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Old 24 April 2020, 07:01   #1
EAUniW
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Exclamation A New Amiga Architecture - 3AC




Drawing inspiration from the Commander X16 project, I've decided to investigate and research the possibility of creating a new Amiga architecture that would be backwards compatible with OCS / ECS / AGA Amigas while moving past AGA in terms of graphics and sound capability. It will not be a feature clone of the planned but cancelled AA+ or AAA chipsets but rather derive features from them both that would show a linear step up from OCS / ECS to AGA to this new architecture. It is provisionally called 3AC (3rd Amiga Chipset) to highlight it is the third major version of Amiga hardware.

I'm a layman when it comes to programming and hardware design but I envision an Amiga that is based approximately around the following specifications -

- Standard 16mb RAM expandable to 128mb
- 4mb Kickstart ROM
- 100mhz processor
- New Workbench (NWB) - A fork of Workbench 3.1.4 that uses the new features

- Anna (replacing Agnus and Alice)
- Violet (replacing Denise and Lisa)
- Penelope (replacing Paula)
- Grace (replacing Gary and Gayle)
- Berlin (replacing Buster and Budgie)
- Zoe - A new 3D chip, essentially an Amiga GPU

- 16 12-bit sound channels
- Capable of 1280 x 720 resolution with 4096 colours onscreen (without using HAM mode but HAM10 is possible)
- Enhanced graphics that utilise the Zoe chip

- USB compatibility
- SD card support
- VGA connector
- Mini-Zorro - A new form for Zorro that is one-quarter the size but incorporates features past Zorro III

As you can see, it's my idea of the kind of Amiga I'd like to use as OCS/ECS was showing its age by the '90s and AGA was under-powered and rushed out. 3AC represents a true step-up from the OCS chipset. I'd like to get all of your thoughts and opinions about this idea and if you'd like to work on it with me, please get in touch as it's something I want to see through to completion and release.

Last edited by EAUniW; 27 April 2020 at 09:34.
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Old 24 April 2020, 08:23   #2
britelite
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You need to have way more details than coming up with funny names for the chips to get anyone interested or involved in this.

Currently it pretty much reminds me of this:
[ Show youtube player ]

EDIT: And let's be real here, if you're looking for a souped up Amiga-compatible device, the Vampire already exists so there's really no reason to make another competing product

Last edited by britelite; 24 April 2020 at 08:28.
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Old 24 April 2020, 08:30   #3
Hewitson
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Only 12 bit sound? 720p resolution?

No thanks. Let's dump the Amiga tradition of releasing things when they're already outdated.
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Old 24 April 2020, 09:25   #4
Locutus
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I'll be looking forward to your github repo's.
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Old 24 April 2020, 10:28   #5
invent
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Hi EAUniW, love the enthusiasm towards a AAA type Amiga architecture. Now that you have gave some basic ideas towards a hardware system. I would now try to gather other people’s ideas of what they might want. I know for me I’d have a few particular requirements, otherwise I’d at this stage go for adding a Vampire card to my system.

I’ll take a few moments before posting my suggestions soon.

Also you need to consider software for this system, unless your making a cheaper Vampire system (I don’t have a Vampire yet)

Sincerely best of luck
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Old 24 April 2020, 10:40   #6
Jope
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EAUniW View Post
- New Workbench (NWB) - A fork of Workbench 3.1.4 that uses the new features
Please no. How about AROS if it is impossible to use the official 3.1.4/3.2 release either by delivering your own drivers or getting in touch with the development team to see if your hardware can be supported.

Quote:
- Mini-Zorro - A new form for Zorro that is one-quarter the size but incorporates features past Zorro III
Please no. How about PCI instead.
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Old 24 April 2020, 11:09   #7
trixster
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When you say ‘work on it with me’, what do you envisage happening? How much money do you have to invest with this?
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Old 24 April 2020, 11:15   #8
malko
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Quote:
Originally Posted by britelite View Post
You need to have way more details than coming up with funny names for the chips to get anyone interested or involved in this.[...]
+1


Quote:
Originally Posted by britelite View Post
[...] [ Show youtube player ] [...]

PS: (someone already thought of it : Back to the future (end of 1st movie))
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Old 24 April 2020, 11:51   #9
Thomas Richter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EAUniW View Post
Drawing inspiration from the Commander X16 project, I've decided to investigate and research the possibility of creating a new Amiga architecture that would be backwards compatible with OCS / ECS / AGA Amigas while moving past AGA in terms of graphics and sound capability.
Actually, may I suggest to start your research from the right end? In particular, that is not chip names, and neither features, but "who does it" and "who has the capabilities of making this possible". Everything else is secondary.

Sorry if this may sound harsh, but for me this sounds like a pipe dream, or another "what-if" story, but not a realistic project that, may - even remotely - become reality.
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Old 24 April 2020, 11:54   #10
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It's clear people have a lot of "dreaming" time upon their hands, in quarantine. The "let's build a new Amiga" threads pop up on many forums again...
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Old 24 April 2020, 12:41   #11
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I wish you luck with your endeavours.

It's taken the team behind the Vampire many years to get to the point where their next-gen vision for the Amiga has actually produced something usable.
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Old 24 April 2020, 13:58   #12
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If you need a starting point, the MiniMig AGA cores are open-source under the GPL. I would suggest looking at the register map of the closed-source Apollo cores for the Vampire as a source for OS inspiration as well. The limiting factor on the Vampire is not hardware but operating system support.
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Old 24 April 2020, 13:59   #13
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AKA "Just toss a few FPGAs on a board, how hard could it be?
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Old 24 April 2020, 14:09   #14
dreadnought
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EAUniW View Post
I'm a layman when it comes to programming and hardware design
[...]
...it's something I want to see through to completion and release.
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Old 24 April 2020, 15:24   #15
Gorf
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EAUniW View Post
Drawing inspiration from the Commander X16 project, I've decided to investigate and research the possibility of creating a new Amiga architecture that would be backwards compatible with OCS / ECS / AGA Amigas while moving past AGA in terms of graphics and sound capability.
The Commander X16 isn't compatible to anything.
Don't get me wrong: i like the project, but it is hard to "draw inspiration" from it in terms of compatibility ..

The X16 uses primarily old fashioned chips, that are still available for CPU, sound, IO ... only gfx is done via FPGA.
Amiga Chips are not available in numbers and only old stock: that is not going to work.

You could take a look at the "ZX Spectrum Next" that is compatible, got some new features (e.g. an Amiga-like Copper) and is entirely FPGA based.

But we got the Minimig, MISTer, and of course the Vampire already...

Quote:
It will not be a feature clone of the planned but cancelled AA+ or AAA chipsets but rather derive features from them both that would show a linear step up from OCS / ECS to AGA to this new architecture. It is provisionally called 3AC (3rd Amiga Chipset) to highlight it is the third major version of Amiga hardware.
sounds like SAGA on Vampire...

Quote:
I'm a layman when it comes to programming and hardware design but I envision an Amiga that is based approximately around the following specifications -

- Standard 16mb RAM expandable to 128mb
- 4mb Kickstart ROM
- 100mhz processor
that is less RAM than most FPGA Amigas provide now... and far less speed than emulation offers

Quote:
- Anna
- Violet
....
like naming chips is relevant in this early stage...

Quote:
- Zoe - A new 3D chip, essentially an Amiga GPU
and how would that fit in the system, if you mimic the old custom chip behavior?
What is the basis for this chip? what can it do? how? ....

Quote:
- 16 12-bit sound channels
that would be a very odd choice ... (and less quality than Vampire offers already)

Quote:
- Capable of 1280 x 720 resolution with 4096 colours onscreen (without using HAM mode but HAM10 is possible)
rather unimpressive and also on par with the Vampire.

Quote:
- USB compatibility
- SD card support
Vampire?
(and I am not really a Vampire fan, but you keep on mentioning "new" features that are already there ...)

Quote:
- VGA connector
analog video out? really?

Quote:
- Mini-Zorro - A new form for Zorro that is one-quarter the size but incorporates features past Zorro III
not very useful... if you want to go for a real bus, go for PCI.
or better some simple breakout connector like on the ZX Next or the RaspPi and maybe some Amiga-style "Clockports"

Quote:
As you can see, it's my idea of the kind of Amiga I'd like to use as OCS/ECS was showing its age by the '90s and AGA was under-powered and rushed out. 3AC represents a true step-up from the OCS chipset.
i can't really see a "true step-up" in your proposal

Last edited by Gorf; 24 April 2020 at 16:29.
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Old 24 April 2020, 15:59   #16
Signman
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Wow, this is the best troll post I have seen in a while. The lockdown has given you a little time on your hands I see.
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Old 24 April 2020, 16:04   #17
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It does sound almost 25 years out of date before even starting it! Sorry but this is no "step-up" of anything Amiga.
And who is going to produce these new fancy name chips? And in what volume will they be produced?
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Old 24 April 2020, 16:55   #18
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Old 24 April 2020, 17:52   #19
EAUniW
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..

Last edited by EAUniW; 27 April 2020 at 09:33.
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Old 24 April 2020, 18:08   #20
robinsonb5
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Originally Posted by EAUniW View Post
That's why it's 12-bit audio, not 16-bit. That's why it's not 24-bit colour but 4096 onscreen with HAM10 support.

12-bit values are a pain in the backside for CPUs to move around, unless they're zero-padded within 16-bit values. You really don't want to moving data around in byte-and-a-half chunks. For this reason, 8 sound channels of 16-bit would be far more likely an upgrade than 16 channels of 12-bit sound.


For similar reasons, a 16-bit chunky RGB screenmode is more plausible (certainly more useful) than 12-bits. You certainly don't want to be messing around with 12 individual bitplanes, and even in chunky mode a byte-and-a-half per pixel is inconvenient.


Nice pipedream, though. Would you anticipate sticking with 68K or a different CPU / architecture?
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