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November 21, 1995

AMIGA TECHNOLOGIES PLANS MIGRATION TO THE POWERPC

By CBR Staff Writer

Meantime the world should see the first PowerPC-based Amiga by the beginning of 1997, according to Petro Tyschtschenko, president of Amiga Technologies GmbH. Although best known for games-playing because of its provenance, the Amiga A4000 computer is actually a high-quality graphics workstation capable of far more than playing games in 24-bit colour. Cleveland Constabulary in the UK, for example, has used the Amiga to develop a low-cost multimedia information network for its 1,500 of its officers. But whether the first of the new generation machines, dubbed Power Amigas, will be straight clones of the PowerPC standard – the PowerPC Platform – is still an open question, as the Escom subsidiary debates the best way to maintain backwards compatibility with applications. The company is also in discussion with Motorola Inc on the practicalities of building a variant of the PowerPC 604 processor that also includes a 68000 core on board. This would ease Amiga’s transition to the new RISC architecture. Whether such a hybrid chip can or will be built in time to satisfy Amiga Technologies’ tight deadlines remains to be seen, so the company is also pursuing the software emulation path. The Escom AG subsidiary acknowledged that Amiga is talking to Apple about using its 68000 emulation technology, but said that it is also talking to alternative emulator software providers. Running existing Amiga applications on a plain PowerPC Platform will be tough – the Amiga contains a number of proprietary support chips the software expect to be present. In the first instance, therefore, it seems likely that the Power Amigas will be a superset containing these extra chips. The first models will also have to incorporate Amiga’s proprietary bus so existing peripherals can be used. However Amiga said that the intention is to wean application developers away from accessing the hardware directly so that newer applications will be hardware-independent. Tyschtschenko says his company intends to licence the Amiga DOS version 4.1 actively to other computer companies; the eventual aim is to have a shrink-wrapped version available in the shops for PowerPC Platform users to buy. He is clear that the Amiga’s strength is in its software – though asked whether in a few years time Amiga Technologies will just be a software house, he answers frankly I don’t know, I don’t have a crystal ball.

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