An Amiga 600 With An FPGA Inside

The Amiga is the platform that refuses to die. It must be more than two decades since the debacle surrounding the demise of the original hardware, yet the operating system is still receiving periodic updates, you can still buy Amiga hardware now sporting considerably more powerful silicon than the originals, and its worldwide community is as active as ever.

One of those community projects is the MiSTer FPGA Amiga-on-an-FPGA, and it was this that caught the attention of [Mattsoft]. Impressed with the quality of its recreation of an Amiga, he decided to turn his into a “real” Amiga, so found an Amiga 600 case and keyboard, and set to work. Into the mix went the Terasic DE10-Nano FPGA board, I/O and RAM boards, a Tynemouth Software keyboard interface, a USB hub, and some well-designed 3D-printed parts allow the original Amiga case to be used without modifications.

The Amiga 600 was the base model in the final Amiga range from the early 1990s, and at the time despite its HDD interface and PCMCIA slot it languished in the shadow of its Amiga 1200 sibling. The styling has aged well though, and this upgrade certainly breathes a little life back into the case if not strictly the machine itself. If you want to learn a bit more about MiSTer then a look at the project’s wiki is in order. Perhaps you don’t have an Amiga though and would like to wallow in a bit of nostalgia without splashing out for hardware, in that case, give AROS a look.

Thanks [intric8] for the tip.

23 thoughts on “An Amiga 600 With An FPGA Inside

  1. What I find interesting (having been an Amiga user since1986) is that some “achievements” of that platform are still not available on mainstream desktops today – user-friendly UIs (that you can rescale/edit to your likings), EASY-to-use display switching (Amiga-N/Amiga-M) – what today’s system offer in that respect just doesn’t cut it (for me).
    Yes, the system had its quirks. Yes, the hardware wasn’t designed in a way modern computers SHOULD be designed. But even when looking back through a critical, somewhat objective lens, the Amiga *was* way ahead of its time and, in some aspects, still is.

    Which makes me think even less of Apple- and Microsoft-engineers/designers.

    1. I learned to program C on the Amiga, when I got to the work place and had to deal with ‘real personal computers’ it was something of a shock; I especially remember the discovery that I couldn’t just multiply the width and height of an image for a memory allocation because it ends up too big for an x86 segment. Work mates clearly didn’t understand the benefits of preemptive multitasking or the difference. I couldn’t change directory using wildcards at multiple levels in a path (still can’t), or select files with reg ex. I couldn’t open archives as if it was just a folder, couldn’t find support files in the executable folder just by using a progdir: path, be notified of changes to a file or folder, no Autodocs. I had to set jumpers on expansion cards because there was no AutoConfig equivalent yet. Later the Amiga got Arexx to control apps and file types to add new bitmap types to existing graphics apps etc. It really was a shame to see all that get p_ssed away when Commodore lost the plot and came to their end. But I was certainly fortunate to have gained a much broader idea of what was possible, and much earlier, and that turned out to be a good match for the multi-processor Unix systems we accessed through the terminals at university, having experience of threads, message passing, semaphores, critical sections and so on. We don’t hear about the Amiga OS engineers, but they were doing some good and forward thinking stuff.

        1. Now they are, but that was 1992. Linux was just a few months old, a hobby project still, and would not have been a viable option for my employer if we’d even known of it. Work was 16 bit x86, almost all MS-DOS, some for Windows 3.0, with Windows 3.1 coming, both also 16 bit. The Windows 3.0 command prompt? It was just MS-DOS itself because Windows ran from it, 8.3 filenames, caps only. Things were to change considerably in the 5 to 7 years that followed, but at that point in time, the contrasts were probably greatest.

        1. One feature can’t, having two screen resoltions displayed at the same time. Amiga had pull down windows and the chips could show the 2 screens at different resolutions. Hardware today doesn’t have that ability.

      1. The Amiga file system was both case sensitive, AND case insensitive at the same time.
        If you had a file named “file” in a directory you could access it with almost any combination of case. “File”, “FILE”, “file” and even “FiLe” would all work.
        However, if you really wanted to, you could have multiple files in a directory with the same name in different case, so “FILE” and “file” would be different files.
        So you get the best of both worlds (although why you’d need two files with the same name but different case I don’t know), and I’m pretty sure no *nix operating system offers that.

    2. Microsoft was technically backward as can be, their strength was in ripping off others IP(Embrace and Strangle), marketing and locking PC makers into contracts that prevented them from pre-loading different OS’s on their hardware. Another dirty trick was giving select S/W developers access to hidden API’s in return for not porting their top selling apps to the competition.

      Remember Borland? The guys who made easy to use dev tools for mortals(unlike that GCC abortions we have today). M$ put them out of business by hiring away all their top talent at obscene salaries.

      Gates held back pc development by decades.

  2. “The Amiga is the platform that refuses to die. It must be more than two decades since the debacle surrounding the demise of the original hardware, yet the operating system is still receiving periodic updates, you can still buy Amiga hardware now sporting considerably more powerful silicon than the originals, and its worldwide community is as active as ever.”

    Loyalty most companies would kill for.

    1. I would love to see that. I LOVE my Indigo2s and Octanes but they’re crazy hard to get working with today’s equipment. I’m looking for an adapter that will do sync-on-green with HDMI monitors… That’s really the big thing or else I have to keep these HUGE CRT monitors in my basement just in case…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.