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PowerPC News Interprets the Amiga
[The following three news items were sent to me from Simon Austin of
PowerPC News. It's always interesting to see how the rest of the industry
views your moves...-Jason]
From firstname.lastname@example.org Fri Nov 10 09:33 CST 1995
PowerPC Amiga due 1997
The world should see the first PowerPC-based Amiga by the beginning of
1997, according to Petro Tyschtschenko, President of Amiga Technologies.
The original Amiga computer was developed by Commodore which subsequently
sold the technology to German PC maker Escom AG earlier this year (mf issue
8). Although best known for games-playing the Amiga A4000 computer is
actually a high-quality graphics workstation capable of far more than
playing games in 24-bit colour. Cleveland's Constabulary, for example, has
used the Amiga to develop a low-cost multimedia information network for its
1,500 of its officers.
But whether the first of the new generation machines, dubbed Power Amigas,
will be straight clones of the PowerPC standard - the Common Hardware
Reference Platform - is still an open question, as the Escom subsidiary
debates the best way to maintain backwards compatibility with applications.
The company is also in discussion with Motorola on the practicalities of
building a variant of the PowerPC 604 processor that includes a
68000-family CISC core. This would ease Amiga's transition to the new RISC
architecture. Whether such a hybrid chip can or will be built in time to
satisfy Amiga Technologies' tight deadlines remains to be seen, so the
company is also pursuing the software emulation path. A spokesperson
acknowledged that Amiga is talking to Apple about using its 68k emulation
technology, but said that it is also talking to alternative emulator
Running existing Amiga applications on a plain CHRP platform will be tough
- the Amiga contains a number of proprietary support chips that the
software expect to be present. In the first instance, therefore, it seems
likely that the Power Amigas will be a superset of CHRP containing these
extra chips. The first models will also have to incorporate Amiga's
proprietary bus to allow the use of existing peripherals. However the
spokesperson said that the intention is to wean application developers away
from accessing the hardware directly; so that newer applications will be
Tyschtschenko says that his company intends to actively licence the Amiga
OS version 4.1 to other computer companies, the eventual aim is to have the
shrink-wrapped OS available in the shops for users of CHRP machines to buy.
He is clear that the Amiga's strength is in its software - though asked
whether in a few years time Amiga Technologies will just be a software
house, he answers frankly "I don't know, I don't have a crystal ball".
Visual Information Services Corp is licensing Amiga Technologies GmbH's
hardware and software technology to use in a television and set-top box
combination. The Chicago, Illinois-based company was established
specifically to develop proprietary and Amiga-based set-tops boxes and has
ex-engineering staff from Commodore International Ltd among its development
Amiga is developing a set-top box based around the Amiga operating system
and a new and modified version of its A1200 core.
Full details of the product were not available as we went to press but a
spokesperson for Amiga said that the set-top box will be available next
September and will come equipped with a CD-ROM drive, floppy drive, printer
port and serial modem connection or a built in modem.
Another US company, Omnibox is licensing Amiga's technology to develop its
own set-top box devices.
Cleveland Constabulary in the North of England is using touch-screen kiosks
to keep in contact with police officers and the public. It has spent
UKP150,000 on 30 kiosks, using 26 of them to relay messages to its 1,500
employees. The other four will be in public locations to raise awareness
and understanding of police activities. The system is based on Scala
InfoChannel. Information is entered into the network by the TV and Video
Unit at police headquarters in Middlesbrough and is sent to the screens
using British Telecommunications Plc ISDN links. The system runs on an
Amiga 4000 home computer fitted with an MPEG video board.