Rebuild has begun

My Amithlon system rebuild is underway, lots of little issues, mostly from me being disorganized with software scattered over many many unlabeled DVDR and CDR disc and starting around 10:30 pm and having to be up at 5:30am for work.    Old 3.5″ SATA drives removed (320 GB boot drive with a Win7 and a DOS partition with a boot menu to choose between the two) and an 80 GB drive that held AmigaOS.  In went two 2.5″ SATA drives (a 20 GB DOS boot drive and a 256 GB SSD drive for AmigaOS) and installation has reached booting Amithlon and 90% patched.  The 20 GB drive actually came out of an Xbox 360 when I upgraded it to a 250 GB drive.

I decided to rebuild because it’s been a while since I set this machine up and I’ve learned a few things about AmigaOS and Amithlon since that time and also after one of the Win7 updates Win7 stopped booting.  It was annoying having the boot menu for Amithlon or Win7 knowing Win7 didn’t boot (or run very well either…), I wanted a fresh clean install of Amithlon and I wanted to use the 256 GB SSD drive I had sitting on my desk.

I’ll continue, noting things I need to add to the installations guides that I had either left out or wasn’t an issue when installing under the Virtualbox environment which I had used to build the structure of the install guides.

Wishful musings…..

Lately I’ve been playing with original Amiga hardware (A4000T).  While it’s fun and brings back a lot of very fond memories…..every time I boot my Amithlon system I am saddened that this product didn’t get the attention and development it deserved.  From my readings, it was intended primarily to get AmigaOS on to the  x86 CPU and that in turn would encourage actually porting the code to x86 vs. running in emulation.

Amithlon is still the fastest AmigaOS “emulation” around and had it continued it’s course it could have made AmigaOS a viable OS in my opinion.  Amithlon (October 2001)  w/AmigaOS 3.9 was released and both Windows XP  (August 2001) and MacOS X (March 2001) had only recently launched.   Amithlon could have been very competitive against those at this time as an alternative.  It’s speed and real multitasking, along with low cost x86 hardware, could have allowed for more advanced features to be developed/added to the OS to remain competitive.  Slow processes on 68k/PPC Amiga’s zip along on Amithlon.   Continued development and moving forward on x86 hardware, instead of the ridiculously expensive and slow PPC hardware direction AmigaOS 4 headed,  and AmigaOS could have been a legitimate player in the OS field.

Imagine more hardware choices for RTG video cards, AHI sound cards, network cards, other hardware devices, etc… being available from the larger pool of inexpensive PCI devices, as well as easily upgrading your “Amiga” as newer and faster CPUs and more advanced chipsets/motherboards were coming to market.  No more direct ties to 1980’s hardware, cheap RTG video and sound cards, heck perhaps even the possibility of using NewTek’s VT for PC (the PC version of the Video Toaster and if NewTek would provide AmigaOS software/drivers).  Of course it would have depended on Amithlon being further developed and moving more and more towards direct x86 coding.  Buy a decent case, drop in an x86 motherboard/cpu with the latest video card and have an extremely fast AmigaOS system.  Newer video cards come out….replace your card and gain the advantages it offers.  Same with CPU’s, drives, sound cards, etc…

AmigaOS had a stepping stone to remaining relevant in the early 2000’s….at least in my opinion.

Time to rebuild…again

It’s time to rebuild my Amithlon system, not for any real fault, more so for correcting a few misconfigured things (PFS3, Kickstart) and creating more defined partitions and what I want to install on them.  Playing with Lightwave 3d made me want to redefine my partitions.  I want to have partitions specifically for LightWave and the rendered images and have them sized appropriately, along with the other partitions I currently have.  I plan to replace the boot drive and Amithlon (Amiga) drives in my system since I’ll be rebuilding….  I have a 20 GB SATA drive pulled from an old Xbox 360 I plan to use as the DOS boot drive and a 256 GB SATA SSD drive that’s not doing anything and Amithlon should be able to take advantage of it’s greater speed.  I discovered the Kickstart my Amithlon is configured around is based on a 3.5 hacked Kickstart and I want to use a proper 3.1 Kickstart (or find a way to build one similar to using Remus for Amigas).

My Amithlon system hardware otherwise remains the same, I’ve tried to pick the best components for motherboard, video, sound and network I could based on the information I’ve collected.

  • Gigabtye GA-P35-DS3L motherboard
  • NVidia GeForce FX-5500 PCI 256MB graphics card
  • Soundblaster Live PCI soundcard
  • Realtek 8169 10/100/1000Mb PCI network card

With a self compiled Kernel 4 (compiled with the 8169 drivers in the kernel) I get fully accelerated graphics, AHI audio, Gigabit Ethernet, IDE, SATA and USB under Amithlon.

My A4000T is purring along fine as well, it’s PFS3 file system was configured correctly so no rebuild for it….at least anytime soon.   It’s getting to be quite a respectable Amiga, once I get the WarpEngine4040 upgraded to an 80Mhz 68060 it’ll be a very nice machine.

  • WarpEngine 68060 @80Mhz  w/ 128 MB ram
  • 2/16 Motherboard ram
  • Individual X-Surf 100 w/RapidRoadUSB
  • VideoToaster 4000
  • Video Flyer
  • Cybervision 64/3D w/Scandoubler
  • IDE boot CF-Card reader, IDE Slim DVD-RW
  • 128 GB IDE SSD on ACard AEC-7720UW to the WarpEngine SCSI (Amiga drive)
  • (3) 2.5″ 80 GB 7200 RPM 2.5″ IDE drives on ACard AEC-7720UW adapters to Flyer SCSI(s)
  • PIO2 Mode upgrade on Motherboard
  • ROMY 1 MB rom adapter
  • 400 watt power supply

All fitting inside the A4000T case.  I had hoped to use SSD drives on the flyer (heat, space, power) but the cost was a little high.  So (3) 80 GB 2.5″ IDE drives will still fit in the designated areas I had planned for the 2.5″ SSD drives.


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..).