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Natami Prototype Motherboard based on C-one MB
|Operating system||AmigaOS (upto AmigaOS 3.9) AROS 68k|
|CPU||68060 for immediate compatibility with Amiga. Proprietary N070 (compatible with 68060) in development|
|Memory||512 MB - DDR2 SDRAM|
|Dimensions||Standard ATX 170mm x 140mm Formfactor Board|
NatAmi (short for Native Amiga), is the name of an ongoing hardware project, started in 2005, that has the aim to recreate an Amiga compatible computer, maintaining the original design scheme of classic Amiga motherboards but with up to date characteristics and features, removing the hardware limits in DMA, chipset and memory that were present in the original Amiga computers. The project is oriented to create an Amiga clone motherboard, but enhanced with modern features.
Natami board is currently developed by Thomas Hirsch and the NatAmi Team. It is aimed to be fully compatible with the original AmigaOS.
The endeavor began in 2005, adapting another computer mainboard, the C-One and adding a new processor card thru C-One processor slot, and adding new circuitry in order to recreate an Amiga-like chipset with modern computing features. On 18 Sep 2009, The Team revealed an evaluation version of NatAmi baseboard called Natami 16LX.
While the prototype was based on C-One mainboard, the new NatAmi 16 LX is a brand new board, which will be a foundation of the incoming developer board. Furthermore, NatAmi 16 LX board is to verify hardware and peripheral design concepts, and on 13 Feb 2011 the team manufactured the first Natami MX motherboards. The MX board revision is meant to be sold to the public if it passes all the hardware tests.
The HDL sources for programming of the FPGA chips is currently closed source. The hardware language chosen is the proprietary Altera hardware description language while the 68k-softcore is developed in VHDL.
Natami motherboard is a standard ATX formfactor computer motherboard, powered by a Motorola/Freescale 68060 and its chipset, compatible twith the original Amiga chipset has been inscribed on a programmable FPGA Altera chip. The Natami is the second Amiga clone project after Minimig motherboard, and its history is very similar to that of C-One mainboard developed by Jeri Ellsworth an Jens Schönfeld. From a commercial point of view, Natami circuitry and design are Closed Source, although other Amiga clone Minimig motherboard follows Open Source philosophy.
The members of the Natami Project are organized as a distributed online team and, more or less, they follow the guidelines of "hobby computing" computer hardware manufacturing, that is to say that a group of persons with a common interest will join privately to combine knowledge, efforts and funds in order to creating a new hardware mainboard, without being hired from a major hardware firm, or being not part of any research team by any university, neither being related to existing public or private research centers.
Computer engineer Dave Haynie once stated about Natami:
— Actually, of all the recent hardware things I've seen in the post-Amiga world, this is the only one I see as being of much value. Or, in my usual terms, "It's cool".
For one, you can claim real Amiga cred there -- doing things the Amiga way. You're not just a PC with a PowerPC CPU and some VGA chip trying to make the claim of being an Amiga. I was a little skeptical when I first heard about it, but I'm totally convinced at this point: if you want a new Amiga, this is the true way.
Natami project could be roughly inscribed in a more vaste hobbyist hardware phenomenon of Home computer remake, that is part of retrocomputing. Projects like Natami and Minimg, C-ONE, the microcontroller Arduino (in its incarnation Gameduino), the open source videogaming console Pandora, and Multiple Classic Computer are aimed to revive elder computers or videogaming consoles. Although these projects have a limited diffusion amongst small circle of enthusiasts, their existence demonstrates that 36 years after Altair 8800 (which was born in 1975), and Apple I (which was born one year later Altair, in 1976), that the phenomenon of Homebuilt Computers, and electronics hobby is very active still in the middle of 2011. Even Altair 8800 and Altair 680 are one of the most reproduced vintage computers.
Natami Basic Concept and Approach
The basic concept behind Natami is to rebuilt (or better to "reconstruct") an Amiga machine with up-to-date features without reying on emulation (as in WinUAE), without using modern PC Intel components, and without creating a modern PowerPC mainboard who could became another heir of classic Amigas (as it was been with AmigaOne or Pegasos computers). This fact doomed the project to being literally slowed down, as this philosophy of "purist" approach chosen by the Natami Team, led the developers to recreate the entire Amiga chipset (but free from any Classic Amiga legacy as the limitiation of 2 megabytes of audio and video graphics RAM as in AGA chipset), and rebuild this new chipset by programming a FPGA Altera Chip. Later the developers decided to create from scratch even a new processor chip, codenamed "N68050" and later "N68070" (also known as N070) that is not a real chip but a "SoftCore" that resides into Altera FPGA programmable chip. N070 should be still compatible with 68060 but also being more compatibile with the ancient classic Amiga software, and without renouncing the 68060 performances. As long as this new virtual processor running into FPGA is still worked on, the final motherboard will adopt initially 68060.
NatAmi 16 LX board
Evaluation version of NatAmi LX-baseboard.
- 128MB ChipRAM (max)
- 128MB FastRAM (max)
- 31 kHz video out, 15 kHz video out, 15 kHz video in
- audio in, audio out
- SyncZorro, PCI, 2.5" IDE, 3.5" IDE
- simple (1.1) USB
- serial port, parallel port, ps/2 keyboard, ps/2 mouse, floppy disk, joystick ports
The final developer version is going to have 32bit RAM and 512 MB RAM in total instead of 256 MB as for LX version.
Final developer board
- Tami, an integrated 3D graphics and texture mapping processor.
- SuperAGA chipset (compatible with AGA)
- Supported resolutions: 320x256 - 1280x1024
- Supported pixelformats:
- Planar 1-10 bitplanes (1024 colors) with 24-bit palette.
- 11 EHB bitplanes (2048 colors using Extra Half Bright mode)
- HAM 6/8/10
- 8-bit Chunky
- 16-bit Hicolor
- 32-bit Truecolor
- Also planned and confirmed: 24-bit Hybrid Chunky-Planar colors with three 8-bit Byte-Planes chunks for each Red, Green and Blue color component.
- more than 4 hardware audio channels (Paula style)
- 24bit audio with 16bit sample support
- Hardware support for mixing an unlimited number of channels
- Copper compatible with original AGA copper
- SuperBlitter compatible with original AGA blitter
- High Density (1.76 MB) Amiga compatible floppy disk controller using normal (1.44 MB) PC drive
- Amiga backward compatible IDE controller supporting PIO and DMA
- 1× PCI slot (for later upgrades, which can be expanded using a riser card to 3 slots)
- "First Natami MX boards produced". Amiga.org. 2011-02-13. Retrieved 2011-06-11.
- "Natami Knowledge Forum". 090506 natami.net
- "Haynie's Garage Sale". Amiga.org. 2011-04-13. Retrieved 2011-06-12.
- "Panoramica Ricostruzioni". ComputerHistory.it. 2011-10-09. Retrieved 2011-06-20.
- "12 questions to... Natami Team - part 1". Polski Portal Amigowy. 2011-04-28. Retrieved 2011-06-15.
- "NatAmi HW-Specification". Natami.net. Retrieved 2008-11-21.
- Natami at Amiga history guide.
- Article about Natami at French independent Amiga and MorphOS news site Obligement, (in French)
- Discussion about Natami on the Italian science and computing culture site Appunti Digitali, (In Italian)
- Inteview Natami Project, on the pages of English and German Amiga magazine AmigaFuture, Issue 73, May 2011
- Interview with Natami Developer Bartek Kuchta on the pages of Polish Retrocomputing Site RetroAge
- Interview with AmigaOS 4 and Natami Developer Darren Eveland at French independent Amiga and MorphOS news site Obligement, 2011-06-15, (in English)