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Amiga to choose MIPS claims rival

And will it be acquired by ATI?

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Wolf Dietrich, head of Amiga upgrade developer Phase 5, yesterday revealed some intriguing evidence that Amiga, Inc. has chosen MIPS as the basis for its upcoming Linux 'multimedia convergence computer'. Dietrich's case centres on the similarity between Amiga's work and graphics specialist ATI's set-top box reference design development. As previously reported by The Register, ATI has been very keen to move beyond its 3D accelerator card roots and into broader markets for some time. One such are is set-top boxes, and the company recently licensed MIPS' CPU architecture for its work here. It's also using the expertise it acquired late last year through the purchase of system-on-a-chip developer Chromatic Research for the ancillary chip development. Meanwhile, Amiga's next-generation box is believed to contain ATI's 3D graphics technology, and while the CPU has yet to be revealed -- Amiga president Jim Collas is expected to announce the chip this weekend -- the company has been seeking programmers with MIPS experience, Dietrich claimed. The other favourite for Amiga's choice is the oh-so-mysterious Transmeta CPU. There's clearly much synergy between the two companies, and Dietrich reckons that Amiga's upcoming computer and the ATI set-top box are essentially the same thing, Amiga having presumably licensed the hardware from ATI. Dietrich is of course not entirely impartial about all this. Yesterday, his company announced wide-ranging support for the QNX operating system recently dumped by Amiga (much to the irritation of Amiga fans) and a PowerPC-based machine that will, in Dietrich's words, compete directly with the Amiga. Speculating further, it's not too hard to see the cash-rich ATI perhaps even cutting a deal with Amiga owner Gateway for the company. Gateway has always had a rather laissez faire relationship with Amiga -- having bought the company it never really appeared to known what to do with its acquisition -- and it might well be open to an offer from ATI. ATI, of course, gets a computer hardware brand -- albeit one now of little value to anyone other than Amiga traditionalists -- plus system design expertise that nicely complements its own. Such a move would tie in neatly with the rumours doing the rounds on the Amiga fan Web sites that Amiga, Inc. will soon cease to be an independent company. It was assumed that meant Gateway would pull the Amiga into its own business -- not a bad idea, given the relative strength of each other's brands -- but it could equally point to a sale to ATI. Meanwhile, we await Collas' weekend pronouncements with interest. ®

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