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Poll : What should happen to Amiga hardware?
Develop cheap 68k SoC for embedded, toys/games, retro, hobby
Develop expensive PPC SoC for desktop, laptop
POWER for desktop AmigaOS (no SMP or 64 bit addressing)
POWER for desktop with redesigned & incompatible AmigaOS
No more embarrassing Amiga hardware!
No opinion or pancakes
 
PosterThread
matthey 
Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 19-Jun-2020 1:35:31
#1 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 14-Mar-2007
Posts: 756
From: Kansas

Using EOL PowerPC chips in new designs is becoming riskier. Available PPC hardware has been uncompetitive for desktop use in performance/price for some time. Amiga Nowhere Tabor is approaching half a decade since it was announced, with COVID-19 as the latest excuse for delays. Raspberry Pi sales have increased during the outbreak selling as many as 640,000 in a month (860 RPis per hour which may be close to the whole production run of the Tabor). There is a healthy market for RPis with more people online and for embedded applications including ventilators and 3D printed face shields. The embedded market has been growing fast and many retro consoles have sold well. The desktop market had been shrinking before COVID19.

Poll choices should be easy enough to understand and allow multiple selection. Please consider not only what you want to see but also what you think is most likely to be successful. Amiga hardware will cease to exist if it is not successful. I didn't include ARM BE or x86_64 as choices because they are essentially "No more embarrassing Amiga hardware!" AmigaOS without hardware would become like Haiku (BeOS without BeBox). Haiku has more modern features than the AmigaOS with x86_64 support and has failed to gain significant market share. AROS already supports x86_64 and trades compatibility for features like 64 bit support and SMP but doesn't seem popular even in the Amiga community. Commodity hardware is nice but isn't a magic bullet for the Amiga, especially if software compatibility is lost.

ARM - CPU architecture used in many embedded devices
BE - Big Endian (default byte ordering of 68k and PPC architectures, wanted for compatibility)
CPU - Central Processing Unit (brain of computers)
EOL - End of Life (discontinued products available while supplies last)
POWER - IBM POWER CPU architecture used in servers (mostly compatible with PowerPC )
PPC - PowerPC CPU architecture (antiquated subset of the POWER architecture)
SMP - Symmetric multiprocessing (most popular support for multiple cores in a CPU)
SoC - System on a Chip (logic integrated into a single chip to save cost and power)
x86_64 - CPU architecture of PC clones used in most desktops and laptops

Feel free to post comments or questions.

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Yogi27 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 19-Jun-2020 2:57:36
#2 ]
Regular Member
Joined: 11-Dec-2002
Posts: 340
From: Chicago, Illinois

@matthey

Hi Everyone,

I wanted to say I am sick of these polls. These are a complete waste of time. We have what we have.

Anyways, what might be worth doing is porting AmigaOS to ARM. That could be interesting. Since that is not likely, I will be buying the next PPC board.


Yogi

Last edited by Yogi27 on 19-Jun-2020 at 03:09 AM.

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bison 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 19-Jun-2020 3:33:25
#3 ]
Super Member
Joined: 18-Dec-2007
Posts: 1637
From: N-Space

@matthey

Given the choices, I went for the pancakes.

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Trekiej 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 19-Jun-2020 4:17:49
#4 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 17-Oct-2006
Posts: 782
From: Unknown

@matthey

I have been enjoying my two A600 machines, fixing them and getting drives and software for them.
Outside of having a FPGA built into a new A600 mother board, I would like to see new PPC hardware or have Amiga OS 4.x ported to X86-64.

Where do we go, where do we go now, wha wha ? Guns and Roses, Sweet Child of Mine.
Where would we like to be?

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Trekiej 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 19-Jun-2020 6:40:53
#5 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 17-Oct-2006
Posts: 782
From: Unknown

@Trekiej

I know what we want or I want.
How about a 64 bit multi-core 68K cpu that we could port Amiga OS3 to it.

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Trixie 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 19-Jun-2020 9:08:53
#6 ]
Amiga Developer Team
Joined: 1-Sep-2003
Posts: 1939
From: Czech Republic

@matthey

A poll that intentionally makes 68k look like the only sensible choice? Do you really think we are stupid?

_________________
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AmigaOne X5000/020 @ 2GHz / 4GB RAM / Radeon RX 560 / ESI Juli@ / AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition
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MEGA_RJ_MICAL 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 19-Jun-2020 9:23:48
#7 ]
Regular Member
Joined: 13-Dec-2019
Posts: 326
From: AMIGAWORLD.NET WAS ORIGINALLY FOUNDED BY DAVID DOYLE

@Trixie

Quote:

Trixie wrote:
@matthey

Do you really think we are stupid?


Is that, friend Trixie, a trick question?

Yours,
MEGA_RJ_MICAL

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Templario 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 19-Jun-2020 9:42:36
#8 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 22-Jun-2004
Posts: 3530
From: Palencia city of the emptied Spain.

@matthey
Maybe, jump to ARM architecture but without forget and leave the current 68K and PPC and AROS?
If Apple is thinking go to ARM, why Amiga not?

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Fl@sh 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 19-Jun-2020 10:18:56
#9 ]
Regular Member
Joined: 6-Oct-2004
Posts: 161
From: Napoli - Italy

I choosed pancakes, much better than old 68k legacy development..

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BigD 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 19-Jun-2020 11:16:56
#10 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 11-Aug-2005
Posts: 5356
From: UK

@matthey

Let's just wait and see what the A1222 can do for us and reassess the way forward at that point. ACube are helping to design a PPC laptop that might be a AmigaOS port candidate. However, it is the legal situation that is holding everything back IMHO. The hardware direction is irrelevant if we can't all work together to forge some sort of niche computer ecosystem.

P.S. Has anyone here got a V1200 Vampire Board? I know the cottage that makes them has smoke coming out of the chimney but are they out there in the wild now and are people happy with them? Can native screen modes be displayed over HDMI yet?

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Samurai_Crow 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 19-Jun-2020 16:46:02
#11 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 18-Jan-2003
Posts: 2218
From: Minnesota, USA

@thread

While there are no 68k SoC systems yet, I voted for the first option. Most Amiga software is hardware-banging 68k software and most system-friendly code can be ported to any architecture needed. For current software faster 68k makes sense. For modern 64-bit software going cross-platform makes more sense than sticking with tired, old AmigaOS.

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redfox 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 19-Jun-2020 16:56:54
#12 ]
Super Member
Joined: 7-Mar-2003
Posts: 1732
From: Canada

@matthey

Sadly, this market is what it is.

---
redfox

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Hypex 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 19-Jun-2020 18:20:47
#13 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 6-May-2007
Posts: 9974
From: Greensborough, Australia

@matthey

When I read the poll title I thought it was about our Amiga machines but not Amiga development as you intended. Therefore, to me the only sensible options were:

1. Keep using them.
2. Put them in a museum.
3. Throw them into landfil.

It's unfortune that the Amiga really has been reduced to an OS. The hardware was left to bitrot so those PC cards we opposed had to be accepted. Even though the PC was started replacing the Amiga from the inside out with the Mediator. Sure, the AmigaOne machines avoid the total PC takeover, but they lack what the original had. The heart of the Amiga was the hardware and what is left is the OS. Is it too late even for the OS to be left befind and Amiga to become a label with no substance?

Even so, I voted for POWER for desktop with redesigned & incompatible AmigaOS. I voted for this as an AmigaOS4 user. Because I think AmigaOS has too many 80's shackes that need to be broken off. I also think the compatible argument is getting old. Compatible with what? 68K software? When I run 68K software on OS4 it runs transparently and as directly it can. But it's still emulated. However, I think thet need to box it up into a sandbox. IIRC there is already memory reserved for 68K programs. Just box up the 68K shared memory space and create a separated 68K API. So 68K is kept away from native OS.

OS4 broke compatibility anyway. They changed the API, nulled and removed functions. OS3 program sources need extra work to even compile. This means not all 68K software will work correctly even when using an official API function. And supported, but low level functions like 68K traps, are broken and crash apps.

This would allow to get rid of the forbidding and disabling. When you look into it, this gave the user too much control anyway. In most cases, it only needed to forbid because it was adding or removing an object in the system list. Well, it shouldn't been allowed to do that, the system should have provided a function to do it for the user. Then it would have been no problem.

A new API needs to be in place to clean this up. So the system gives you a handle and you only give it to other system functions. But this really needed to be in place when they designed the OS4 API. Programs messaging eachother are still an issue. While it's "nice" they can talk to eachother it's been red flagged as a problem. However, fast messaging was an AmigaOS feature, so they need a good system to put in place of it to be just as speedy.

This would allow SMP or any type of multi core tasking to come into being. And be better prepared for it. Also, a long awaited feature, real threads. Though even now, I think AmigaOS could feature real threads. Just split up a task into several sub-tasks running in the same task context for one task quantum, thread different code branches in cascade, each with their own stack frame.

The system also needs cleaning inside. For example did you know that Workbench repeatedly makes calls to get disk info, even though notification exists in DOS? Or that, in Odyssey as I type this, it keeps opening and closing the timer.device several times a second? This is not efficient. But, I think this is due to flaws in AmigaOS that drag it down, amd were never fixed up. The delay function in DOS likely does this. But it only does it because DOS processes lack a handle to keep a cached timer request. Which I think was neeed for years.

Other things. OOP was embraced in AmigaOS. But the OS is built on C, so OOP looks like a slight hack. If it is to fully embrace OOP then it needs to update the base language. C++ is a logical step but Ob-C may be more in line since dataypes are based on similar ideas from smalltalk.

After cleaning up the OS and hiding all those pesky pointers, we can now think about 64-bit. Right now, the linear 68K memory model AmigaOS uses itsn't a benefit anymore. Because OS4 also uses a 32-bit linear memory model that is hard to break. Right now the interim solution is ExtMem allowing apps to allocate memory outside the 31 and possibly 32 bit barrier. Then swap it into space. But, this brings the superior AmigaOS down to the inferior 6502 64K level, of extending memory. Because it is bank switching.

With a clean room 64-bit OS. You can now thing about different endians. By this stage ARM may have dropped big endian all together. And if PPC is even sourceable they may be little endian only. It's gone in video cards. Can't expect big endian to be around always. Even x86 support will soon look backwards. Bi-endian is slowly being dropped. Little endian is de facto standard, lkely because it was IBM standard years ago. In the computer world popularity wins over practicality.

Well, those are just my thoughts.I must think a lot. Ha!

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Hypex 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 19-Jun-2020 18:30:56
#14 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 6-May-2007
Posts: 9974
From: Greensborough, Australia

@Trixie

Quote:
A poll that intentionally makes 68k look like the only sensible choice? Do you really think we are stupid?


Well, your questions do point out how stupid all those Vampire people look right now. Investing time and money into a device slower than an X5000. Giving people an excitement over rebirthing the 68K Amiga once again. Dropping AmigaOne machines in favour of the Vampire! I can't comment futher on this, before it looks more stupid.

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matthey 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 19-Jun-2020 18:57:38
#15 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 14-Mar-2007
Posts: 756
From: Kansas

Quote:

Yogi27 wrote:
I wanted to say I am sick of these polls. These are a complete waste of time. We have what we have.


Quote:

redfox wrote:
Sadly, this market is what it is.


This is the captain who decides to stoically go down with his ship attitude. I can see being pessimistic considering the current Amiga situation. If the companies in control of the Amiga have the same attitude then we are indeed in trouble. There are some choices which can still be made by them though. I don't see staying with PPC until it is no longer available as a viable choice. Supply and demand and Freescale/NXP history indicates that selection of EOL PPC chips will go down and prices will go up. Already the X1000 to the X5000 lost the VMX/Altivec SIMD unit and then the Tabor lost the FPU. Unpopular CPUs like in the Tabor are less likely to be available for long or supported as can be seen by the dropping of support in GCC.

If the plan is simply to switch to commodity hardware after PPC, then there will be little need for A-EON or any of the retailers like Amiga on the Lake. Hyperion or Cloanto would hope to recover the cost of porting AmigaOS to another architecture back by selling the OS, probably online. This business model has not been successful as there are many free OSs to compete with with more features on commodity hardware. The grass may look greener on the other side of the fence but reality is that there is a drought for OS sales everywhere. It is difficult to get people to try a free OS let alone switch and buy a new OS. The best way to get people to try or use an OS is to sell it installed on hardware.

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matthey 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 19-Jun-2020 20:25:01
#16 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 14-Mar-2007
Posts: 756
From: Kansas

Quote:

Trekiej wrote:
I know what we want or I want.
How about a 64 bit multi-core 68K cpu that we could port Amiga OS3 to it.


A multi-core custom SoC has the best chance of allowing SMP while maintaining compatibility. Multi-core in an affordable FPGA is not practical as it is better to make the single core performance better in the limited space. If planning for an ASIC (non-programmable chip), multi-core support and SMP could be tested in larger and more expensive FPGAs. Duplicating cores is as simple as copy and paste although getting them to play nicely together with SMP requires more work and testing. It would be interesting to know if SMP is possible with hardware support before giving up existing software by breaking compatibility. Lack of process isolation and memory protection means that the chances of crashes increases as the number of cores increase but it should be possible to at least partially address these problems.

A 64 bit CPU core is often lower performance and uses more power than an equivalent 32 bit core. A 64 bit core can do twice the work per instruction but rarely provides an overall speedup for general purpose programs. 64 bit pointers and larger code for 64 bit require larger caches which are slower and use more power. The best reasons to use a 64 bit core are to gain 64 bit (over 4GiB) addressing and to have an upgrade path for more addressing in the future. When needed, 64 bit is more like a necessary evil than a panacea.

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ferrels 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 19-Jun-2020 20:33:41
#17 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 20-Oct-2005
Posts: 849
From: Arizona

@matthey

Quote:
This is the captain who decides to stoically go down with his ship attitude.


I think Yogi27 and redfox are spot on. Not only has the Amiga ship sailed long ago, it also sank. The same folks have been showing up here and at other Amiga forums for 30+ years now wringing their hands and asking what can be done to resurrect their beloved Amiga and the speculation that gets thrown about as to how this can be accomplished has hit the point of absurdity. They toss around the same old ideas year after year and fail to recognize that the world has moved on, the ship has sailed, and then the ship sank. In order to get OS3 or OS4 to support all the things we have with modern operating systems on modern hardware there would have to be an entire rewrite of each OS and that isn't going to happen, period. For one, Hyperion nor any other party has the funds nor the expertise to undertake such an effort, and even if they did, there would be no return on their investment or at least not enough revenue generated to even get close to the break-even point. Secondly, the legal issues will never be settled. And 30+ years later, why even bother with a rewrite when there are already so many better alternative OS's out there? Rewriting the OS to support modern features would break all backward-compatibility with the existing library of apps so emulation or sandboxing in some form would be required to run these apps, and we already have this under UAE.

Retro computing is a niche hobby and the Amiga (PPC or 68K) are an even smaller niche inside of the retro computing niche. Nothing is going to change that.

So to quote Yogi27, we have what we have. Enjoy our little niche for what it is and dream about the Amiga's glory days and stop being delusional about the Amiga rising from the ashes like a Phoenix.

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NutsAboutAmiga 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 19-Jun-2020 20:53:00
#18 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 9-Jun-2004
Posts: 11384
From: Norway

@matthey

I guess best thing to do make PowerPC thing that is not for AmigaOS, that other people then Amiga users can buy it without knowing they are helping bring the price down.

Im thinking blueray players, Smart Tvs and consumer items. And small embedded cards similar to RaspberryPi, maybe even pin compatible, PLS / automation / Industry, might even find interesting small cards inside routers, controller cards for printers.

Its possible there are PowerPC embedded cards for these marks we are not using, that lot more available, at lower cost, we are buying the desktop / workstation class PowerPC systems for.

anyway hardware gets out dated quickly as standards change, demands for higher resolutions and transferee rates. Picking second hand and your always behind the trend. Nothing happens without funding, no drivers written, no OS updates.

Last edited by NutsAboutAmiga on 19-Jun-2020 at 09:24 PM.
Last edited by NutsAboutAmiga on 19-Jun-2020 at 09:22 PM.
Last edited by NutsAboutAmiga on 19-Jun-2020 at 09:20 PM.
Last edited by NutsAboutAmiga on 19-Jun-2020 at 09:16 PM.
Last edited by NutsAboutAmiga on 19-Jun-2020 at 09:05 PM.
Last edited by NutsAboutAmiga on 19-Jun-2020 at 09:04 PM.
Last edited by NutsAboutAmiga on 19-Jun-2020 at 08:56 PM.

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Wol 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 19-Jun-2020 21:31:58
#19 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 8-Mar-2003
Posts: 968
From: UK.......Sol 3.

@matthey

Power...... , Stop messing around and use Raptor !!!



Wol.



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matthey 
Re: Amiga hardware poll
Posted on 19-Jun-2020 22:12:33
#20 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 14-Mar-2007
Posts: 756
From: Kansas

Quote:

Trixie wrote:
A poll that intentionally makes 68k look like the only sensible choice? Do you really think we are stupid?


Let's look at potential poll biases then.

1) poll is on a site that has been more of a PPC "NG" site
potential bias toward PPC/POWER choices
2) 68k choice is listed first
potential bias for the 68k choice
3) 68k choice lists more applications
potential bias for the 68k choice
4) multiple PPC/POWER choices
potentially spreads out PPC/POWER choices where 68k is concentrated in one choice boosting it
potentially more choices for PPC/POWER results in more votes for those choices

I couldn't help #1 above. Anywhere the poll goes would likely be biased. Perhaps amiga.org would be more neutral while a site like EAB would likely be more biased toward the 68k. From #2 above, I listed the 68k choice first because 68k Amigas came before PPC Amigas which would be before any POWER Amigas in the future. From #3 above, the 68k choice does list more applications which is due to my perceived cost and competitveness of a SoC. SoC development and production costs increase exponentially with the complexity. A 68k SoC ASIC could likely be produced on old die sizes cheap enough to compete for the applications listed and would have few 68k competitors for performance. A PPC SoC would need to be much higher performance and complexity to compete with previously available PPC hardware. This could be partially offset by potentially discounted already available synthesizeable PPC cores but more expensive die sizes would likely be required. Cost is the more important metric for the applications listed for the 68k SoC where performance is the more important metric for the applications listed for the PPC SoC. Competing on performance is a race only the best stallions win while competing on price is a race anyone who can sell enough product can win. From #4 above, the 68k may look better but the PPC/POWER may get more votes so biases hear could partially offsets each other.

If the 68k seems like the most sensible choice then maybe it is. Likewise, breaking compatibility to add features like SMP, memory isolation/protection and 64 bit addressing for a server chip like POWER might be more sensible than leading people on forever with a "Next Generation" AmigaOS unlikely capable of supporting those features without breaking compatibility. For people fed up with underwhelming and expensive hardware and who have lost faith in the ability of A-EON and/or Hyperion to deliver, no more embarrassing hardware seems sensible to me too.

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