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Designs for Two New Amiga Models Announced

In a carefully crafted sequence of events ACK Software Controls and Amiga Inc publicly announced designs for two new Amiga models - a consumer entry system and a power system. Commenting on the design of the latter system, Bill McEwen of Amiga Inc said, “Amiga believes that this new system will address the needs of the Amiga user today and into the near future”.

The consumer entry system with a suggested retail price of $489.00 US dollars will have a Flex-ATX form factor motherboard based on the Freescale MPC8349E SoC., one DDR2 DIMM slot, one 66MHz PCI slot for use with readily available graphics cards, two 33MHz PCI slots for additional expansion, and Onboard sound is provided by a C-Media CMI8738. The power system is based on the P.A. Semi PWRficient PA6T-1682M dual core 64 bit CPUs clocked at 2GHz, with features such as four DDR2 DIMM slots, one PCI Express x16 slot for high performance graphics cards, one PCI Express x2 slot for high performance I/O cards, and six USB 2.0 ports. It has a suggested retail price of $1498.00 US dollars.

From a technical point of view, the design specifications received a warm welcome from Amiga enthusiasts. One member of the NC/ SC Amiga Users Group, who commented on the consumer entry system, pointed out that “the important thing is it fits the low end price point perfectly for a complete system. And if it performs good, it should be a nice way for many to get back into a "modern Amiga"”. Although the price tag of the power system was significant, the high-end design of the system appealed to many Amiga users. Stefanos from Athens commented, “That's not an Amiga, that's a beast! I really-really hope they can drop this monster into the market with AmigaOS 4 installed on it”. The news which struck accord with users in general was that these systems would be complete (monitors excluded) and the case, keyboard, and mouse will be Amiga branded.

The revelation that ACK Software Controls and Amiga Inc had been involved in negotiations for almost 12 months about the designs was a surprise to commentators on the Amiga scene. In September of last year, Bill McEwen of Amiga Inc had told visitors to Pianeta Amiga that an Italian team (now known as ACube Systems) were working on hardware which would run AmigaOS 4. He made his views on the matter quite clear; “I am very pleased in working with the Samantha team and I know that they will be showing you this new product and we our looking forward to getting OS 4 on that platform”. The choice of ACK Software Controls is a surprise when ACube Systems have already produced prototypes and even intend to distribute Amiga software such as STFax 2007.

There are concerns that ACK Software Controls may not have the track record to deliver these products. In 2004, the company announced that they were working on two PowerPC-based cards for classic Amiga computers (one was later known as the PowerVixxen LT) and that prototypes were already running Linux, but the cards were never released. One Japanese user commenting on the recent announcement felt that the task ahead may be too much for one man. He said; “As far as we know, ACK is one man. That's a hell of a lot of work for one man, debugging the board, implementing fixes, getting the case designed, built, assembled, negotiating purchase of memory components, etc. Even the original Amiga team like Dave Haynie didn't do all of these things themselves, they had a whole company”.

In response to the scepticism, Adam Kowalczyk of ACK Software Controls simply said; “I just want to get some new hardware out there to the people. Hardware for OS4 to run OS4. It's really no simpler than that. No hidden agenda, just something people can buy from the list of Amiga retailers that's officially supported by Amiga Inc. Period”. Some users have rallied to the defence of the Adam with one upbeat user from Atlanta commenting, “Way to go Adam. Glad to see you've hung in there through all the rough stuff and are close to the goal”. Even sceptics conceded that the Power system will push the platform forward and should appeal to computing users in general. Paul Laycock on Amiga World said, “I'm very impressed with the specs, but still sceptical. As I said on the low-end announcement, I'll believe it when I see it”.

Further announcements as to the manufacturing partner and the final ship schedule will follow soon. It has already been noted that the Amiga Inc website states the consumer entry system will be ready in the Summer, with the Power System not expected until the Winter. Adam Kowalczyk of ACK Software Controls also revealed that developer systems will be ready to ship to selected developers by the middle of May.

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