Next CPU(s) decided

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The all important decision on which CPU will be the future CPU for the Amiga has been made. After a series of high level talks with Motorola, Amiga Inc. have decided that they will support a dual processing solution utilising the PowerPC chip and a 680x0 chip for backwards compatibility.

By following the multiprocessing path phase5 use in their PowerPC boards, Amiga Inc. have ensured that there will be no delays in getting next generation systems. Had they chosen a pure PPC solution or one based on any other CPU, the development times for a new native code version of the OS would have held back developments of any new systems for around 18 months. This announcement not only gives the go - ahead to hardware manufacturers such as Index Information and DCE concerned about investing in hardware that AInc., could conceivably make obsolete before launch, but also to hundreds of software developers unsure which way to turn and thousands of users tempted to by a PPC card but dubious about the previously unofficial nature of the product.

There are bound to be numerous questions raised by this announcement, not to mention the inevitable arguments any decision would be likely to cause. We will endevour to keep you up to date on this important development, and will be covering all the pros and cons in a major feature soon.

The following letter from Amiga hardware Supremo Joe Torre answers many of the questions rasied by this announcement. Initially slated for a February first release, we reprint it here with the permission of Joe Torre several days early as somehow a copy of this letter has been leaked to several news groups Rather than let this information trickle out in such a dubious fashion, it seemed better to let you all have it directly, so here it is.

Which CPU will be the processor in future Amigas?

01-18-98 by Joe Torre

One mans 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 OSs 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 un-compatible 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 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 feed back 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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