Amiga chip choice confusion continues

Come on, guys -- spill the beans

So what the heck is Amiga's choice of chip for the company's next generation hardware platform? Last week at the World of Amiga (WOA) show, held in London, a videocast of a speech by Amiga president Jim Collas contained comments from Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux, the open source operating system that will now form the basis of Amiga's upcoming Amiga Operating Environment (AOE). Curious thing though: while Linus was there to discuss his Linux role and possible involvement with Amiga's Linux development effort, he appeared above a Transmeta logo. Transmeta is, of course, a chip developer and widely rumoured to be Amiga's processor partner. So, is all this coincidence? Was the Transmeta logo used, as some Amiga fans have suggested, simply because that's the company Linus works for? Well, it's hard to imagine Torvalds getting time off from his day job within Transmeta's chip development to give the guys at Amiga a hand -- unless the two companies are working together in other ways. And the only other way they really can work together is in chips, and that suggests that Transmeta is supplying the Amiga NC's processor. Then again, Wolf Dietrich, head of German Amiga upgrade supplier Phase 5, recently claimed Amiga has already selected MIPS' CPU -- and he cited a recent Amiga recruitment drive for MIPS programmers as evidence. Phase 5 is currently pursuing what's effectively an anti-Amiga strategy by developing an Amiga-style machine of its own, so Dietrich has an agenda here that may throw some doubt on his comments. That said, Amiga itself has done enough to irritate its supports, so Dietrich arguably doesn't need to stir things up. Then we have Motorola. It's planning a big roll-out announcement later this quarter for its PowerPC 7400 (aka G4) CPU, and has promised it will be joined by "many system vendors from many markets", according to the company's chief spin doctor, Will Swearingen. Of course, the only real connection Amiga has with Motorola is that the original Amiga hardware was based on the 680x0 family, but that's still a very strong connection. More importantly, perhaps, is pricing. Unlike Transmeta and MIPS, Motorola has economies of scale in place that could make the G4 a very attractive proposition for Amiga. Motorola's development programme for G4 involves some very interesting multicore, multiprocessing technologies. For a company like Amiga that's so keen on promoting its upcoming offering as "revolutionary", those technologies might well be just what Amiga's looking for. So too, though, is the Transmeta chip. Details of its CPU are very scarce, but it's likely to be quite different from what we're used to from a desktop processor. Amiga needs not only some whizzo new software technology -- that's what AmigaObjects is all about -- but some hardware that will draw in the punters. Especially if it's to shed its reputation (at least outside the Amiga user community) as a moribund platform long past its sell-by date. Transmeta is almost certainly a better bet on that front than anyone else. And, as we've seen, it has Linus Torvalds on its payroll. Does that make Amiga's choice, as hinted at during WOA, certain? If only. It's entirely plausible that Amiga still can't make its mind up about the CPU it wants or, more likely, hasn't yet okayed the deal. Until it does -- and names names -- speculation will continue to mount. ®

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