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Upgrade your Amiga PC to HDMI with this FPGA-based video time machine

by Xilinx Employee ‎12-05-2016 04:11 PM - edited ‎12-31-2016 05:46 AM (25,073 Views)

 

Lukas F Hartmann is a Time Lord with one special power: he can bestow 1280x720-pixel HDMI compatibility to the Commodore Amiga PC family, which is now 30 years old and predates the HDMI standard by about 20 years. His original Amiga, known in its time as having truly groundbreaking video graphics, was limited to 640x256 pixels and 64 colors.

 

Hartmann accomplished this feat of time travel by designing and prototyping a new video board based on a Xilinx Spartan-6 FPGA that plugged into the Amiga PC’s video slot. (See “A High-Performance Graphics Card for the Amiga 2000! In 2016??? A very strange Spartan-6 FPGA story” for additional details about the development of the prototype.)

 

Now, Hartmann is in production with his VA2000 video board and you can get a copy of his open-source design for €189.00 through his company, MNT. (Or you could, if it wasn’t already sold out. Wait! Wait! Batch 2 on pre-order sale here.) Here’s a photo of the VA2000 board:

 

 

MNT VA2000 Production Card.jpg 

 

 

And here’s a photo showing an Amiga 2000 driving an HDMI display at 1280x720:

 

 

 

MNT VA2000 Image Display.jpg

 

 

Seeing a vintage PC from the 1980s driving a high-res HDMI display is sort of thrilling for a student of old PCs like me. More to the point: Hartmann’s use of an FPGA to bring a perfectly good product forward in time with enhanced capabilities is one of the things that FPGAs do really well because they can easily implement older interfaces like the Amiga’s 68K bus, they can implement new interfaces like HDMI, and they can implement complex logic like a graphics accelerator—and all on one chip. And yes, you can take that FPGA-based design right into production, especially if you’re using a cost-effective device like the Spartan-6 FPGA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About the Author
  • Be sure to join the Xilinx LinkedIn group to get an update for every new Xcell Daily post! ******************** Steve Leibson is the Director of Strategic Marketing and Business Planning at Xilinx. He started as a system design engineer at HP in the early days of desktop computing, then switched to EDA at Cadnetix, and subsequently became a technical editor for EDN Magazine. He's served as Editor in Chief of EDN Magazine, Embedded Developers Journal, and Microprocessor Report. He has extensive experience in computing, microprocessors, microcontrollers, embedded systems design, design IP, EDA, and programmable logic.