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Ranger Chipset

Under Construction

Amiga Ranger was a prototype computer that was supposed to be the second generation Amiga chipset prior to ECS. It was designed by the original Los Gatos Amiga team including Jay Miner. However Commodore International didn't release this chipset due to its high cost


After the release of the A1000, Jay Miner intended to design a true successor to it. It was planned to be highly expandable like A2000 with better graphics and CPU, this machine was code named Amiga Ranger and its design began circa 1986-1987. The Ranger may have included a 68010 or 68020 CPU. The possible release date could have been 1988-1989.

Basic description

Information for this new chipset remains sketchy. However, the sound system may have still been the same as the Original chipset. According to RJ Mical, the new chipset kept the original 13 bit DAC for its CLUT but with quadrupled color registers from 32 to 128. The color palette would have remained at 4096 colours but the resolution could go up to 1024×1024 with 128 colors (7 bit color depth), additionally the chipset can address up to 2 MB of Chip RAM space.

Ranger used 2MB VRAM as chip memory. In an interview, Jay Miner described benefits of using VRAM instead of DRAM- this gave the display system enough memory bandwidth for 1024×1024 displays. From the known specification, it could be said that Ranger chipset was designed to compete with Sharp's X68000 personal computers (released in 1987) which made use of VRAM for 1024 x 1024 resolution in 16 colors.

Unreleased chipset

Jay Miner assured that the Ranger chipset was completed and fully tested before he left Commodore in hope that one day Commodore would release it. It is unclear if a prototype of a Ranger system exists today. But at that time VRAM was considered expensive compared to DRAM, so Commodore refused to release Ranger for its high price which was unsuitable for the low-end systems like A500 to cover its costs.

In a few years, VRAM costs dropped to be only 20% more than DRAM, so Commodore planned to use VRAM in the AAA chipset which was not released due to Commodore canceling it due to its still high cost for low-end systems.

Ranger's legends and myths

Some thoughts of a built-in blitter per playfield designed in Ranger had been rejected by Dave Haynie, however on Team Amiga a post explained The Ranger idea:

The “Ranger” was the code-name for the A1000-followup idea/project/notion/whatever being advocated by the Los Gatos Amiga group. It may have been 68010 with or without simple MMU, or with 68020, or with virtually any other magical thing you can imagine, including way better Amiga chips (already designed and working, only Commodore refused to release them), etc. Basically, “Ranger” became a kind of catch all for anything anyone ever believed would have been done better had Los Gatos not lost out over Commodore Germany's A2000 configuration (which, itself, was nothing more than an A1000 with Zorro backplane attached and the slot form-factor changed to permit this bridge card idea; Germany also being where Commodore PCs came from, at the time). I of course inherited this form factor and design spec when I took on the A2000-CR project in West Chester. I did manage to improve a few details (real CPU slot, real Video slot), as well as using the A500 architecture and integrating the expansion logic. 
There's no question a “Ranger” project did exist in some form at Los Gatos. Far as I know, it was never completed, though I wasn't out there. It made the transition from “legend” to “myth” over ten years ago, I'm afraid, gaining new powers with each retelling, after the fashion of all good myths.


Last modified: 2013/02/24 07:16