English Amiga Board


Go Back   English Amiga Board > Main > Nostalgia & memories

 
 
Thread Tools
Old 05 October 2020, 11:54   #1
grond
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Germany
Posts: 883
Things the Amiga could do better than a contemporary PC

I have been thinking about what things made an Amiga better than any contemporary IBM-compatible PC even if the latter could actually have higher resolutions or higher colour depth using high-end graphics cards. I came up with these:

- it had a 32 bit preemptive multitasking operating system
- it had a graphical user interface
- its minimum hardware stats included a blitter, a 12 bit palette and stereo sound
- it had a unified memory architecture where RAM could be used for graphics, sound and code, no copying of image content or samples from RAM to local memory in the expansion cards
- it could do smooth 50/60 Hz scrolling
- all relevant devices could do DMA which meant that graphics, sound, floppy and harddisk could read/transfer data without putting any load on the CPU
- hardware addons did autoconfig, no irq or IO conflicts that had to be resolved manually if even possible
- the copper made it possible to operate in synchronicity with the raster beam, a feature that never made it into the PC world and that meant that you could change color depth and horizontal resolution within a screen
- it had a 32 bit CPU as a standard (the 386 debuted shortly after the Amiga)

Of course, some of these advantages became obsolete within the Amiga's lifetime such as the blitter and minimum graphics specs which were outdated at the end of the 80s when VGA and 386s became a standard and even turned out to be detrimental to the Amiga as they became a legacy burden. The unified memory architecture also was quickly replaced by the chipmem/fastmem divide.

For several years the Amiga could do quite a few things better than the PC but the PC was abstracted away from the hardware out of pure necessity which then made it able to take the pole position of technical progress.
grond is offline  
Old 05 October 2020, 12:02   #2
roondar
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: The Netherlands
Posts: 2,316
It could also be connected to NTSC/PAL video sources using external timing with a trivial (i.e. cheap) expansion, making it useful for DTV purposes at a time this was quite the novelty. It's external sync abilities meant it was better for suited for this than even those PC's with composite out on their video card.

Similarly, it's pixel clock is almost exactly correct for NTSC/PAL (and 100% so if the external sync is used), which allows the design and creation of graphics that need to have the correct aspect ratio for NTSC/PAL natively on the system without needing special hard or software. Any old painting program will do, really.
roondar is offline  
Old 05 October 2020, 12:19   #3
drHirudo
Amiga user
drHirudo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Sofia / Bulgaria
Posts: 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by grond View Post
I have been thinking about what things made an Amiga better than any contemporary IBM-compatible PC even if the latter could actually have higher resolutions or higher colour depth using high-end graphics cards. I came up with these:
Better floppy disk drive controller, being able to read Atari ST, PC, Mac and other custom built floppies.

Better keyboard controller, being able to read many keys at once (it has separate CPU in the keyboard alone).

Better video connector supporting Genlocking.
drHirudo is offline  
Old 05 October 2020, 12:53   #4
Weaselrama
Registered Voter

Weaselrama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: Neunkirchen aP, DE
Age: 59
Posts: 573
Quote:
Originally Posted by drHirudo View Post
Better keyboard controller, being able to read many keys at once (it has separate CPU in the keyboard alone).
I was able to use the keyboard for polyphonic entry into Octamed 4 on my Amiga 1000. It was pretty easy to instantly write piano and guitar chords depending on the sample being used, in realtime. I taped white and black dots for white and black keys.
Weaselrama is offline  
Old 05 October 2020, 12:59   #5
chb
Registered User

 
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: germany
Posts: 295
Quote:
Originally Posted by grond View Post
- it had a 32 bit preemptive multitasking operating system
- it had a graphical user interface
You forgot those long file names! IIRC only with Windows 95 that unnecessary luxury feature was coming to the PC... (exotic operating systems notwithstanding).
Quote:
Originally Posted by grond View Post
- it had a unified memory architecture where RAM could be used for graphics, sound and code, no copying of image content or samples from RAM to local memory in the expansion cards
Not sure if I would call the Amiga an UMA system... already the first Amiga 2000A had fast mem in 1986, and the A1000 had fast ram expansions from at least the same year on. No idea from when on fast mem was supported by the OS, but might have been there right from the start. Actually, IMHO the architecture only starts to really shine if the CPU can work on its own memory (and that is not slow mem, ofc).
chb is offline  
Old 05 October 2020, 13:19   #6
Galahad/FLT
Going nowhere

Galahad/FLT's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: United Kingdom
Age: 47
Posts: 7,859
Multiple different resolutions on the same screen.

Raster splitting separate screens so you could physically have more than one screen visible (think of drop down screens, dpaint in foreground, Audiomaster behind etc).

Fast booting and rebooting.
Galahad/FLT is offline  
Old 05 October 2020, 13:35   #7
Weaselrama
Registered Voter

Weaselrama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: Neunkirchen aP, DE
Age: 59
Posts: 573
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galahad/FLT View Post
Multiple different resolutions on the same screen.

Raster splitting separate screens so you could physically have more than one screen visible (think of drop down screens, dpaint in foreground, Audiomaster behind etc).

Fast booting and rebooting.
This is the one feature I miss in FS-UAE. If I run WB 1.3, I can slide the screens down. With OS 3.9, I can't, I have to use the "bring to front" feature. I don't remember if that's a "feature" with OS 3.9 or a bug with FS-UAE.

It was *marvelous.*. I think about it now when I'm running Protracker 4 and I switch back and forth to the WB. It reminds me of "spaces" on the Mac. We really did have multiple workspaces on the Amiga and the resolution changed instantly between the screens.
Weaselrama is offline  
Old 05 October 2020, 14:13   #8
meynaf
son of 68k
meynaf's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Lyon / France
Age: 47
Posts: 3,968
On the Amiga I can enter any program and perform alterations in it. It only needs good asm knowledge.
While in theory possible on the PC, it's not in reality - PC asm is just too horrible.
meynaf is offline  
Old 05 October 2020, 14:24   #9
roondar
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: The Netherlands
Posts: 2,316
Quote:
Originally Posted by chb View Post
Not sure if I would call the Amiga an UMA system... already the first Amiga 2000A had fast mem in 1986, and the A1000 had fast ram expansions from at least the same year on. No idea from when on fast mem was supported by the OS, but might have been there right from the start. Actually, IMHO the architecture only starts to really shine if the CPU can work on its own memory (and that is not slow mem, ofc).
You're mostly right (especially about using true fast memory!), but it's still much closer to a UMA system than PC's (or expanded 8 bit systems for that matter) were at the time.

On the Amiga you only really need to worry about a large enough block of memory existing for any given allocation and the effectively CPU doesn't care where in memory (or on what card the memory physically is located) the block actually is. This was very different on PC's, where you actually had to worry about 64KB segments and conventional/extended/hi memory for a very long time.
roondar is offline  
Old 05 October 2020, 14:41   #10
Jope
-
Jope's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Helsinki / Finland
Age: 40
Posts: 8,112
Quote:
Originally Posted by drHirudo View Post
Better keyboard controller, being able to read many keys at once (it has separate CPU in the keyboard alone).
The Amiga and PC are on par here, the best PC keyboards equalled or surpassed the Amiga in terms of multi key capability. (and all PC keyboards have a separate CPU in them)
Jope is offline  
Old 05 October 2020, 14:48   #11
grond
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Germany
Posts: 883
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jope View Post
The Amiga and PC are on par here, the best PC keyboards equalled or surpassed the Amiga in terms of multi key capability. (and all PC keyboards have a separate CPU in them)
Would this sort of thing depend on the keyboard connector type like PS/2?
grond is offline  
Old 05 October 2020, 14:51   #12
Jope
-
Jope's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Helsinki / Finland
Age: 40
Posts: 8,112
Quote:
Originally Posted by grond View Post
Would this sort of thing depend on the keyboard connector type like PS/2?
AT/PS2 use the same protocol, which allows for "unlimited" keys held down. Similar to the Amiga, they send keydown and keyup events separately. XT also is a keydown / keyup based protocol, but it is subtly different in signaling to AT/PS2.

USB only allows a few, if you use the standard USB classes.
Jope is offline  
Old 05 October 2020, 15:10   #13
hooverphonique
ex. demoscener "Bigmama"

 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Fyn / Denmark
Posts: 1,164
Quote:
Originally Posted by grond View Post
- all relevant devices could do DMA which meant that graphics, sound, floppy and harddisk could read/transfer data without putting any load on the CPU
Only the A3000(T) (and maybe A4000T?) had harddrive DMA capability built in (SCSI), and it was quite expensive to add for many years after the Amiga was released.

Quote:
Originally Posted by drHirudo View Post
Better floppy disk drive controller, being able to read Atari ST, PC, Mac and other custom built floppies.
I'd say that the Amiga doesn't have a *better* controller, but rather a very *simple* one, making it possible to decode the formats using the cpu/blitter (which may be an advantage or disadvantage, depending on your viewpoint).
hooverphonique is offline  
Old 05 October 2020, 15:12   #14
Jope
-
Jope's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Helsinki / Finland
Age: 40
Posts: 8,112
Quote:
Originally Posted by hooverphonique View Post
Only the A3000(T) (and maybe A4000T?) had harddrive DMA capability built in (SCSI), and it was quite expensive to add for many years after the Amiga was released.
A590/A2091 also did DMA successfully. The A2090 sort of also did, but not really.
Jope is offline  
Old 05 October 2020, 15:14   #15
roondar
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: The Netherlands
Posts: 2,316
Quote:
Originally Posted by hooverphonique View Post
Only the A3000(T) (and maybe A4000T?) had harddrive DMA capability built in (SCSI), and it was quite expensive to add for many years after the Amiga was released.
I thought the A570/A590/A2090/etc also did DMA?
Same for many 3rd party controllers IIRC.

Now those are not part of the base machine, but I do think they fall under "relevant devices". A600/A1200/A4000 IDE obviously isn't DMA though.
roondar is offline  
Old 05 October 2020, 15:16   #16
d4rk3lf
Registered User

d4rk3lf's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Novi Sad, Serbia
Posts: 911
Amiga had fascina(va)scillious multimedia capability right from the start.
d4rk3lf is offline  
Old 05 October 2020, 15:22   #17
grond
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Germany
Posts: 883
Well, I hesitated about mentioning the harddisk in reference to DMA but actually the non-DMA IDE stuff showed up rather late in the game for price reasons and when CPUs had actually become faster (the A600 again being just the bad design it has always been).

Nonetheless, I think the consequent use of DMA was infact an important part of what made the Amiga such a powerful design (even though none of its elements where actual pinnacles of technology of their time).
grond is offline  
Old 05 October 2020, 15:23   #18
grond
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Germany
Posts: 883
Oh, mentioning the A600: wasn't it the first computer to actually use PCMCIA? It predates the standard.
grond is offline  
Old 05 October 2020, 15:31   #19
hooverphonique
ex. demoscener "Bigmama"

 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Fyn / Denmark
Posts: 1,164
Quote:
Originally Posted by roondar View Post
I thought the A570/A590/A2090/etc also did DMA?
Same for many 3rd party controllers IIRC.

Now those are not part of the base machine, but I do think they fall under "relevant devices". A600/A1200/A4000 IDE obviously isn't DMA though.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jope View Post
A590/A2091 also did DMA successfully. The A2090 sort of also did, but not really.
True - I read 'relevant devices' as something part of the machine, i.e. not including peripherals
hooverphonique is offline  
Old 05 October 2020, 16:42   #20
Daedalus
Registered User

Daedalus's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Dublin, then Glasgow
Posts: 4,930
Quote:
Originally Posted by Weaselrama View Post
This is the one feature I miss in FS-UAE. If I run WB 1.3, I can slide the screens down. With OS 3.9, I can't, I have to use the "bring to front" feature. I don't remember if that's a "feature" with OS 3.9 or a bug with FS-UAE.
That's probably because you're using Picasso96 screenmode for your workbench. Picasso96 doesn't support screen dragging, but screenmodes on the native chipset do. And this features works fine in FS-UAE.

Quote:
It was *marvelous.*
Indeed, I still use it quite regularly when I'm using native screenmodes or OS4, and miss it when I'm using my OS3/P96 setups.
Daedalus is offline  
 


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Non-Amiga things that remind you of Amiga things? Fingerlickin_B Retrogaming General Discussion 932 30 October 2020 01:20
Amiga scene desperately needs two things. donnie Retrogaming General Discussion 114 09 February 2018 15:04
What things do you miss from the Amiga? TroyWilkins Nostalgia & memories 115 20 December 2016 14:21
Things you thought the amiga was never capable of cosmicfrog Amiga scene 38 14 March 2009 00:10
Amazing things you've done with your Amiga mr_a500 Amiga scene 67 05 July 2007 20:45

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT +2. The time now is 05:46.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
Page generated in 0.12431 seconds with 14 queries