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/// The Emulation Examiner
By Jason Compton
I can't stress enough how much I'd like to hear from somebody. Anybody
at all, about these articles.
Whether or not you're ready, here's more emulation ramblings...
The elusive, over-hyped, and rather expensive PowerPC notwithstanding,
there's really only one major emulation option available to the public which
does NOT utilize an Amiga for anything, and that's SoftPC. I've been able
to work, briefly, with SoftPC and noticed the following:
You need an awfully fast Mac to run the thing at all. The box seemed to
say you needed an '040, but I saw it run on an '030.
It emulates a 286, but from what I have seen of it (admittedly little,
but...) it needs. It supports the internal Mac floppy and seems to handle
hard drive access reasonably well. It uses the Mac II's graphic
capabilities to emulate VGA graphics. I'm also fairly certain that it
provides parallel and serial port emulation.
So...what's the snag? Well, I have my doubts about how genuine the
emulation really is. The IBM screen is generated on the Mac desktop
(meaning it multitasks with the Mac, as well as anything is going to,
although I believe it is quite a memory hog), but when Windows is run (one
of the deluxe packages comes with Windows in it...of course! Why would a
Mac user want a command-oriented operating system?), the Mac closes
the old screen and opens a new one, with a new title. Before I get ahead
of myself, I will point out that I realize that Janus' IBM display emulation
does something similar, opening up new screens in different resolutions as
the IBM requests them. But I wonder if the title change is just for effect,
or if the SoftPC emulation is actually changing the way it is handling
programs. I'm not sure. I also would presume, for lack of evidence
available to me, that SoftPC would fall prey to the limitation of not having
a true BIOS. Then there are little details to tackle, like-IBM mice are at
LEAST 2 buttons, yet the Mac still plods along with a single-all-purpose
clicker. The IBM XT keyboard, let alone the AT, is more expansive than
the keyboard on, say, the Mac IIsi. (Come on, Amiga even printed the
standard IBM keypad indicators on!). I have heard rumors that SoftPC would be
developed for the Amiga, if the project was seen as profitable enough. SoftPC
wouldn't replace a nice Vortex Golden Gate 386, but on a 4000 or accelerated
1200 might be a reasonable buy. For an ECS owner, though, you'd probably be
better off going with a true bridgeboard.
Which brings me to my next point. Now that the Amiga's operating and
graphics system has evolved several times, I am seeing interesting trends
in inter-Amiga emulation. By that, I mean this. First, I am seeing 24-bit
video boards for the 2000 and 3000 being touted as AGA emulators, with
framegrabbers and the like thrown in to offset the cost. This is
interesting, not to mention logical, since to my knowledge C= decided not to
work on upgrading old machines, and an upgrade is only available from a third
party company for the 500. A nice 3000 with an AGA emulator...er, 24-bit
video board might just be able to provide a workable alternative to the 4000.
(While I'd like to say that it would be feasible with the 2000, since I own
one, the lack of Zorro III capability is going to catch up with the 2000
sooner or later, and has done so with some of the new 24-bit/AGA boards).
Retraction: Before I end this column, I would like to retract a statement I
made in my last article. I said that the Emplant supported Mac color
boards. I lied. It supports Amiga 24-bit boards. I apologize to Utilities
Unlimited for misunderstanding and misreporting.
With any luck, I won't have to do that much more. Until the next time... and
remember, the author does not challenge the copyright status of any of the
above products. He is simply not in the mood to clutter his article with
(tm)s, but if anyone complains he will jump at the chance to do so.