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07.Nov.2001
Interviewer: Christoph Gutjahr


Interview with Ben Hermans from Hyperion

Interview with Ben Hermans - Managing Director, Hyperion Entertainment
Done by Christoph Gutjahr - 07.11.2001

Amiga-News: First of all, thanks a lot for your efforts to bring us OS 4.0. Let's start with some technical questions. Are the OS 4.0/4.2 features outlined in the tech updates on www.amiga.com and various press releases from Alan Redhouse still valid? Will you have to put some stuff "on hold" to match the deadline (e.g. USB support)? Or may we even get some new (minor) goodies to play with?

Ben Hermans: The feature list which can be found on Amiga.com is still essentially correct but can be considered a bare minimum. We intend to deliver more if we can. More details will follow.

Amiga-News: Which of the following models is the better description of AmigaOS 4.0's concept:
  1. a WarpUp kernel running an "AmigaOS-Box", meaning that PPC tasks are running in a WarpOS environment while 68k tasks are executed by exec.library
  2. an exec.library that is able to execute both 68k and ppc tasks, plus an "emulation layer" for existing WarpOS applications
Ben Hermans: [2]. OS 4 will not be WarpOS based. WarpOS was a solution for a dual CPU architecture and isn't suitable for what we have in mind. We will ofcourse provide full backwards compatibility with WarpOS programs.

Amiga-News: There are rumours that Harry "Piru" Sintonen is working on the OS4.0 exec.library?

Ben Hermans: This is incorrect.

Amiga-News: Could you describe the current state of the AmigaOS sources? Years ago, Jeff Schindler claimed that "it's a complete and ugly mess". I read a German Interview with Juergen Haage, where he stated that they cleaned up most of the Kickstart sources and they were able to recompile them in one go. What's your personal experience (or that of your programmers)? How much of the core parts are available in C and can actually be recompiled for PPC? Are there parts that must be rewritten from scratch (e.g. because they're only available as 68k ASM)? Are there any plans to use AROS code for OS4.0 (if neccessary)?

Ben Hermans: Olaf Barthel and H&P did an outstanding job by cutting down the number of compilers required to compile the OS, cleaning up the OS 3.1 source-code and moving code from ASM to C. Whilst there still are some parts which are in ASM, this is a minority. Olaf also put the entire source-code in to a CVS repository which is a tremendous asset.

We have talked to Aaron Digulla who was very helpful and is generally a nice guy and we have come to an agreement about using parts of AROS if need be.

Amiga-News: Alan Redhouse announced that OS4.0 will also run on existing CyberstormPPC accelerator boards. What about the BlizzardPPC boards? I assume they won't be supported, is this due to performace issues or are there problems with the FlashROMs of those cards (as some people supposed)?

Ben Hermans: We haven't ruled out the Blizzard PPC's completely but we must first be satisfied with the performance of OS 4 on these machines. There are indeed some technical issues that need to be solved before support of the Blizzard line of cards can be contemplated.

Amiga-News: OS4 available for Classic PPC Amigas - that brings up another question: Which PCI solutions will be supported? I assume that Elbox and Matay will be supported, as they are "Amiga partners". What about DCE's GRex Boards? Are you (or Amiga Inc.) in contact with DCE?

Ben Hermans: We intend to support the widest possible range of MODERN hardware including the available PCI busboards. It can't be ruled out that drivers for older hardware will break under emulation but generally we expect no problems.

Amiga-News: What's your intended "information policy"? I suppose there's not much to demonstrate for now (i.e. only an A4000PPC running an OS that looks and feels exactly like AmigaOS 3.x), will you go quiet until the AmigaOne/OS4 combination can be demonstrated? Or will there be some kind of "progress meter" on your/Amiga's website or regular press releases?

Ben Hermans: We intend to release regular progress reports.

Amiga-News: Will developer documentation be available for free?

Ben Hermans: We intend to encourage people to develop for OS 4. Developer documentation will therefore be available at production cost.

Amiga-News: Does the agreement that was signed on the WOA-SE only deal with OS4.0 or did some/all of the parties involved commit to contribute to the further development of the OS?

Ben Hermans: I cannot comment on the terms of the agreement but suffice it to say that OS 4.0 is just a step in a continuous process whereby the OS gradually gets moved from 68K to PPC with full backwards compatibility, whereby the OS is untied from the custom chipsets and whereby modern functionality is introduced along the way.

Amiga-News: Hyperion are known for their strict "no AmigaOS for x86" Attitude. You are now a key developer of OS4, and you develop the 3D API. We don't know much of the proposed specs of OS5, but we know that it will be available for several platforms, including x86. Will your intellectual property (e.g. the Warp3D and OpenGL implementations) be a available for OS5?

Ben Hermans: It's true that we are no fans of the x86 architecture for reasons we have outlined before and which have to do with Windows smothering all competition. Recent developments such as the demise of BeOS, the sale by Corel of its Linux activities and the bankruptcy of Loki, the largest games-developer for Linux, have only reinforced our view.

Talk about OS 5 is a bit premature at this point so we will reserve judgement until things are a bit more concrete.

Amiga-News: I assume most of your staff is working on OS4 now. How does that affect your other products? E.g., what's the scheduled release date for "Descent Freespace"? Will other projects (Realsoft 3D, Worms Armageddon) be put on hold until OS 4.0 is finished?

Ben Hermans: Our resources are obviously not unlimited and OS4 development will have an impact. It should however be realised that it isn't the case that work on OS 4 is only now starting or that Hyperion will be doing all the work. Most OS 3.5 and 3.9 developers are already onboard and we have a good working relationship with the AROS team which will help cut down on development time.

Amiga-News: Looking at Hyperion's projects and reading statements from your employees about the sales of Linux and Amiga products, one could wonder that Hyperion still exists ;-) If I understood that correctly, you won't be paid in advance for OS4 (Alan Redhouse: "no upfront costs for Amiga Inc."). There must be a point were you can't stretch any further, even for Hyperion? Is a "success" of OS4 crucial to the future of the company Hyperion?

Ben Hermans: No. The vast majority of Hyperion's revenue comes from paid contract-work for Mac OS 9/X.

The Amiga market alone cannot sustain a company with several full-time developers.

Obviously, the more successful the project is, the more time we can allocate for Amiga development, time which is now spent doing contract-work.

Amiga-News: Thanks a lot for this interview and good luck for the future.

Contact information Hyperion Entertainment:
WWW: www.hyperion-entertainment.com
E-Mail: Ben Hermans, Managing Director
E-Mail: Ben Yoris, PR Manager (ps)

[News message: 07. Nov. 2001, 20:50] [Comments: 1 - 08. Nov. 2001, 13:43]
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