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intric8
Seattle, WA, USA

The Commodore A2320 “Amber” Card

by intric8 Thu Sep 13, 2018 9:16 am

For all intents and purposes, my A2000 is as good or better (in most cases much better) than any Commodore A3000. It’s faster than the 3000 and is vastly easier to upgrade. There are infinitely more after-market options made for it, and they are simply easier to install from a practical standpoint. One can argue aesthetics (and I’d quickly give the nod to the 3000 like everyone else) but in terms of raw horsepower and potential, my 2000 beats the 3000 in every department.

Except one.

The 3000 came with a built-in scan doubler that supported flicker-free multi-sync monitors using what Commodore called the “Amber” chip. And with the 3000 you could switch between 15Hz and 30 Hz with the flick of a switch.

However, in 1991, Commodore released the “Amber card,” or the A2320, which plugs into the video card slot.
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This card - mainly intended for the A2000 but also usable with the A4000, doubles all of the default screen modes and comes equipped with a handy little enabler switch, too. So in those rare times you need to go into interlaced modes but don’t want to get an instant headache, this card fixes all of that.

I’d seen images in Deluxe Paint or PD disks that were in hi-res that made my standard C= monitors jiggle. But it wasn’t until I installed Pagestream that it really hit me hard - you can ONLY use that program if you have a scan doubler and multisync monitor. If you don’t it’s virtually unusable for any extended period of time.

To be clear - if you don't have a multisync monitor, this card won't do anything for you. You have to have both. I plan on using my Princeton Graphics CRT with this card. It's a 16" monitor, which came equipped with multisync/multiscan. It's one of the very few non-Commodore 3rd party monitors that runs at native Amiga output.
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Looking forward to hooking this up over the weekend and finally installing one of my serial expansion cards at the same time (so I can have multiple serial devices hooked up simultaneously). Quite the retro-battlestation to be feared! <3
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BloodyCactus
Lexington VA

Re: The Commodore A2320 “Amber” Card

by BloodyCactus Thu Sep 13, 2018 9:50 am

Interesting that it has only 1 video hybrid on board. The A3k motherboard has two, the GBA1000 has two.
--/\-[ Bloody Cactus :: http://kråketær.com :: http://mega-tokyo.com ]-/\--
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Zippy Zapp
CA, USA

Re: The Commodore A2320 “Amber” Card

by Zippy Zapp Thu Sep 13, 2018 11:18 am

Cool find. I thought the A2320 and the A3000 were compatible with standard VGA monitors? I didn't think you needed a monitor that synced to 15khz. You can use the standard RGB port for that, no?
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intric8
Seattle, WA, USA

Re: The Commodore A2320 “Amber” Card

by intric8 Thu Sep 13, 2018 12:03 pm

I thought the A2320 and the A3000 were compatible with standard VGA monitors?
They should be. And I think - I'm not sure, but I think - they can be used straight-up with RGB monitors, too (possibly with an adapter) that aren't multisync, but the higher modes are simply ignored.

I don't think I have any native VGA monitors. But I do have a pro multisync. But all of mine are C= composite/RGB. Did C= make a VGA monitor? Hm...

My current horses in the stable include 1701, 1080 (2), 1084s and the Princeton Graphics beast.

I wonder what a good multisync VGA monitor (CRT) might be?

Edit:
Looks like C= did in fact make some VGA monitors there near the end. And the 1950 was even multisync. That would be a primo setup, but IIRC mattsoft told me those monitors were notorious for being flakey.
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Zippy Zapp
CA, USA

Re: The Commodore A2320 “Amber” Card

by Zippy Zapp Thu Sep 13, 2018 12:19 pm

Yeah Commodore indeed made a few PC compatible monitors.

I think with that doubler I would probably go for a Sony CPD display, a 15" or a 17" Trinitron CRT. I use a Sony CPD-220 something. It is 17" and has a very clear picture. I am still amazed when I hook it up to an older Macintosh just how clear it is. At those resolutions It is so much sharper then hooking up to an LCD.

If it only supported 15khz. It does support the old Macs from 1990 (IIsi) that had Sync on Green which makes for a great display on those Macs from 1988 on. I only wish Commodore had boarded the 31khz train way sooner.
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Bulletdust

Re: The Commodore A2320 “Amber” Card

by Bulletdust Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:53 pm

Doesn't the A3000 have a 32bit bus vs the 16bit bus of the A2000?

I know for a fact that the 16bit bus really limits a 68030 on an A500 considering applications that hit the chipset directly.
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Dynamic_Computing

Re: The Commodore A2320 “Amber” Card

by Dynamic_Computing Fri Sep 14, 2018 5:33 am

Bulletdust wrote:Doesn't the A3000 have a 32bit bus vs the 16bit bus of the A2000?

I know for a fact that the 16bit bus really limits a 68030 on an A500 considering applications that hit the chipset directly.


Yes, and it has 32 bit access to CHIP RAM too (for the CPU at least, not the 16bit custom chips) - so with the same CPU and RAM configuration the A3000 would still be faster, but having a faster CPU in the expanded A2000 would narrow that performance gap.
The Zorro3 cards slots in the A3000 is where the true performance boost would be seen in this case. Zorro2 cards just can't come close to keeping up.

Now if you have a nice CPU card with really fast RAM and SCSI on the card in the A2000 - then that old girl really flies!
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intric8
Seattle, WA, USA

Re: The Commodore A2320 “Amber” Card

by intric8 Fri Sep 14, 2018 5:38 am

Yeah, she’s got a Geforce 030@40Mz in the CPU slot, with fast RAM and scsi2SD HDD attached. :)
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Bulletdust

Re: The Commodore A2320 “Amber” Card

by Bulletdust Sat Sep 15, 2018 2:30 am

Dynamic_Computing wrote:
Bulletdust wrote:Doesn't the A3000 have a 32bit bus vs the 16bit bus of the A2000?

I know for a fact that the 16bit bus really limits a 68030 on an A500 considering applications that hit the chipset directly.


Yes, and it has 32 bit access to CHIP RAM too (for the CPU at least, not the 16bit custom chips) - so with the same CPU and RAM configuration the A3000 would still be faster, but having a faster CPU in the expanded A2000 would narrow that performance gap.
The Zorro3 cards slots in the A3000 is where the true performance boost would be seen in this case. Zorro2 cards just can't come close to keeping up.

Now if you have a nice CPU card with really fast RAM and SCSI on the card in the A2000 - then that old girl really flies!


Considering the A2000 is essentially no different to the A500 with more Zorro slots I really doubt that simply having a faster CPU would make the A2000 faster where games and demo's hit the custom chipset directly. In fact, based on my own experience running a 68030 on an A500 with 128mb of fastram and running the exact same 68030 accelerator on my A1200 with 128mb of fastram, the A1200 is a magnitude faster as wait states need to be inserted when running the faster CPU on the A500 due to the need to interface a 32bit CPU/32bit bus with the 16bit bus of the A500.

Don't get me wrong, where software is not coded in a way that it hits the custom chipset directly the faster CPU really makes the A500 noticeably faster over stock, the problem is that games and demo's (the things we really enjoy running on our Amiga's) tend to hit the chipset directly at times and this is where things slow down - Considerably. I have a whole bunch of demo's and games that crawl on the A500 using a 68030 @ 40mhz but run fine on the same A500 running the standard 68000 with it's 16bit bus. Run those same demo's using the same hard drive and OS install on the A1200 with it's 32 bit bus and the demo's fly with the 68030.

The earlier Amiga's are great machines and I'd love another A2000, but there is a big difference considering the A3000, A4000 and the A1200 and that is the 32bit bus. Unfortunately, considering the way the custom chipset is implemented in the Amiga, that 32bit bus vs the 16 bit bus on the earlier A1000, A500, A600 and A2000 makes the latter Amiga's more suited for processor upgrades and overall much faster machines.

It's the main reason I don't run an OCS/ECS Amiga anymore. It's also a problem myself and another Amiga enthusiast discussed in great length with Jens, where the issues surrounding the interfacing of a 32bit processor with a 16bit bus were confirmed.
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A10001986

Re: The Commodore A2320 “Amber” Card

by A10001986 Thu Sep 20, 2018 4:45 am

BloodyCactus wrote:Interesting that it has only 1 video hybrid on board. The A3k motherboard has two, the GBA1000 has two.



Yeah, one for vga, and on the 3000, the second one (just like the only one in a vanilla 2000 and the 500) is for rgb.

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