to outsource development of the next generation hardware and compatible AmigaOS version. This was done to allow us to concentrate on AmigaOS5, our long term goal, whilst also providing a compelling and high performance path from AmigaOS3. What this does is give the Amiga community a product that they can be proud of in the short and medium term.

The hardware contract was awarded to Eyetech Limited, of Stokesley, England, and the software contract was awarded to Hyperion Entertainment, of Belgium. Both companies have an impressive reputation for quality products and a deep commitment to the Amiga, having played a major part in keeping the platform going through the last five years.

These two contracts underlie the first new combined Amiga hardware and software product in over 8 years; the AmigaOne, a product whose features and functions were set after looking at the thousands of mails, articles and comments generated by the community. A PowerPC (PPC) CPU was asked for and it was selected. The ability to take advantage of the latest video and audio technology was demanded and it was successively built in. USB support was talked about and we obliged. A better filesystem, integrated TCP/IP and 3D, an enhanced Workbench; all have been designed into AmigaOS4.

The excitement is growing. The AmigaOne is already running PPC Linux, AmigaOS4 is progressing rapidly on 68K Amigas equipped with PPC accelerators and integration is currently underway. Orders for developer boards are already being taken and many developers are working closely with the AmigaOS4 team to ensure that their applications are optimized for the future.

It has been a long haul and there have been many bumps on the road. With the world economy starting to move out of recession, and the success of Amiga Anywhere, Amiga Inc is moving from strength to strength. It could not have been done without the support and commitment of the Amiga community and we want the community to know that we share its support and commitment to the success of both our product lines, Amiga Anywhere and the AmigaOS.

Hardware Update

Last month, Fleecy Moss, CTO of Amiga Inc visited the headquarters of Eyetech and spent a few hours with Eyetech management, engineers and their newest addition, a PPC mother board that will be the at the heart of the AmigaOne. Running a version of PPC Linux specially designed for it to permit evaluation, the board and its peripherals performed flawlessly with the system being very responsive, boding well for an optimised and efficient AmigaOS in the future.

The original hardware plan for the AmigaOne was to create two products, a motherboard with an integrated A1200 interface, allowing for the first version of AmigaOS4 (4.0) to be completed quickly by still having access to the AA chipset, and a second product, a standalone board that would work with the second version of AmigaOS4 (4.2), which would be independent of the AA chipset.

Over the past 6 months, advances in hardware have meant that the second product is actually going to be available before the first. As a result, the hardware strategy has been updated. The AmigaOne will be built around a revision 1.5 motherboard. This board will be completely independent of the AA chipset and will not need a connected A1200 in order to run AmigaOS4. There will be no motherboard with an integrated A1200 connector. Instead, Eyetech are planning on developing a PCI to A1200 product for those who wish to run older Amiga software that requires direct access to the AA chipset. In effect, the A1200 will be like just another graphics card plugged into the PCI bus of the AmigaOne.

Using this approach it is also technically feasible to use the PCI-cable interface to connect to an A3/4000 via the CPU slot connector - and even to an A2000 via a CPU pin header. These interface variations may follow later, depending on demand.

The current hardware specification for the AmigaOne is as follows;

  • CPU - any G3/G4 to the currently available speeds
  • Memory - 2 133 MHz SDRAM slots for upto 2GB
  • Graphics support - (2x AGP plus 66MHz PCI)
  • Card expansion - 4 PCI slots
  • Legacy Support
    1. FDD
    2. Serial
    3. Parallel
    4. PS2 keyboard and mouse
  • Integrated Systems support
    1. 2 USB connectors plus 2 headers
    2. 10/100 Mbps Ethernet
    3. AC97 (Audio)
    4. MC97 (Data/Fax/Modem)
    5. UDMA 100/ATAPI - 2 channels (4 devices)

Beginning on the 18th of March, developers and dealers can order developer versions of the boards, allowing them to evaluate the product and to be prepared for optimising their applications for AmigaOS4. To order a developer board, please use Eyetech's online shop.

For more information on the AmigaOne hardware, please visit Eyetech's AmigaOne pages.

Software Update

Hyperion Entertainment have assembled the cream of Amiga developers to work on AmigaOS4.0, guaranteeing both high quality and high performance in the final product and ensuring that AmigaOS4.0 and beyond will be a true Amiga product, created with due care and attention to the philosophy and practices that have always made Amiga solutions the envy of the world.

AmigaOS4.0 is currently being developed on Amiga 4000s equipped with CSPPC accelerators, and integration is now underway on the AmigaOne 1:5 boards provided by Eyetech.

The aim of AmigaOS4.0 is five fold;

  1. to provide a transition from the 68k based custom chipset Amiga hardware to PPC based pluggable sub system hardware
  2. to provide as great a degree of backwards compatibility as is possible
  3. to optimise the AmigaOS for its new hardware foundation
  4. to move the AmigaOS forwards, offering new features and high performance all wrapped up in the traditional easy to use Amiga architecture
  5. to prepare the way for AmigaOS5

Its feature set as currently defined is as follows;

Exec SG (Second Generation) - A rearchitectured and reimplemented Exec core services manager that allows the deployment of AmigaOS4 to any suitable PPC hardware including but not limited to the Amiga One, Blizzard PPC, Cyberstorm PPC, Shark PPC from Elbox, Pegasos from bPlan etc.

The following features are being added;

  1. Hardware abstraction layer
  2. Virtual memory
  3. New library interface
  4. Resource tracking and management
  5. Optional memory protection
  6. WarpOS backwards compatibility

68K emulation - This is key to AmigaOS4.0 as many of the less performance crucial OS elements, as well as the entire body of Amiga third party applications will require it in order to work. The latest Just In Time (JIT) techniques are being employed to ensure maximum performance, with hand tuning of many areas to accelerate the Amiga architecture.

PPC native connectivity suite - this was the most requested feature from the community, integrated connectivity, and given its importance, we trusted its development to Olaf Barthel, one of the most respected Amiga developers in the world. He has not disappointed, with benchmarks suggesting that the new AmigaOS4 solution is faster than any other available solution. Its feature set includes;

  1. implemented as a single shared library
  2. compatible with the Amiga standard "bsdsocket" API, as defined by the AmiTCP product
  3. enhanced API for more control over the inner workings and configuration
  4. built-in DHCP client
  5. Internet Superserver (inetd)
  6. IP filtering and networking address translation
  7. drivers for asynchronous PPP (dial-up networking) and PPP over Ethernet
  8. SSLv2

PPC native reimplementation of the Amiga File System (FFS2) - FFS2 is a fully backwards compatible re-implementation in C of the Fast File System. It supports media greater than 4 GBytes, and a new variant of the file/directory name storage format which allows for long file names (up to 108 characters). Salvage and recovery tools will also be included that support both FFS2 and SFS.

PPC native CD file system - the feature set for this second most requested feature of AmigaOS4 is as follows;

  1. Joiliet support
  2. RockRidge support
  3. CDDA support
  4. multi-session support
  5. Video CD support

We also intend to add support for mixed audio/data CD's and support for the HFS and HFS+ filesystem as used by Apple.

PPC native RTG system - with the AmigaOne supporting both AGP and PCI graphics cards, the ReTargetable Graphics system is crucial to high performance. Redesigned and reimplemented for AmigaOS4 and the AmigaOne, a team lead by the creators of the Picasso96 solution will ensure the hightest quality graphics display for the consumer, whether gamer, artist or general user. In addition, hand tuned drivers are being written to support the following graphics cards, with more to be announced later.

  1. Permedia 2
  2. Permedia 3
  3. Voodoo 3
  4. Matrox G450/G550
  5. ATI Radeon

Amiga3D - developed from the pioneering Warp3D solution offered by Hyperion and now available on both the AmigaOS and AmigaDE, this 3D solution offers the power and simplicity of a low level 3D interface, allowing developers to create blazingly fast 3D applications without the overhead of a fatter 3D solution such as OpenGL. Hand tuned hardware drivers for the above mentioned graphics cards will provide even higher performance. Whoever said games are irrelevant on the Amiga is in for a surprise.

OpenGL 1.3 support (mesa 4.0) - whilst Ami3D allows the developer to get down close to the metal, OpenGL is the standard for a full 3D solution. AmigaOS4.0 will offer OpenGL1.3 support by implementing mesa 4.0 on top of Ami3D, giving developers the 3D choice of performance and feature set.

PPC native RTA - With the introduction of PCI card support, the Amiga community now has access to the latest in audio hardware. Given its excellent collection of audio software, such as Audio Evolution, Samplitude and others, this AHI compatible solution will allow the AmigaOne to become a major force in audio creation. With support for most existing Amiga audio cards as well as Soundblaster live and Soundblaster 128, the future has never sounded so good.

PPC native GUI system - the entire look and feel of AmigaOS is being reworked;

Intuition is being rewritten and enhanced, to give a PPC native foundation to the AmigaOS interactive environment.

Reaction, the BOOPSI based component GUI system has been reimplemented and enhanced for seamless integration with the AmigaOS.

Many new classes are being developed whilst drag and drop will be supported across the system.

Matt Chaput, designer of the famous GlowIcons is taking a leading role in the look and feel, ensuring that AmigaOS4 will look both modern and unique.

A PPC version of AmiDock will also be included, ensuring that Workbench continues to be the most usable environment of all the desktop platforms.

PPC native CLI - the tool of choice will be removed of annoying bugs and enhanced to make it even more useful.

SCSI interface - SCSI will be supported, allowing the many devices already owned by Amigans to be used, but with particular attention being paid to SCSI devices that use the SCRIPTS controller, for the next generation of devices.

AmigaInput - A new framework for managing input devices is being designed as a prelude to the requirements for AmigaOS5. This will appear in AmigaOS4 and become a crucial part of the developing Amiga solution.

USB - USB was to be introduced in AmigaOS4.2 but given the developemtent of the 1:5 motherboard, parts of it will be introduced in AmigaOS4.0. Currently this will allow USB mice and keyboards to be supported but, if all goes well, new devices will be added as they become available, with scanner support next in line.

PPC datatypes - the datatypes system has been implemented and extended within the AmigaDE, demonstrating our commitment to superior Amiga technology. With the move to PPC, the system and many of the datatypes will also be moved across, increasing their performance dramatically.

PPC Storage Toolbox - a set of functions allowing for the management of fixed and removable storage devices.

PPC font engine - surprisingly one of the most requested features for AmigaOS4.0, a brand new font engine will be added to the AmigaOS, providing support for both True Type and Open Type fonts. In addition, bullet.library and diskfont.library will be reimplemented and enhanced and a contract with Agfa for 12 truetype fonts has been negotiated.

In addition, many Amiga developers are coming forwards and demonstrating their commitment to the AmigaOne and AmigaOS4; in particular

  1. 1. Special PPC native OEM version of Ibrowse 2.3
  2. PPC native version of MUI for applications that require it
  3. Special PPC native lite version of Audio Evolution

All in all, AmigaOS4.0 is shaping up to be a very compelling and exciting product which in combination with the AmigaOne will provide the product that we have been waiting so long to offer to the Amiga community.

Whilst the the changed schedule for the AmigaOne boards is very welcome, it has added AmigaOS4.2 work to the schedule for AmigaOS4.0, namely the abstraction of the AA chipset. Coupled with the need to reimplement certain features included by Haage and Partner in AmigaOS3.5 and AmigaOS3.9, this may push out the final consumer delivery date; an analysis is underway at the moment to determine this.

The Amiga community is owed a great debt by Amiga Inc and, with the success of AmigaDE now allowing us to build revenues and increase resources, the long layed plans for the future of both the AmigaDE and the AmigaOS can be put into action. Thanks for all your support and here's to the future,

Signed on behalf of Amiga Inc, Eyetech, Hyperion and all those working together for the future of the Amiga

Bill McEwen
Amiga Inc
Snoqualmie, WA

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