|Haage and Partner Announce WarpUP, Phase5 Blasts H&P|
The relationship between Phase5, manufacturer of the PowerUP PowerPC cards for the Amiga, and German software developer Haage and Partner, has taken an unexpected turn.
H&P, who from appearances had a mutually beneficial relationship with Phase5 and were one of the earliest and most active supporters of the PowerUP concept, porting their StormC compiler to generate PowerUP code, have announced a new kernal for use with PowerUP cards. This design apparently deviates somewhat from the intended PowerUP software standard.
This lead to a swift and strong reaction from Phase5. The relevant news items follow below--H&P's WarpUP announcement, followed by a statement from Phase5 GM Wolf Dietrich.
WarpUP: A high-speed kernal for PowerUP
Finally the Amiga has its PowerPC. Everyone of us owes Phase 5 a lot of gratitude for that. Because it was them who steered the CPU-discussion into the right direction. Through their PowerUP¨-boards they ensure that the Amiga will regain its rightful position at the top of technology.
The PowerPC-technology offers a maximum of technological security for the future. Under the banner of their motto "NO RISC NO FUN", Motorola have already taken the first step that Intel processors have yet to make. Due to this decision, CPUs with a clock speed of up to 350 MHz are now available. And a limit to this is not in sight.
Hardware-development is only one side of the coin in this respect. Without the appropriate software even the very best hardware is not really worth much. Therefore the biggest burden is currently carried by software developers all over this world. They are pondering the question whether porting their software to the PPC will pay off. Switching to a new CPU involves porting and maintaining the software for two different kinds of CPU. It is due to this fact that many software developers (despite promising announcements) still sit back and watch the market before starting the effort of doing a port.
What makes the right decision easier is a software-interface to the hardware which guarantees that future hardware-developments can be utilised by the software without changing it (it does not matter whether this hardware will be a new PowerPC-board from a third-party manufacturer or a PowerPC-Amiga from Amiga International Inc.). Exactly this functionality is offered by WarpOS which was developed on the Phase 5 dual-processor boards by our authors Sam Jordan, Michael Rock and Jochen Becher.
WarpUP forms a so-called hardware-abstraction-layer (HAL) between the hardware and software-applications. This HAL guarantees the proper function of these applications on different PowerPC-concepts. To every software-developer this offers a risk-free start into a new era of software-development for the Amiga.
WarpUP forms the interface between the 68K-, PowerPC-hardware, the 68K-operating system software and the software-applications. The premier issue is of course to optimally exploit the speed provided by the PowerPC-CPU while at the same time making applications as easy to port as possible. For the first time on the Amiga, WarpUP allows using native PowerPC-applications as well as applications and shared libraries in mixed- and fat-binary form.
The StormC C/C++ developer system offers the possibility to compile an AmigaOS-application as a native PowerPC application by simply setting a compiler option. The necessary switching between the 68K-AmigaOS and the PowerPC- functions is handled by the WarpOS-kernel within WarpUP. This is a valuable advantage for the software developer. The reason for this is that even a direct port of the software achieves a sufficient performance increase. Conceptual changes to the software only become necessary if even the last bit is too be squeezed out of the system.
WarpUP offers the following advantages:
Highspeed communication-interface between the 68K- and PowerPC-CPU.
Entirely native multitasking, native memory management, semaphores, list-/tag-management, signalling, message handling.
Facultative memory protection: tasks are given the option of allocating protected memory areas.
Virtual signals, i.e. signals are CPU-shared and are always redirected to the correct CPU.
Inter-CPU message-system: messages can be passed between the CPUs
Optimal use of the PPC-MMU and the PPC-Cache
MMU/Exception-handling support for applications
PowerSave-function that shuts down the PPC if no applications use it
PowerPC-Enforcer (protects the first page)
Detailed crash-requester that optimally aids the developer in finding errors
Integrated debugging system to make bug-tracking easier.
Special support for highly optimized software such as games and demos.
Support for Amiga-compliant applications.
PowerPC native, mixed- and fat-binary applications and shared-libraries.
Also usable for alternative developer systems such as Modula- or E-compilers with PowerPC-support because objects are not mandatorily created in ELF; instead the tried and tested Amiga-compliant hunk-format can be used as well.
Optimal future prospects
We save the best for last, of course: WarpUP can be obtained free of charge from Haage & Partner! You only have to pay your phone costs.
This is our contribution towards a brighter Amiga-future.
Further information can be obtained from:
HAAGE & PARTNER Computer GmbH
PO. Box 80
D 61188 Rosbach
Tel.: ++49 6007 930050
Fax: ++49 6007 7543
Statement from Wolf Dietrich, Phase5:
This is a short preliminary statement, which will be extended during the next week and can then be found on our web site http://www.phase5.de.
phase 5 digital products is shipping the PowerUp boards as a complete solution, consisting of the powerful dual-processor hardware and the comprehensive PPC library and other stuff. The PPC library is a complete PPC native multitasking and multiprocessing kernel. It features everything that is necessary for all kind of software developments, even for adoption of different or future OS versions. The information about disadvantages and slow communication between the two CPUs is nonsense, as our system software provides a comprehensive message and signalling system, which even provides protectable memory areas for each task, making PowerUp-compliant software ready for future memory-protected OS updates or versions.
AS A MATTER OF FACT, THE FUNCTIONALITY WHICH HAAGE&PARTNER OUTLINES AND PROMOTES IS NOTHING SPECIAL, BUT A STANDARD FUNCTIONALITY PROVIDED BY THE PHASE 5 POWERUP SYSTEM SOFTWARE. We simply did not make so much noise about it. It is also nonsense that the WarpUp software by Haage&Partner is faster then the PowerUp system software from phase 5 digital products; this may only be true when StormC is used for the compilation a PowerUp application.
The WarpUp from Haage&Partner is a solution which is not compatible to the phase 5 solution. As it does not use the HAL that is provided by phase 5 digital products, but hacks the hardware by using an incomplete knowledge of the hardware functionality - which has been aquired by reengineering the phase 5 digital products software - it is most likely that it will not work with future revision changes or different product releases of the PowerUp series.
Furthermore, phase 5 digital products will not tolerate that an incompatible software takes over the control of the PowerUp hardware and prevents the user from running software that has been developed for the PowerUp boards by phase 5 digital products as well as many other vendors. All software which is supplied by phase 5, and in which we have invested lots of work and financial efforts to make the PowerUp a useful product, would be disabled once the Haage&Partner software is installed in the system. That includes for example the fast CyberGL native library as well as the MPEG video and audio decoding integrated into CGX V3. Consequently, third party products using such advanced functionality would not run. USAGE OF THE THE HAAGE&PARTNER SOLUTION WOULD RESULT IN A COMPLETE INCOMPATIBILITY MESS. In the interest of our customers, who buy our products with high expectations, and all our developers who expect a completely compatible product line, we will take care that the phase 5 system software can not be disabled.
Haage&Partner has - from the beginning - rejected to use the ELF format which phase 5 has introduced on the PowerUp boards. The reason to choose this widely accepted format was to open the Amiga/PowerUp development to industry software standards. As an example, the ELF format allows professional development for PowerUp even on other platforms (such as Motorola PPC systems, IBM AIX systems, even on Sun or under WindowsNT), where high performance PPC Cross compilers are available, which integrate far superior experience and performance; phase 5 is currently testing such compilers which may offer the chance to accelerate software such as the CyberGL native library and the PPC MPEG library even further. Additonally, soon an update for SAS/C on the Amiga can be expected, which supports PowerUp and the ELF format.
Haage&Partner, instead, wants to establish their own "extended Hunk-format", which may is derived from the Amiga Hunk format, but still a new and proprietary solution. It is a concept that forces developers to use the only solution supporting this format - the Storm C compiler by Haage&Partner. Haage&Partner declares it's product being open and Amiga-compliant - in fact, it is only open to the Haage&Partner standard and compliant to their own software solutions.
At this point, it is important to mention that the software concepts of phase 5 digital products have all the time been focused on developments that open doors and smooth upgrade paths to future and completely revised OS versions, which incorporate functionalities such as memory protection and multi-processing (which is not supported by the Haage&Partner concept, BTW). This has e.g. also been proposed to Amiga International/Gateway2000 in May this year, together with our offer for extensive technological cooperation. To reach such a goal, we feel it is mandatory to set today guidelines for programming that make current Amiga/PowerUp developments more independent from the current OS revision by clear structured and object-oriented programming, instead of using the StormC concept of simply recompiling older sources (this issue will be adressed in detail later).
As the solution from Haage&Partner is not compatible and can - because of it's proprietary software concept - not fullfill demands of professional developers, it is very unlikely that developers will choose it. phase 5 digital products highly recommends not to use this incompatible system, as well as the Storm C compiler which - because of the concept - is wasting most of the performance that the PowerUp boards can deliver (this issue will also be adressed in detail later).
phase 5 digital products has supported Haage&partner with free developer systems, as well as all necessary information to develop compatible software and tools, thus enabling Haage&Partner to become a leading software vendor. We also held many meetings explaining our strategy and goals to make the PowerUp a useful platform not only for a new generation of high-performance applications, but also for the development towards a new OS or OS version that fullfills the demands of the next century. To our surprise and disappointment Haage&Partner has mainly used their status to create a replacement for the PowerUp system software which is intended to set a standard controlled by Haage&Partner, and they even attempt to trash the complete and comprehensive software development in which we have spend many efforts. At the same time, they have yet not been able to present a stable running PowerPC application which the Amiga/PowerUp user would have an advantage from. We highly disregard this contraproductive and confrontational behaviour, and will completely drop any support for Haage&Partner as a PowerUp developer as well as for any of their products.