New Amiga OS hardware

So, currently, we have ACube’s SAM460cr and A-Eon’s x1000 Nemo board that came be purchased today. We’ve heard that the x5000 from A-Eon is on the way as soon as Amiga OS4.2 is fully ported, and Individual Computers will be releasing an Amiga 1200-ish replacement motherboard.

Add to this the variations of FPGA implementations, but the real big news this past weekend was the joint effort between A-Eon and Acube to release a new, mini-ITX motherboard for Next Gen Amigas tentatively called the “Tabor”, or the A1222. Rumors are that it is based on a different line of PowerPC processor called P1022.

If this is true, then we can find out some info online about it. The P1022 is a dual-core (dual e500) CPU cores. These are 32bit processors (not 64bit). The max speed is 1.2Ghz in speed. It also is an energy efficient design with some IO controllers built-in. Some have pointed out that the FPU is incompatible with those used in other Amiga NextGen processors. This leads to the question of if there will be recompiled versions of code or software emulation if this is the case.

Why was this processor chosen instead of one that is more compatible? Probably costs. They most likely either had a good deal on that processor for this project or another project enabled them to buy extra units for the Amiga boards.

Here are the early pictures:

The most advanced (currently) web browser on any Amiga system

So, it appears that AROS has taken the lead when it come to web browser technologies. A developer named deadwood announced at the beginning of September 2015 that he’d completed over a year’s worth of work to get the Origyn web browser updated with a very new version of webkit (from May 2015). This currently puts it at over a year ahead of MorphOS and AmigaOS4.1.

I thought it would be good time to dip my toe into the AROS waters again to try this out. I haven’t tried AROS in a while. There are a few distros but I’ve really liked Icaros Desktop, as it seems to make things easy as possible for newbies. Also, this browser needs to patch the AROS system and I believe Icaros 2.0.3 was the one specifically mentioned.

So, I downloaded the 2.0.3 version of Icaros (the latest) and off I went to install. This isn’t a review of Icaros (I may do that in the future though, as I liked it).

Install was among the easiest of any Nextgen system. I didn’t have a dedicated system so I set up a VMWare Player session, with a 2GB RAM and single core cpu. The host machine was an i7 4790k system, so it should be fast.

Checking the announcement, you’ll see that we must FIRST install a kernel patch to AROS, using –> this file Then, after a reboot, grab the main archive <– can be extracted somewhere.

I then placed the shortcut on the desktop (drag the main icon out to the desktop, then use the "leave Out" option. I also downloaded some AmigaOS4.1-style icons and replaced the one for the AROS main drive icon:

I then launched OWB and, like other versions, it took a few minutes the first time to initialize fonts (this didn’t happen afterwards, usually, startup is VERY fast).

I tried a variety of pages. Facebook, Gmail and twitter was working just fine. I noticed 8 connection lights in the lower right that would fill and empty several times. I’m wondering if the browser is limited to just 8 simultaneous connections like some old Amiga browsers (like IBrowse I think). Browsing speed was good but there seemed to be some pages where many things queued up to download, so overall, browsing wasn’t quite native Host pc speed but still very good.

I tried YouTube next to see how video played back:

Playback worked well. There was a tiny stuttering at the start but it got smooth quickly. I tried as well, as I’d heard that HTML5 was coming to Twitch but it just told me that I needed a plugin from Adobe. Not going to happen on Amiga systems right now.

I then tried one of the HTML5 compliance test pages. It did well at a 362 out of 555 point system:

I also tried some pages that had the type of “zoom in picture overlay” (you know, click a thumnail and the image zooms to the center of the screen and enlarges, dimming the rest of the page). I’d had trouble with this with other amiga browsers in the past. The 2015 webkit handled it perfectly.

I also tried a few other Amiga-specific sites and they worked just fine:

Overall, I’m very happy with this update. I hope it proliferates to the other NextGen Amiga systems. I did some other testing with increasingly lower-memory settings in the VMWare Player (all the way down to 512 MB). I wouldn’t try it with less though. As usual, more memory is better.

I plan to install AROS on real hardware soon and give a real review. For now, I’m very impressed.

Netsurf 3.4 for Classic Amigas

Well, one of the very best browsers you can get for the Classic Amigas is NetSurf.

The good developer(s) over at AmiSoft have been slowly updating this great browser and have gotten us to version 3.4. The AGA-only version was released back in March of 2015, and there is a new version that does not require the cumbersome ixemul library file that was released near the end of June 2015.

I decided to test these and see how they compared to the ixemul-dependent 3.2 I’d been using. This is a quick glance test, not comprehensive.

I also noticed that there was a No-TTF version, so this indicates that the browser was using native Fonts.

The first thing I noticed was the RAM usage. Using my WinUAE OS3.9 environment, I saw differences in the RAM usage of each version:

No Browser Loaded 903,195,400 bytes Memory Used:
NetSurf 3.2 (ixemul) 885,319,312 Used: 17,876,088
NetSurf 3.4 (ttf, no ixemul) 892,322,336 Used: 10,873,064
NetSurf 3.4 (nottf, no ixemul) 892,851,760 Used: 10,343,640

The AGA-only version didn’t seem to render anything. It opened a custom screen, full-sized, probably 640×480 resolution and no matter the URL, it ended with the status bar at the bottom left saying CSSBase, so I have left out any testing of that browser. I’m guessing it was either my WinUAE environment or something else. Maybe a later version will work better.

Next step was startup testing. No real numbers here, just that the ixemul version of 3.2 loaded a bit slower than the newer 3.4 no-ixemul and no-ttf versions. It wasn’t tremendous but definitely noticeable.

I did notice that when testing with the mobile version of twitter, when logging in, the 3.2 ixemul version seemed to come back faster.

I did notice that all versions seemed to peg cpu usage at 100% sometimes when processing URLs.

I was happily surprised to follow on link on twitter that opened a page on for a game and it loaded fairly quickly and the animated gif started playing right off, full speed, no slow build up of the animation frames.

Here are some clips of the windows for each version. Click each to get a full-window view:

3.2 Ixemul version (Google main and news pages)

3.4 No Ixemul version (same pages)

3.4 No Ixemul, no TTF version (same pages)

All in all, the ability to use this without ixemul and even ttf libraries if you don’t mind the Topaz fonts everywhere, makes this a great update for the lower-end Amigas that lack RAM and a faster startup.

More amazing Amiga projects

    HDMI output for all Amigas

The creativity of some of the Amiga users astounds me. Let’s take a look at this one. Remember the old A520 composite adapter that you would fit to the RGB 23 pin port and get a composite video output? Here’s a picture:

Well, someone has made a replacement board for the inside that outputs to 720p HDMI. Here’s a video of it in action:

Happily, it appears that this will be a production product. Go to their website –> here <–

Also on that page, you'll see a product called the Decelerator 4030. It's an attempt to make a low-end cpu card for 4000 (and probably 3000) Amigas. Once they learn how to do that, more high-end ones may appear.

Kipper2K and Ian Steadman are both veteran amiga hardware project gurus and have been working together on an expansion card for cd32 owners to add new ports and features. I believe I mentioned this a while ago.

It seems that the keyboard adapter portion is nearly working as of August 1st, 2015, so good news for CD32 owners. One day, hopefully, it will be completed. The CD32 (along with the CDTV) have the least number of expansions compared to other models.

    Wireless joystick adapter for all Amigas

I thought I’d already posted about this but it’s cool, so I’ll post it here. A small, Arduino-based project to use newer wireless joysticks with the Amiga. Video of it in action here:

    Amiga 3000 Zip to SIMM adapter

Years ago, I had an Amifast board for my Amiga 3000 that allowed 16MB SIMMS on the motherboard in place of the ZIP chips.

Someone has gone and made something similar and is selling it on Amibay –> here <–

Amiga users and enthusiasts are amazing!

Interesting new things in Amiga-land

So, some really cool things have been popping up lately over in Amiga-land:

WinUAE version 3.2.0 will be adding some VERY cool new options:

  • Emulation of PCI Bridge devices (DCE G-Rex, DKB Wildfire, Prometheus, and Mediator 1200 and 4000
  • + Emulation of SB128 audio cards
  • + Emulation of 53C815 SCSI controller
  • + Emulation of Realtek 8029 (NE2000) networking cards
  • + Emulation of Voodoo3 video card, including support for Warp3D emulation (as soon as they figure out how to extract Voodoo3 code from MAME)
  • PC BridgeBoards (probably all the way up to 386 at least, maybe the goldengate 486 if we are fortunate
  • Genlock output support
  • Support for the Commodore A2410 (see CyberGraphX4 support image –> here <–
  • There has also been other talk of eventual Video Toaster board support (but probably not this version

    Commodore’s Android phone

    Commodore will be releasing their own Android Phone called the PET with classic beige case coloring. It should have built-in emulators for the retro experience.

    Replacement A1200 cases

    New A1200 cases coming soon, in multiple colors. See this link –> here <–

    Amiga Walker clone (RaspberryPI2)

    Well, it will be a Raspberry PI 2 box with a version of AROS on it, but it looks interesting. I hope they one day have a mini-itx version at least.

    Using a classic Amiga mouse with modern USB systems

    Someone has posted pictures of his project to adapt an Amiga Tank mouse to be used anywhere –> here <–

  • A new “classic”, MorphOS and the next NextGen from A-Eon

    So, I haven’t posted much lately due to being busy but also not seeing much that I wanted to comment upon.

    First off, the MorphOS team has already uploaded a new build (v3.9) less than 2 months after 3.8. I like this type of release schedule! While v3.8 added support for the SAM460 boards, among other things, v3.9 is mostly a bug-fix update. Always free to try, and high quality. There isn’t much not to like with MorphOS!

    A-Eon has announced that the x3500, a lower-cost alternative to the x5000 (but probably still more expensive than anything from ACube) will not hit the market due to the cpu part being very close to price to the one in the x5000. Makes sense. Acube 460cr for the low cost (relatively) nextgen Amiga and the x5000 for the high end, high price-tag group.

    Jens Schoenfeld, numero uno at Individual Computers, has announced a cool project called Amiga Reloaded. This will be custom motherboard using real AGA chips, but not include an onboard CPU. However, it will have an accelerator port for use with his company’s more recent A1231 and newer accelerators. He also said he’d try to get Phase5 accelerators to work too but no promises. Optional flicker fixer, USB host and other modernizing features make it cool.

    So, you buy this motherboard, with accessories, then mount in an a500 case (a1200 case *may* work… no promises there either).

    Now, that is cool! Just the main board is supposed to be under 200 Euros (not counting accessories).