Future Amiga Processor(s)

Which CPU will be the processor in future Amigas?
18/1/1998 by Joe Torre

One man's answers to common questions about the choice of processors in future Amiga computers.

Q. Which CPU is more in the Amiga s future, 68K or PPC?

A. Both of them. Amiga has the 68k for legacy compatibility, the PPC for speed. The flexibility of the Amiga architecture has allowed it to gain a PPC chip(s) for computationally intensive tasks like rendering, (de)compression, (de)encryption, etc. The 68K provides 100% software compatibility, while the PPC provides the horsepower. As more of us upgrade to 68K+PPC we will have more and more software for our Amigas that harness the capabilities of PPC.

Q. Will a PPC accelerator be required to run Workbench3.5?

A. Definitely not. The OS upgrade is for existing machines as well as future ones. We wish to maximize the value and appeal of WB3.5, so all users will upgrade upon release.

Q. Since a native PPC version of WB3.5 would be faster than a 68K version, why is it being written for 68k only?

A. To support the existing Amiga Community. Whatever CPU AmigaDOS was ported to it would run faster if the CPU was faster. The time it takes to market is an important consideration. The time it takes to add an accelerator board is under 20 minutes, but porting the OS to PPC would take a year plus. The WB3.5 upgrade is for the hundreds of thousands of 680x0 machines in use today, with or without PPC co-processors. More Amiga users benefit from a 68K upgrade sooner, than a PPC upgrade later, to hardware they don't own.

Q. Will there be a PPC only version of AmigaDOS?

A. Third party AmigaDOS licenses are free to port to Alpha, PPC, MIPS etc. These CPUs may be ideal for embedded (non-Amiga) applications that AmigaDOS excels at. While these ports will no-doubt be fast, especially compared to the bloated OS' that usually run on such hardware. Although they can t be considered to be Amiga compatible unless they provide some sort of chipset and 68K emulation.

Q. What about The Motorola ColdFire family as a CPU?

A. The ColdFire is less than 30% code compatible with 68K, and low in price, high in performance. The ColdFire has a reduced set of instructions, which make it very fast, but it lacks many of the bitfield operations that are critical to AmigaDOS. Using ColdFire would require a complete rewrite of AmigaDOS, and would be incompatible with the existing commercial programs, and all of the great Aminet archive.

Q. Will Amiga Inc. be making new Amigas?

A. No, Amiga, Inc. will not be making new machines. New machines will come from companies who have a license from Amiga International. Petro has been very successful licensing the Amiga technology. Check the Amiga International web page at http://www.amiga.de for the long list of licensees. Look to those companies for the new Amiga models. These companies brought to the Amiga refinements like RTG, AHI, PPC, Wide SCSI, and even PCI! These companies need your feedback as to what kind of features you prefer in a new Amiga model. They will only produce the kinds of Amigas you want to buy.


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