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/// From the Editor's Desk "Saying it like it is!"
Somebody said something to me the other day that got me thinking. Where
exactly is the Amiga headed? I don't mean Commodore or their financial
problems, or even the possibility that they might go out of business. I
mean, _where_ is the Amiga's future? Motorola's 68K line of microprocessors
is nearing the end. I seriously doubt there will be a chip above the 68060.
The future is RISC. I read a document from Apple recently stating that they
are moving the entire Macintosh line to PowerPC. PowerPC is a new RISC chip
that was developed jointly by Motorola and Intel. It's a neat processor,
with a lot of features.
The 486 is on its way out. Pentium systems are already approaching afford-
ability (okay, $4000 isn't THAT affordable, but in three months, they'll
probably be under $3000). DEC's Alpha chip is another contender in the
high-power CPU wars. Windows NT already runs on it. These new CPUs will
outrun most mainframe systems. I was talking with the director of computer
operations at a leading health insurance company this morning, and he told
me that their Amdahl mainframe runs at 72 MIPS. The 68060 and the Pentium
are both rated at 100 MIPS. And they don't require forty tons of cooling
equipment to operate!
The point I'm making is that Commodore cannot rely on the 68000 series for
much longer, if it expects to have the Amiga compete with Apple and the
clone makers newest systems. If the word from that Commodore Insiders
conference on GEnie a few weeks ago is correct -- that Commodore really
doesn't have a 68060 machine in the works, then perhaps its time for them
to move elsewhere. I think Commodore should consider moving the Amiga line
to the PowerPC chip as well. Why? First, it'll be the easiest move.
There will be plenty of programmers familiar with porting 68K code to
PowerPC systems, since Apple is already going that route. Secondly, it's a
fairly inexpensive, yet very powerful CPU. So what about existing software?
Apple will be including a software emulator with all PowerPC-based Macs
that will run existing applications at a reasonable speed. The same could
be done with the Amiga. Sure, the games aren't going to run, but that's
what used 500's and 1200's are for. Besides, if you want a game machine,
get a PC -- that's where the games really are!
But beyond the decision to move to a new processor is the question of IF
the Amiga can survive. It is, without a doubt, the best OS ever made for
any personal computer. But with PC's becoming easier and easier to use,
and with Microsoft's dominance in the software industry (what new PC
DOESN'T come with Windows and Works??), can the Amiga continue to
compete? I think that unless Commodore really screws up and goes out of
business, the Amiga will continue on as a video productions-based computer,
just like it has in the past. It will continue to have a loyal userbase,
but it won't be a large one. Many Amiga owners will either have fully
blown PC's to supplement their machines, or they will have Bridgeboards
decked out as far as they will go. Just because it's where the software is.
Now on the optomistic side, if C= really did go PowerPC (quickly), and
actually market the machine, it might have a real chance at being taken
seriously. It would also be the first affordable RISC-based computer on
the market. You can guess what the PowerPC Macs are going to sell for
when they arrive (yikes!).
The bottom line is that I don't think the Amiga will become extinct. It will
simply continue on in the shadows as the kick-butt computer it always has
Rob @ Amiga Report