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Amiga has a Future? 57

lionrampant writes "MSNBC has an article that discusses how Gateway is going to revive the Amiga computer, except it's not really an Amiga, it's more like an information appliance. I guess they're betting that the name will attract people. " Meanwhile rumors run rampant of a new Amiga with a Transmeta CPU and a Linux Kernel to be released in the next couple months.
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Amiga has a Future?

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  • No, it's just resting, pining for commodore...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Subject: Re: [TA] Amiga MCC CPU = MIPS64 20000 CPU ?
    Date: Tue, 17 Aug 1999 15:48:37 -0400
    From: Dave Haynie

    On Tue, 17 Aug 1999 10:36:55 -0600, "Sami Cokar"

    jammed all night, and by sunrise was overheard remarking:

    Behalf Of Dave Haynie

    make some basic assumptions. For one, unless you know those making the decisions are stupid people, you have to assume they're smart, that "they'll do what I would do". This is how I make predictions,

    Unless you have 'insider knowledge' or could be considered to be under NDA due to your conversations with Jim Collas, what would be your best educated guess on the CPU/partner that Amiga Inc will be teaming with?

    Well, from my conversation with Jim Collas, what they've said since, what they have done, etc. I would have to bet on Transmeta. I'm familiar with some of the technology Transmeta is working on, from their patent filings (anyone can read these, once granted, IBM has a nice patent server you
    can find on the net). Here are some reasons:

    1) Basically in our conversation, Jim said that he can't confirm Transmeta (I hadn't asked yet), but then went on to describe their planned system architecture, which essentially requires Transmeta or something very much like it: it would be a total boondoggle, as a desktop/home general purpose computer, running on a traditional CPU. This includes running x86 binaries, running

    2) They flashed "Sun" and "Transmeta" at the end of Collas' speech at WOA. Clearly, Sun's involved, just based on their admitted support of Java and Jini (whether that's "technology provider" or "active partner" remains to be seen). It's unlikely they would put "Transmeta" up there unless they were using it AND Transmeta gave them permission for such a tidbit. This is also very much in keeping with the aire of mystery Transmeta has been milking all along (lots of noise about hiring Linus Torvolds, but check out

    3) Amiga is working with Linus to some extent. In fact, given all of the claims of "we'll be the top multimedia platform" that Collas stuck to, that Amiga [the company] sticks to, they would need some world-class Linux kernel people to fix the kernel even for Windows-class multimedia. And there's not much time. On the other hand, a partner with much of this work already done would be very hard to resist. And perhaps the only possible reason one would drop QNX for Linux and still state with confidence they're on-track for Multimedia, in the AmigaOS/BeOS sense of the word.

    Now, of course, the rumor mill is hot an heavy with "MIPS" and "MAJC" (Sun's new "architecture for the next millennium", which they're describing in full, for the first time, at Hot Chips today, at least one would think so, they're definitely on the schedule).

    MIPS rumors only started a few months ago, when Amiga posted a jobs listing that included a position for a MIPS "porting engineer" or some-such. There are two theories to explain this.

    The first, and by far most likely, is simply looking elsewhere in the system. It was long rumored the AmigaNG would have a "Multimedia Chip" as a graphics, sound, and possibly even CPU engine. My guess early on was something from Chromatic, makers of the VLIW-based MPACT line of MMCs, in which Gateway held a 10-15% stake. Chromatic was dying fast, since their chip just didn't quite fit into a PC (graphics way too slow, most all-in-one PCs had system solutions for graphics and sound). ATi bought up Chromatic last year; more recently, ATi was announced as the provider
    of the graphics architecture for the AmigaNG. But it's not their new 128-bit PCI chip, but something else. My bet: whatever Chromatic was working on.

    It's also clear that MIPS and ATi are working together (MIPS, that is, not SGI, which split from MIPS last year, taking all of the high end stuff with them). MIPS provides the core, ATi the 3D experience. MIPS gets a good 3D ISA (they're also covering it today at Hot Chips, but you can download the specs from, ATi gets a general purpose computing core to run in their 3D chips, ala Hombre. This won't be fast enough to be a desktop CPU, but might fare well in game consoles or STBs. And as a stand-alone graphics processor, it's excellent, and given the right new instructions, it'll handle more of the 3D pipeline than do the current 3D chips (nVidia, 3Dfx, etc). Again, just what we had planned for Hombre-as-a-graphics-card.

    The other theory (not mine, but I collect them), is that Transmeta is indeed building a CPU as described, but their VLIW engine uses some MIPS technology. If so, clearly, those with MIPS experience would be more useful working with this chip than those without.

    The MAJC idea is perhaps a bit sounder, since from what Sun describes, a mature MAJC chip will be much faster than today's CPUs. Rather than run instruction level parallelism like the superscalar RISCs or VLIW processors today, they're building complete separate CPUs on the same chip. This, coupled with pervasively threaded code (x86, no; Java, maybe) would tend to make the machine many times faster than a conventional CPU, but only if each MAJC processor were comparable to a PIII or some-such. We'll have to see about this one. And there's no telling when real chips will show up. Sun has nothing to lose talking about MAJC now, because it's not taking away from an existing product -- they have nothing in the home, embedded, or desktop markets. When that's the case, the talk usually starts sooner, rather than later.

    Multiple CPUs per chip is not new. TI has a thing called the 32080, which sports four 32-bit DSPs and a RISC processor on a single chip. Not cheap, but it works nicely on some problems (TI also makes a VLIW based DSP, and that seems to be where they're concentrating for the future).

    IBM is doing something similar now, though they're actually building a "multithreaded" chip, not whole separate chips. What this means it that each chip has multiple register sets (including PC), but will share MMU and a pool of execution units between the different threads of execution.
    Dave Haynie | V.P. Technology, Met@box AG |
    My opinions are my own, but sign the right NDAs, pay those
    royalties on time and in cash, and they may be yours, too.
    ------------------------------------------------ -------------

    Subject: Re: [TA] Amiga MCC CPU = MIPS64 20000 CPU ?
    Date: Wed, 18 Aug 1999 13:52:18 -0400
    From: Dave Haynie
    References: 1 , 2

    On Wed, 18 Aug 1999 19:00:58 +0200, "g'o'tz ohnesorge" jammed all night, and by sunrise was overheard remarking:

    Dave Haynie schrieb:

    My bet: whatever Chromatic was working on.

    Maybe not, see below. But it's possible that ATi got the MIPS license cheap by trading some of the Chromatix stuff in for it, ending up as MIPS 3D ASE .. ?

    Or yet again, maybe. The main problem with the original Chromatic (not Chromatix) architecture, other than "low performance on things PC user value", was the fact it needed all kinds of handholding by the host CPU.

    So it's extremely reasonable that any new graphics thing they did would get its own general purpose computing engine internally. This would both offload the host system and allow stand along game/STB consoles. A MIPS core would be ideal for this, and that's likely the piece that ATi gets in return for helping MIPS develop the 3D ISA.

    In other words, Hombre, reinvented.

    It's also clear that MIPS and ATi are working together (MIPS, that is, not SGI, which split from MIPS last year, taking all of the high end stuff with them). s an announcement from MIPS about some extra 3D instructions to their existing SIMD unit.

    As I said... this isn't new news, though it'll get more exposure, since MIPS was doing a paper on it yesterday.

    The new instructions are meant for geometrie engine software, they'll do 10-25 million polygons per second on a 500MHz processor, needing an extra 0.5mm2 of silicon area. That's at least three times as many polygons as you see in today's fastest AGP 3D cards!

    In throughput, sure. But that's usually bus limited: they simply can't render that many polygons per second. Most of the 3D cards run in the 10's of billions of operations per second, and can handle their piece of the 3D pipeline better than either the CPU feeding it, or their bus
    architecture, worst-case, will permit.

    The problem, primarily, has been the CPU's ability to supply floating point polygons. Certainly something like this MIPS 3D set, or AltiVec (which I'm betting is faster still), maybe even SSE, will improve this, with existing cards of today, before long.

    Geometry calculation (creating the polygon data which is then sent to the 3D graphics chip for display) consumes about 70% in today's x86 CPUs in 3D games. The next generation gfx chips (those after ATi Rage128, nVidea RIVA TNT2, 3dfx VooDoo3, and some more) are all expected to have geometry engines on board, to reduce load on the CPU.

    Yup. The CPU has been the bottleneck for quite some time. It still will be, with these new systems with geometry engines, in many cases. But the trend is clear -- more and more of the 3D pipeline is moving to the graphics chips, since they can explot new (to the PC, most of this stuff comes from high-end graphics systems) parallel and pipelined architectures to work on 50-100 stages at once, something a CPU can't dream about.

    Putting geometry engines on those chips would put Intel in trouble, as gamers wouldn't need any new processors above 300MHz any more; Windoze will support the new functionality from DirectX 7.x.

    And it's already handled in OpenGL. But it won't hurt Intel that much, I don't believe for a minute that games programmers won't find ways to use up the whole CPU.

    But this has been a recurring theme. Back when PCs didn't have 3D engines, adding a faster CPU was the only way to go. Then 3D came out, and you could clear get faster performance (with acceleration, which wasn't always there) by adding a relatively low-cost 3D card. Then games caught up with these, and the CPU was once again an issue. Then the pixel set up engine went on chip, and the graphics card was the issue. Once you had the graphics engine improved, the CPU was again the issue. Now it's going flop once again, for awhile.

    Since processors sold today are already double that fast, that frees an awful lot of extra power to make games more interesting.

    Yup. Funny how the PC has become such a "game machine" that virtually all new technology is driven by games these days :-)

    I assume that ATi will use the MIPS processor with those new instructions on their chips for this purpose; it could also run as a standalone chip for set top boxes then as a side effect.

    That's what I've been saying for weeks. Originally, before the Linux announcement, someone spied a request for MIPS support in an Amiga want-ad, and threads abounded about how the mystery CPU might be MIPS based. The ATi thing makes that much less likely. Gateway owns a big chunk of Chromatic; Chromatic folds and gets sucked up by ATi, Amiga announces they're using a new ATi chip that doesn't come from Ati's normal Rage, etc. line. What else could that be but their further development of the stuff they got from Chromatic? They need an embedded CPU for this, IMHO, to get around the problems with the old Chromatic designs. Lo and behold, ATi has a MIPS licence, and they're working closely with MIPS on a number of things. MIPS isn't making graphics engines, they're making CPUs, and in fact, they need to tap some else's 3D expertise. Good match, perfect sense, etc. But if this is the only CPU in the AmigaNG, they're doomed, at least beyond the STB level.
    Dave Haynie | V.P. Technology, Met@box AG |
    My opinions are my own, but sign the right NDAs, pay those royalties
    on time and in cash, and they may be yours, too.

    ------------------------------------------------ ------------------

    Subject: Re: [TA] Info on Amiga Clones?
    Date: Mon, 16 Aug 1999 16:52:06 -0400
    From: Dave Haynie

    On Mon, 16 Aug 1999 22:19:51 +0200, "g'o'tz ohnesorge" jammed all night, and by sunrise was overheard remarking:

    Iwin Corporation DOES NOT use any of the copyrighted technology or patents by Amiga Inc. All Iwin computers compatible with Amiga computers ar based upon our own technology which - in fact - is compatible with Amiga computers.

    Highly unlikely. It's virtually impossible to be Amiga compatible without violating Amiga patents. Yes, you can get around the software patents by sending people to get the AmigaOS elsewhere, but if the blitter blits and copper cops, there's practically no chance that you're not violating the blitter patent, and perhaps others. And, of course, it doesn't matter even a tiny bit if this is done in hardware or software -- patents cover the invention, not the specific implementation of the invention (and yes, UAE certainly does violate the Amiga patents).

    It seems rather odd these guys would be making such claims without, apparently, understanding the first thing about patent law. Not that it matters in practice -- I can't imagine Gateway going after someone for making a new Classic Amiga clone. But if they don't understand this, what else are they confused about?
    Dave Haynie | V.P. Technology, Met@box AG |
    My opinions are my own, but sign the right NDAs, pay those
    royalties on time and in cash, and they may be yours, too.
  • Let's see: Amiga will be developing both hardware and software, and the OS will be based on an Open Source system (Linux). Apple develops both hardware and software, and MacOS X will be based on an Open Source system (Mach/BSD). Both companies either are or used to be very popular for media creation. Both have their sights set on information appliances for viewing and interacting with media. Both are hellbent on reclaiming and expanding their marketshare.

  • Good Comparison!
  • Well people may be thinking that Amiga (and its users [myself one of them]) may be just blowing smoke... well this may just be the case... but why would some company hire a heap of profesionals (and assuming they are paid) to sit back drink coffee eat donuts and pretend to be doing something??

    Oh yea thats right we'll visit their web site and we'll have to clikc on 2c banners before we can enter, to see the new specs of this machine ! I DONT THINK SO.

    They must be doing something and if all you Microslop haters want some more compition in the market then surely you should be supporting anyone that cares to speak out against a company thats worth 1/2 trillion dollars . . . .

    and now how long have microslop been ranting on about their "new" "stable" OS ? hmm for about 18 YEARS! and we havent seen anything yet! Thats vapor ware, not a nice little company that is trying to get something new happening...
  • But you do need one to post twice, right? -Amiga never-
  • "...rumors run rampant of a new Amiga with a Transmeta CPU and a Linux Kernel to be released in the next couple months."

    Anybody else read this as "rumours to be released in the next couple of months" ??? These guys must have a whole roadmap of speculation and hearsay all planned out and ready to "launch" onto the grapevine. Or so I've heard...
  • >More vapour, more B.S. Give it up already.

    This may be the case, but then why would they be hiring all these highly educated proffesionals? just to sit on their backsides?
    Yes we should wait for the products before we get excited, if its going to be as good as they say for the price they are saying I`ll be the first in line, if its half as good and twice the price that they say then I wont.

    >Show me some product for chrissakes!
    How can they? most of the components do go into production until the end of the year. If they demonstrated a rough prototype with boards hanging out of the side and a half done OS that crashed frequently would that Impress you? I don`t think so.
  • >OS with no resource tracking, memory protection, or (built-in) virtual memory that runs on a 680x0

    How could the OS have these when the 68000 didn`t have any memory management?
  • It seems there are a large number of (ex) amiga users now using linux. It also seems clear that many of them post to slashdot. I for one would be interested in the results of a "I owned an amiga [never|long ago|still do|bought one recently]" type poll. I wonder if anybody else would?
  • You do not need brain. Period.
  • by quecom ( 77114 )
    Did gateway just buy amiga for the name? Amiga's were very nice machines, hopefully gateway will keep there "Neatness" alive.
  • Slashdot (AP) - "Boy, did we cut that one close!" exclaimed an exasperated Rob Malda Thursday morning as popular tech-news website just barely fulfilled its Amiga Vapor Quota for the week. Local mob bosses appear satisfied. "I'm glad for mister Malda," Lenny Botacelli said. "Another day passed, I'd've had my boys break his legs."

    Hemos could not be reached for comment. Rumors circulating at press time say that he received some sort of animal head in the mail earlier in the day and was disposing of it.

    - A.P.

    "One World, One Web, One Program" - Microsoft Promotional Ad

  • Tell Gateway, not us. Should we refer to it as "the computer formerly known as the Amiga"? If we're all raving idiots, why do you bother to post on the subject? I mean that seriously.
  • I think an amiga set top box is an appropriate legacy for the Amiga.

    The amiga was as much about enabling the viewing of effects heavy media as it was about creating it. This may offend its geek devotees, but we wouldn't be having this conversation if the Amiga caught on as intended as a platform to produce and develop for, instead of on.

    A successful Amiga information appliance would provide a large audience for interactive media. The amiga's real-time abilites weren't taken full advantage when they were used to produce a linear, non-interactive, media stream like video tape.
  • I loved my old Amiga 1000, although it was not the easiest thing to develop for. On the other hand, given that I actually considered buying Microsoft stock at the time instead of the Amiga, that sucker in the living room would be worth a cool $1.5M by now. (And yeah, I hate MS too.)Think about that next time you toss all your dough into a neat new machine!
  • I agree with the spirit of what you are saying. I'm an advocate of anything un-MS like until MS releases their own Linux distro (just a matter of time now).

    I'm just tired of the Amiga name been run up the flag pole at all the neat tech companies and then Amiga turning 180 degrees and doing something else.

    I'm not anti-non-MS, I'm anti-Amiga waffling I guess. My comments were directed at Amiga specifically. At this point I don't care until I see something real that proves they can deliver at least something.

    I guess I'm still bitter about the QNX thing - it made so much sense...
  • I can make as many wild guesses as anyone:

    I think that the Mac is headed toward being a kind of optimized graphics shell over a *nix base (not too far from what it's been for a long time). The difference is that they are going to open the shell enough that *nix programs will be able to run in native mode under the OS. A good system for neophytes, and for those who don't want to get their hands dirty, combined with a way that "power users" can naturally migrate into a "closer to the metal" environment. Gradually. This is my reading of why Darwin was released.

    Don't expect anything "revolutionary!" here (wonder what System X, or whatever they are now calling the next release will look like?)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    >Let's just drop the Amiga name from this, shall we? It >doesn't do anything except >attract a lot of raving idiots. I mean that seriously. Let's all read the advocacy howto instead huh? Why are some of you so dead set against anything that isn't an intel powered pc running Linux? I thought the point behind Linux was to promote choice. I like Linux a lot. It's the collest thing to come out of the computer industry since the Amiga came out. I really wish that some of the original classic machines like the Amiga/Falcon030 etc were still around and doing well. BTW making comments like that isn't going to win you any converts. Sigh. Frank
  • Amiga is dead.

    I know. I had one.

  • They bought hardware rights as well. I worked for Gateway for 2 years and in that timeframe they changed their goal from "Leader in the PC industry" to "Leader in information appliances" (close)
    I can see gateway one day with a focus on home appliances with cpus in them.
  • by Sloppy ( 14984 )

    I guess I'm still bitter about the QNX thing - it made so much sense...

    It still does make sense. Fuck Amiga Inc, they dropped the boing ball. Ass/u/me-ing that Phase 5 doesn't screw up, I'll be running Neutrino on my A3000 by the end of the year. :-)

    Have a Sloppy night!

  • Eh, more vapour.

    They sure are good at blowing smoke.

    Rob - don't post anymore Amiga BS until we see something in shrink wrap!

  • They shouldn't drop the ball - last I heard after talking to my buddy at QNX over beers - it was mostly done. Of course the last 5% takes 95% of the effort.


One good suit is worth a thousand resumes.