The readers speak out!

Doubts Deferred

(An excerpt from a letter to the editorial staff)

...As far as I'm concerned, the Amiga will survive this tumultuous journey it's going through. And like you said, it's mainly the users and programmers that have made the Amiga such a viable system to be reckoned with, even though the WinTel people doubted that such a system would ever be noticed again.

So, I wish you the best of wishes in getting this monthly online magazine on the right track. And let all those who think the Amiga is a dead platform look behind their shoulders and feel the heat of the phoenix rising from the ashes.

JI/\/\ (Oscar [Jimmy] Diaz)

Well said, Jim, well said. It's particularly nice to hear your simple, yet determined, declaration of faith for the Amiga. With so many people bickering, yelling, ranting, and raving about what's going on, how far we've fallen, and how there's no chance of recovery, it's refreshing to hear someone express something so central to the fundamental beliefs we've held so true for so long. You know what? I think you are right. I think the Amiga, and its users, will pull through. We've come too far for too long to simply stop here; what we've got is simply too good to just die. I'm glad to see people with your point of view, and I'm proud to represent...and serve...such dedicated individuals. What you say, and how you say it, embodies the belief, and I think there are a lot of others out there who share it. Let's get this show on the road; it's high time to hit the big time.

Michael Webb
Publisher and Editor-in-Chief

Go For the POWER

I disagree that the low end amiga market should be a 030/50; leave that to the set-top box, and have the 060 in the next generation 1200 and RISC in the high end machines. If you can get a P100 for $1500.00, I don't see why you couldn't get a 64bit 1200 with a 060/50 for $1500.00.

Since the AGA chipset supports 8-bit color, and that is the standard for PC software, PC software could be ported over to the Amiga without any CPU limitations and run in 8-bit color.

I already have a 1200 with a 030/40. I think a 030/50 would be a waste of time getting since it's only 4 mips faster; but on the other hand a 060/50 at over 20 mips faster would be something worth getting.

The Amiga has room to grow; it just needs a Faster CPU to be competitive with the computer systems being sold today. The Amiga was willing and able to prove that four years ago. But Motorola decided that RISC was more important than CISC, held back the 060, and allowed Intel to Flood the market with pentiums which aren't that much better than an 060 which is 64/64bit, whereas a Pentium is 32/64bit.

Robin L Clifford

Motorola wasn't the only one thinking RISC was the way to go. You get technical and the 586 chip is a RISC chip with some glue to make it compatible with the lower x86 machines. It takes a 10% performance hit in the bargain. Motorola actually did a good job with the coldfire. It is very compatible with the 68000 series as much as a RISC chip can be, anyway. That was one of the design criteria.

The statement regarding graphics: the porting is not a straight port be any stretch of the imagination. To do it properly calls for an almost complete rewrite of the graphics routines. A kludgy, ugly-looking port can and has been done, but why bother? If you do that the texture-map-based games that are the current trend will make you look bad to a lot of eyes.

Graphics is what you see; if performance/efficiency was the deciding factor in things, the Amiga would be much more popular. Games are pushing the hardware envolope because that is what people are buying. Doom popularity was due to texture. We had that a long time ago. Most people don't care what is under the hood, as long as it works and look neat.

Greg Noggle
Telecommunications Editor and Hardware Guru

Well, Robin, an 060 low-end machine is all well and good. Believe me, I'd buy it in a heartbeat. I've seen what the 68060 Amiga 1200 can do up close. But let's look back. The Commodore 64 was overwhelmingly popular, and all because its price quickly dropped to around $300-$400. The 060 itself is around that price. However could you expect to get close to a "low-end price" by using a "high-end priced" CPU? Remember, this is supposed to be the introductory, in everyones home for Christmas model Amiga to be upgraded in the future once they are hooked on it's features. The main thing I feel is to get people in on a low price, well-featured machine to build the capital needed to make the Amigas we dream about.

As far as porting PC software over to the Amiga. See the article on the Myst Preview hoax. Seems it is sinfully easy to port games like that to the Amiga. The companies need incentive to do so, both by the owners of Amiga and its user base.

Motorola chips had consistently outperformed their Intel counterparts for reasons just like the one you cited. Of course, Motorola got saddled with Commodore and Apple using their CPUs. Since Apple decided no longer to use the CISC processors and Commodore was fading fast, it is understandable that Motorola would cease development of the line. A shame really.

Anthony Becker, Executive Editor

Without echoing what Greg and Tone said on the issue, I'll try to address some of the points you bring up.

I can see you are looking for a lot of power out of the next generation of Amigas. Naturally, we all are, but I'm trying to take a more moderate viewpoint on the subject. I, like you, am using a 40MHz 68030 right now, and taken in perspective, it seems like it packs a very reasonable level of processing power. I tend to agree that a 50MHz 68030 would be a good processor for a new low-end machine. You have to look at what you're trying to do with a machine; I run some heavy-duty programs like Final Writer, Scenery Animator, and IBrowse, and I find that my ancient ECS chips are generally more of a limitation on performance than the '030. And keep in mind that your '030 1200 is a LOT faster than the standard 1200, which is the current low-end model. If you are making Amigas, you don't want to alienate your low-end users. You pin the price of the next "low-end" Amiga at $1500, which, IMHO, is WAY too high for a low-end system. That's more mid-range.

But my biggest objection would have to be over the idea of a 68060 in the low-end machine, and a PPC in the top-of-the-line model. I believe that splitting the range amongst different processor families would be just about the worst thing they could do; if you're going to go PowerPC, go COMPLETELY PowerPC. I believe the next Amigas should continue to use the 680x0 family of processors; porting code takes time, and considering that it's been 4 YEARS(!) since any advance took place, I think they should get new/improved Amigas out ASAP to at least revitalize the market. Therefore a line based on the 68030, 68040, and 68060 could represent some truly viable options for current Amiga users, and people from other platforms as well. Don't forget a LOT of us are still using 68000's and 68020's. Plus, as you say, a 68060 does a nice job of stacking up to the pentium, which is all the rage at this moment. A 66MHz '060 could probably keep up easily enough with a 120-150MHz Pentium, especially considering the speed and efficiency of the Amiga's OS compared to "some other ones," and if they were desperate for producing a mega-powerful Amiga, they could either go for a multi-processor system, or allow people to implement a PPC/Alpha coprocessor.

The AGA chipset could probably keep up with or surpass most PC gfx systems in low-res 8-bit color, but if you went to hi-res (as a number of PC games are these days), AGA starts to suffer from the limitations of planar graphics. The next Amigas are going to need chunky pixel screenmodes to regain the edge in graphics, and that means one of 2 things: AAA chipset or gfx board. (this, of course, is another story entirely that I'm not going to get into now). Greg's points about porting are true, but in addition, keep in mind the AGE of AGA.

I see where you're coming from in general, however; it's clear that the Amiga needs a jump in processing/graphics power from the way it is now. Just try to keep your expectations reasonable.

Michael Webb
Publisher and Editor-in-Chief

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