View Full Version : What happened to the AAA chipset?

burns flipper
31st July 2008, 07:58
It got made in development, the board must still exist somewhere? Do the plans still exist? Could an enthusiast recreate it?

31st July 2008, 08:35
Try here (http://www.amigahistory.co.uk/amigaaaa.html) for some info on AAA.

31st July 2008, 09:37
It always makes me very sad when abandoned next generation Amiga hardware design gets mentioned.

The AAA chipset was in development right from 1989 to 1993 and it is rumoured that some working chipsets did exist in development versions of A3000s. By 1993 it is rumoured that the chipset was close to completion, but still contained many bugs that needed to be ironed out. However instead of spending some money to complete the Alpha and Beta phases of the chipset, Commodore instead completely cancelled their development in favour of a newer chipset design called Hombre.

The sad thing is that the AGA chipset was also waiting in the wings long before it was actually launched in the A4000. Some rumours suggest its design was completed before the AAA chipset development begun in 1989, meaning the AGA chipset was ready 3 years before it was finally used.

Had the AAA chipset been completed (I can't see why it wouldn't have been ready in 1994) then a new big box Amiga (A5000?) and a new version of the A1200 (A1400?) could have easily been launched in 1994/5.

The troubled finances of Commodore US were probaby the real reason for the cancelling of the AA chipset development in 1993, rather than to concentrate on different, newer, chipset development.

The Hombre chipset, supposedly replacing the AAA development was however very interesting and really shows what the Amiga could have become by the late 1990's had it continued. :(

Hombre was to be a true 64bit multimedia system with a 3D graphics chipset and fully RISC based architecture. It was being developed with HP and estimated to be completed in just 18 months.

The chipset was to feature a DMA engine with blitter and 3D texture mapping (plus gouraud shading), a 16-bit sound processor with 8 voices, and a Retargetable graphics system supporting 1280x1024 32-bit resolutions.

You can read more about Hombre here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hombre_chipset) and here (http://www.amigahistory.co.uk/hombre.html).

An interesting quote from Tom MacDonald, the designer of the AAA Monica chip, answers your question the best:

"We were on Rev 2 of most chips by the time the project was shut down. Much of Andrea had been characterized; we ran high resolution displays, copper and blitter, 24-bit modes, etc. On the other hand, only five of the 16 bitplane pointers worked, Monica's colour lookup table was all wrong, and a bug in Andrea prevented the testing of any read registers in the other chips. There was more work to do."

31st July 2008, 10:45
An interesting fact was that Jay, the farther of the Amiga who passed away in 1994, was actually disappointed in Commodore when they brought out the AGA chipset. He thought they didn't push the boundaries enough.

He commented they should have added 16bit improved sound, better blitter and going from SCSI to the inferior IDE was a huge mistake.

They told him that this was definitely coming in the AAA chipset, along with other major improvements. Shame we never got to see a working model.

The fact is the custom chips in the Amiga were revolutionary at the time, but others soon caught up. Custom chips in the consoles for instance, trounced the Amiga in certain 2D arcade style games, although they still weren't as versatile all round as the Amiga.

The AAA chipset needed hardware scaling, stronger 2D support to match consoles, chunky display modes (or a way to accelerate games like doom), a fast 030 as standard, digital audio processor, standard hard drive etc just to remain cutting edge. I really don't think Commodore could have pulled that off for a reasonable price and stay competitive against PC's in the computer market and consoles in the game.

It's a shame, because such a machine would have been awesome and had a fantastic home scene following had it been able to compete. Atari tried to go that step with the Falcon, but commercially it wasn't viable anymore.

The golden era of computing, with all the different custom machines and models, died at that point in my opinion. Revolution was over - all that remained was evolution - mainly CPU's and GPU's.

Now the closest thing we have are the major console brands.

31st July 2008, 11:36
:notworthy::acclaim::notworthy:Not a truer word spoken Reverend Bloodwych!:notworthy::acclaim::notworthy:

31st July 2008, 11:58
"Classicamiga.com - The golden era of computing"

A new strap line for classicamiga?

31st July 2008, 12:12
No problem brother Zetro - go forth and spread the word my good friend.

Reading in detail what Buleste linked and Harrison wrote, the AAA vs the Falcon would have been an interesting round to experience. We lost something once the industry became standardized and generic.

Yes it became more convenient and cheaper to have power, but the magic was lost. Thank goodness we still have sites like this to keep it going a little longer. :)

31st July 2008, 12:37
I think had the AAA Amiga actually appeared it would of also helped the Atari Falcon. The problem with the Falcon was that it was floating around alone once released, with little support. Had another generation of Amiga been released to directly compete with the Falcon I believe the industry for the two machines would have continued along the same path with the fans of both the ST and Amiga continuing to buy into the new generation of hardware. Developers would have had two platforms to cross develop for and felt secure about the possibility of profit from software development. Instead the Falcon wasn't popular because of a lack of support, but also because it didn't really fit in anywhere and the PC hardware was quickly moving forward at a fast rate (all be it much more expensive).

I never thought I would come to the conclusion that the existence of the Amiga help the sales of the ST! But it is true. Competition in the marketplace always goes this. If a system is alone in the marketplace it tends to stagnate and not generate interest.

31st July 2008, 16:36
It's sad to see what might have been, but great read all the same:thumbs:

31st July 2008, 18:37
Now the closest thing we have are the major console brands.

And I dont see them generatuing the same amount of interest that the Amiga has 20 years on!!!

31st July 2008, 20:23
So true v85rawdeal, so true.

31st July 2008, 20:25
What do you reckon the Amiga would have been like if the AAA chipset had successfully been released?

31st July 2008, 23:02
Now the closest thing we have are the major console brands.

And I dont see them generatuing the same amount of interest that the Amiga has 20 years on!!!

That is definitely very true. I can't see the Playstation being remembered in quite the same way come the year 2015. There will obviously still be fans of certain games and series released for the system such as FF7, but not fans of the system as a whole in the same way as we are regarding the Amiga.

And I also don't see any current systems still being heavily modded as we still are with Amigas.

1st August 2008, 19:37
So true v85rawdeal, so true.

See, wit and wisdom in one handy package!

1st August 2008, 19:44
What do you reckon the Amiga would have been like if the AAA chipset had successfully been released?

I think a lot of that discussion is covered above by Links to its specs and Harrison's post. Had it been successful it would have created another great home scene I would have hoped.

So true v85rawdeal, so true.

See, wit and wisdom in one handy package!

You hold all the cards! and smilies -> :fool::smartass: