A New Classic Amiga?

by Eric Schwartz
from The Amitech Gazette, December 2015

There have been a few bits of news in the Amiga sphere of influence, though their relative bigness is up to your own opinions. Mike covers several news items in his column, and I’ll pick out a few more. A-EON technology is testing out their “Tabor” PPC main board, which is slated for use in “A1200”–series Amiga/OS4 systems. The board is supposed to be low-cost (relative to AmigaOne X1000/X5000 at least, and while not exactly high-spec, it boasts some appealing interfaces, including SATA drives, HDMI video, and a MicroSD card used to hold the system ROM, if not the entire OS in the future. While it’s not exactly my cup of tea, I could see it being an exciting system for some, especially if the price is right.

Of much greater interest to me is the rews (somewhere between rumor and legitimate news) that an official MorphOS port of Personal Paint 7.x is coming, which I sincerely hope comes to pass. I use PPaint 7.1 frequently on the Amiga, and while the program runs on MorphOS, it is at best “quirky” with not all features operating properly—even the new 7.3 versions from A-EON are reported to behave the same way. A version that works properly on Morph would be welcome, whether PPC native or not, and I’d be willing to pay for a copy, provided it works as advertised of course.

I’ll finish up with a bit of speculative holiday wish-listing. Some time back, it was reported that Jens of Individual Computers was buying up pretty much all remaining stock of loose Amiga AGA chip sets, essentially cornering the market (if there is one). Hints and rampant speculation point to the idea of “new classic” Amiga boards. While the exact nature of what comes to pass (or if it does at all) is unknown, I know what I’d like to see, even though I know I wouldn’t have in in time for Christmas. I would like to see something directly Amiga-compatible, running OS 3.X with whatever tweaks or additions are required to accommodate the updated board. The CPU could be modular and go from 68020 (or equivalent) for basic A1200 compatibility to something that meets or exceeds the power of a 68060, while sticking with direct 680x0-family compatibility. The board should have modern interfaces, such as SATA and/or SD/MicroSD for drives, USB, Ethernet (wireless?) and video out via HDMI and/or DVI with flicker-fixing of the NTSC and PAL screens. Even better would be to also include expansion for extra video cards (or include a basic PC video chipset on the board) easily switchable between PC and AGA displays thru the operating system. Of course lots of RAM and drive space are necessary, but that is probably almost a given. Maybe it’s a pipe dream, and things like emulation are undoubtedly far cheaper but I’d be happy to keep the idea of a new take on an old Amiga on my Xmas list for years to come.