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Author Topic: Vampire 4 - Stand Alone - Amiga Disrupt Review  (Read 2865 times)

Offline intangybles

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Vampire 4 - Stand Alone - Amiga Disrupt Review
« on: January 28, 2020, 08:58:27 am »
Jon (From Amiga Disrupt) - Vampire 4 - Stand Alone - First Impressions

https://retromodsblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/28/a-look-at-the-vampire-v4-stand-alone-fpga-first-impressions

« Last Edit: January 29, 2020, 08:24:04 am by intangybles »
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Offline Epsilon

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Re: Vampire 4 - Stand Alone - Amiga Disrupt Review
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2020, 03:36:04 pm »
Jon (From Amiga Disrupt) - Vampire 4 - Stand Alone - First Impressions

https://retromodsblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/28/a-look-at-the-vampire-v4-stand-alone-fpga-first-impressions

Thanks for the link.

I was glad to read this review about the V4SA, but disappointed to see that again the Vampire solution ultimately sold to the public is half baked and not really ready.

The review specifics confirms all the many problems and disappointments I have already experienced myself using the Vampire 500v2 and Vampire 600v2 building systems around them. Especially the lack of documentation, dodgy SD card reliability and performance, annoying CF card setup, dodgy SAGA HDMI support needing to be precisely calibrated for each individual HDMI screen, no network support and lack of modern USB device support. I covered these in my blog also.

While these Vampire 4SA problems are disappointing to the reviewer, it is no surprise to me. These known issues have been unresolved for a long time. From the outside, it seems the Vampire team have overstretched themselves trying to support too many systems at once, and struggling to provide a unified feature set that works properly.

Vampire 500/600/1200 cards plugged into Classic Amigas need beefy psu, and fully recapped systems to run properly, otherwise they are highly unstable in my experience. I have lost two Amiga systems because of Vampire cards. Even without those problems, they still have plenty of other issues as documented above.

Vampires running Core 2 are still what I consider a Classic Amiga accelerator expansion card, running on top of and using the Amiga hardware. With Gold core 3 and later, where they emulate the display and other chips (eg. AGA output on an ECS machine via HDMI RTG onboard), it is no longer an expansion since it is totally bypassing the Amiga custom chips.

Running the Vampire standalone is logical in that situation with the latest core, as it is no longer really using the Amiga hardware anyway.

As I have said before, Vampire is cool tech, and it does allow us to run Classic Amiga applications a bit faster than before. But only newly developed software designed to take advantage of the faster processor speed of the vampire and RTG will genuinely improve the functionality of the system. And there is not much of that right now, and I struggle to see where the new software will come from.

Of course I am biased as a beta tester of AmigaOS4, but I prefer supporting the genuine NG Amiga systems, running new versions of PPC AmigaOS 4.1FE Update1, PPC MorphOS 3.12, x86 AROS etc, which have genuine new functionality and performance. The A1222 cost-wise compares favourably to the Vampire 4SA, and can do a lot more than just run Classic Amiga software from 30 years ago a little bit faster than before....and the X5000 is another level beyond that, opening up even more capabilities and speed.

None of these systems, including NG Amigas will ultimately ever compete with modern systems on price or performance, and before people point that out, I am well aware of it. Your modern PC, Mac or tablet (and mine) will easily outperform any of them.

The interesting part is seeing how the current NG AmigaOS 4/MorphOS/AROS is developed into, the new features and functionality opened up on our favourite platform, with genuine new software already taking advantage of them, and not just emulating old software from 30 years ago.

That said, whatever Amiga people prefer to use it up to them of course! Playing with all Amigas (NG, FPGA, emulated or Classic) makes me very happy indeed and all have their moments!

This is just my 2c, as someone keen to see the Amiga genuinely move forward.

Catcha,
Epsilon

« Last Edit: January 30, 2020, 03:50:15 pm by Epsilon »
Please visit my Amiga blog at: http://amigax1000.blogspot.com.au

Offline intangybles

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Re: Vampire 4 - Stand Alone - Amiga Disrupt Review
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2020, 09:19:53 pm »
Thanks as always for your 2c Epsilon!

Jon has also penned a general FPGA comparison article too! (which I must say seems to have caused some controversy in the Facebook groups)

https://retromodsblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/28/which-fpga-is-the-best-for-amiga/

I will post the link in the FPGA area as well.


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Offline intangybles

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Re: Vampire 4 - Stand Alone - Amiga Disrupt Review
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2020, 09:43:00 pm »
Adding this to the mix... has helped and not helped my thinking..

Thanks as always for your 2c Epsilon!

Jon has also penned a general FPGA comparison article too! (which I must say seems to have caused some controversy in the Facebook groups)

https://retromodsblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/28/which-fpga-is-the-best-for-amiga/

I will post the link in the FPGA area as well.

If I may just refer back to my earlier question?

https://www.amigaretro.com/index.php/topic,112.msg496.html#msg496

which way to go?

Very keen to hear what people think will get me my - best bang for the buck (so to speak) - given all the limitation I mentioned I really can only plan for going in one direction - but which?


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Amithlon Laptop - OS3.9 Amithlon, Graphics & USB Functional
NinjaKat console - powered by Raspberry Pi 3b+, with Amiberry it is great emulated Amiga

Offline Epsilon

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Re: Vampire 4 - Stand Alone - Amiga Disrupt Review
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2020, 09:50:53 pm »
Thanks as always for your 2c Epsilon!

Jon has also penned a general FPGA comparison article too! (which I must say seems to have caused some controversy in the Facebook groups)

https://retromodsblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/28/which-fpga-is-the-best-for-amiga/

I will post the link in the FPGA area as well.

Interesting followup article, well, more of an opinion piece really.

I agree with a lot of what is said there. I have a MIST, Raspberry Pi 3 & 4, Pinebook Pro, Minimig systems all running Classic Amiga either as FPGA or emulation...and I don't use any of them now (after the initially mucking around phase). I do use my real Classic Amiga hardware and the new NG Amiga systems like A1222, X1000 (2012) and X5000 (2018).

Amiga re-implementation in FPGA is good for preservation of the old systems when they inevitably stop working in the future. One day we may all have to run Classic Amiga this way to get the closest "feeling" to the original hardware. I bought those currently little used FPGA and cheap entry level emulation systems with that future state in mind.

I made the conscious decision that I would upgrade and then enjoy my Classic Amiga system as much as I can until they stop working. When they do, I don't intend to replace them - the cost of them is so high now and generally the systems always need significant work just to be usable. I spent a lot of money of getting my Classic Amiga systems exactly how I wanted them over many years. I covered these builds in my blog. I now really enjoy playing with them. Having said that there is still cool new hardware around to try out....the ZZ9000 for example...HDMI RTG card on a big box Classic Amiga!! Very tempting.

So, FPGA solutions like Vampire 4 SA represents the future preservation of Classic Amiga system functionality, and the Vampire 4SA is an important step for that as it pushes the capabilities closer to the functionality of a fully specced out big box Classic Amiga system. There is further to go still for those of us who want a 68060 AGA& RTG USB networkable powerhouse Amiga in FPGA, but as the author of the article says, if all you want is to play WHDLoad games then the FPGA systems you need already exist today with MIST, MISTer, Minimig, UnAmiga and others.

Each to their own...

Catcha,
Epsilon
Please visit my Amiga blog at: http://amigax1000.blogspot.com.au

Offline Epsilon

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Re: Vampire 4 - Stand Alone - Amiga Disrupt Review
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2020, 10:18:51 pm »
Adding this to the mix... has helped and not helped my thinking..

If I may just refer back to my earlier question?

https://www.amigaretro.com/index.php/topic,112.msg496.html#msg496

which way to go?

Very keen to hear what people think will get me my - best bang for the buck (so to speak) - given all the limitation I mentioned I really can only plan for going in one direction - but which?

I did answer your two questions in that thread from memory:

https://www.amigaretro.com/index.php/topic,112.msg529.html#msg529

I guess you are really asking me a different question - is FPGA or NG Amiga (A1222) the way to go for you?

Personally I would wait for the A1222. It is much more powerful than the Vampire 4 SA, can do the JIT Classic Amiga emulation to scratch that itch, but also allow you to run the latest modern AmigaOS 4 games and applications, and utilise the functionality of the latest AmigaOS 4.1 FE Update 1 which is not available on Classic Amiga based systems. (well, except the slow Classic Phase 5 PowerPC accelerator version). And if you can afford to buy a late 1990's era Phase 5 PowerPC 240Mhz amiga accelerator in the current market, you can buy the much faster brand new X5000 2Ghz system for less!

NG Amigas like the A1222/X5000 running AmigaOS 4.1FE Update 1 and the Enhancer Pack (A-Eon Technology) include things like OpenGL ES2 (Nova) support for games, Radeon RX PCI-e card support for high end HDMI graphics output to modern high end monitors, Actual native SATA and SSD support, PTP import and syncing of iPhone photos, AmiStore App store for buying and updating purchased games and applications, HD Audio, etc. Loads of applications and games released, commercial and free. And a lot more coming...upcoming AmigaOS 4 Libre Office and active web browser development...

There is so much more I don't have time to cover here. Please check my blog for reviews of some of the many NG Amiga software releases and hardware developments since 2012 (when I started the blog).

http://amigax1000.blogspot.com.au

There is a nice site put together with some info on AmigaOS 4.1 FE capabilities and features here:

https://amigaos.net

If playing with the latest AmigaOS developments, games and applications doesn't interest you and you just want to scratch the Classic Amiga itch, perhaps the FPGA based systems are a better bet. Emulation is even cheaper yet if you just need Classic Amiga games and applications.

You can use Flowerpot with AmigaOS4.1 Classic edition for a cheaper way to dip your toe in the water and see whether NG Amiga is for you. Remember that Classic edition is much slower and less capable than running on A1222 or X5000.

https://amigax1000.blogspot.com/2017/06/flowerpot-amigaos4.html

Good luck and whichever way you go let me know how it goes!

Catcha,
Epsilon

« Last Edit: January 30, 2020, 10:35:14 pm by Epsilon »
Please visit my Amiga blog at: http://amigax1000.blogspot.com.au

Offline intangybles

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Re: Vampire 4 - Stand Alone - Amiga Disrupt Review
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2020, 11:25:02 pm »
Hello again Epsilon,

Quote
I did answer your two questions in that thread from memory:

https://www.amigaretro.com/index.php/topic,112.msg529.html#msg529

I guess you are really asking me a different question - is FPGA or NG Amiga (A1222) the way to go for you?

Yes you did in that last post - thank you very much and then addressed the latter in this one - thank you again!

Yes, my heart is with the A1222 I think, have always dreamt of an OS4 system!

I do own a copy of the AmigaOS4.1 Classic edition and I do have Jan's "FlowerPot" in-fact I had already installed it under WinUAE myself manually before he released FlowerPot. Have only dappled in OS4 in a limited fashion so far.

While its still alive my A2000 fits the classic bill but well although and accelerator would be nice! again something I could never afford over the years! I had been considering a Vampire 500 V2 in it but I did fear the strain on the old bus! Would like to keep it running as long as I can!

I also have a couple of emulation systems in use as well, UAE based etc...

Funny enough the Amiga related system that I would use the most is my old R51 Laptop Running Amithlon!

Is there any value to be had in the original Mimimig - I see there is still a new (sealed in bag) board to be had for €100 - Pretty sure that original config is only really an A500/A2000 so not much more than I have now but a little faster.

Lots to think about!
 :-\
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Offline Heywood

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Re: Vampire 4 - Stand Alone - Amiga Disrupt Review
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2020, 04:46:50 pm »
Hey intangybles,

Regarding the original Minimig, I have one and it's okay, I guess one of the positives is that it can do 15 or 30khz output.
There are a few upgrades that are worth looking at - such as:

Adding RAM
Doing the SPI Mod to speed up SD Card Access
Perhaps the ARM upgrade (somewhat hard to find these days) - so the alternate is swapping out the PIC with a PIC18F26K20 and installing newer firmware

If you have spare cash - grab a minimig, I think you'll find it entertaining.

I have only done the PIC replacement but to be honest I don't use the Minimig very much though I like the footprint (and the VGA output).  With additional RAM and the SPI Mod you can use HDFs and WHDLoad (I have had some success without either but I've heard its better with both) - I ended up staying with classic hardware with augmentations


Offline intangybles

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Re: Vampire 4 - Stand Alone - Amiga Disrupt Review
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2020, 05:43:41 pm »
Thanks very much for the reply and information!

Adds more fuel to the fire!  ;)

As is normal with me, I had long forgotten that I had a couple of working emulated installs of AmigaOS 4.1 FE Classic, so I am going to have a good play with that - something I have neglected to do in the past! That may also help the thinking process...

One is running under FlowerPot on a Mac recently updated to Catalina - so if does not work now! I was speaking to Jan (AmiKit) about it and he has set me the challenge of seeing if I can port it to FS-UAE... So thats on the cards soon!

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Offline Amigacino

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Re: Vampire 4 - Stand Alone - Amiga Disrupt Review
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2020, 11:08:39 am »
Sorry jumping back in the thread a little-

Epsillon, I'm really surprised to hear you have had Vampire systems die - I've had my V500 in A500's and (presently) my A2000 (none of which have been recapped, original PSUs) and I leave them rendering for days on-end with no problems.

What systems have you had die on you? A600's?

Personally I'm deciding whether to get a V1200, V4 or A1222, but I have to say V4 looks the more appealing option to me (but I've never tried an NG system - maybe they're great).

Don't understand the appeal of the stand-alone system though - all I'd do with a SA is put it in an Amiga case anyway ;)

Offline intangybles

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Re: Vampire 4 - Stand Alone - Amiga Disrupt Review
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2020, 11:30:32 am »

Personally I'm deciding whether to get a V1200, V4 or A1222, but I have to say V4 looks the more appealing option to me (but I've never tried an NG system - maybe they're great).


Hi, I am in basically the same space.. with the exception I don't have a 1200 but apart from the the same quandary.

Have decided I am going to have a play with OS4 before I decide.. I have had it on an emulator for some years and never really looked at it!

More food for thought!
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Offline Epsilon

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Re: Vampire 4 - Stand Alone - Amiga Disrupt Review
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2020, 12:05:23 pm »
Epsillon, I'm really surprised to hear you have had Vampire systems die - I've had my V500 in A500's and (presently) my A2000 (none of which have been recapped, original PSUs) and I leave them rendering for days on-end with no problems.

What systems have you had die on you? A600's?

Personally I'm deciding whether to get a V1200, V4 or A1222, but I have to say V4 looks the more appealing option to me (but I've never tried an NG system - maybe they're great).

Don't understand the appeal of the stand-alone system though - all I'd do with a SA is put it in an Amiga case anyway ;)

One A500 and one A600 stopped working not long after installing Vampires in them. Both worked perfectly before Vampire installation.

My A2000 mouse port stopped working completely not long after putting the vampire 500 in it. worked faultlessly since 1991....

I had to buy a replacement A500 and A600 which I have done. I didn't put the Vampire back in the A600. The replacement A500 I have put the V500 in, and it works ok, but runs quite unstable at times, other times is ok. I am sure that it is the Vampire as the system worked perfectly for long periods with the ACA500 installed in it...

Vampires are interesting tech, but can be hazardous to your Amiga's health.

NG Amigas like the A1222 or X5000 are worth serious consideration. You don't get these unstable problems, you get modern hardware support and the systems are way way faster too.

Catcha,
Epsilon
Please visit my Amiga blog at: http://amigax1000.blogspot.com.au

Offline Amigaman

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Re: Vampire 4 - Stand Alone - Amiga Disrupt Review
« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2020, 10:03:07 am »
Epsillon, I'm really surprised to hear you have had Vampire systems die - I've had my V500 in A500's and (presently) my A2000 (none of which have been recapped, original PSUs) and I leave them rendering for days on-end with no problems.

What systems have you had die on you? A600's?

Personally I'm deciding whether to get a V1200, V4 or A1222, but I have to say V4 looks the more appealing option to me (but I've never tried an NG system - maybe they're great).

Don't understand the appeal of the stand-alone system though - all I'd do with a SA is put it in an Amiga case anyway ;)

One A500 and one A600 stopped working not long after installing Vampires in them. Both worked perfectly before Vampire installation.

My A2000 mouse port stopped working completely not long after putting the vampire 500 in it. worked faultlessly since 1991....

Hi Epsilon,

Completely agree with your first post on the Vampire, definitely worth more than 2c  ;)

I am surprised to hear your Amigas were killed by the Vampire boards though. That should not happen and I am confident that they could be easily repaired. If you ever want to consider that, I would be glad to take a look at any of them for you!

 

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