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Can Amiga rise again?

Now a Gateway subsidiary, Amiga announces a licensing agreement with a German firm to develop a new multiprocessor PowerPC-based computer.

Down, but not yet out.

That is the message Amiga International is delivering today as it announces a new licensing agreement and prepares for Amiga '98, an Amiga user and developer conference in Missouri.

The Amiga, an operating system (OS) and computer which gained a devoted following in the 1980s because of its groundbreaking multimedia technology, has been squeezed into an ever-smaller niche market by the dominance of Microsoft's Windows and Apple's Macintosh platforms in the '90s.

Amiga eventually declared bankruptcy and was subsequently acquired by Gateway 2000 last year.

Today, Amiga announced a licensing agreement with phase 5, a German manufacturer of digital products, to develop a new PowerPC-based computer using the Amiga 3.1 operating system.

The new machines, called "preboxes," will target the high-end market with multiprocessing systems. In a statement to the press, phase 5 general manager Wolf Dietrich said that Amiga and phase 5 will bypass single-processor machines to avoid price competition with Intel and its mass production of lower-end chips.

The machines will be able to use up to four processors at once.

"It is a challenge to build new standalone hardware products which can price-wise compete with the mainstream PCs," Dietrich said in the statement.

By developing a multiprocessor system now, Amiga customers will have an easier time upgrading to next-generation products than PC users, according to Dietrich.

The licensing agreement may give long-suffering Amiga fans something to cheer about at Amiga 98, part of the Gateway Computer Show going on in St. Louis, Missouri, from today through Sunday. Amiga president Petro Tyschtschenko and St. Louis disk jockey Jim Singler will speak at the conference.

A prebox with four 200-MHz PowerPC processors will have a suggested retail price of $1,995. On the higher end, a prebox with four 300-MHz PowerPC processors will go for $4,495.

The preboxes are scheduled to be released sometime in late 1998.