Retro Revival: A-EON Resurrects The Amiga With The AmigaOne X5000 And They Aren't The Only Ones

amiga 500
Even after more than two decades since the company’s demise, the Commodore Amiga still has loyal fans that refuse to let the innovative platform die. Proof of the Amiga’s cult-like following is evident all over the web, but a review of the A-EON AmigaOne X5000 that just hit over at ArsTechnica has reignited the conversation in modern tech circles that don’t typically discuss the beloved Amiga.

The A-EON AmigaOne X5000 is technically not a new product. Although Ars’ review was just published, the motherboard powering the system has been available for quite some time – full systems built around the motherboard are relatively new, though. And Amiga OS 4.1 “Final Edition” went gold years ago. The X5000, however, is a modern Amiga that natively runs the Amiga OS on far more powerful hardware than any of the original Commodore-produced machines.
amiga cyrus motherboard
The A-EON Cyrus+ Motherboard

At the heart of the AmigaOne X5000 is an A-EON Cyrus+ motherboard featuring a PowerPC-based dual-core Freescale CPU with a frequency of up to 2.5GHz. The Cyrus+ motherboard has modern amenities like SATA, USB, Ethernet, and PCI/PCIe slots, and can natively run Amiga OS 4.1. Although early versions of Amiga OS were developed for Motorola’s 68K series processors, newer versions were developed for PowerPC-based processors. A-EON has a more-powerful X5000/40 in development as well, reportedly featuring a quad-core CPU, but details are scarce at the moment and no definitive release date is available.

The A-EON AmigaOne X5000 gives users the ability to run both the classic software that made the Amiga platform the premiere gaming and multimedia system that it was back in its heyday, in addition to newer PowerPC-complied applications. Although the Amiga is decades old, there is still development going on for the platform. There’s not much relative to mainstream operating systems like Windows, but Webkit-based browsers are available, along with numerous games, office-type, and content creation tools.
amigaone x5000 tower
The AmigaOne X5000 With "Boing Ball" Etching

With that said, the A-EON AmigaOne X5000 is clearly meant to address a very small market of die-hard Amiga lovers. The configuration Ars evaluated is priced north of $1,800. For that kind of money, someone could build a powerful Core i7-based system, emulate Amiga OS 4.1, and do virtually all of the same things, though compatibility and performance won’t be quite the same. For those looking to simply recreate the Amiga experience, a Raspberry Pi3 with Amibian, stuffed into one of these awesome mini Amiga cases is another, affordable option. There are a handful of FPGA-based Amigas out there too.

A-EON isn’t the only company making new Amiga hardware either. Vampire boards for various Amiga systems are still being developed, that significantly accelerate the machines and incorporate modern features like HDMI to connect today’s displays. New video cards like the MNT VA2000 have just recently been introduced as well. There are even rumors of a new, standalone Vampire-based Amiga circulating.
vampire 500 v2
Vampire 500 V2+ Altera FPGA-Based Amiga Accelerator

There is a dedicated community still out there repairing and restoring Amiga systems to their original glory. The batteries and capacitors in many original Amigas are known to leak and corrode the motherboards in the systems. It is not uncommon to find mint Amiga 500 systems, carefully stored in their original packaging, that have been destroyed due to the Varta Ni-Cad rechargeable batteries on their motherboards leaking and eating away the surrounding traces. Thankfully, re-capping and repair services are available to remedy these issues and breathe new life into aging Amigas when the damage isn’t too severe (some of the repair work done in the Amiga community is awe-inspiring). New PCBs were also made available at one point for astute die-hards that wanted to re-create the Amiga 500 motherboard and fresh Amiga 1200 cases recently began shipping after a successful Kickstarter campaign too.

If you’d like more background on the Amiga, to better understand its rich history and the reasons why it still has such a loyal following, we’d suggest checking out ‘Viva Amiga’ and hitting up YouTube for a handful of other enlightening Amiga documentaries. The Amiga platform was way ahead of its time, and offered multimedia and true multi-tasking features that were unmatched, even years after Commodore’s death. Had Commodore’s leadership not driven the company into the ground, it’s entirely possible the Amiga would still be a dominant platform today.