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Artikeltyp: Messebericht
Beschreibung: from Jeremy Reimer
Datum: 22.11.2010 - 09:50 - Aufrufe 3858
Kategorie: Eng_ShowReport
AmiWest 2010
 
Amiwest 2010 Report

My friend's wife thought he was crazy to drive 900 miles to Sacramento for Amiwest, but I knew better. Amiwest had been held every year since 1998, but 2010 was a particularly special year: the 25th anniversary of the Amiga computer.

The show ran for three days. Friday was a chance for exhibitors to set up and for owners of classic Amiga hardware to swap stories and get assistance with any repairs they might need. Wizards with soldering irons volunteered their time and expertise to keep the old machines alive.
Saturday featured a talk with Ben Hermans from Hyperion Entertainment, the developers of AmigaOS4. Standing ready to assist him with any difficult technical questions were Thomas and Hans Frieden, the kernel and graphics developers respectively.

A very special guest arrived in the form of Carl Sassenrath, the original developer of the Amiga's multitasking operating system kernel. He brought with him the contents of his closet, which included an original Amiga 1000 prototype, a rare cost-reduced model of CDTV, and many other souvenirs of the Commodore era. Carl wasn't just there to drink in the nostalgia, however. He announced the release of Rebol 3 for all platforms, including AmigaOS4. Rebol is a programming language and development platform that combines the advanced features of LISP with a clean, human-friendly syntax and a modern API.

After the impressive Rebol demonstration, Trevor Dickinson from A-EON took the stage to present himself to the Amiga community and show pictures of his impressive Commodore computer collection. His story of dedication to the Amiga through troubling times was familiar to the audience, and was received very well. He finished with a brief teaser about the A-EON's development of the new X-1000 motherboard for OS4.

Following Trevor's speech, we all sat down for a delicious banquet dinner. Carl Sassenrath and Dale Luck, the guests of honor, cut the first slice of the Amiga's 25th anniversary cake. They also signed an inflatable Amiga Boing Ball. The banquet finished with the presentation of achievement awards for Carl, Dale, and prominent figures in the Amiga community.

On Sunday, Ben Hermans and the Friedens formally introduced the X1000 to the audience. They talked about how the hardware came to be, what their immediate development goals were, and answered questions from the audience. The X1000 motherboard has a dual-core PowerPC family CPU (it is actually closer to IBM's POWER line than the PowerPC), PCI Express slots, and a new custom chip called the XMOS that is like a programmable vector processor. The XMOS can be used as a transputer and connects to the outside world via interfaces called Xorro slots. The idea of putting a custom chip directly on the motherboard was to evoke the spirit of the original Amiga 1000'hence the name of the system. The XMOS chip is an added bonus for purchasers of the X1000 system, and Ben was excited to wonder what creative applications Amigans might write using the custom chip.

Speaking of systems, the X1000 will be offered as a complete system only. This is different from the older AmigaOne, Micro AmigaOne and SAM440 motherboards, which were sold by themselves. The rationale for selling complete systems is to appeal beyond hardware enthusiasts (particularly to attract software developers who are not always keen on assembling their own hardware) and to protect the Amiga branding, which Hyperion now legally owns.

After announcing the hardware, the Friedens fielded questions about the operating system. The major leap forward for AmigaOS is support for multiple cores, which is currently in development using the X1000 as the target system. Next up is support for modern PCI-E graphics cards and advanced 3D graphics using Galleon3D and a full implementation of OpenGL. Hans admitted part of the appeal of the the classic Amiga was its advanced multimedia capabilities, so it was important that the modern Amiga be at least able to keep up. Lastly, the Hyperion team discussed the port of Firefox 4, codenamed Timberwolf. This is being done in-house and will ship with the operating system.

Ben and the Friedens were honest about the small amount of resources that Hyperion had available to commit to the project, and realistic about the size of the target market for an expensive PowerPC-based desktop computer. Their primary target market is former Amiga owners, although there were at least two people in the audience who never owned a classic Amiga. The initial run of X1000 systems will be small, and aimed primarily at developers, rare system collectors, and diehard Amiga fans. Still, despite the size of the market, Hyperion believes that it can be a self-sustaining business, and even grow over time. Ben revealed that the AmigaOne project, beset by problems and ultimately ended with the collapse of a hardware supplier with many orders still in the queue, would have broken even were it not for the lawsuit from Amiga, Inc. Hyperion will continue to sell AmigaOS4 for the SAM440 motherboard, and the new SAM460 which will serve as the entry-level Amiga computer.

The day continued with a talk from Jamie Krueger, who was a long-time Amiga developer who recently came back to the platform because he was "tired of doing work he didn't love". He demonstrated his work on AVD, an integrated development environment for AmigaOS4 that works with multiple programming languages. Finally, the day ended with a Classic Amiga game competition, although we missed that part because we had to get on the road for the long drive back to Vancouver.

Overall, Amiwest 2010 was a success. The event organizer said that attendance was up from 2009, which was itself up from 2008. The new X1000 hardware was demonstrated running AmigaOS4, and everyone had a chance to play with it. With the lawsuit from Amiga Inc. Now concluded entirely in Hyperion's favor, for the first time there is a singular entity in charge of moving the platform forward into the future.

Jeremy Reimer
 
  
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