February 1995 MAGazine Volume 11 Number 1

The February General Meeting of the Memphis Amiga Group will be held Saturday, February 12 from 1:00 pm until approximately 3:00 pm in the Farris Auditorium on the campus of State Technical institute at Memphis.

The newsletter is published monthly for distribution to the members of the Memphis Amiga Group. MAGazine contains meeting announcements, hardware and software reviews, video and book reviews, and other information of interest to Amiga and computer users in general. Contributions are welcome and may be submitted in hardcopy or via disk in ASCII format at any meeting or you can upload to Operator Headgap BBS - (901) 759-1542 V.32bis hi speed operating CNET PRO v3.05c software. Be sure to leave a note to the sysop.

From the President's CLI

by Scott Pitts

Going Forward

I have been part of the Memphis Amiga Group for over 3 years, and this is the first time that I have been an officer. Bob Nunn has put allot into this club, and I hope that I can provide at least the same thrust for this group. Unfortunately, the future of Commodore is still undetermined, but there is still support for the machine. The price for Commodore Amigas have gone to an all time high in the newsgroups on the internet.

Demos

What is your favorite program? What are your interests? We are going to try and get some of the programs that you want to learn more about in for a demo. I have noticed that people are still not getting the full potential of Directory Opus. I have this program and will try to give some more pointers on how to use it. I am sure that other people have programs and posses a great understanding of them. Please feel free to demo these. There are allot of people that have special hardware for their amigas, such as scanners, dat tape drives, display enhancers, emulators etc. I am sure that the rest of the group would like to see these products.

MINUTES

General Meeting January 8

The general meeting began around 1:05 pm. Nominations for new officers were requested, with none received. The nominations from the previous meeting were the accepted, and the new officers were introduced. There were several demos including ImageFX and CanDo by Brian Akey, and the Disk of the Month by Bill Bowers. No new news on the state Commodore was available.

Keith Burns, Secretary

MAG Survey

Enclosed in this month's newsletter is a survey form. The new officers want to get some feedback about what you want out of this club, what you want out of your Amiga, and what do you do with your Amiga. We all know that most of us think the Amiga is the greatest computer ever built, but there are many tasks and accomplishments that many of us have done, that no one knows about. By sharing this information, we all can learn about other ways of using our favorite computer, and possible solve a problem or two. We ask that you mail the survey back to us, or drop it off at the next meeting. We will use the information gathered to adapt the meetings to what YOU want to see.

MAG Meetings

The Memphis Amiga Group (MAG) holds general meetings the second Saturday of each month in the Farris Auditorium on the campus of State Technical Institute at Memphis (see map at left).

There will be a board of directors lunch meeting at Gridley's BarBQ beginning at 11:00 A.M., Saturday, February 12 (before the general meeting). For more information call Scott Pitts at (901) 854-1987.

Memphis Amiga Group Officers for 1995

President
Scott Pitts
(901) 854-1987

Vice President
Steve Echols
(901) 756-9261

Secretary
Keith Burns
(901) 756-8514

Treasurer
Terry Campbell
(601) 393-4864

Librarian
Bill Bowers
(901) 360-0003

MAGazine Editior
Paul Stokes
(901) 867-8417

MAGazine Printing & Distribution
Terry A. Campbell
(601) 393-4864

Disk Sales & Video Rentals

MAG library and Fred FISH disk are $2 each.
($5 each for non-members)
Quality blank disks with labels are 65¢ each.
($1 each for non-members)
Rental of Amiga related videotapes is $3 per week.
(not available to non-members)
For all this and more contact club librarian
Bill Bowers (901) 360-0003
OR see Bill at the next MAG general meeting.

Full Page
1/2 Page
1/4 Page
1/8 Page (or business card)

(contact Terry Campbell at 601-393-4864)

INFO

The Memphis Amiga Group (MAG) is a non-profit organization whose purpose is promoting and encourageing the use and understanding of the Commodore Amiga Computer. Memberships are open to all those who share a common interest in the Amiga computer and its many wonderful and unique features. Monthly meetings are open to the public and visitors are welcome.

Annual membership dues for new members are $25.00 with an annual renewal rate of $20.00. Associate memberships are available for $15.00 per year, renewable at the same rate, to those who must travel more than 45 miles one way to attend general meetings. All memberships are family memberships and dues are nonrefundable.

Commodore Buyout News

Ok, now to the inevitable buyout matter. Last reports indicate the following:

Both the C= UK-lead and CEI-lead bids are on the table. Both had deposits down, but CEI has taken back their deposit following the expiration date of their bid. Apparently, the bid is still being treated as valid anyway.

The Commodore Semiconductor Group (CSG, formerly MOS Technologies) has been completely liquidated and the management-lead buyout has created a new company. More news will follow.

January 16th marks the last day claims may be made on Commodore US (Commodore Business Machines, Inc.) in order to get a "piece of the pie." (C= US was liquidated in early September, and was the owner of the infamous floor scrubber.)

Are things starting to look bad? Well, in a word, yes. I still have high hopes that a buying company can take the Amiga and turn it into something, well, at least as good as it was before. Whether or not they can do it in their shot, we'll be here to watch. And help.

Jason

DKB 1240

PRODUCT NAME

DKB 1240 40MHz 68030 Accelerator for the Amiga 1200

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

The DKB 1240 is an accelerator for the Amiga 1200 that fits into the trapdoor slot. It is a 40MHz 68030 accelerator with an FPU socket, an FPU clock crystal socket, a built-in, battery-backed clock, one SIMM slot for memory expansion, and an expansion port for a yet-to-be released SCSI-2 connector.

AUTHOR/COMPANY INFORMATION

Name: DKB
Address: PO Box 438 Wixom, Michigan 48393-0438 USA.

Telephone: (810) 960-8751
FAX: (810) 960-8752

LIST PRICE

$179.00 (US) for the bare board.
$165.00 (US) for a 4MB, 60ns SIMM, $55.00 (US) for a 68882 RC-25MHz PGA FPU, $125.00 (US) for a 68030 RC-50 PGA CPU with MMU.

Total mail-order cost: $524.00 (US)

SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS

HARDWARE

Amiga 1200

SOFTWARE

None.

COPY PROTECTION

None.

MACHINE USED FOR TESTING

Amiga 1200, 2MB Chip RAM Conner CP420 420MB hard disk NEC 3D multisync monitor AmigaDOS 3.0

INSTALLATION

[MODERATOR'S NOTE: If you are not comfortable opening up your Amiga, then you should have the work done by an authorized Amiga service center. Opening you Amiga yourself may void your warranty, and careless work may even damage the machine. - Dan]

The 1240 that I purchased arrived with the various chips (CPU, FPU, FPU clock crystal, SIMM) separate from the 1240 itself. Nevertheless, putting the chips onto the board was quite simple. Every chip has its own socket, except for the clock crystal, which has a strange solder socket I have never seen before. The clock crystal slides right in but does not sit entirely flush with the board. This is no problem, but I did find it a bit annoying. The manual is quite clear about chip installation, but there are two problems:

  1. The pictures referred to in the manual are grainy and of poor quality, making their use as a reference difficult.
  2. The instructions for installation of the SIMM board DO NOT MATCH the picture. The picture shows a SIMM being installed with the chips facing AWAY from the board, and the text describes installing the SIMM with the chips FACING the board. The method described in the text is the correct version (chips facing the board).

After placing the chips correctly on the board, I attempted to install the board in the trapdoor slot of the 1200. The board was difficult to seat in the trapdoor slot, and was resistant to being pushed onto the card-edge connector. Although this was annoying, it was easily solved by opening the 1200 case, moving the keyboard, and using both hands to guide the board into the trapdoor and onto the connector. This may void your warranty, but due to the current amorphous status of Commodore, this may or may not be a concern for you.

Once the board has been properly seated in the trapdoor slot of the 1200, the installation of the 1240 is complete.

REVIEW

The DKB 1240 seems to be a significant performance enhancement for the stock 1200. The board uses standard SIMM modules which autoconfig on bootup, and the board comes with a program that can be placed in the WBStartup drawer that will remap the ROM to Fast RAM if there is a SIMM present.

After installation, I noticed a large speed increase in disk access and screen refreshes. Many of my graphics utilities and applications seemed to run much faster. However, these are all subjective measures of performance. For the benchmark-inclined reader, I have included a summary of AIBB tests run with the 1240 installed. As with all benchmarks, these results should be taken with a grain of salt.

Amiga 1200 with new DKB 1240 (Cobra) Board (OS 3.0, v39.106)

DKB 1240 Configuration:
CPU 40Mhz 68030 w/MMU
FPU 25Mhz 68882
4.0 MBytes 32 Bit 60ns FASTRAM
2.0 MBytes 32 Bit CHIPRAM

The results, the 1240 greatly improves the performance of a stock 1200, moving it into the same class as an Amiga 3000 at 25MHz.

DOCUMENTATION

The 1240 comes with a 6-page printed manual. The directions are well written but somewhat sparse. The 1240 is a brand new product, however, and I expect the documentation quality to improve over time. As mentioned earlier, the pictures in the manual are of poor quality: black and white and very grainy. This is unfortunate, since they are referred to as visual aids to installation.

The manual fails to address two topics I think are very important for an accelerator. The first topic is whether or not the Fast RAM is mapped into the memory area reserved for PCMCIA cards. There is no mention of this subject, except on the last page, in the Troubleshooting section. Here, they suggest removing any PCMCIA cards before booting up, as they may be a source of possible trouble. This does not explicitly address the PCMCIA/RAM conflict, but it does suggest that Fast RAM is mapped into this area. The second problem is that the manual does not address any operation issues. As an individual unfamiliar with the 68030 chip, I would have really appreciated a section describing how the board can be used to increase software performance. It would have also been helpful if there was a section on the use of the various caches and the MMU on the 68030 chip. Apparently, the MMU is not automatically turned on at bootup, and I am at a loss as to how one can enable it.

These problems aside, the manual is adequate for the beginner as an installation guide.

LIKES

Aside from the overall performance improvements, I particularly like the fact that the board is fully autoconfiguring, and that it accepts standard (non-proprietary) SIMMs. I also appreciate the inclusion of a separate socket for the FPU clock crystal. There is a jumper on the board to switch between a separate FPU crystal and the CPU crystal. This eliminates the need to purchase yet another crystal if a 40MHz FPU is installed. I also particularly like the jumper that allows the user to disable the built-in clock. I have heard that most accelerators with an on-board clock conflict with any other clock installed in the system. This jumper is a handy way to get around this problem if you already have a clock installed.

DISLIKES AND SUGGESTIONS

I dislike the overall quality of the manual, particularly the pictures included with it. I also dislike the vagueness with which the PCMCIA/RAM conflict is presented in the manual. I would really like to know whether or not this board will cause problems if I decide to install PCMCIA cards. Unfortunately, I do not own any, so I have no way to empirically test this. There is one other problem with the board: When I try to warm-boot the computer using CTRL-Amiga-Amiga, the computer no longer recognizes my hard disk. This is probably not a problem with the board itself, but instead the fact that I am using a stock A1200 power supply. I am fairly confident that if I upgrade to a stronger power supply, this problem will disappear.

All in all, I would give this board a thumbs-up. It seems to win in a price/performance comparison. It met my expectations for an accelerator of this class. On the other hand, I had already heard I about other people's problems with similar A1200 accelerators, so I had a good idea of what to expect.

COMPARISON TO OTHER SIMILAR PRODUCTS

I have no experience with other 1200 accelerators, so I cannot honestly make any direct comparisons. You may want to consider the AIBB results for an idea of how the 1240 stacks up agains the 3000 and 4000.

BUGS

None.

VENDOR SUPPORT

I have not had any need ot contact DKB for support yet, but it is my understanding that they have a friendly and helpful support staff.

WARRANTY

The 1240 is covered from one year from date of purchase. Only the board itself is covered, as far as I know. If, however, you order the board directly from DKB with chips already installed, I'm sure they would cover that, as well. DKB does not cover shipping expenses, and there is no information about transferring the warranty.

CONCLUSIONS

I like it. I have been in need of more speed and RAM for quite some time now, and the 1240 meets my needs. Your mileage may vary, of course, but I'm quite happy with an AGA equivalent of an Amiga 3000. I'd give the product 5 out of 5 stars for performance, but only 2.5 out of 5 for documentation.

Copyright 1994 Mark C. Langston. All rights reserved.

Emplant Deluxe

PRODUCT NAME

Emplant Deluxe (with Mac Software v4.6)

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

The Emplant is a Zorro-II board that allows emulation of various different computers via your Amiga. Currently, the only emulation that is written for the Emplant is the Macintosh, which emulates a full-colour Macintosh on your Amiga. The type of Mac emulated by the Emplant is dependent upon your CPU speed.

COMPANY INFORMATION

Name: Utilities Unlimited international
Address: 790 Lake Havasu Ave Suite #16
Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403
USA
Telephone: (602) 680-9004
FAX: (602) 453-6407

LIST PRICE

Unknown. I paid $399 (US) for the Deluxe board.

SPECIAL HARDWARE ANE SOFTWARE REQRIREMENTS

HARDWARE

68020 CPU or greater.
Mac 256k ROMS (v1.1-v1.3)
Minimum of 2 megs of FAST memory.
Hard drive required.

SOFTWARE

AmigaOS 2.04 or higher.
A Macintosh System (boot) disk.

COPY PROTECTION

None.

MACHINE USED FOR TESTING

Amiga 3000/25,8 MB Fast RAM, 2MB Chip RAM. 1 internal 880k floppy drive. Maxtor 213 MB SCSI Hard Drive. Quantum 105 MB SCSI Hard Drive. AmigaDOS 2.1 KingCon 1.4 replacing the Amiga Shell.

INSTALLATION

The Macintosh emuation software installs from an 550k floppy disk. Version on disk, therefore i had to instsll v4.5 then install the v4.6 Patches on top of it. it was quite easy as both versions used the standard Commodore installer.

REVIEW

I will be reviewing only the Macintosh emulation software in this review. The IBM 486DX emulation is suppose to be near completion, but there has been no release date set, and no one I know has it as of yet.

The Emplant comes on a Zorro-II board that is easily placed inside any Zorro-II equipped Amiga (A2000/3000/4000). There are four different versions of the board: a basic one with no ports, one with a SCSI port, and one with both serial ports and the SCSI port (this one is called the deluxe model). I have the deluxe model, so I will be be reviewing it.

The first thing you notice when you plug in the board is that there are two Macintosh serial ports, and one SCSI port on the backplate of the board (the side sticking out the back of your Amiga). These serial ports are capable (according to the manual... I have never tested them at any faster than 14.4k) of transfer speeds up to 230.4k baud normally, yet with the special Emplant hardware, the speed can be quadrupled (between two Emplant boards ONLY) to 921.6k baud for AppleTalk (the standard Macintosh networking) or 460.8k if connected to a DoubleTalk board. The serial ports are not the standard Amiga RS-232 style, they are the Mini-DIN type. The second thing you will notice is the large SCSI port. The SCSI interface uses the 53C80 SCSI chip. It is NOT SCSI-II. It is a standard SCSI-I controller.

Before you can use your hardware, you must have the 256k ROM from an Apple Macintosh computer, OR you can copy the ROMS off of a Macintosh that uses the 256k type. (Note: You MUST own the Macintosh that you copy the ROMS from, otherwise you could be in violation of copyright law.) A program included with the Emplant distribution software, called ROMINFO, will dump the ROMS when run on a Macintosh. In order to get this program to a Mac, you have to copy it to an IBM formatted disk via CrossDOS and then load it into a Mac that is able to read IBM disks, or you could use a modem. The ROMINFO program will dump the MAC ROMs to the same Diskette, and you can now use that ROM image with your Emplant. If you opt for the first method (using the actual ROMS with the board) you must use a program called ROMDUMP to dump the ROMS onto your hard drive, then you must remove the actual ROMS from the board. From now on, your Emplant will use the ROM image that is on your hard drive. Either way, you will end up uith the same image.

Once you have the ROM image you can start the Emplant and get things up and running. There are three versions of the software that come with the Emplant: a version for EC processors (680EC20, etc.), a version for Amigas with the actual kickstart ROM chips (A2000/4000 and some 3000), and another version for Amiga 3000's with the soft-kicked kickstart ROMS. When you first start the emulation software, you will be presented with a preferences screen, where a plethora of options are presented to you. You are able to select the amount of memory that that the emulation will use, the screenmode, 24 or 32-bit emulation (more on this later), mouse and keyboard emulation, sound, etc....

When the emulation first starts, your computer will beep (a la Macintosh), and should you have a Mac hard disk hooked to the SCSI port or a boot disk in the drive, the macintosh will proceed to boot. Once you are on the Mac side, everything runs well.. pretty much like a Macintosh. The only major difference will be the ejection of the disks. A little symbol will appear at the top of the screen which means to eject the disk (much like that of A-Max 11+ for those of you who owned it). Aside from this, everything runs exactly like a Macintosh. One note: Some software is not "32-bit clean" and will require you to select 24-bit mode in the preferences screen. 24-bit mode will limit the amount of memory that you have available for the emulation. I highly recommend you install Apple System 7.1 or greater, otherwise you will be forced to use the inefficient 24-bit mode. The graphics speed with my EGS Spectrum is about 50% faster than that of a standard Mac II when run in 256 color mode. However, in 24-bit mode the graphics speed is extremely slow (much like 16 color mode on the Workbench of an ECS Machine). On my Amiga 3000/25, Emplant emulates a Mac IIci, and on an A4000/40 it is supposes to emulate a Quadra 650(?).

Unless you have a high-density disk drive, do not expect to be able to read Macintosh disks in your Amiga disk drives (unless you happen to have an A-Max cartridge and a Mac Drive or AMIA). Having a high-density disk drive will allow you to read Macintosh High Density diskettes, but not the low density variety. To read the low-density (which are fairly rare) you will need either AMIA or and A-Max Cartridge & Mac drive. (Note: if you have an A-Max cartridge & Mac drive you will not be able to use then inside the Mac emulation, instead you have to use an included "converter" program to convert the disks to EMPLANT format so that they can be used in the emulation. AMIA is able to read Macintosh low-density disks inside the Mac emulation).

Multitasking on the Emplant is very good. You can switch to and from the Macintosh and Amiga Workbench screen. Though if you only have four megs of Fast RAM you probably will want to disable Workbench to get the most memory out of Emplant. With my eight megs of Fast RAM, the most memory I am able to get out of the Emplant is about 5.7 megs of Macintosh memory. You are able to set the task priority of the Emplant software as high as 0. Any higher (according to J. Drew) and it would cause the emulation to actually run slower. According to Xoper, when there is little load on my Amiga side, the Macintosh Emulation can take up almost ALL of the available CPU time; however, when I am doing something processor intensive on the Amiga, the Macintosh side will lower its CPU usage to about 50% or possibly even lower. I have experienced some crashes while downloading on the Amiga side at high speed and doing some other stuff on the Mac. Overall, the system seems slightly less stable when running the Emplant software, but it is not too bad.

Another thing is the speed of the Emulation. I have to say that it is very impressive. I am only sorry that I cannot include a Speedometer report in this review (as my Macintosh system got corrupted yesterday), but maybe in later post. Well, about the speed of the Mac emulation. According to Speedometer, my 25-mhz 030 runs at the same speed as a 25mhz 030 Macintosh would run.... But the surprise comes with Floating Point operations. My floating point speed was anywhere from 5%-25% faster than an equivalent Macintosh!! This is very good for people into raytracing and rendering. I am told that the faster the CPU, the larger the floating point difference will be. So I wouldn't be surprised to see approximately about a 40% speed increase on floating point operations on an 040. Unless you are doing heaving multitasking on the Amiga side, you will find that your emulation will run faster than the equivalent Macintosh. The only thing that would slow you down would be graphics speed, but a good graphics card such as my EGS Spectrum would easily fix that problem.

The screen that the Emplant uses can be chosen by the user. Emplant supports multiple monitors like a real Macintosh if your graphics card supports it. Several graphics cards are supported, and by using a graphics card, you will not suffer from the slow ECS screens. On my EGS Spectrum, I am able to do 1024x768, 832x624, and 640x480. When using ECS or AGA you are able to select from the screenmode database. There is a QD mode that can be enable for faster updates on 24-bit and ECS/AGA screens (not needed on 256 color screens as they are extremely fast already!) but it uses 128k more memory.

The last issue I will cover is compatibility. I am sure many people are wondering how "compatible" is this emulation... Well, I have had only one problem so far. When installing OmniPage Pro v5.0, the Macintosh crashed, but I cannot be sure that it was the Emplant as I did not have the chance to reinstall it because it corrupted my Mac system, and now I am waiting for my high-density drive so I can reinstall it. Here is a list of a 'few' programs that I run without any problems:

MicroSoft Word 5.1a, Z-Term 0.93, Now Utilities, Norton Tools 2.0, MacWrite Pro, Cricket Graph III v1.5. Spirit of Excalibur, Sim City 2000, MacSyndicate (slow on 030), Civilization, Adobe Photoshope 2.5.1, Kai's Powertools, Speedometer 3.0, MPEG Play, Super ATMF-18 Flight Sim, Deliverance, DiskDoubler

One thing to note... Some Macintosh programs seem to run slower than their Amiga counterparts (even on Real Macs), so I take it either the custom chips (i.e. blitter, denise, etc) are helping out the Amiga program to make it more efficient, or the Mac programs are less efficient due to more colors, being larger, or some other reason. One good example is syndicate, on the Macintosh it is high-res @ 16 colors. But the play is excruciatingly slow even on an 030.

OTHER SPECIAL FEATURES

Some of the "special" features of the Emplant that make it realy fun to use are:

DOCUMENTATION

The Emplant board comes with two manuals. A hardware manual (15-pgs) which explains a lot of things about the Emplant hardware such as jumper settings and the such. Also included is a new Macintosh Emulation guide. It is in a small three ring binder, and though black & white only, it does appear to be a well thought out and prepared manual. There is a table of contents and a troubleshooting section; however, there is no index. The documentation tells you basically everything a beginner needs to know. Other advanced questions can be directed to tech support at (602) 680-9234.

LIKES

The thing I like most about the product is the peaceful coexistence of the Macintosh and the Amiga. Little things like being able to copy text from the Mac side and paste (via clipboard) on the Amiga side and vice versa make the Emplant a nice product. Some other things that I like are the quick and easy file transfers, which allows me to download a Macintosh program on my Amiga side and make a Mac binary transfer to the Mac side.

DISLIKES AND SUGGESTIONS

The thing that I dislike is lack of hardware handshaking on the current empser.device, and myself not being able to use the MMU of my machine. Utilities Unlimited said that if I were to use the EC version of the software I could use my MMU, but as of yet I still have had no luck. This prevents me from using a few software programs on the Mac side such as virtual memory. Also the problem with the empser.device is annoying, yet doesn't affect the Macintosh side.

COMPARISON TO OTHER SIMILAR PRODUCTS

The only other similar product would be A-Max IV, which is also a color Macintosh emulator. I have heard only good things about A-MAX IV, but because I don't have one, I am unable to do a comparison.

I do, however, have the older A-MAX II. According to Speedometer, Emplant is faster in ALL tests (I am unable to provide the output of the speedometer test because my Mac system is down right now, I may put it in another post though). I am not surprised that Emplant is faster since the older A-Max II only emulated a Mac Plus.

BUGS

I notice that when I use my Workbench with my EGS Spectrum (at 256 colors), and the Mac side is doing something on its screen, I get garbage on my Workbench screen which I have to clear by selecting ResetWB in the pulldown menus. I asked Jim Drew about this, and he gave me a reason for this once (in a post on USENET), but I cannot remember the exact reason, but I would think that it could be solved??? (Note: There is no such problem it you are running in only AGA or ECS mode, or if the Macintosh is running on an EGS Spectrum screen and my Workbench is on a standard ECS Screen. There is only the garbage problem when BOTH the Mac and the Amiga use an EGS Screen). I believe this happens with the Piccolo as well.

VENDOR SUPPORT

Excellent! The first board I had happened to be defective and only worked on occasion. I called Utilities Unlimited and they told me to send it back. I did so and three days later I had a brand new board with updated manuals and the latest version of the software!

WARRANTY

There is a Lifetime warranty. Also I should also talk about the upgrade policy. To upgrade from a lower model Emplant to a higher model, you only send in the board and the difference in cost between the two models and you will get your new board. There is no other "hidden" upgrade costs.

CONCLUSION

This is an excellent product, and I give it five out of five stars! Aside from the minor quirks, it works flawlessly, and even runs faster than the equivalent Macintosh.

NOTICE

This review written by Gene Ruebsamen, and is Freely Distributable.