The long awaited announcement on the future development path was made at the Champagne suite in the Novotel, London today May 15th 1998.
Jeff Schindler, the general manager of Amiga Inc. and Jim Collas, the vice president in charge of global products for Gateway 2000, presented a plan for the next two years and beyond which are aimed at returning the Amiga to the forefront of computer technology. The aim of Amiga Inc. is to release a new, open specification hardware platform in about 18 months time. Based on an entirely integrated CPU, ultra fast RAM access and multimedia processor system, the promise is that the new Amiga will be streets ahead of the opposition - according to Jeff Schindler, the new Amiga will be easily five times as fast as current Pentium 2 systems.
The key to the silicon basis of these future Amigas is an emphasis on custom hardware capable of stunning results in multimedia processing. Following an interesting new development in chip design, these processors allow levels of multimedia processing so huge that ten years ago the biggest supercomputers would not be capable of reproducing their effects. What is more, unlike current computer chip, this new system will be programmeable, meaning that when new multimedia standards such as Mpeg4 come in, it will be possible to retro fit the decoding.
The development path of the operating system has taken a significant twist, with the announcement that OS3.5 is to be dropped in favour of a transitional OS4.0 followed by a full blown multimedia OS with high levels of internet integration, OS5.0, due to be released with the new hardware. The core of the OS will be developed in conjuction with an external OS developers, with Java, BeOS, Linux and several embedded Operating Systems undergoing scrutiny. A final announcement on this decision will be taken within 30 days; it had originally been hoped that this would be part of the World of Amiga announcement, but this was not possible at the time.
The transitional OS4.0 will be provided for use on PCI based developer cards to allow developers to start working with the phenomenal hardware planned for the OS5 Amigas. The exact nature of this system is still undergoing changes in policy direction, and it is not certain at this point whether OS4 will be widely available or whether it will be a developers only system.
The emphasis of the Amiga Inc announcement was "digital convergence". The concept behind this is that the future Amiga OS / hardware will be designed to work across a range of systems. They are planning the core technology for a range of consumer electronics hardware including cheap lap tops for students, easy internet access, advanced set top boxes including Internet access, games consoles with world beating (hundreds of millions of pixels per second) 3D graphics and DVD, sub $500 home computer systems, and high end graphics workstations with SGI specs at much lower prices. In an illustration of the power of this system, the ability to stream 4 seperate channels of high definition TV was mentioned.
For more in-depth analysis of the impact these announcements will make, plus a
couple of articles that fortuitously happen to explain some of the core aspects
of this decision, keep an eye out fot the July issue of CU AMIGA MAGAZINE!