The Innovative Apollo Team Amiga Interview – Amitopia


amitopia.com / 11-10-2021 02:02    


The team behind one of the most innovative accelerators for Classic Amiga is on fire. They don’t hold back anything it seems as Apollo Team really wants Classic Amiga to be a strong computing platform. So, I’ve got a nice talk with the main person behind it Gunnar von Boehn.

Here is my interview with Gunnar about the revolutionary Vampire and its roadmap for the future. Amiga is on the Move thanks to him and the entire Apollo Team. Read on and find out why.

All of the questions are in bigger letters and Gunnar’s answers are in normal text.

What is going at the innovative Apollo Team?

Our main goal was and is to revive the Amiga. We work for this in several areas, new core updates, the new OS
improvements, new games, and new card models…all this is very innovative.

Very important are always improvements on the V4. The V4 is already a brilliant machine, but we are burning for
innovations and working constantly on improving the current core and we always look for good developments for our customers with every new release we try to bring innovations to our customers.

With R7 for example we have added new 3D features on the V4. We work currently on some 3D demos and games to demonstrate these new features and we are also working on a general 3D library that will help people to develop themselves new 3D games or demos

Huge innovations are the upcoming, V4 based accelerators

The Firebird for the Amiga 500, will be the fastest accelerator with 500MB RAM and our brilliant 68080 CPU and great features like AMMX, 3D instructions, 100 MBit Ethernet, USB for Joypad, fast IDE 20 MB/sec, SuperAGA.

These features will bring your original Amiga to the same level as the modern V4. So it will allow you to play all new software and games for Amiga and V4. I think this is a big innovation and a good step forward to revive Amiga!

We plan to start the sales in October this year, and therefore we work day by day on it. Next week we expect the new batch of PCBs. The Prototypes did already work and boot here. If we have the Firebird ready for sale, then we will put all our energy into the development of the new Icedrake card for Amiga 1200…this will be really exciting for us all. And of course, we already have plans for the next card to help Amiga fans with A4000.

Our ApolloOS is also full of great innovations. Our goal is here to make it better with every Release, more stable, faster, easier to handle. And I think we make excellent progress. We also have a new version of the Bootloader (VBL), and our customers love to have this multi-boot option.

We also started to offer “AMIGA HOME schooling” online courses on my new twitch–channel. In response to popular requests, every 4th Saturday in English and every 2nd Saturday in German. In these online courses, we explain step by step how the Amiga works and why you can program so well with it, what the strength of the Amiga design is and what makes the 68K CPU such an exceptionally great CPU. The course is meant to be useful for anyone interested in Amiga. Our goal is to teach you to have Amiga works and help you develop the ability to program small demos or even games on the V4.

Also, we work on several new games. You might have seen the new games “Jake and Peppy”, “Apollo-Blocks”,
and ”Apollo Crown”? These are some of the new Amiga games that we did. We are working on several more games right now.

We have really a lot to do 🙂

How is it going with the important Vampire 4 Standalone sales?

The sales of the V4 are constantly good we are very happy that so many people follow us on our road to revive the Amiga. We get really good feedback from our customers. They love this tiny little machine. The contact with customers is so nice, most Amiga fans are so friendly persons and they are so happy about our continuous release updates.

They really appreciate the work on the V4 a lot, and this makes us really happy. To match the demand we produce in high quantity and high quality, here in Germany. We were very lucky that with great foresight we have ordered a huge stock of all parts needed before the pandemic started. This allowed us to continuously produce even during the current chip shortage and allowed us to go on with reviving the Amiga 😉

Let’s hope the chip shortage will end soon before our stocks run out.

What are Apollo Team plans for Vampire 4 Standalone?

World domination and revival of the Amiga ;-)… We think that this machine is able to rule the world. It has 500MB RAM, the programmer-friendly 68080 CPU, the advanced SUPER AGA Chipset, 16 Bit Audio; AMMX, Video acceleration, 3D instructions, you can play all old games and a bunch of great new games. This is the card that every Amiga user and all original Amiga engineers did dream of.

Can you introduce to all, what the liberal ApolloOS is?

To say it with the words of William Wallace… “Freedom”

It is very simple: Our goal was and is to revive the Amiga. We dislike people which spend their time with legal fights that hurt the Amiga and the community. We do not want to be drawn into any of these. This is why we decided while others spend their energy in court, To spend our energy on improving ApolloOS and to work on reviving the Amiga.

The open-source nature of AROS descendent ApolloOS allows us to add new features and continuously improve them. ApolloOS comes with many features and is really advancing Amiga System: it has a build internet stack, it comes with a modern Filesystem cache build in, and many more features that old AmigaOS did not have on its own.

How did you make ApolloOS aka AROS run AmigaOS applications?

Being able to run original Amiga OS games and original Amiga programs was always possible with AROS. This is not my work. As you will recall AROS originally means “Amiga-Replacement-Operating-System”, which means it was always planned to be a drop-in replacement of the OS.

But as we also know, Aros did had a few bugs here and there which prevented some Amiga applications to run perfectly. The Apollo-Team did a great job to find and fix many of these problems in the last year and so the OS became better, more compatible, and more stable with each release. Today ApolloOS is really a serious alternative OS.

What are the most promising features coming for ApolloOS?

ApolloOS did improve a lot in the last year. We spent a lot of work on it, so is now in many areas even better than OS 3.1.

Our man maintaining the Distro “Pedro Cotter” did a really impressive work. With ApolloOS you can go directly to the internet with a single click, you can watch nice videos right away, can listen to mp3, can open network share over samba, it comes with all kinds of drivers built-in, and comes included with many useful programs and also programming languages. It’s a key-ready and fully useable solution, fully useable from the start you turn the machine on.

Vampire 500 v2+
Vampire 500 v2+

Could you reveal what the plans are for Vampire V2 owners? Are you going to open source it when the new Vampire V4 accelerators arrive?

The V2 is a very stable and super fast accelerator card. The reason that the V2 is the end of production, is that the FPGA chip that is used, is the end of production. We do not think that using refurbished chips from China should be done in any product and that doing so is not a way to make a reliable product.

Therefore the V2 can no anymore reasonable produced. Another topic is that the capacity of the FPGA is exhausted. So improvements of the current core are barely not possible. Open sourcing the PCB would not change or improve this problem. Furthermore, the PCB design of the V2-card is owned by Igor and so the decision is not in my hands but in his. For private use, the core is on my website for everyone to download, but without a PCB no one can use that core.

The new more advanced and modern V4 cards are coming out now to solve this. The existing V2 cards owners will be continued to be supported with bug fixes.

Can you unlock some exclusive information about the new V4 accelerator cards for Classic Amiga?

Yes for sure, they will be really brilliant. We developed them on the successful V4-base. This means they use the same FPGA which is bigger and more modern and all the cool features of the V4 will now also be available to Amiga accelerator fans.

The features in a nutshell

If the situation with Cloanto and Hyperion ease at some point, would you allow AmigaOS 3.2 to be bundled with Vampire 4 Standalone?

We are all long-time Amiga OS fans from Amiga OS version 1.1 to 3.9 And all these different versions of Amiga OS are possible to use on the V4. Our Vampire multi-boot loader (VBL) makes parallel installing of several Amiga OS very easy and allows the users to easily switch between different versions.

Our goal is to revive the Amiga, and we think that legal battles are not the right way for the Amiga fans. We don’t want to be drawn in to any of these fights and we believe that our free ApolloOs is the right way forward to allow us to revive the Amiga.

ApolloOS is today already a lot more advanced in some areas than the old Amiga OS. I think by the time the lawsuits are over, ApolloOS will be the perfect and best Amiga OS available. … while others fight, we think it is better to develop, or while they spend their money on lawsuits, we prefer to invest our time and money in reviving the Amiga and making customers happy 😉

Is someone making custom cases for Vampire 4 Standalone?

We are dreaming of a solution with the V4 in something like an A600 case. Small and powerful. Today there are already some options like checkmate, plexiglass, or the idea from P.Lang.

Is there a plan to make ApolloOS installable for PiStorm and Warp accelerator users?

This is already working.

ApolloOS is fully useable on any Amiga, and we are completely open if anyone wants to use it on other systems. Our distro is free of charge and we are open to others to do something with it! But you have to be aware, that the V4 is really a very strong machine with high speed and modern features like DMA-based 100Mbit Ethernet, AMMX, 3D instructions…. And our OS is logically optimized for our own products. Simple because of the difference in features and horsepower you should not expect that ApolloOS runs as well on other systems as on Vampire.

And you will surely understand that we do not spend our time optimizing our OS for other products. That would be pretty unfair to our customers. But, and this is an invitation: If anyone out there wants to polish ApolloOS for some other Product we are completely happy with that. The code is open source.

What do people need to do regarding development on ApolloOS?

We are always happy about helping hands – tester, coder, graphic artist, musicians, game coders, web designer, -are always welcome. The Apollo-Team can most easily be reached in our online Discord channel. If you want to work with other Amiga nuts on the revival of the Amiga then just ping us there.

You do not need to be a coder. Also making nice wallpaper or painting icons can help to revive the Amiga.

We also work on several other projects for example new games, so you can also help us doing games.

Where do you think that Apollo Team is in 10 Years?

I hope that our new Amiga line will be in every home. 😉

Anything you want to tell the survival community keeping the world of Amiga alive?

Oh yes, I would appreciate it if the people would not argue so often. I really love the platform and the community and I love to work for the revival of the Amiga. What I do not like is that so many people bash each other, or talk about things they have no clue of, or even sue each other. In my opinion, this is not necessary, useless, and does not bring the community to a revival.

The people should better spend their time enjoying their old and new Amigas and have fun playing the cool old/ new games, coding demos and making new games and having fun with each other….and I do not mean that in a sexual way.

If you like the work that the Amitopia Team does. Please donate here[1]. Without the donations, Amitopia couldn’t give you the same service. Amitopia is driven by people passionate about the Amiga computer. Let the Amiga flame burn forever! There’s simply No Amiga Limits with us since 1998!

References

  1. ^ here (www.amitopia.com)





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