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Apollo Vampire V4 announced
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-08-05 19:12:30

A new Apollo accelerator board has been released. What are these?

Apollo Accelerators is an Amiga Classic accelerator board product line. It uses the Apollo core which is a code compatible Motorola M68K and ColdFire processor but is 3 to 4 time faster than the fastest 68060 at time. It also brings Amiga Classic near to Amiga NG by bringing digital video with millions of colours.

The Vampire V4 improves upon its predecessors in numerous ways. As always, the Amiga community always manages to keep their own computers relevant and up-to-date, if even for just a small group of users. Amazing.

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Read Comments: 1-10 -- 11-20
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standalone version all the way :)
By sergio on 2017-08-05 21:49:00
I'm super interested in the standalone version of the Vampire 4 to replace the internals of my broken A1200.
Permalink - Score: 4
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custom board
By Ishan333 on 2017-08-06 08:53:13
Too bad it's a custom design board, a mini-ITX board would've been better...
Permalink - Score: 1
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RE: custom board
By Kochise on 2017-08-06 09:58:09
All the IO are not on the board, because this is more a daughter board that use the original Amiga board as mother board. You should look and invest into the Minimig or Mist boards then.
Permalink - Score: 3
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Can't wait.
By uridium on 2017-08-06 11:41:02
I'll buy one. These guys are putting in the effort and are making good quality and really usable stuff. Lots of people tear at it.. but lets see other groups actually bringing stuff to market.

Natami anyone? Several years, no hardware yet.

Really pleased to buy one and support it.

Definitely going to use it heavily.. that's for sure :)
Permalink - Score: 2
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RE: Can't wait.
By cybergorf on 2017-08-06 12:09:10
>
Natami anyone? Several years, no hardware yet.



Vampire more or less is the Natami:

Mostly the same developer Team
(except for the person that started Natami - that is one reason why is has a different name now...)
Permalink - Score: 1
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RE: custom board
By cybergorf on 2017-08-06 12:13:43
> Too bad it's a custom design board, a mini-ITX board would've been better...

Is is supposed to fit into fully equipped Amiga A1200, together with the old motherboard - that it can work as a standalone version is a "side-effect".
To design a extra board for the each purpose is too expensive.
Permalink - Score: 1
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Standalone
By jpkx1984 on 2017-08-06 18:31:19
Finally a standalone version, no need to hunt for old clunkers.
Permalink - Score: 1
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Amiga Community
By Z.S. on 2017-08-06 19:15:02
The Amiga community always seemed intelligent and helpful.

I thought this movie by chip designer Dave Haynie was very interesting. It seems the engineers liked the Amiga just as much. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B...

And it really does indeed seem like someone messed up at a higher place, not the engineers. Someone who didn´t quite understand the popularity of the machine.

There was several interesting plans in here, including DSP based amiga, 16 bit sound chip "Mary" etc.. Never happened due to a certain leader being criticised here.. :)

Also really the earlier Commodore +4 is also an oddity, with much more capable graphics than sound really. Which was true for the A4000 also. Still with the first Amiga Paula chip in it.. (at the time when even SNES had more soundcapability..)

Edited 2017-08-06 19:24 UTC
Permalink - Score: 2
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Classic Amiga enthusiasts should take notice of this
By boing on 2017-08-07 01:17:38
This is one of the most exciting devices to come out of Amiga land in a long time. What this new hardware and core is doing is bringing back to life the Classic 68k CPU, and the Amiga hardware chip-set. To give everyone an idea what they are planning (this info taken from various postings):

1) Apollo Core 68080 is not only the fastest 68000 series CPU ever, it also is the most fully featured and compatible (even fixing old 68k bugs). It includes technologies from newer CPU's such as AMMX (AMMX is the 68k version of the MMX instruction set from INTEL), 64-bit support, Super Scalar Pipelined FPU, etc... See this page for full info: http://www.apollo-core.com/index...

2) This integrates (through compatibility) and expands on the original Amiga chip-set (OCS/ECS/AGA etc..). They are expanding the original chip-set forward with things like SAGA and PAMELA (PAULA 2.0). PAMELA basically gives you now what "AAA" (future Amiga chip set planned right before Commodore went bust) wanted to give us, like 8 channel - 8bit or 16bit samples * 6bit Volume = 22Bit AUDIO (internal calculation done in 24bit). SAGA combines the original AMIGA AGA chip-set with wanted features like 8-bit Chunky, 15-bit Chunky, 16-bit Chunky, 24-bit Chunky, 32-bit Chunky, and SAGA offers even more. SAGA also provides ATARI screenmodes, NEO-GEO colors modes, etc. The COPPER can control all these modes in real AMIGA style. SAGA output is over a modern HDMI connection (so all the original software will display on a HDMI monitor).

3) The Vampire V4 hardware is planned to eventually come out in 3 versions: Standalone (no original Amiga required), Amiga 1000/500/2000/CDTV add-on, Amiga 600 add-on, and Amiga 1200 add-on. So you can expand your old Amiga's or go with the standalone. This will bring all those systems to a level playing ground. The crazy thing is that this could allow for example an Amiga 500 to support AGA, which was in the Amiga 1200, and display this on a HDMI monitor.

So basically what they are doing is taking the Classic Amiga CPU/FPU (680x0) and custom chip-set (OCS/ECS/AGA etc..), and put it on a programmable chip (FPGA). Having it on the FPGA they can update things with new features and optimizations over time. Not only is the goal to be mostly completely compatible with the original Amiga chip-set, but to also make it better. This means old existing software will work, or developers can improve their software by using the modern feature sets that are added to the FPGA (such as AMMX for multimedia processing, or improved Audio with Pamela). They chose the FPGA they did for the price to performance (didn't want this version of the board costing too much) aspect. Of course a FPGA is slower then a ASIC, but it allows them to upgrade and improve things over time which is a big plus. The big issue with your given FPGA over time will be how much it can hold space wise as more things are added. So that would be one reason to upgrade to another FPGA over time (besides speed improvements).

In the VAMPIRE V4 they are expecting performance of around what would be a 240-300 MMz 68060. If they went with a more expensive FPGA (ARRIA 10) they would expect performance of a 500-600 MHz 68060, which running at that speed would be faster than a top speed 5GHz PC running WINUAE (emulated). So using a guessimate, you can guess the FPGA they are using (Cyclone V) would run at half the speed of a ARRIA 10, which would be like running WINUAE (Amiga emulator) on a 2.5 GHZ PC (these are all gusessimate numbers as stated). This is not bad if given another guessimate the standalone Vampire V4 costs $400 or so. So price wise this can be more affordable then other Amiga solutions (standalone or add-on expansion) given what it offers. Of course because they are producing in lower quantities prices will be higher then common off the shelf hardware. If this thing ever could sell in large quantities (which is doubtful since it caters to mostly old Amiga users), they could even put it into a ASIC (non-programmable CPU like Intel, AMD, and ARM) rather then a FPGA for the highest performance levels. Of course the performance levels they are offering is more then the classic Amiga's have ever seen, even when using a FPGA.

This is not made to compete with modern ASIC CPUs (x86's or ARM's) or GPUs. This basically brings back Amiga's original roots, rather then the alternate direction it went (PPC CPU and common GPU) when Commodore went bust. I think these boards will be cheaper then any Amiga PPC alternative out there when all is said and done. PPC to me is an expensive and limited direction to go (unless you buy a old Mac PPC on Ebay and run MorphOS) due to PPC declining after Apple moved away from using it. Of course lots of people say Amiga should go X86, but why when there are lots of great x86 operating systems and supporting hardware out there. Of course if you want to use Amiga OS on X86, go use and support AROS (http://aros.sourceforge.net/) which is open source. What is so great about this new hardware is that it takes the original direction of the Amiga (CPU + custom chip-set combo) and goes forward, rather then diverting to a whole new direction (like going PPC or X86 + off the shelf GPU). So this has more of the original Amiga spirit, by using the best possible hardware (FPGA) to create a custom chip-set hardware environment. This is why this feels so special to me, like the original Amiga was.

I am a old time Amiga user, but don't own any Amiga's myself anymore (back in the old days I owned a A500, A1200, and A3000T). I read the Amiga news for nostalgic reasons (never post on Amiga website forums), and this is the first bit of new hardware since the original Amiga hardware that has me interested in trying out. I plan on getting the standalone version myself since I have no Amiga's anymore. I hope this brings back some life in development for Amiga OS 3.x 68k and/or AROS 68k. Kudos goes out to the Apollo and Vampire team for what they have been able to create. Rather then tear it down, enjoy it for what it is worth.
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RE: Classic Amiga enthusiasts should take notice of this
By sergio on 2017-08-07 01:39:54
Great post man, you're hitting the crux of the matter.

I'm a happy NG Amiga user, I have a SAM and plan to acquire an x5000, but as you said I think this FPGA solutions are much more akin to the original Amiga spirit than PPC solutions. FPGAs give much more freedom to the engineers to create and innovate than traditional (and super expensive) hardware like the PPC.

Exciting times ahead my friend!! :)
Permalink - Score: 2

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