Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 24th May 2017 23:03 UTC
Amiga & AROS

Ars reviews the Amiga X5000, and concludes:

The X5000 is different. It feels like an exotic car: expensive, beautifully engineered, and unique. If you bought one, you'd be one of a proud few, a collector and enthusiast. It practically begs for you to dig in and tinker with the internals - the system comes with an SDK, a C compiler, Python, and a huge amount of documentation for things like MUI, the innovative GUI library. On top of that, there is the mysterious XMOS chip, crying out for someone to create software that leverages its strengths. It feels like a developer’s machine.

Should you buy one? That depends very much on what your needs are. If you are simply after the best price-to-performance ratio for a desktop computer, this is not the machine for you. But if you are interested in something very different, something that is pleasant and fun to use, and yet can still be used for modern desktop workloads, then the X5000 is worth a look. I have had this review unit on my desktop for over a month now, and frankly I don’t want to give it back.

I reviewed the sam440ep with AmigaOS 4 way back in 2009, and came to a relatively similar conclusion - these machines are a ton of fun, but they're just prohibitively expensive, meaning only existing AmigaOS users will really get their hands on these. They really, really need a more accessible machine or board - a few hundred Euros, tops.

Order by: Score:
Looks good!
by uridium on Thu 25th May 2017 00:10 UTC
uridium
Member since:
2009-08-20

Being a Sam460ex owner, I can understand the appeal of this new powerful system.

There's something about the Amiga's that is just fun to use and program on. Someone once described it as "muse" but I disagree. For me, writing software on it that I port to other systems even for work is just really pleasurable.

I think someone at Amiga/AEON/ACube (I forget which) said "Making computing fun again" as a slogan. I agree. It's fun for me.

Reply Score: 5

Comment by daedalus
by daedalus on Thu 25th May 2017 09:22 UTC
daedalus
Member since:
2011-01-14

They're working on the Tabor board, which is supposedly going to be available for €400 and so should be far more accessible. How long before that's available is anyone's guess, but with the OS currently in testing on it, maybe you could hope for some time in the next year...

Reply Score: 4

more exessible machine?
by codifies on Thu 25th May 2017 09:25 UTC
codifies
Member since:
2014-02-14

"They really, really need a more accessible machine or board - a few hundred Euros, tops."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimig

and there are a whole bunch of off springs, you can get a cheap hobby fpga board and roll your own peripherals as many have done before...

Edited 2017-05-25 09:25 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: more exessible machine?
by leech on Thu 25th May 2017 20:18 UTC in reply to "more exessible machine?"
leech Member since:
2006-01-10

This counts as 'classic' Amiga though. The point was that any of the AmigaOS4 ones are expensive. I have a MiST for example, and it'll do an AGA, like a stock A1200 speed, max.

Next to my collection of classic hardware, it's just not as 'fun' either.

I've come close several times in ordering an X5000, but I always tend to talk myself out of it. Usually by realizing I don't currently have room to have it set up!

Reply Score: 2

finding a niche
by yerverluvinunclebert on Thu 25th May 2017 09:50 UTC
yerverluvinunclebert
Member since:
2014-05-03

For me the system seems attractive and potentially usable but still I ask myself, as a long-time Windows user, "what's the point?".

I think it needs to fill more than just the Amiga-user niche to be attractive and thence being bought in sufficient numbers in order to be affordable.

That interesting RTOS chip and the possibility of using a new Amiga system to port apps to other platforms might be that usability niche - but the pool of apps that need to be ported must be shrinking... Unless the IDE and development environment is so beautiful as to make it 'perfect' for a certain type of app development /deployment, it still feels like it faces an upward struggle to be taken seriously by anyone other than diehard Amiga users.

Assuming development of the Power PC chip has a safe future, (it seems to have one in the hands of IBM) then the technology it is built upon won't make the upgraded Amiga obsolete again in the near future.

A strange system but I like it though. I just wouldn't buy it as I can't see myself using it.

Edited 2017-05-25 10:06 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Miss Amiga
by SaschaW on Thu 25th May 2017 13:22 UTC
SaschaW
Member since:
2007-07-19

I am on Mac mostly these days, but at heart I will always be an Amigan :-) There is always a lot of interesting projects around the Amiga, some of which just die at some point, and others are actually finished. Releasing the 5000 is a promise kept, and I hope they will sell as many units as possible. For me it's a little too pricey, but I can understand that for some it's worth every penny!

Reply Score: 1

What made Amiga great
by JLF65 on Thu 25th May 2017 14:19 UTC
JLF65
Member since:
2005-07-06

What made the Amiga great wasn't just the chipset and OS, it was the fact that Commodore published several thick manuals that explained exactly how the OS was used, and a manual that documented what every bit of hardware did to the register level. So you could fully exploit the OS, or you could fully exploit the hardware - whatever your preference was. Apps could get the most out of the OS while remaining within the limits, while games/hobbyists could get the utmost out of games and demos. It was also a time when you could still do such things as a one man "team". Looked at a modern graphics chip manual (assuming you can even find one)? Or a modern CPU manual? Or the chipset? One person could work on a program for the Amiga that did something... maybe something wonderful.

You can still do something wonderful today on a modern PC, but it's not going to be about banging on the hardware, or exploiting the OS to the fullest. It'll be about clever use of OpenGL and OpenAL (or the Windows equivalent) combined with a good idea. It just doesn't seem as fun as back on the Amiga, and that's what keeps people talking about the Amiga.

Reply Score: 5

Not an Amiga
by theosib on Thu 25th May 2017 15:23 UTC
theosib
Member since:
2006-03-02

This computer may have the Amiga name and vaguely look like an Amiga and maybe share a few design concepts and maybe have some similarities in UI look and feel.

But the CPU and system chipset are a completely different architecture, the OS code base is completely different, and it doesn't run classic Amiga apps any better than any other system with an Amiga emulator.

This is just an expensive toy. Nothing wrong with expensive toys. But the Amiga name here is completely vacuous, 100% marketing hype and it seems really disingenuous to me.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Not an Amiga
by M.Onty on Thu 25th May 2017 15:55 UTC in reply to "Not an Amiga"
M.Onty Member since:
2009-10-23

This computer may have the Amiga name and vaguely look like an Amiga and maybe share a few design concepts and maybe have some similarities in UI look and feel.

But the CPU and system chipset are a completely different architecture, the OS code base is completely different, and it doesn't run classic Amiga apps any better than any other system with an Amiga emulator.

"Step into the same river, yet different waters flow."

Or something like that. Didimus? Have a look at your grandfather's axe, anyway.

This is just an expensive toy. Nothing wrong with expensive toys. But the Amiga name here is completely vacuous, 100% marketing hype and it seems really disingenuous to me.

How much money do you think they're going to make from a quixotic enterprise like this, years in the making? The care that has gone into it, the slightly odd but endearing interest in a lost platform. Sees pretty damn ingenuous to me.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Not an Amiga
by Megol on Thu 25th May 2017 16:22 UTC in reply to "Not an Amiga"
Megol Member since:
2011-04-11

This computer may have the Amiga name and vaguely look like an Amiga and maybe share a few design concepts and maybe have some similarities in UI look and feel.


Running a PPC version of the original system with integrated RTG (Retargetable Graphics) support - something the classic machine can also use with a graphics card. It also supports the defacto-standard sound playback system AHI, something that classic machines can use with or without soundcards.

The UI is based on the same code as the original just updated.


But the CPU and system chipset are a completely different architecture, the OS code base is completely different, and it doesn't run classic Amiga apps any better than any other system with an Amiga emulator.


They probably run them worse. But the OS is derived from AmigaOS and the hardware type is the one the community choose after Commodore vanished - PPC based.

But even so if Commodore had survived we'd have Amiga computers running on HP PA-RISC using more or less standard hardware. Because that was were they planned to go.


This is just an expensive toy. Nothing wrong with expensive toys. But the Amiga name here is completely vacuous, 100% marketing hype and it seems really disingenuous to me.


Nope. You are just wrong.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Not an Amiga
by Drumhellar on Thu 25th May 2017 18:53 UTC in reply to "RE: Not an Amiga"
Drumhellar Member since:
2005-07-12

They probably run them worse. But the OS is derived from AmigaOS and the hardware type is the one the community choose after Commodore vanished - PPC based.


It probably runs them more or less the same, since it uses UAE as the emulator core for 68k apps. It just runs them far more seamlessly than on other platforms.

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: Not an Amiga
by daedalus on Fri 26th May 2017 07:43 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Not an Amiga"
daedalus Member since:
2011-01-14

Well, UAE is only used for software that requires the original hardware, i.e. most old games. Software that only used the OS runs with just CPU emulation and uses the native OS4 APIs instead, meaning in many cases it runs better than the original thanks to the improvements in the OS. Think Rosetta on OS X rather than Parallels.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Not an Amiga
by Megol on Fri 26th May 2017 09:37 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Not an Amiga"
Megol Member since:
2011-04-11


It probably runs them more or less the same, since it uses UAE as the emulator core for 68k apps. It just runs them far more seamlessly than on other platforms.


Unless they have changed their system then no, the 68k emulator is homegrown.

If they have changed their system then I expect them to comply with the GPL and release relevant source-code which (being a monolithic kernel) would be most of the OS code.

But even running UAE (and there are a version with some support for making it semi-seamless) they have worse performance than even a cheap PC.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Not an Amiga
by Drumhellar on Sat 27th May 2017 23:05 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Not an Amiga"
Drumhellar Member since:
2005-07-12

Eh. You're right. I misread it.

The UAE implementation they use is mainly for running games that need lower-level access to the hardware. For ordinary AmigaOS apps, their own custom emulator is used.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Not an Amiga
by Earl C Pottinger on Fri 26th May 2017 15:52 UTC in reply to "RE: Not an Amiga"
Earl C Pottinger Member since:
2008-07-12

I have to agree with you. The 68000 series topped out at the 68060 at 75 MHz.

Now I found 68xxx code to be far more efficient than 86x code (often 3 to 4 times faster) but with the Intel/AMD chip now measuring in the GHz the old 68xxx chips are left in the dust.

And if they used the same methods that let the Intel/AMD chips work today they probably would not be any faster than them.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Not an Amiga
by JLF65 on Fri 26th May 2017 18:55 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Not an Amiga"
JLF65 Member since:
2005-07-06

It's not just the clock rate - they've poured billions into making the internals better at decoding instructions so that those old clunky x86 CISC operations now run at better cycles-per-instruction that most RISC operations. When you can retire from four to a dozen operations per cycle, what do you need RISC for? Crazy... and I still hate the x86 ISA. Too bad they can't apply all that know-how to the 680x0 ISA. People would probably go back to writing in assembly again. ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Not an Amiga
by Megol on Fri 26th May 2017 19:55 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Not an Amiga"
Megol Member since:
2011-04-11

It's not just the clock rate - they've poured billions into making the internals better at decoding instructions so that those old clunky x86 CISC operations now run at better cycles-per-instruction that most RISC operations. When you can retire from four to a dozen operations per cycle, what do you need RISC for? Crazy... and I still hate the x86 ISA. Too bad they can't apply all that know-how to the 680x0 ISA. People would probably go back to writing in assembly again. ;)


There are several computer/processor architects that have worked on x86 processor designs saying that the 68k is harder to make fast in hardware. None of those are x86 fanatics in any way, one of them essentially said that x86 wasn't that bad (that some claim). :-)


While I don't understand exactly why they think this it likely is dependent on where the complications are located in the architecture and whether adding extra hardware makes the complications manageable without slowing down the pipeline in general.

Examples of known (to me) bottlenecks:
. decoding of '020 extended address modes
.. worst case for one instruction is a MOVE with indirection of both source and destination operands
.. punting to microcode is likely to be too expensive

. the flags (condition codes) setting rules
.. requires split renaming of flags for best performance
.. potentially more complex than x86

. MOVE setting flags
.. harder to do move elimination early
.. can be partially handled with instruction fusing (combining a MOVE with the following dependent instruction)

These are from the top of my head - have (or had) a list with many more from when wanting to make a super-scalar 68k clone.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Not an Amiga
by JLF65 on Fri 26th May 2017 22:15 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Not an Amiga"
JLF65 Member since:
2005-07-06

Well, the Apollo accelerator folks seem to be capable of doing much of that. They've even managed to fuse certain instruction sequences. Decoding the extended addressing modes really isn't a big deal - you just need more instruction prefetch... which everyone one does as much of as possible these days. It's certainly no worse than all the blasted prefix bytes you have to fetch to decode x86 instructions. In fact, with AMD64, there's more prefixes than ever in that family. For every issue you name making the 68k harder, there's at least one making x86 harder. Intel and AMD simply put more money into solving those problems. Motorola just punted and threw in with IBM on PowerPC.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Not an Amiga
by Megol on Fri 26th May 2017 19:39 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Not an Amiga"
Megol Member since:
2011-04-11

I have to agree with you. The 68000 series topped out at the 68060 at 75 MHz.


Officially yes, unofficially some '060 can run over 100MHz overclocked.

Continuing, the Apollo core a.k.a the 68080 (not a Motorola chip) runs at over 100MHz as designed and have more performance per clock than the 68060.


Now I found 68xxx code to be far more efficient than 86x code (often 3 to 4 times faster) but with the Intel/AMD chip now measuring in the GHz the old 68xxx chips are left in the dust.


The performance difference isn't that large with the same effort spent on both 68k and x86 with a few exceptions.


And if they used the same methods that let the Intel/AMD chips work today they probably would not be any faster than them.


Probably not given the resources Intel spends on processor design and (semiconductor) process design. The AIM alliance (Apple, IBM and Motorola) failed to make the PPC competitive with x86 and the PPC were easier to run fast.

Reply Score: 2

oh no... another stupid anti-PPC argument.
by sergio on Fri 26th May 2017 20:59 UTC in reply to "Not an Amiga"
sergio Member since:
2005-07-06

My Macbook has a completely different chipset and architecture than my PowerMac G3 and it's a Mac nevertheless.

The Amiga world moved to PPC more than 20 years ago, after 1995 almost every Amiga had some kind of PPC expansion card and all the advancements in the platform were PPC related.

Saying that X5000 is not an Amiga because it uses a PPC arch is not knowing the Amiga world. PPC is 100% linked to Amiga history.

Reply Score: 3

karunko Member since:
2008-10-28

Saying that X5000 is not an Amiga because it uses a PPC arch is not knowing the Amiga world. PPC is 100% linked to Amiga history.


Only recent, mostly post mortem one! ;-)

Incidentally, you should really refrain from calling an argument you don't agree with "stupid". If you don't, what should I call ignoring facts and rewriting history?

Fact #1: the "move to PPC 20 years ago" translates to 1997 and at that point the AMIGA was already dead. Okay, maybe still warm, but dead nonetheless.

Fact #2: The Deathbed Vigil documentary that you certainly know has the date "April 27, 1994" at the very beginning (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7lsnXqLSx0). I assume that Dave Haynie knows a thing or two about the AMIGA?


RT.

Edited 2017-05-27 19:09 UTC

Reply Score: 2

sergio Member since:
2005-07-06

I think you are confusing Amiga with Commodore.

Amiga as a platform survived Commodore and, in Europe, it was a very active platform with a huge community of users and sw/hw developers during all the 90s and early 2000s.

All the advancements produced during that long post-Commodore era were PPC related. Most PPC hardware and expansion boards were produced in Europe (mostly Germany) and were super popular between Amiga users.

That's why PPC is strongly related to Amiga history and to the Amiga platform. Like it or not, AOS4 and X5000 are the result of that long PPC heritage.

Reply Score: 2

The problem with review units
by karunko on Thu 25th May 2017 19:43 UTC
karunko
Member since:
2008-10-28

I have had this review unit on my desktop for over a month now, and frankly I don’t want to give it back.

Bingo! I always wonder how many journalists would be as impressed with the item being reviewed if they had to pay for it. I mean, how could you even figure if you're getting good value for money when the price is zero?

Reality check: almost 2 friggin' thousand dollars for that machine?!? For that kind of money you could get a kick-ass PC, probably a 4K display too, and run WinUAE (which you have to do anyway) to have the same, nay, better product: an AMIGA *and* a PC that you could actually use to get things done.

Yes, I know. It wouldn't be an AMIGA but, as someone else also noted, the X5000 isn't an AMIGA either -- even if it feels like "an exotic car" -- because the real AMIGA never ran on PowerPC, had custom chips to do its magic and, since it didn't have memory protection, you could break a lot of rules to pull all sort of nifty tricks if you had the know how.

The sad truth is that the AMIGA, the real one, is long dead. It was good (really good) while it lasted but it's time to let it rest and, at least in my opinion, to steer clear of these lame attempts at making money from people stricken with nostalgia -- but I'm sure that calling them "collectors and enthusiasts" is enough to make it okay and not a rip-off.


RT.

Reply Score: 4

grandmasterphp Member since:
2017-05-15

Honestly, £2000 isn't that bad for anything Amiga.

If you want a vintage Amiga in good working condition with some sensible upgrades (these machines do not work properly with newer monitors and televisions) and put in an accelerator card you will be putting down at least 300-400 quid.

Also as mentioned in an earlier post on this topic. They will usually require cleaning and retro brighting.

Even if you get an old A500 there are mods that you must do to the machine if you want it to work properly i.e. the battery leaks in the machine and must be replaced.

My 2 vintage amigas with sensible upgrades have cost me about £700. Retro computers is a hobby.

Edited 2017-05-26 17:34 UTC

Reply Score: 1

karunko Member since:
2008-10-28

Honestly, £2000 isn't that bad for anything Amiga.

Unless you dropped one zero too much, I wonder if we're even living in the same universe! ;-)

Okay, seriously. I agree with most of the things you wrote about maintaining, updating, etc. but my point was that the X5000 is "new" and you would be paying through your nose for a 10+ years old CPU (https://www.extremetech.com/extreme/57238-freescale-unveils-dualcore...), a middle of the road GPU, a 250 GB SSD, some RAM and an XMOS 16-core programmable 32-bit 500 MHz coprocessor that even the modern incarnation of AmigaOS can't use, so what's the point?

Retro computers is a hobby.

True, but there's nothing "retro" about the X5000, just largely obsolete components.


RT.

Reply Score: 2

grandmasterphp Member since:
2017-05-15

It is an enthusiast machine, and I expect the cost of the machine is covering the R&D costs. I think it is a bit expensive but a decent accelerator for a classic amiga can be from £100-700 (Blizzard accelerators are silly money).

If you want more or the less the same without the cost you can get an iMac g4 or similar and pay for Morph OS which isn't that expensive and some people say it is better. This guy has a good run down of MorphOS and Aros.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06m8pF_8JpM

Reply Score: 1

RE: The problem with review units
by defdog99 on Sat 27th May 2017 17:30 UTC in reply to "The problem with review units"
defdog99 Member since:
2006-09-06

Amiga people paid $1100 for an Amiga 500 and monitor 29 yeas ago. So $2000 is not that crazy, relatively.

Reply Score: 1

karunko Member since:
2008-10-28

Amiga people paid $1100 for an Amiga 500 and monitor 29 yeas ago. So $2000 is not that crazy, relatively.

Having bought an AMIGA 2000 with 2 floppy drives, 1.5 MB of RAM, an RGB monitor and a dot matrix printer in November 1987 (yes, that's nineteen-eighty-seven) for an obscene amount of money which I had to save for nearly two years to make, I agree BUT (and it's a big one) back a the time nothing else would come close -- or if if did, it was even more expensive.


RT.

Reply Score: 2

Mac Mini G4
by grandmasterphp on Fri 26th May 2017 01:13 UTC
grandmasterphp
Member since:
2017-05-15

Really if you want to get a decent amiga experience it is MorphOS on a old G4 mac mini. MorphOS is a pretty decent Amiga Clone. Or simply pay for Amiga Forever where you can run every version of the OS on your PC.

MorphOS is probably better these days than Amiga OS 4.1, most software will run on either system.

For me having original hardware is more interesting. I have both an A600 and an A1200. Both are accelerated to about 25mhz. My A1200 has OS 3.9, DVI (720p) graphics and, CF card and a 68030 accelerator with 128mb of ram. Buying good working hardware, cleaning it (they are filthy) and upgrading it costs a lot of time and money (price of a small second hand car).

It's really about pushing what these old machines can do. I can browse the web (slowly), play MP3s, play amiga games and demos and use IRC and email fine. My A1200 can even play doom (quite badly).

Edited 2017-05-26 01:15 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Comment by graffias79
by graffias79 on Fri 26th May 2017 14:08 UTC
graffias79
Member since:
2013-04-11

The system has a proprietary 68k emulation in place called "Petunia". You can blacklist programs from using Petunia in JIT mode if they cause problems. This is for programs that do not require the use of custom chips. Apps for workbench, word processors, paint programs (that are RTG compliant!) etc.

For games and software that requires custom chip or hardware access there is UAE.

Reply Score: 1

Nothing wrong with 68000...
by yerverluvinunclebert on Sat 27th May 2017 20:17 UTC
yerverluvinunclebert
Member since:
2014-05-03

68000/PPC as long as it works.
To this day I still work with 68000 processors in the wild. They are good working systems.

Code built on VMS running on Vax 6000 cross-compiling Ada to 68000 rigs in real avionic hardware. The Vax being emulated on an 8 core Windows 2003 64 system. Each system is more or less obsolete with regard to the latest s/w & h/w. Each does its job, each is essential in its own right and is the right tool.

Reply Score: 1