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  • Review: Micro AmigaOne - uA1

    Hi Folks!

    Welcome to my first review

    Today I'm reviewing the Micro AmigaOne, this was one of the last Amiga's produced by Eyetech and IMHO was way ahead of it's time.



    Overview

    The AmigaOne is a PPC based Amiga capable of running the lastest Amiga OS, OS4.1 and also other PPC OS' such as OS4 and Linux for PPC Systems.

    These little Amiga's can really pack a punch with G3/G4 PPC processors up to 933mhz (which can be overclocked) and up to 2gb Ram (PC133 SODIMM)

    The uA1 Motherboard is MiniITX form factor and thus fits into MiniITX standard cases from x86 systems

    Here are the technical specs of the machine:

    • CPU
      - The µA1-C, just like the XE systems has a MagArray 300 connector for PPC processors made by IBM and Motorola and will handle G3/G4 CPU's up to their current clocking limits
    • Memory
      - PC133MHz SODIMM slot.can take up to 2GB.
    • Legacy Peripherals
      - Parallel 1x EPP/ECP,
      - 2x Serial (on internal headers)
      - JoyStick/Midi port
      - PS2 kb and PS2 mouse ports.
    • Integrated Peripherals
      - 2x 1.1 USB on the motherboard rear ITX I/O panel)
      - 2 more on headers (using a front bay connecter)
      - Ethernet: 10/100 with 3COM 920C controller
      - Sound: Cmedia CMI8738 6 ch controller with 3.5mm mic, aux and speaker jacks
      - UDMA 100 2 channel interface (VIA686B)
      1 44 way (2.5" IDE)
      1 40 way (Standard IDE)
    • PCI
      - One PCI slot on board.
      - With a suitable riser card you can add upto 3 PCI slots
    • Graphics interface speed
      - ATI Radeon 7000 AGP graphics controller on board with VGA, S-Video and composite output with 32MB of non-shared memory.
    • BIOS
      - Uboot socketed, with OS4 enabling code
    • The chipsets which are used on the A1-XE are also on the mA1 including the
      - North Bridge- Articia "S"
      which is the bridge board between the CPU, memory and PCI bus
      - South Bridge- VIA 82C686B,
      the chip that handles the system timing, interrupts, and communications between functions


    Today I am reviewing my machine as this is the only AmigaOne I have owned, but I can compare it to the newer Sam440EP which I will discuss later in the review.


    The build process

    As explained earlier the Micro AmigaOne is MiniITX form factor, therefore for this project I used an Antec ISK100:





    Although this case is very modern I thought it would make an ideal home for the uA1 as one of my aims for the project was to have a small but very powerful Amiga I could easily take along to events/meets.

    It was a tight fit getting the Motherboard inside, so others may wish to use a slightly bigger case for their project, I also had to remove the CPU Fan to be able to close the case, however since this case has has a massive side cooling Fan my system runs cool enough just to use the Heatsink on the CPU. I guess a smaller CPU fan could be fitted if required.



    The uA1 has 2.5 and 3.5in IDE headers, for this project I used the 2.5in IDE with a 2.5in Laptop HDD originally now replaced by a cool and silent 2.5in SSD



    The uA1 has USB1.1 and has headers on the motherboard so you can add front USB ports, I was only able to use 2 of the available 4 on my case though.

    TBH, fitting it all in this little case was the hardest part of the build - with a more generic MiniITX case it would be much easier and there would even be space for a slim DVD drive (I use a USB DVDRW drive on this setup)


    So how does it run?

    Well, I've only tested OS4.1 so I cannot comment on other OS' but I guess most people would want to use OS4.1 on a machine like this, and the uA1 runs it very well indeed. My system has a GX750 PPC chip factory overclocked to 800mhz and this seems very fast indeed. I have 512mb of Ram and this is plenty for OS4.1 even without a SWAP partition (I don't use swap for fear of too many SSD writes)

    Games like Quake II and Wipeout2097 run silky smooth as do Emulators such as Mame & Neo Geo.

    At last, there is Web Browsing on an Amiga that does not make you want to slit your wrists, OS4.1's OWB runs very well with many modern websites although sadly at this time there is no Flash so sites like Youtube are not supported.

    Here are some screen shots of the machine running:













    And a few Video's I took of it running:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3758p1THNg

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWnPP6B7t3Q

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXukg-OSp7M


    Any drawbacks?


    Well so far the review has been very positive and overall I think the AmigaOne is a great little machine which has a lot more potential than perhaps it has been give credit for, but yes there are some area's that let the machine down.

    Graphics Power, the uA1 has a 32mb Radeon 7000 onboard, which by today's standards is a fairly basic graphics card and due to limitations in the Micro AmigaOne's UBOOT you cannot use a more up to date PCI Graphics card. This means that if you want to run a 24bit Workbench you need to turn off OS4.1's Hardware Compositioning which is one of the nicest parts of the OS. Of course, like I do you can just run in 16bit which still looks very nice.

    There is also a lack of polished software support for the OS in as much as applications available, many of the Emulators/Games that are available are not fully developed and do not run to their full potential. This is no way a dig at those who are coding and working on apps and those helping test and develop OS4.1, your efforts are really appreciated

    It is just a shame that this OS is a little too small time for the mainstream industry to get behind it.

    Verdict?

    Well overall, as a Next Gen Amiga I think that it does very well indeed. I like the small footprint and it has plenty of power for everything OS4.1 has to offer even if the Graphics abilities are a little below par.

    You get an element of backwards compatibility via Emulation (UAE) and 020 JIT Emulation built into OS4.1 so you can run most of your old software and even WHDload Games

    If you want something a little more up to date you could look at the Sam440EP, this is also MiniITX based and has mod con's such as SATA and DDR Ram plus support for PCI Graphics Cards.

    Or of course you can look at the ATX Tower options such as AmigaOne XE and the Sam460EP or Pegasus 2

    Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the review



    Hardware & Software resources:

    IntuitionBase
    Hyperion Blog
    Hyperion Website & Forums
    ACube Systems (manuals/drivers)
    RunInUAE (backwards compatibility)
    OS4 Depot
    Last edited by fitzsteve; 5 February 2012, 16:02. Reason: added hardware/software resources / corrections
    My YouTube Channel:

    CD32 + TF330, A500+ Vampire V2, A1200D + BPPC/BVision/SCSI2SD, A1200T Black Box + Mediator B1260 + Killer K1 PPC

  • #2
    nice review, thanks Steve
    Official Amiga Walker





    Comment


    • #3
      Steve,

      How are you connecting it to the net? as using the onboard, causes it to crash on first switch on for about 20 mins, if I manage to quickly delete the net config and reboot, I can reset up net and it seems to work fine.

      What wattage PSU are you using, cause Im wondering if thats causing issues to.
      Not sure if you know this, but if your not using SII cards. Best to remove them from kicklayout as they cause constant hangs on boot (compatability issue with A1 IDE).

      Lastly, have you tried any 3D games yet, like freespace 2, using hardware rendering. Theres also that ball game, bit like marble madness on steriods.
      I get constant speckling all the time.

      Really want to get it working perfect, as Im trying to code on it for OS4.1, but its putting me off, .
      Did'nt know it was microITX, as manual states MicroATX.
      On news of PSPUAE update on DCEMU came this reply, lol.

      Originally posted by djk21108
      this will sure make that horace guy happy....

      Comment


      • #4
        I thought the online issue was just me as when posted on the hyperion site I didn't get any response... When I want to use the internet I create a new connection and delete it before powering off.

        If I leave it then as you say it will lock up on boot, I just thought it was my router! It won't crash if you unplug the network cable, then you can delete the config.

        Completely forgot about this when I wrote the review.

        Steve.
        Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 2.3.3; en-gb; HTC_DesireHD Build/GRI40) AppleWebKit/533.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile Safari/533.1
        My YouTube Channel:

        CD32 + TF330, A500+ Vampire V2, A1200D + BPPC/BVision/SCSI2SD, A1200T Black Box + Mediator B1260 + Killer K1 PPC

        Comment


        • #5
          Nice review Steve

          Thanks for sharing
          I don't know how it will be the third World War. But I do know how it will be the fourth: With sticks and stones.
          Here lies a brave, a formidable adversary and a true man of honor. Rest in peace. 04/21/1918

          Comment


          • #6
            Great review Steve! How does it compare to the 667MHz SAM?
            OS4Depot http://www.os4depot.net/ - Its like Aminet for OS4!
            RunInUAE http://cshandley.co.uk/ - No NextGen Amiga should be without this!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Tajmaster View Post
              Great review Steve! How does it compare to the 667MHz SAM?
              Good question, I did intend to add another section comparing the two, of course I didn't keep my Sam440EP and never never took it online so can't compare that aspect.

              However in short, as I mentioned at the end of the review The Sam is the newer hardware and as such comes with SATA and DDR Ram, so around the OS it feels very smooth and fast, without doing any benchmarks I would say it runs about the same.

              I did notice CPU intensive tasks like Emulation run a little faster on the uA1 but games such as Quake seemed about the same (I guess due to DDR Ram on the Sam)

              I don't think the Sam has the networking or 3D Driver issues FOL mentioned, so if you can find one this probably is the better buy, but I really do have a soft spot for the AmigaOne hence why I kept it over the Sam.

              I'd really like to try one of the full ATX AmigaOne's or Sam's with a decent GPU but it's not in the budget right now

              All the best & thanks for reading guys

              Steve.
              My YouTube Channel:

              CD32 + TF330, A500+ Vampire V2, A1200D + BPPC/BVision/SCSI2SD, A1200T Black Box + Mediator B1260 + Killer K1 PPC

              Comment


              • #8
                Hi Steve, my friend

                I have one Sam440EP-Flex 800Mhz running AmigaOS 4.1 Update 4 with Radeon 9250 128MB:

                - No issues detected on the Ethernet interface, it connect to the web like a charm.

                - 3D games like FreeSpace & QuakeII.... both runs smooth and fast.

                - HDDs & DVD-RWs also works great

                If you want, I can post some pics to the thread.

                My best wishes as allways.

                Pablo
                I don't know how it will be the third World War. But I do know how it will be the fourth: With sticks and stones.
                Here lies a brave, a formidable adversary and a true man of honor. Rest in peace. 04/21/1918

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by fitzsteve View Post
                  Originally posted by Tajmaster View Post
                  Great review Steve! How does it compare to the 667MHz SAM?
                  Good question, I did intend to add another section comparing the two, of course I didn't keep my Sam440EP and never never took it online so can't compare that aspect.

                  However in short, as I mentioned at the end of the review The Sam is the newer hardware and as such comes with SATA and DDR Ram, so around the OS it feels very smooth and fast, without doing any benchmarks I would say it runs about the same.

                  I did notice CPU intensive tasks like Emulation run a little faster on the uA1 but games such as Quake seemed about the same (I guess due to DDR Ram on the Sam)

                  I don't think the Sam has the networking or 3D Driver issues FOL mentioned, so if you can find one this probably is the better buy, but I really do have a soft spot for the AmigaOne hence why I kept it over the Sam.

                  I'd really like to try one of the full ATX AmigaOne's or Sam's with a decent GPU but it's not in the budget right now

                  All the best & thanks for reading guys

                  Steve.
                  With the sam, you need to use a PCI 9250 as with the newer 460's there arent any 3d drivers (well not full as I recall) for the newer cards (pci-e) as yet. I believe they are still being worked on.
                  On news of PSPUAE update on DCEMU came this reply, lol.

                  Originally posted by djk21108
                  this will sure make that horace guy happy....

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by merlinkv View Post
                    Hi Steve, my friend

                    I have one Sam440EP-Flex 800Mhz running AmigaOS 4.1 Update 4 with Radeon 9250 128MB:

                    - No issues detected on the Ethernet interface, it connect to the web like a charm.

                    - 3D games like FreeSpace & QuakeII.... both runs smooth and fast.

                    - HDDs & DVD-RWs also works great

                    If you want, I can post some pics to the thread.

                    My best wishes as allways.

                    Pablo

                    or you could write a new review? it would be better to keep the two apart
                    Official Amiga Walker





                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Justin View Post
                      or you could write a new review? it would be better to keep the two apart
                      Is the best I know, but I need some time to translate.. my English is going better day by day, but is not perfect.
                      I don't know how it will be the third World War. But I do know how it will be the fourth: With sticks and stones.
                      Here lies a brave, a formidable adversary and a true man of honor. Rest in peace. 04/21/1918

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Justin View Post

                        or you could write a new review? it would be better to keep the two apart
                        Hi mate,

                        It wouldn't be fair without the hardware here and only having used it a few times.

                        Maybe maerlinkv?

                        All the best.
                        Steve.

                        ---------- Post added at 10:09 ---------- Previous post was at 10:09 ----------

                        Originally posted by merlinkv View Post
                        Originally posted by Justin View Post
                        or you could write a new review? it would be better to keep the two apart
                        Is the best I know, but I need some time to translate.. my English is going better day by day, but is not perfect.
                        Pablo my friend, I can read you just fine
                        My YouTube Channel:

                        CD32 + TF330, A500+ Vampire V2, A1200D + BPPC/BVision/SCSI2SD, A1200T Black Box + Mediator B1260 + Killer K1 PPC

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Thanks for the kind words Steve,

                          OK, I will start today with my Sam440EP-Flex review

                          All the best

                          Pablo
                          I don't know how it will be the third World War. But I do know how it will be the fourth: With sticks and stones.
                          Here lies a brave, a formidable adversary and a true man of honor. Rest in peace. 04/21/1918

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by merlinkv View Post
                            Thanks for the kind words Steve,

                            OK, I will start today with my Sam440EP-Flex review

                            All the best

                            Pablo
                            Great

                            I look forward to reading
                            My YouTube Channel:

                            CD32 + TF330, A500+ Vampire V2, A1200D + BPPC/BVision/SCSI2SD, A1200T Black Box + Mediator B1260 + Killer K1 PPC

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Steve,

                              Just to update you. I seem to have solved my crashing and general stabilty issues.
                              I upped the Vcore to 1.59v, since then its been booting and working fine.
                              Not that I advise upping the VCore, but it worked for me. Now I can start setting this install up and coding, .

                              I even hammered it by filling ram and doing loads of crap in the background. It would normally crash straight away, but I kept hammering it.
                              It finally crashed when it ran out of VM. Looking good though no more network crashes on boot or when trasfering stuff to and from USB.

                              I also ripped all the crap thermal pads off the cpu heatsink. I then re thermal pasted it and now it runs very cool. If yours has the original heatsink, I would certainly check it, cause mine was all hard and crusty and wasnt making contact properly.
                              On news of PSPUAE update on DCEMU came this reply, lol.

                              Originally posted by djk21108
                              this will sure make that horace guy happy....

                              Comment

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