AmigaOne X1000 Update

from A-EON

The AmigaOne X1000 is not like other computers. It's based on a PowerPC CPU architecture, it includes Xena, a "Software Defined Silicon" co-processor, and above all it runs AmigaOS 4.

It is 25 years since the launch by US computer company Commodore of the Amiga A1000, a revolutionary machine that introduced multimedia and multi-tasking to the world. While AmigaOS has continued in development (making it possibly the longest developed and used desktop OS in the world) the hardware side has had a harder time of it since the demise of Amiga's old parent company, Commodore.

2010 is the year we come back. A-EON technology, in co-operation with a small group of mainly European companies, are creating a new high-end, prestige platform that will once more allow the Amiga Operating System to shine.

The X1000 ends the years of AmigaOS being relegated to a ghetto of outdated hardware -- great as it was at the time, the world has moved on a long way since the days of Commodore. For the first time in many years, AmigaOS has a genuinely modern hardware platform.

AmigaOne X1000 specs:

Ports and connectors:

All specs are subject to change

Xena -- Software Defined Silicon

Our hardware designers had a brilliant idea: "Why not add an XMOS chip?" Once there were custom chips; for the AmigaOne X generation, we have customisable chips. XMOS calls it "Software Defined Silicon", we call it "Xena," a nod to the old custom chip names. It's the inheritor of the "transputer" concept, and it's something we're quite excited about.

Capable of eight concurrent real-time threads with shared memory space, at up to 500 MIPS, Xena gives the X1000 a very flexible, very expandable co-processor. The uses are endless; control hardware, DSP functions, robotics, display -- even SID chip and console emulators.

Xena is not simply strap-on extra adding an extra half GHz of processing power, it's a different kind of thing to a general purpose CPU altogether. It's an event-driven processor, which means it can respond immediately to events such as external signals, rather than having to wait on an interrupt. This makes it appropriate to true real-time functions. It has many input/output lines which are software configurable, making it ideal for ultra-low latency data sampling applications and extremely easy to turn into control hardware for... well, virtually anything. The I/O can also be configured to communicate with extra XMOS chips that can run the processor's code in a highly parallel fashion, and for serious power applications you can just keep on adding processors.

The Amiga has seen some truly ingenious hacks and add-ons; Xena can take this to a whole new level. It will take a while for the full possibilities to be realised, but we urge you to visit XMOS and discover more for yourselves.

Xorro -- connecting Xena to the world

To accompany "Xena," we have "Xorro," a new slot using an industry-standard PCIe x8 form factor to give access to the "Xena" IO. This will be the route to Xena's IO lines, which are dynamically configurable as input, output, or bidirectional. "Xorro" will allow bridging Xena to external hardware for control purposes, to internal systems, or to other Xcore processors.

Xena has 64 of these configurable I/O lines. In the AmigaOne X1000 we have one quarter of these connected to the CPU local bus for direct communication with the system, whilst the other three-quarters are connected directly to pins on the Xorro slot for communication with the outside world. JTAG connection for control and debugging of the XMOS silicon is accessible both through the CPU's GPIO (General Purpose Input/Output) lines and the Xorro interface.

Hardware designed for the Xorro slot may be as simple as a few traces running from the slot lanes to an external connector with minimal or no voltage/level control. This is the kind of arrangement you'd expect for a board designed to use Xena for hardware control applications, where all the control logic is performed in software by Xena rather than in non-reusable custom ASIC hardware on the board, or using tricky programmable logic via an FPGA or similar. A more complicated board might include some hardware to deal with Xena's output -- drivers for an IR transceiver for computer controlled RC applications, or pre-amp circuitry for networked audio. For really serious applications, you might have a Xorro board with an array of additional XMOS chips on, connected together to allow highly multi-threaded applications to run in parallel, in a similar fashion to the famous Transputer concept, the predecessor of the XMOS technology. Reference designs have been made with 256 cores, offering a theoretical processing power of over 100,000 MIPS.