Today, most Amiga users and developers own PCs next to their Amiga platform(s). The PC platform is currently the only "cheap" solution available to give access to modern day hardware. This is why many Amiga fans use it as a development platform or use PCs for applications which aren't available for the currently dated Amiga hardware platform . Of course, this is soon to change with advent of new PPC based AmigaOS 4.x compatible computers on the horizon, as well as a huge variety of AmigaDE enabled devices. But there is also another way: run AmigaOS on your PC. This article will review a new product, AmigaOS XL, which allows you to run the AmigaOS under any modern PC. Screen shots included.
In the past, AmigaOS emulation was not a popular solution within the Amiga community, as it offers sub-optimal performance. However, after almost a decade of virtually no major hardware advancements and the rapid increase of raw computing power found in modern day graphic chipsets and processors, this eventually allowed AmigaOS to be emulated on PC hardware with acceptable performance. The biggest bottleneck however has been the multi-processor nature of the classic platform, where several chips specialized at certain tasks take the workload off the central processing unit. This ingenious design is hard to emulate on mainstream hardware solutions like that of the PC. For instance, emulating complex Amiga games which run smoothly on ancient 7 Mhz Amigas with only one Megabyte of memory sometimes are rather jerky under emulation on modern day PCs with hundreds of times more raw processing power and memory available to them. During the late nineties, it became apparent to the Amiga community that emulation would play an important role in the future of the platform as the original 68k processor it uses is not being developed anymore and tops at clockspeeds of just 66 Mhz. However, even on such dated hardware, the efficiency and performance of AmigaOS often makes its user feel as if he or she is using a top model modern day computer. The user interface is far more responsive than any other desktop solution available, and features preemptive multitasking between applications, which react immediately at lightning speed. But, when using such classic 68k based platforms for processor intensive tasks like rendering 3D graphics (once an Amiga dominated niche market), or other complex calculations, the platform shows its age and all of the sudden feels like the dated machine it truly is in comparison with today's mainstream hardware solutions.
During the last couple of years, developers within the Amiga community started to philosophize with ideas of emulating mainly retargetable standards and ripping out as much custom chip dependency as possible, this together with new Just in Time compilation techniques would result in an enormous increase of emulation performance. This brings us to AmigaOS XL, this package was designed to get the most out of AmigaOS emulation on x86 hardware while maintaining compatibility with retargetable AmigaOS standards. Thus for emulation of old Amiga games which depend heavily on classic custom chips it is best to stick with emulation solutions like Amiga Forever in combination with a (pre-configured) AmigaOS 3.0/3.1 enhancement package like "Amiga In a Box" or AmigaOS 3.9.