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Apollo Team Announces the (Amiga) Vampire V4 (apollo-accelerators.com)
59 points by erickhill 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 19 comments

To anyone unfamiliar with previous releases of the Vampire, they're the fastest Motorola 68K compatible accelerators for the classic Amiga (there were some PowerPC-based accelerators for the classic Amiga, not sure how they stack up against the Vampire in terms of performance).

The main news here is the standalone Vampire board (previous versions of the Vampire would need a classic Amiga to plug into, the older versions sat on top of the existing CPU, intercepting the power and data intended for the existing CPU, the name 'Vampire' is a play on this parasitic approach).

I have wanted to get and setup an Amiga to play some old games again on real hardware but I can't bring myself to pay that much money.

Looking on eBay it seems you can get an A500 for about £100. If you were looking for a machine on the cheap you could stick with the 0.5MB expansion that most of them have, or perhaps go for a cheap accelerator. The cheapest I know of is the TerribleFire range, which are all open-source (self-assembly required unless you can find someone to build one for you). The TF530 would be a decent upgrade, not would you have an 030 for playing some of the more demanding OCS games you'd also be able to store your games on CompactFlash storage:


Talking of the TerribleFire, the developer posts video blogs of their development on YouTube, it's fun to follow along if you're into retro hardware. His latest board is a CD32 expansion he designed the PCB for in a weekend!


For the highest compatibility and lowest $, a 500 running 1.3 is really the best bet. If you really get into it, there are harddrive options (including somewhat modern ones) that make life a lot easier. But it doesn't have to be expensive.

I was introduced to the Amiga 2000 back in high school. That's where I have always started my search but the 500 might not be a bad re-introduction.

Always nice to see new hardware development for the Amiga, but I really do wonder what everybody is running on hardware that powerful.

Personally I don't have any interest in the newer OS's and software and I have my A1200 running 3.1 with a Blizzard 1230 IV accelerator, it handles the classics flawlessly and I've got enough RAM for WHDload now.

There are quite a few videos on YouTube showing people doing different things with Vampire accelerators, just search for "Vampire Amiga". So far the most technically impressive is probably the video player (technically impressive considering the hardware it's running on). Also, whilst the A1200 had a decent range of accelerators released for it, it wasn't the same for the A500 and A600.

My personal favourite demo is this Cannnonball video. Cannonball is basically an open-source engine for Outrun. Aside from needing to create an Amiga version of the soundtrack, the game runs fairly smoothly without modifications:


For comparison, this is the original Amiga port:


The best Outrun-style games for the Amiga before now was probably the Lotus series:


SYSINFO, that is the sole purpose of Amiga hardware accelerators these days.

68080? had to look that up: http://www.apollo-core.com/

Yeah, they've got their own 68k-compatible CPU design.

GraphQL adoption has been really held back by the lack of Amiga support, so this is the final... wait.

Find it amazing that my thirty-year old A2000 is still being developed for, both software and hardware. Here's hoping AmigaOS 3.1 developers somehow get Firefox (or another HTML5 browser) ported once these FPGA accelerators become more common. Would love to watch Netflix with my son from my childhood Amiga.

> Here's hoping AmigaOS 3.1 developers somehow get Firefox (or another HTML5 browser) ported once these FPGA accelerators become more common.

I think the honest problem is 3.1 is locked down, really. It's not ever been open sourced, just reverse engineered (see AROS, MorphOS, AmigaOS 4.1). I've not heard of a single instance where the 3.9 or 4.1 users feel they have a viable, modern system they can realistically use. 4.1 works on PPC hardware for goodness sake. How old is that? Just being real. Much of this has to do with software support (lack thereof) as well as driver support.

Hang on to that 2000. And enjoy it. But I wouldn't try and push it into "modern" daily driver use.

Ideally I think the OS(es) in dev today would all work together with the hardware teams and go the route Linux took. Let Hyperion et al continue to package up software and sell it commercially (like RedHat). But open source the Amiga OS and let the community run with it. Make it a "real" and a viable alternative.

It's just a complete and utter mess in the meantime. And getting all of the current parties to talk and work with each other...

3.9 and 4.1 are actually based on the real Amiga sources AFAIK.

I heard there was some lawsuit between companies over AmigaOS. The AROS is based on AmigaOS 3.1 API calls and some version of AmigaOS 3.x or 4.x used source code from AROS etc. I am not 100% certain of that, the websites that reported it are down.

The guy who wrote the AmigaOS 3.x API calls got upset that someone scanned his book into a PDF file and pirated it. So he didn't make an AmigaOS 4.x API calls and without knowing them it is hard to make Amiga 4.x apps.

AROS made their own Kickstart ROM for Classic Amigas to run AROS on Classic Amigas. Since AROS supports networking it is possible to rig up some sort of Internet connection and port a web browser to it.

Amiga Forever is worth it for the ROM images and Kickstart disks to run Workbench and other things.

In regards to the author who was upset his book was scanned; I believe you're referring to Babel and his "The Amiga Guru Book".

Currently on my bookshelf.

I think a few [[citation needed]] comments are required in there. :-)

There are, or were, 4 forks of AmigaOS around. From memory, here is the breakdown…

* AmigaOS 3.5-3.9. By Haage & Partners. Proprietary. Runs on original 680x0 hardware. Based off the original binaries, with many added components and some bug-fixes & updates.

* Amiga OS 4.x. By Hyperion, originally licensed by Amiga Inc. Proprietary. Based on officially-licensed original sources, rewritten for PowerPC. Runs on some recent licensed PowerPC-based Amigas & some PowerPC accelerators for original machines.

* MorphOS. Proprietary. a 3rd-party recreation, sponsored by Genesi, natively for PowerPC, with rumours of an ARM port. No original sources used. API-compatible with AmigaOS 3.1. Runs on unlicensed, non-official more recent PowerPC machines. Rumours of developers not being paid. No development in a while.

* AROS. FOSS. Runs on x86, with ARM, PowerPC and 680x0 ports available.

All are API compatible with Commodore AmigaOS 3.1. AFAIK, all include emulator(s) so they can run original binaries.

Nothing is very compatible with 3.5-3.9 as they were 3rd party extensions.

None of the successors are very compatible with each other.

AmigaOS 4 and AROS are experimenting with multiple-core support.

Personally, I don't see a lot of future for any of them. The original AmigaOS was something of a triumph, but it achieved its small size and good performance because it targetted the 680000 -- yes, it does full pre-emptive multitasking, but there's no inter-process memory protection, no virtual memory, and poor hygiene between OS and apps or between different apps, making it hard to adapt to more modern hardware. AIUI the communication mechanism between the kernel and apps uses shared memory, meaning that even Commodore itself was unable to enhance it to use the MMU of later 68030-based Amigas, because that would have broken backwards-compatibility.

If anyone fixes that, that will make it less Amiga-like and less compatibile with the old OSes.

I have the demo version of MorphOS running on an Apple Mac mini G4. It works fine and it's fairly quick (until the demo version times out after 20min and slows down.) But there's no Wifi or Bluetooth support.

It looks and feels like, well, a fast Amiga 1200 (the only original hardware I own.) In other words, very retro and a bit clunky. The Mac mini is a machine built to run Mac OS X 10.3 or 10.4, glossy modern 21st century OSes with transparency, scaling, versatile networking and filesystem support, and some high-profile commercial apps. MorphOS feels like a 1980s OS with some bells and whistles glued on.

AROS probably has the brightest outlook and I can see a niche for it as a low-resource graphical OS for low-end ARM machines such as the Raspberry Pi. But the capabilities of such machines are improving fast - the RasPi 3 has 4 x 1-GHz cores, a capable GPU (which need restrictively- proprietary drivers), a gig of RAM, Wifi and Bluetooth. AROS runs under Linux -- the native port isn't finished -- supports 1 core and no wireless. It hasn't caught up with the hardware as the hardware evolves to leave it behind, becoming more capable of doing justice to a modern graphical Linux desktop.

You can watch YouTube on your A2000 if you get a Vampire: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-etjB8JoNQ

There are a few browsers for Amigas. The most modern is OWB which is WebKit-based, and there is a 68k build, but I'm not sure how well it runs on classic Amigas. The browser shown in the video above is Netsurf, which is a decent lightweight browser (originally developed for Risc OS), but missing a few of the features you'd expect in a modern browser (IIRC there's no JavaScript engine):


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