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© 1997-2006
Gareth Knight
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AmigaOS XL
Developer: Haage & Partner
First demonstration: July 2001
Launch date: October 2001
Status: Commercial

AmigaOS XL caused a stir in the Amiga market, being the first x86 emulator to outperform an actual Amiga. The emulator was first revealed in the August 2001 edition of Amiga Active, but the magazine were unable to reveal the emulators name or who had written it. It was only when Haage & Partner advertised the product in the September edition that Amiga users discovered where the new emulator had come from.

As a side note, the advert caused some confusion seemingly indicating that the emulator would provide a web browser with Java, Flash, and RealAudio support - much anticipated features for Amiga browsers. A deceptive statement, it was indicated later that these features would be provided through the QNX web browser.

Unlike the slow versions of WinUAE and WinUAE JiT, AmigaOS XL forgoes on the chipset emulation, using the extra processing cycles to emulate the processor. The result is an Amiga emulator capable of running 68k applications between 5 - 10 times faster than a 68060 system. According to SysInfo (an Amiga benchmark utility), a 1 GHz AMD Athlon emulates an Amiga equivalent to a 450 MHz 68040. The benchmark was supported by Kermit Woodall of Nova Design, who tested one of their applications:

"We installed ImageFX on AmigaXL during a private meeting in St.Louis and the speed was amazing.
It was like having ImageFX completely native on a fast PowerPC machine!!"
Kermit Woodall, Nova Design

Unlike Amithlon, AmigaOS XL has been developed for the QNX x86 operating system, allowing the Amiga environment to take advantage of the lightweight OS footprint, drivers, and applications available. This allows the Amiga environment to use USB devices, sound and graphics cards (through AHI and Picasso96),  local and network drives, and virtual memory that are available to the host operating system. The emulation is also able to directly access QNX/Windows/Linux-partitions and Amiga-formatted hard disks. This allows the possibility for users to copy their existing setup to the emulation environment and immediately take advantage of the extra speed provided. When compared to Amithlon, AmigaOS XL offers improved compatibility with several Amiga applications through a partial implementation of the custom chipset emulation. However, this sacrifice's speed as a result, making it the slowest of the two.

The future?

It is uncertain if AmigaOS XL has a definite future. When the product was announced there were plans for a QNX PPC version that would offer improved performance over the x86 version by removing the need for Big Endian-Little Endian translation that is performed when an x86 CPU emulates a 68k. However, the reaction to Amithlon was unexpected. Due to its ability to directly boot into an AmigaOS without user intervention, Amithlon gained significant mindshare in the market. Public reaction to the treatment of Bernie Meyer suggest a further release would be ignored by many users, who have stated their refusal to purchase software from Haage & Partner.

Read the AmigaOS XL for x86 press release (10th September 2001)
Hyperion blasts x86 AMIthlon
AMIthlon emulator
View AmigaOS XL advert (156k)

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Last Update: 5/1/2003


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