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Old 30 July 2018, 09:33   #21
Foebane
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Originally Posted by Hewitson View Post
Yeah ok, calling Amber a "graphics card" might be a bit of a stretch.

Honestly don't see how you can say AGA isn't shit though. Painfully slow, and pathetically low resolution screenmodes (unless you like flickering).
I remember using Workbench on my A1200 back in 1993, and being a bit disappointed by the amount of "bitplane flicker" as I moved the windows around, and yes, the graphics were slower with the maximum eight bitplanes in programs like Deluxe Paint and others. And yes, in Workbench, the interlace flicker was as ever, annoying, but in HAM and pictures, it increased the detail and the extra colours and shades reduced said flicker. Just don't use word processors in interlace... or even super hi-res, unless you have a monitor.

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Originally Posted by idrougge View Post
I agree that AGA was "shit" in some sense; the A1000 chipset was ahead of its time at introduction, while AGA was trailing behind even when it was first released.

CyberGraphX proved that chunky was perfectly usable in an Amiga environment, albeit not backwards compatible. It would have been up to Commodore to solve that.
I wonder if the Amiga spurred the IBM PC companies to develop VGA...? We can only dream. And yes, whilst the OCS was a massive boost to home computer graphics, AGA was only a spurt... BUT a logical update which was within the Commodore executives' measly budget for R&D. I think we can safely say that Mehdi Ali and all those at the top, at least on the American side, were only out for themselves and "sod this toy computer we have to deal with, we wanna be in IBM's pocket!"
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Old 30 July 2018, 18:02   #22
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Originally Posted by Hewitson View Post
If AGA was half as good as what the PC's had to offer back then, the Amiga would have been far more usable and may have even stood a chance.
People keep forgetting what PCs had to offer "back then" in '93-94 - it really wasn't much, going beyond AGA specs often required cards that costed about the same as an A1200 or more. AGA was at least quite flexible with resolutions, you can push it to quite high resolutions if you mostly work with text and don't care about colours. The largest problem was not AGA, but that VGA wasn't signal compatible.

A friend of mine had a wonderful CRT monitor (which name and model I no longer can remember), that allowed him to use full super hires laced to max overscan, flicker free and crystal sharp. He used monochrome screenmode, and it was a delight to use.
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Old 30 July 2018, 18:10   #23
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People keep forgetting what PCs had to offer "back then" in '93-94 - it really wasn't much, going beyond AGA specs often required cards that costed about the same as an A1200 or more. AGA was at least quite flexible with resolutions, you can push it to quite high resolutions if you mostly work with text and don't care about colours. The largest problem was not AGA, but that VGA wasn't signal compatible.

A friend of mine had a wonderful CRT monitor (which name and model I no longer can remember), that allowed him to use full super hires laced to max overscan, flicker free and crystal sharp. He used monochrome screenmode, and it was a delight to use.
Yeah, you see that a lot in retro discussions. Not just with PC's but also consoles. I've heard people complain that the Amiga must have sucked because it didn't have any good ports of NEO GEO games. Or how it was less powerful than a Mega Drive or SNES (and generally speaking, for games it was - the Mega Drive can throw 80 sprites @32x32 on screen each frame, the Amiga is never going to duplicate that. The SNES has even more powerful sprite hardware.).

All these things are true. And pointless at the same time, because all of those consoles came out years after the Amiga did. Of course they where going to be better at games - they had technology in them (such as VRAM) which literally didn't exist when the Amiga was designed.

It always struck me as odd anyway. After all, if you where willing to spend a fortune, you could have had a 24 bit graphics card for your PC back in 1985. Sure, it was useless for anything other than stills and cost more than most expensive cars did. But you could
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Old 30 July 2018, 20:59   #24
Foebane
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Originally Posted by kolla View Post
AGA was at least quite flexible with resolutions, you can push it to quite high resolutions if you mostly work with text and don't care about colours.
AGA was not slow on high-end systems like 68040/060 systems, judging by what I've seen on emulation. A lot of AGA demos on such systems are really impressive. In any case, yes, the flexibility of resolutions and colour depths on AGA put OCS/ECS to shame, but that was down to the extra bandwidth and advances in technology. I sometimes wonder what a HAM-8 interlaced image in super hi-res would look like.

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All these things are true. And pointless at the same time, because all of those consoles came out years after the Amiga did. Of course they where going to be better at games - they had technology in them (such as VRAM) which literally didn't exist when the Amiga was designed.
Exactly, whenever technology like this is mentioned in comparison with other technology, the years of launch OF the techs in question should be taken into account, relative to each other. Technology marches on, and of course newer technology will always be better. At least normally.
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Old 31 July 2018, 02:14   #25
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But the whole point is that AGA, at the time of its release, was behind even older graphics systems such as (S)VGA, the SNES and even the Megadrive.
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Old 31 July 2018, 06:02   #26
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Originally Posted by idrougge View Post
But the whole point is that AGA, at the time of its release, was behind even older graphics systems such as (S)VGA, the SNES and even the Megadrive.
In terms of colours on-screen, AGA easily equals VGA and certainly surpasses those consoles.
In terms of resolution, AGA surpasses the consoles.
VGA's only strengths are a chunky mode, but then Amiga was designed differently, for 80s platform games.
Sprites are the Amiga's weakness in relation to the console, but then Jay Miner hardware sprites have always been weak compared to other systems. However, the Blitter makes up for it.

If this is not what you mean, please explain.

Last edited by Foebane; 31 July 2018 at 06:09.
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Old 31 July 2018, 13:04   #27
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To begin with, AGA is very slow. Hardly anyone runs his Workbench in 256 colours, let alone at high resolutions, and hardly any game uses the full 256 colours unless it's mainly static screens since screen updates are too slow.

Having underpowered sprites in combination with a bitmap-based system with an underpowered blitter is poison for gaming.

For productivity, most screen modes are flickery — even the ones described as flicker-free — and steal lots of DMA time. This is especially troublesome on the A1200, which has only chip memory.
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Old 31 July 2018, 14:13   #28
Foebane
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Originally Posted by idrougge View Post
To begin with, AGA is very slow. Hardly anyone runs his Workbench in 256 colours, let alone at high resolutions, and hardly any game uses the full 256 colours unless it's mainly static screens since screen updates are too slow.

Having underpowered sprites in combination with a bitmap-based system with an underpowered blitter is poison for gaming.
I remember experiencing AGA on Workbench as slow, yes, and games were mainly cosmetic upgrades like copper lists being 24-bit, but I've seen AGA demos for 68040/060 hardware that are quite fast, full 256 colours and even HAM8 animations. I heard somewhere that on faster CPUs, the Blitter is not used and the CPU does all the hefty grunt of moving the stuff around, with c2p routines. Am I right?

I've made a list of my favourite demos on Amiga over on the Demos board, and the high-end AGA ones are indicated by F to H. Have a look at them to see how fast AGA can be.
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Old 31 July 2018, 14:19   #29
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Originally Posted by idrougge View Post
Having underpowered sprites in combination with a bitmap-based system with an underpowered blitter is poison for gaming.
Well, AGA sprites are interesting. On the one hand they can cover a seriously large quantity of pixels (512 pixels wide/any height in 4 colour mode, 256 pixels wide in the 16 colour mode). On the other there are not nearly enough sprite channels.

So on the one hand the AGA machines can display similar numbers of sprite pixels when compared to either the SNES or the Mega Drive, but the latter two are more flexible in terms of splitting those sprite pixels into individual objects.

Ironically, this should've made the AGA machines quite good at displaying the old Amiga nemesis: the 2 player beat em up (which needs a few, but large objects), but no one seems to have bothered using sprites for AGA beat em ups.

Last edited by roondar; 31 July 2018 at 14:21. Reason: Grammar. It's not simple.
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Old 31 July 2018, 14:20   #30
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Originally Posted by Foebane View Post
Have a look at them to see how fast AGA can be.
Like you said, it's the CPU doing all the hard work here, AGA is actually a huge bottleneck on 040/060-machines. So no, AGA is not fast.

EDIT: And let's be honest here, referencing modern 060/AGA-demos while trying to insist that AGA is fast is a bad idea, considering how sluggish most of them run on real hardware

Last edited by britelite; 31 July 2018 at 14:33.
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Old 31 July 2018, 20:10   #31
Foebane
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Originally Posted by britelite View Post
Like you said, it's the CPU doing all the hard work here, AGA is actually a huge bottleneck on 040/060-machines. So no, AGA is not fast.

EDIT: And let's be honest here, referencing modern 060/AGA-demos while trying to insist that AGA is fast is a bad idea, considering how sluggish most of them run on real hardware
Oh. How disappointing, and direct from a programmer who knows the OCS/ECS/AGA chipsets inside and out. Oh, well...

It seems I've had a vastly inflated opinion of AGA, or as of now, I did have. Damn you, "Fastest Possible" mode.

At least they look pretty, even if they are slow.
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Old 01 August 2018, 02:07   #32
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I remember experiencing AGA on Workbench as slow, yes, and games were mainly cosmetic upgrades like copper lists being 24-bit, but I've seen AGA demos for 68040/060 hardware that are quite fast, full 256 colours and even HAM8 animations. I heard somewhere that on faster CPUs, the Blitter is not used and the CPU does all the hefty grunt of moving the stuff around, with c2p routines. Am I right?
Yes, and that's the point. If bypassing the blitter is faster than the blitter itself, it's not a fast architecture. In fact, a stupid chunky frame buffer would have been better in that case.

The A500 was quite a balanced architecture; you had to go beyond 16 colours or lowres before experiencing any CPU slowdowns. The A1200 is, given our expectations of it running at 256 colours and high resolutions, underpowered.
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Old 01 August 2018, 12:54   #33
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On an A1200 the blitter is still faster than the CPU at it's most important tasks (the CPU can match the blitter in copy & clear speed - they're about even for those tasks, but not for the more complicated blits - there the blitter is still clearly faster). Even when fast ram is added the blitter still beats the CPU for the more complicated blits (which are the ones that you need for making games).

It's only when you start adding a faster processor that the blitter starts looking rather weak. On the A4000, yeah - there the blitter wasn't that good.

But IMHO the main problem with AGA is not that the blitter was weak (you could say it was there just for backwards compatibility). The main problem with AGA is that chipram only has 7MB/sec of bandwidth for the CPU - at best.

This (again IMHO) is more of a problem than any of the other things AGA did or didn't do - including the slow graphics fetches at high resolutions. If the same 28MB/second bandwidth that Lisa got was available for the CPU as well, a lot more would have been possible.
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