Having some fun – LightWave 3d on Amithlon

After playing with my A4000T and the Video Toaster, I fired up LightWave 3d to play around.  Yep, just as I remembered, fun but time consumingly boring when it comes to rendering a scene, even just rendering a still frame.   “Hmmm….they have the Toaster software working under WinUAE now (crippled but working), I wonder if it could work on Amithlon?”  So far that answer would be a big fat “no”.   Well, what about LightWave?  There are of course cracked versions available that don’t require the Toaster hardware….could I get that to run without Amiga hardware as well?  To that the answer is a big fat “Yes!”

I was lucky to find a thread with someone detailing the requirements to Mode Promote (with ModePro)  the numerous LightWave screens and Modeler screens to RTG.   It’s tricky and what was posted was close enough to allow me to find what would work under Amithlon’s Picasso96 screen modes.  Lots of trial and effort with even more completely locked system or instantly rebooting at the click of “Render” and I finally have it working.

You’ll need LightWave 3d 5.2 , CyberGFX Renderer V1.2 and ModePro.

Simplest way is to set ModePro to ask you for each screen and then add them as they pop up. In ModePro’s menu’s, check “ask about unknown screens” and when done adding the screen names and saved, you can uncheck it.

Launching Lightwave, ModePro should ask you how to promote, you’ll select Screen Name then promote that with Screenmode, and depending on which screen you’ll  choose your GFX card for some, and FakeNative: for a few. I use an nVidia card so just substitute yours where you see me listing “nVidia-1”

Install ModePro, LightWave 3d and the CyberGFX Renderer V1.2.

Run the CyberGFX Renderer prefs app and set your Screenmode preferences for what screen you want your rendered output to display on (highest available, 32 bit mode, I have 1280×1204 @32 as the highest available on my machine).
Launch LightWave…

LW Layout 672 x 432 (I’m NTSC, adjust as needed)
Screenmode = FakeNative:HighRes-Lace, Width 672, Height 432, colors 8, AutoScroll

Switch to 1024×768 8 color mode in Lightwave’s layout screen (Option button at the top)
LW Layout 1024 x 768
Screenmode = nVidia-1: 1024×768 32bit, colors 8
**(you could use the 800×600 Layout mode if you prefer but I haven’t programmed in an 800×600 mode in Picasso96Screenmode prefs yet).

You’ll need to load the CyberGFX Renderer V1.2 plugin in the plugins section (also Options button).
Load a scene and then change the Record (Record button at top) Render Display to CyberGFX and click Continue.

Render a scene and you’ll get three more ModePro popups.

LW Render Status
screenmode = FakeNative:HighRes-Lace, 640 x 18 (yes 18), force planar

LW Render Feedback
screenmode = FakeNative:LowRes, 640×480, force planar

CyberGFX Renderer V1.2
** You do not need to promote this screen, so just cancel the ModePro pop up.

When you render a scene or frame, Lightwave will open the “LW Render Status” showing the frame status and the “LW Render Feedback” that would normally give you a quick view of the rendered frame. When completed rendering it will open the 24bit image in the screen mode you selected for “CyberGFX Renderer V 1.2”. ESC will exit that screen and drop you back to the LW Render Status screen. Press Amiga M (Windows M) and you will be on a black screen which is the “LW Render Feedback” screen. Mouse click in the screen then hit ESC to exit back to the Layout screen.

When rendering with Render Display “CyberGFX” you’ll see it render each frame. (Using WayEarth scene it updates the display about every 2-3 seconds with the next frame).

When rendering with Render Display “None” (if you are saving the 24bit .iff’s instead) you’ll get the “LW Render Status” screen displayed.  The “LW Render Feedback” is still opened but displays are black/blank.  Y

Important, make sure to save your ModePro settings so you will not have to enter them again.   Have fun!!


Rendered in LightWave 3D on Amithlon

Below is a scaled down rendering done on my Amithlon.

The animation was rendered in Hi-Res (x2) with Reflection and Refraction rendering enabled, NTSC Widescreen (1504 x 960 resolution) on my Amithlon system in around 30 minutes as single frames (24bit IFF).  Converted to .png file with XnView and assembled as an .avi file in VirtualDub on my PC.  Scaled for web with EasyHTML5Video.

Above was two animations joined together and then a soundtrack added.

More comparisons?

I picked up a Mac Mini G4 (2 of them actually) and played around a bit with MorphOS.  I haven’t decided yet if it’s worth the license price, though having a 30 minute “use” window between reboots makes comparing it difficult.  One of the Mac Mini’s is 1.5 Ghz, 1 GB, WiFi/Ethernet while the other is 1.42 Ghz, 1 GB and Ethernet.  The faster one however refuses to read any burned DVD’s or CD’s…..well occasionally it will but not reliably.  I had to install MacOS on it using Target mode along with the use of the other Mac Mini..  I’d much prefer testing on the 1.5 Ghz system as it provides both slightly faster performance and WiFi.  Need to either repair/replace the drive or see if I can get it to boot it from an external firewire DVD drive.

What does this mean for Amithlon?  Not much, but I hope to do an “AmigaOS” comparison between an A4000T (with 060), WinUAE (i7 Win10 machine), MorphOS and Amithlon.

I’m a firm believer that AmigaOS had a possible future had it moved to the x86 architecture instead of the PowerPC path it’s currently on (Amiga OS 4.1).  Amithlon was the stepping stone to that end which  unfortunately was crushed by legal issues.

As for Amithlon, not really a lot to discuss as there hasn’t been any advancements yet in moving the kernel forward.  My Amithlon machine is running blisteringly fast and extremely stable.  I do want to wipe it clean and start over again from scratch as there are a few things I want to change (proper PFS3 setup being a biggie).  I’ve also discovered the kickstart in my smallird.gz is a little more modified then the original Amithlon and I’d like to start with that and patch it myself.  Mine reports in as an A1200/A4000 3.5 ROM (according to AmKick on my Win10 PC) and stock it should be an A500/A600/A2000 3.1 ROM (with a few extras).   I need to rebuild it with the original smallird.gz and patch appropriately.  When completed I may list my “startup-sequence”, “user-startup” and break them down including links to all the patches or extras I’m referencing.

WinUAE, MorphOS, A4000T, Amithlon…..should I toss in AROS as well?

News? Not really

Very little to add or update other than I added the Supported Hardware list to the blog, which some may find useful.  While I’ve been working on setting up my A4000T, I’ve recognized that I may have a few configuration changes I need to make on my Amithlon.  Primarily would be the PFS3 filesystem which I have not configured properly on my Amithlon drives.  There may be some other changes I can do, this one just made itself more apparent as I worked on my A4000T setup.

Other than that, I’ve done a few speed test on the A4000T as I went from the A3640 25Mhz to the WarpEngine4040 40Mhz setup.   For kicks I ran a ‘make module’ in SysSpeed on the Amithlon and copied it over to the A4000T where I loaded it to compare.  It’s a bit embarrassing for the A4000T.   I may post a few of those results when I have the time.   I wish I hadn’t lost all the early test I had done on the A4000D before moving everything to the A4000T.

System change….A4000T

I was lucky enough to have an A4000T fall in to my hands, so the A4000D is going away and the A4000T is taking it’s place.  Same layout but now I won’t have to worry about the ZorroII/III/Video cards I have as they will all fit in the chassis.  I’ve got everything moved over but it really doesn’t like my CF Card, SATA>IDE SSD and Slim DVD-RW drive with the 4-Way IDE add-on.  It also didn’t like booting off my CF Card configured with all the hardware configured (PicassoII, X-Surf100/RapidRoadUSB) but had no problems booting from my other CF Card with OS 3.9 and BB1&2 installed.  I need to get the A4000T layout of how I want to boot (CF Card or HD, IDE or SCSI, etc..) based on what I have and what will work.  The 4-Way IDE adapter is out…it may be due to the onboard IDE and SCSI controllers vs. the A4000D only having IDE.   I may even try A4000D Roms in the A4000T so as not to have it attempt to use the onboard SCSI (the WarpEngine has faster SCSI).

*EDIT* I found the trouble!  When removing the drive cage you have to disconnect the motherboard power connection, when checking issues I was having with the PicassoII I noticed only one of the connectors was connected.  I’m impressed the machine functioned as well as it did with only half of the power connections being made.  The 4-way now works and I have the slim DVD-RW/CF card working as before along with my SATA SSD drive.


More A4000 Goodies!

Thanks to a very helpful/generous friend my A4000 has become “better” and bringing it closer to a more appropriate Amithlon comparison.

What’s been added?  A WarpEngine4040 (68040 @ 40Mhz) with 128 MB ram.  The X-Surf 100 has been updated with the RapidRoad USB adapter and I have a 68060 adapter and ROMY that are next in line to be added, bringing the WarpEngine4040 to a 68060 @ ?? Mhz.  I have a Motorola 68060 Rev 6 mask 71E41J  ready to be installed and a proper custom ROM for the ROMY to allow booting with a full 68060 CPU.

Another generous friend has offered me a spare Picasso II RTG graphics card which will be used for testing/comparing against Amithlon.   Something will have to come out (Toaster (x2), Flyer, X-Surf, Picasso II) since there are only 4 slots in the A4000.  I’ll probably pull both the Toaster and Flyer (actually not even installed yet) while I conduct my comparison test between what I would consider a pretty capable Amiga A4000 and my extremely capable Amithlon system.

First I’ll have to get the A4000 recapped, WarpEngine upgraded and then start some testing.

What’s going on…

Amiga 4000

The A4000 is getting most of my attention at the moment.  I’m working on a decent setup so that I can compare a nice A4000 against a nice Amithlon system.  With a Video Toaster4000, a Video Flyer and an X-Surf 100 installed….I’m out of available slots, so no RTG graphics or sound boards which will put the A4000 at a disadvantage from the start.  Thanks to a generous friend I will be adding a WarpEngine4040 soon, which will be receiving an ‘060 upgrade after testing with the stock 68040 CPU.  I want to have the A4000/40 68040 @ 25 Mhz, the WarpEngine4040 68040 @ 40 Mhz and the 68060 @ ? Mhz comparisons.  To give the A4000 a little more in the graphics, an Indivision AGA MKIIcr was added.  This is a pretty impressive little piece of hardware.  It pushes down over the LISA chip, pulling the signal from the pins on the LISA chip to run them through a framebuffer to de-interlace and scan-double the stock Amiga video signals and output them over DVI at 60 Hz (or more) to support modern monitors.  This means a regular VGA monitor can display your Amiga native “NTSC” or “PAL” modes.  You basically attach a monitor (ie NTSC, PAL, Super72, Multiscan, etc..) that is in your DEVS:/Monitors/  with a VGA mode (I’m using 640×480 @ 60 Hz for NTSC, 1024×768 @ 75 Hz for HighGFX for and 1280×1024 @ 75 Hz for Xtreme.   These modes “640×480” can be configured to match your  actual monitors specs.   Really nice device.   Currently I am running a 1024×768 32 color Workbench which isn’t that sluggish.

I’m hoping to test a bit more (WarpEngine) before I tear it all down and send it off for a recap and upgrading of the SuperBuster 9 to SuperBuster 11.


As mentioned, I haven’t spent much time on this.  I have however come in contact with someone who does know coding/linux and kernels and we have been discussing what can be done to possibly bring some new updates to compiling one for Amithlon.  I’ve donated a few graphics cards based on a similar supported GPU (one a PCI NVidia FX5500, the other a PCIe NVidia PCX5750) so he can determine why the PCI bus works and the PCIe bus doesn’t and hopefully correct or patch in PCIe support.  Of course this is slow and tedious work so don’t hold your breath…just keep your fingers crossed 🙂

Early comparison….the Amithlon dominates the A4000.  Sysinfo V4 gives me basically a “1” in Dhrystones against the A4000 with the A4000.   Testing the Amithlon…..upper “290’s” to low “310’s” against an A4000.  Not the most accurate testing of course…but speed is one of Amithlons strong points.  Video being another strong point (RTG, no native support) as I’m running a very nice and FAST 1680×1050 32 bit color Workbench.  Screen redraws are so much faster, even at the higher resolution and higher bit depth.  The Amiga does have AGA/ECS/OCS support though and Amithlon is RTG only.   More coverage on this when I get the A4000 updated.

Amiga 4000 owner again

I happened across a crazy deal that resulted in me being the proud owner of an Amiga 4000 once again 🙂   It was probably the mid 90’s that I’ve last owned an Amiga computer so with all the emulation testing I’ve done, I apparently caught the “Amiga” bug again.

A4000/40 @ 25Mhz, 16 MB fast ram, 2 MB chip ram.  I’ve added 3.1 Kickstart Roms, a 250 GB IDE drive I had lying around, a SATA DVDRW/CDRW I had lying around with a SATA -> IDE converter.  The floppy drive sounded horrible and failed to boot off the 3.1 Install disk, luckily WinUAE came to the rescue.  Using an IDE to USB cable I was able to attach the 250 GB IDE drive to my Windows 10 PC and then use WinUAE to partition/format and install Workbench 3.9 to the A4000.    Removed from WinUAE and insert in the A4000 and boot……and Workbench eventually displays (Using DblNTSC screen mode as my monitor will not sync to the low 15 Khz frequency of the native Amiga screen modes.

To add,  I have a Video Toaster 4000 and…..(drum roll)…..the card I dreamed of owning during my earlier Amiga 4000 days……the Video Flyer!   I can’t wait to start playing around with this.  I have an external dual TBC so I can correct timing and/or genlock the signals to match on digital cameras to feed the Toaster’s switcher which then feeds the Flyer card.

I’ll have to do some basic comparisons between Amithlon hardware and Amiga 4000 hardware….so far, of course, the Amithlon blows away the older A4000 (CPU performance, RTG video modes, newer mice/keyboards, etc..).

I was able to acquire an X-Surf 100 network card for the A4000.  Installed and tested, though I am having a few issues with it.  Large data transfers seem to cause a reboot, either downloading from the web or transferring from my NAS box via SMBFS.  It’s very possible it is due to the Super Buster revision 9 in the system.  I’m needing a little work done so I’ll probably prep for a one time shot at everything (re-cap, new memory sockets, add socket in place of Super Buster to upgrade to revision 11, etc..).



Rebuild time…

After many different apps installed and removed, partitions created, deleted, recreated with different filesystems (pfs3 vs. ffs) my Amithlon machine started flaking out when writing to the IDE hard drive (500 GB).  Not completely unexpected, this hard drive had been heavily used and moved from PC to PC over the years, finally finding its way in to my Amithlon setup.

My system has a SATA drive as the boot drive and the IDE drive was for the AmigaOS side.  Using kernel 3.10, it couldn’t see the SATA drives installed and only presented the IDE Amiga drive in HDToolBox.  There was a second SATA drive installed that I had for testing kernel 4 so I decided to rebuild my system on kernel 4 this time.  I had specifically chosen the hardware inside so I don’t require any kernel drivers/modules….just Amiga drivers and OpenPCI drivers.  AHI has Emu10x drivers for my sound blaster, OpenPCI has a driver for my Realtek 8139 Ethernet card and of course the vide card drivers are built in the kernel (Nviidia fx5500).

So…fresh, clean install of Amithlon running off kernel 4, fully patched and configured (sound, USB, network, smbfs, Google drive/Dropbox).  Since I had to recreate the Picasso96Mode settings I grabbed SGrab off Aminet and made a few screenshots while writing up the process.  Picasso96Mode use is now added to part 2 of the Installation Guide.

Amithlon under Virtualbox tweak

***Bonus tweak

It was mentioned to me that adding crusoe to the init string will allow Amithlon to boot in Virtualbox without the need to time a key press.  I’ve tested and it does appear to function.

kern310 init=/linuxrc console_level=0 root=/dev/ram0 mem=512M initrd=smallird.gz vga=769 ramdisk_size=2310 cachesize=65536 leavepages=5200 video=dovesa crusoe

The “crusoe” option was used in testing with the Transmeta CPU, Crusoe, and isn’t needed for Amithlon machines using an AMD or Intel CPU.   However, for whatever reason, it makes Amithlon boot under Virtualbox without needing to wait for the proper timing of pressing a key to continue the boot processs.

** It was recently discovered that the better approach would be to use a keyword of ‘nosleep’ instead of ‘crusoe’.  Both give the same results but ‘nosleep’ is designed to bypass the interrupt it appears Amithlon is waiting on a response from, which doesn’t occur under the Virtualbox environment.

kern310 init=/linuxrc console_level=0 root=/dev/ram0 mem=512M initrd=smallird.gz vga=769 ramdisk_size=2310 cachesize=65536 leavepages=5200 video=dovesa nosleep


I finally settled on a Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L motherboard based on a few postings by fishy_fiz on EAB and another site, Amiga.org.   3 PCI slots (Nic, Video, Audio) and heavily overclockable.  Runing (2) 512 MB chips, a PCI Soundblaster Live, PCI Nvidia FX5500 256MB video card and a Realtek 8139 100Mb Nic it easily covers Sound, Accelerated video and Networking.   It uses a LGA775 socket and I’m running a Core2Duo E8600 CPU at 4.0x Ghz.  The system is blazingly fast.  I’m bouncing back and forth between kernel 3.10 and kernel 4.  I do this by the way I like to set up the system….a boot drive to hold the DOS partition used to initiate Amithlon and a second drive to hold AmigaOS.  I like this method as I can just swap out the second hard drive with a completely different install of AmigaOS.  Kernel 3.10 doesn’t like the SATA on this motherboard so I have a SATA drive as the primary boot drive.  It currently has Windows 7 32bit and a small DOS partition on this drive and then I either use another SATA drive for kernel 4 or an IDE drive for kernel 3.  I just disconnect the IDE drive and when the system boots I choose Amithlon (using xfdisk’s boot manager) which boots the DOS partition to a command prompt.  I type loadlin @4small to launch Amithlon with kernel 4, of if the IDE drive is attached I type loadlin @3small.   Since kernel 3 doesn’t see the SATA drive I don’t have to disconnect it.  It runs a nice 234 times faster than an A4000 in dhrystones using SysInfo as the benchmark.

I’d also spent a decent amount of time running Amithlon under Oracle’s Virtualbox.  It was a very painful experience as it seemed to boot Amithlon maybe 1 out of 30 or 40 attempts.  Very frustrating when you are installing updates/patches and you need to do a cold boot.  Control-windows-windows (Ctrl-Amiga-Amiga) was never a problem so simple Amiga reboots were fine.  I may write a guide on running under Virtualbox but honestly I don’t see running it there, just run WinUAE for even more Amiga compatibility.  You won’t get accelerated video under Virtualbox but you can get networking, sound and USB functioning.   Booting under Virtualbox still has the occasional “not going to boot” issue, but I’ve found a way to boot nearly every time and detecting when it will not boot quickly so you can reset the Virtualbox session to try again.  Basically….change your parameter for booting to show you the console and not the “boing ball” when booting, wait for the Moving PCI now to run and then the screen will pause.  At this pause, strike a key.  It should “kick” the boot process  to continue.  Don’t touch a key before this…or it will not boot.  After the “moving PCI…..” and text that follows completes and pauses, if striking a key doesn’t re-engage the boot process, reset Virtualbox.  I rarely have to do this…but even rarely means it still happens.  The command for using console display instead of the boing ball is..

kern310 init=/linuxrc console_level=4 root=/dev/ram0 mem=512M initrd=smallird.gz vga=769 ramdisk_size=2310 cachesize=65536 leavepages=5200 video=dovesa

You’ll notice “console_level=4” instead of “console_level=0”.

Repeatedly doing the above (installing in Virtualbox and installing on different hardware) gave me a decent understanding of the boot process and how I like to set things up.   I created a new(er) guide on installing Amithlon which I hoped could get a few others up and running so that they could play in Amithlon and this expanded base of users could result hopefully in some new developments.   It also allowed me to collect more user data on what hardware works which helped in creating a list of supported hardware.