October 19, 2000

This guy is rabid about Amiga and Linux working together

Author: JT Smith

-Rodney McDonell writes: "Long live Amiga
Hey, I'm not the only one saying that. There are thousands of people around the world saying that, believe it or not. Also I plan to have you saying those exact same words by the time you have finished reading. Please do note that the bulk of this article is for awareness within the Linux community. I'll provide links to more in-depth information for those of you that are big tech-heads."
The Amiga goes back a long way but that's the past and I'm sick off people bringing it up in these articles so I'm not going there.

The new AmigaOne consists of 3 parts. The AmigaOne has in other words 3 layers to be considered. The lowest level is the hardware, which consists of any type of hardware such as storage(HDD), media(CDs), audio cards/speaker and you get the picture. The second level is the AFL(Amiga foundation layer). This I guess you could say is the hart of the system which is responsible for the extraction of that layer and where the "intent Java technology edition"([JTE]develop by Tao group) comes into play. The JTE consists of the Elate, Real Time Operating System(RTOS) and the Java-Engine, which is discussed later on. The third layer which can be best described as "a logical set of objects that has no knowledge of the quantity, quality or location of the hardware on which it exists"(taken from The Amiga Digital Environment @ amiga.com).

This has a number of advantages not only for the users of the platform but for developers of all kinds. This will open up the market for developers because they suddenly just wont be developing for just the Amiga when they are but any other system on which the AmigaOS/OE/DE is installed upon. The well known philosophy "write once, run anywhere" is finally coming true and for you the developer, this means new markets, more time and less coding, which in turn is more money. Amiga are already seeing herds of developers moving to the new platform and certainly within the next 6 months Amiga could be the talk of the tech world.

The AmigaOne products will consist of a desktop computer, laptop and a handheld device. Amiga are not going for just one market. They are going for them all. This is what the revolutionary new architecture allows Amiga to do. That is, the same OS that will run on the AmigaOne desktop will also run on of course the Amiga laptop but the handheld device as well. The OS will take up a comfortable size of 5 megs, keeping what made the first Amiga so hot! Small system size and memory usage.

The new Amiga supports a wide range of processors including x86 chips but also including, PowerPC, StrongARM, ARM, MIPS, SH3/4/5, and more. Not only will the Amiga support a rang of different hardware but a rang of different operating systems. That's right. At present the Amiga will run on Linux, embedded Linux, QNX, OS/9, and very soon run on VxWorks, iTron, EPOC, Palm, Windows 98, Windows CE, Windows NT, and Windows 2000. Amiga Inc has also released the new SDK. This give the programmer an intro to the new system and the tools available. The SDK is available on LINUX now and Windows soon.

The new AmigaOS/OE/DE also boasts the worlds fastest Java virtual machine. In fact it is 22% faster than any other Java virtual machine on the market today. This mean that not only can you run new Amiga programs, old Amiga programs(thanx to the emulation layer of the OS) but also programs written in Java. This automatically gives the Amiga a host of programs to keep enthusiasts happy until developers start developing for the "Amiverse."

How does this all work you ask? Well I'm only just understanding it. The heart of the system is the VP (virtual processor). As a developer you will write your code to the VP and then the VP will translate this code to the real processor and the hardware.

This is a very basic summary of what the Amiga is doing. The technical side of Amiga is far more advanced for me to even start trying to explain. So I urge you, if you got this far, to take some time and effort to read the following information and if you like that, read the following articles.

May I just clarify something before you have a go at the article. "Intent" is the company that Amiga are working with that are providing the technology to the cross platform architecture.

Here are some of my favorite parts from one of my favorite article. The article is headed:

The new Amiga
McEwen and Moss discuss the renaissance of the Amiga SDK

Daniel Robbins
President/CEO, Gentoo Technologies
July 2000

"dW: Can you explain exactly how the Tao Group's technology works?

Moss: The best way to explain the Tao Group's technology is to explain where it came from. Chris Hinsley [the creator of the technology] was a games programmer. He'd write one killer game; they'd love it; and then his publishers would say, "Could you port it to the Atari ST or the PC?" And after two to three goes, it got annoying, because porting is boring as hell, to be quite honest. So he asked himself, "Hey, how can I make this easier?" Initially he created his assembly macro language that gave him some form of platform independence, but not enough. And that evolved into this concept of a virtual processor, where it wasn't just a macro language, it was the entire machine language that became the abstraction itself. In doing that, he freed the developer from having to worry. This is the promise on which Java is intending to deliver, except Java does it at a much higher level. You don't need to worry about what's underneath: you don't need to worry about the hardware, you don't need to worry about the software. You write to what you've got, in this case, a virtual processor (VP), and underneath; it takes care of everything. One of the great things about the Intent technology that we're using is that it's very fast -- and it boots up very quickly and is very recoverable if it goes down. "

"dW: How can you possibly get "very fast" performance from platform-independent binaries?

Moss: This is one thing people don't understand, and they keep on saying, "The new Amiga provides portable binaries. Portable binaries are slow." Now, in the past they've been slow because portable binaries have always been interpreted. But what happens with Tao's Intent is that they are dynamically translated into actual native machine code. It only has to be translated from VP code to native code once. The other thing that makes it very, very fast is that Tao Intent, at the VP level, uses an object-based architecture that takes methods, or functions, and creates small elements called tools. One method equals one tool. And if you're using VP code, when you call the single method, the single method gets loaded, translated, and executed. So it's not like a traditional system like Java, where you call methods and the entire class is yanked across. So it's actually very, very fast. You know the 80/20 rule: You call an object. If you're lucky, you're probably going to use at most 20% of operations in it. Not so with Intent; you only load, translate, and execute what you are going to use. "

In summary the Amiga holds a great opportunity to break beyond the traditional computer system and to go where no man has been before. The cross platform architecture is a great advantage not just for the developer or the user but for both of them. No matter how you use the computer or what you use it for, you will be of an advantage with the Amiga as your computer of choice.

Thanx for taking time in reading this relatively long article. That was just a small taste of Amiga and the this interview. The complete interview can be found here. More on Amiga can be found at Amiga.org, Amiga.com and Devicetop.com forums... You can actually find me on devicetop.com so any questions are welcomed.

If you're new to the things that are talked about in my article and quite don't know what I'm talking about. A simpler version of an intro can be found here.
- What is Amiga All About?

If you are aware of what I'm talking about and what more info because no your really hyped up. Checkout the following links. They are great and will give you a superb insight into the Tao "intent" technology.
- link - As far as I'm concerned this article is very technical and will give developers a huge insight to the intent technology. The following articles are also very good but this particular one has great detail, stemming from Portability, The Virtual Processor, Dynamic Binding and lots more.

- The Amiga Digital Environment - Also a technical document but not only covers intent but the Amiverse as a whole and defines the different types of layers that the new Amiga takes into consideration.

- Expanding the Linux community through cross-platform architecture - A must read for the Linux community. Linux helping Amiga and visa versa.

- Dave Haynie speaks on Virtual Processor (VP) code.
- This once again another great article. As are all the articles and developers should read them all to really get a good idea of what the new Amiga is going to be all about.

Click Here!