ngamiga@gmail.com

Hardware : A-Cube AmigaOne/Sam

During 2006 and 07, AmigaOS4 had a very tough life, just when AmigaOS4 was evolving into a stable operating system, Eyetech pulled out of the Amiga market, this left the Amiga community struggling to survive on the few AmigaONE machine that had been made, also these boards proved unreliable so a new solution would be needed, due to the contract between Amiga Inc and Hyperion, Eyetech was the only official hardware company allowed to develop new hardware for the AmigaOS.

This lead to a legal battle between Amiga Inc and Hyperion for the next 2 years over what hardware the AmigaOS could be allowed to run on and who actually owned the OS. Hyperion partnered with Acube to distribute AmigaOS 4 software, at the same time they announced a new PPC motherboard, named the Sam, there was much speculation as to weather or not it would run the AmigaOS. At the end of 2008 we had the answer, AmigaOS4 would support the Sam440ep. This was very good news as it finally gave the Amiga new and reliable hardware for AmigaOS to be sold on. Soon followed where overclocked version of the Sam440ep, many claimed the Sam was underpowered for OS4 at just 533mhz, being less powerful than most Eyetechs AmigaONE systems. There was also calls for more expandability options, as the original Sam440 only featured one PCI slot, most people where using this for a better graphics card than the integrated one that came with the system.

This lead to the Sam440ep flex which offered three PCI slots and was sold with a higher clock rate by default, offered more Ram options and was ever so slightly cheaper, both system supported the newly released AmigaOS 4.1 and have become the main stream systems used by Amiga users for developing and using the AmigaOS. In April 2010 it was announced another new Sam motherboard was in development, this would feature a faster processor, running at 1Ghz, offer PCI express and SATA2 connection. This became the Sam460ex which featured the Applied micro PPC-460ex SOC chip clocked at 1.1Ghz, on board graphics (Silicon Motion SM502 64mb) and 5.1 audio this machine also offered PCIe 1x and 4x and was a sensible upgrade to the 440 sam which shortly after this release ended production. However it cost was £800 so Acube quickly released the Sam460ex lite which down clocked the CPU to 1Ghz and only offered 512mb Ram, released at £680. This was a short lived product however as Acube introduced the Sam460cr which aimed to cut the costs even further by removing the onboard graphics, sound chip and only had 1 SATA port. In 2011 complete system where being offered under the brand name of AmigaONE 500 these featured the Sam460ex board, 2Gb Ram, 500Gb HD, DVD drive, AmigaONE Mouse, Case and AmigaOS4.1.

The Systems

sam460cr_image

SAM 460EX / AmigaONE 500

Launched: September 2010
1000/1200 AMCC PowerPC 460ex SoC (1Ghz/1.2Ghz)
2 GB DDR2 Ram 200-pin SODIMM up to 533 MHz
Silicon Motion SM502 embedded MoC (audio/video) max 64MB gfx Ram
Audio 5.1 Realtek ALC655 codec
PCI-express 4x lanes slot (16x mechanical connector)
PCI-express 1x lane slot or 1x SATA2 port
PCI slot, 32 bit, 66/33 MHz, 3.3V
6x USB2 EHCI/OHCI ports
2x 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports
integrated SD card reader
RTC clock, Serial port, 8-wires
I2C and SPI/I2C buses
Supports AmigaOS 4.1 or higher
PRICE: around 750euro

SAM 460CR

Launched: Febuary 2011
1100 AMCC PowerPC 460ex SoC (1.1Ghz)
512mb DDR2 Ram 200-pin SODIMM up to 533 MHz
PCI-express 1x lane slot or 1x SATA2 port
PCI slot, 32 bit, 66/33mhz, 3.3v
6x USB2 EHCI/OHCI ports
2x 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports
integrated SD card reader
RTC clock, Serial port, 8-wires
I2C and SPI/I2C buses
Supports AmigaOS 4.1 or higher
PRICE: around 600euro

SAM 440EP FLEX

Launched: June 2009
667/733/800 MHz AMCC PowerPC 440EP SoC processor
2x DDR SDRAM, max 1 GB RAM
1x 32-bit, 66 MHz PCI slot
2x 32-bit, 33 MHz PCI slot
USB 2.0 OHCI/EHCI NXP PCI controller
2x Ethernet 10/100 ports
4x Serial ATA ports
Cirrus Logic CS4281 and Realtek ALC655 audio
GPIO expansion connector
FPGA Lattice XP with 80 pin I/O expansion connector
ZigBee module (optional)
Supports AmigaOS 4.1 or higher
PRICE: around 500 euros

SAM 440EP

Launched: February 2008
533/600/667 MHz AMCC PowerPC 440EP SoC processor
512 MB 266 MHz DDR SDRAM soldered or DDR RAM Slot
1x 32-bit, 66 MHz PCI slot
1x Flash memory device controller
4x USB2 ports, 1x USB1
2x Ethernet 10/100 ports
4x Serial ATA ports
Cirrus Logic CS4281 and Realtek ALC655 audio
ATI Radeon Mobility M9 graphics with 64 MB VRAM, s-video and DVI out.
GPIO expansion connector
Lattice XP expansion FPGA
Supports AmigaOS 4.0 Final or higher
PRICE: around 450 euros

Software

All the Sam motherboard are fully supported by Hyperion AmigaOS, the OS performance on the system has been one to raise question on how good the system are, however a number of update and over clocked systems has improved the performance on the original Sam440 boards. AmigaOS was not the first OS on the system however, a port of Debian Linux also has been made available for the machine, as well as dual booting support for people wishing to run both Linux and the AmigaOS. AROS an Amiga inspired OS was also ported to the machine.

Further Reading

http://www.sam4x0.com/ - Official Homepage of the Sam range
http://www.acube-systems.biz/ - Acube Home Page
http://www.osnews.com/story/21826/sam440ep_AmigaOS_4_1 - Review of the Sam
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam460ex - Sam460ex on Wiki
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam440 - Sam440 on Wiki