Monday, 4 May 2015

My SAM 460CR has arrived

With the problems with my X1000 still being worked on at AmigaKit/Varisys, the past four weeks have highlighted to me how much I miss having the X1000 around.

As an update my X1000 board is now been handed over to Varisys (who make the X1000 boards) to work out what is happening with it.

It also made it clear to me that I need a backup system to the X1000 in case it can't be fixed or if there is some other issue in the future. Hopefully it doesn't ever happen again, but it certainly woke me up to the possibility. Unfortunately my budget right now doesn't stretch to buying a backup X1000 - I wish it did.

So for the solution - enter the recently released SAM 460CR AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition OEM system!

I got it from Acube Systems online shop here and it cost EUR539.

I ordered one after my X1000 stopped working and it was clear it had to be sent back to the UK for repair, and not being clear when I would get the board back again.

While waiting for the Sam 460 to arrive I did have plenty of fun with my Amiga 4000D/060/Picasso IV running AmigaSys 4 with AmigaOS 3.9, which I dusted off to play with - I forgot how cool Eagleplayer is:

Can you use Eagleplayer on AmigaOS4? Looked it up via Google Sensei, and apparently not - no AHI redirect plugin for it. :-(

I used the A4000D to check out some of the latest AGA demos released at Revision 2015 demo party at Easter - certainly the winning Amiga 64k demo Reborn by Appendix was very cool:

Traktor's reimagining of old classic amiga demo soundtracks was good too:

I even took a quick look at ShapeShifter on the Amiga 4000 just "because I could":

Anyway, I digress - Amiga is certainly a lot of fun and time consuming, in Classic or NG form! :-)

The Sam 460CR system arrived quickly in Australia in just under two weeks, ready for set up:

The Sam 460CR is actually the Sam 460ex system ACube Systems was selling before, but with several components removed from the system board to reduce costs (hence 460 Cost Reduced).

Significantly the removed items includes the onboard video, onboard audio and nearly all the SATA ports, necessitating the purchase of a cheap Envy 24HT sound card and cheap 3114 SATA card with 4 SATA ports on it. I already had a Radeon HD video card I could use from the X1000.

The system is significantly less expensive than the X1000, making it a good entry level NG AmigaOne system for those keen to run Amiga OS 4.1 Final Edition. It will also soon be able to run MorphOS's upcoming 3.8 version on this system too, which will be interesting to try out when it is released.

For now, let's take a look at the Sam 460CR board - a small User Guide and AmigaOS4.1 Getting started manual is included in the box with the Sam 460CR board (all pictures can be clicked on to expand):

The User guide is important - you will need it! I certainly did!

A close up look at the Sam 460CR board, which already has the Backplate cover attached, ready for installation into any Micro-ATX tower case or larger:

As you can see the board has a PCI-e video card slot, a PCI slot and a PCI-E 1X slot - and that is all:

Another view:

Swinging the board around you can see the PPC processor, which runs at 1.1Ghz, with a fan that needs to be connected to a molex power connector in the destination case:

Here is the view of the backplate and the removal of the extra ports is quite evident here from the lack of ports available here - just network port, serial port (for debugging), and two usb ports, which are used exclusively for the USB keyboard and mouse you need to buy and connect to it:

I also bought the 2GB memory with it, which I quickly installed onto the motherboard:

Closer view:

Flipping the board over you can see the hidden SD Card slot on the back:

Apparently it is possible to install AmigaOS 4.1 onto an SD card installed in this slot - I haven't tried it:

Also included with the purchase is an OEM version of AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition for Sam 460, some SATA cables to connect a (not included) DVD drive and hard disk, and the extra sound card and SATA card I bought as I mentioned before:

Fortunately I have a keyboard, mouse, DVD drive and spare hard disk already, so we are good to go except that I need a case to put it all in.

So I went and bought a small Micro-ATX Thermaltake Versa H15 tower case, which includes a 450W power supply - cost AUD$75:

Here is some views of the Thermaltake case, fresh out of the box:

Rear view:

As with most modern cases, it uses easy to use slide off panels with hand tightened screws to secure/open, revealing the inside of the case:

This case has space for 2x 3.5 inch SATA hard disks, 1x 5.25 DVD drive, and includes 4 expansion slots, which is enough for what we need for the Sam 460cr.

First step is mounting the Sam 460CR into the case which is quickly done - couldn't find anywhere on the board to connect the rear fan though:

Backplate fits perfectly:

Next step is to consult the manual to confirm the pin allocations for power switch, reset switch, power led and so on:

Here is the needed J29 on the board for these plugs, with a "1" helpfully placed to make it easy to connect the case connectors for the various functions:

Something to remember though is that the HDD LED cable needs to be connected to the SATA Card jumper, not the system board since the hard disk is not directly attached to the motherboard.

Originally I had planned to use my slightly lower spec Radeon HD 5450 PCI-e card below:

Here is a closer view of the PCI-e sound card - very small indeed:

Once installed it looks like this:

Problem I found was that the Radeon HD 5450 card has just a heatsink and no fan to blow away the considerable heat, and it is positioned too close to the SATA card for comfort. I believe this would result in an eventual failure of one or both cards, so I changed the card to the Radeon HD RV730 instead.

Here is the Radeon RV730:

Here it is installed in the case, showing just how close the card is to the SATA card below it. In my view the fan on the graphics card in this system is essential:

Next was installed the hard disk - I took the old 1TB AmigaOS 4.1.6 hard disk from the X1000 case as I don't use this anymore since putting Final Edition on the X1000. As you can see below the guide rail installation for the new case is a lot simpler than the X1000 version:

Here is the hard disk being installed into the system:

There are some things to be wary of when using a hard disk that was used on the X1000 on a Sam system due to the different BIOS used - X1000 uses CFE, while the Sam 460 uses U-Boot. More on this later.

It is important to use the first two SATA ports on the SATA card - the first one for the DVD drive and the second one for the hard disk.

The system is now taking shape nicely:

Here you can see the cabling all installed and the DVD installed too, ready to close up:

Well, almost ready:

Ok, now it is ready:

Next I cleared away the MorphOS and Amiga 4000D system I have been playing with on the X1000 desk for the last two weeks and setup the Sam 460CR in it's place, using just one monitor instead of two I use on the X1000 usually:

When the X1000 is back I still have another spare screen, plus keyboard and mouse for the Sam 460CR too, so both can still run even then - hopefully the X1000 is repaired soon.

In the meantime I am ready for the first power on of the Sam 460CR system:

It can't boot anything initially as the Boot Device is looking for the wrong SATA controller. It is needed to change this by pressing Enter to enter U-Boot and change as below to 3114 SATA DVD to boot the AmigaOS4.1 Final Edition DVD:

Now the system boots from the DVD successfully:

As an aside in U-Boot you can also see a summary of the System information:

DVD is booting up the AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition installer:

Great - we have arrived at the installation screen for Final Edition:

I go straight to the Hard disk partitioning as we have some work to do here before we can install AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition:

When editing the hard disk in the Media Toolbox, you can see the default X1000 partition layout I had previously.

I need to install the SLB boot loader onto this hard disk in order for it to be bootable on the Sam 460CR. This is very different from the X1000, which uses the BHD0 hidden partition with the boot loader on it.

To do this in Media Toolbox, we need to edit the RDB on the hard disk - you will notice here that there is a section called "AmigaOne boot code (SLB)" which shows that the A1 booter is not installed yet:

If we click on Install we can choose the slb_v2 booter:

Once this change has been written to the disk, then we can proceed with the AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition installation. I formatted the HD0 partition first (when the option appeared) as Final Edition cannot upgrade a 4.1.6 installation - it needs to be a new install.

I have covered the installation previously in my blog so I want go through it again as it is the same:

Installation completed successfully:

What is different though is that after you remove the dvd to reboot the Sam 460CR we need to make some setting changes in U-Boot:

Press Enter to go into U-Boot and configure the OS Multiboot Options. Here we need to specify that we want to boot the 3114 SATA DVD first, 3114 SATA HD second, and USB third:

Don't forget to save the settings!

The Sam 460CR system now boots from the hard disk successfully and soon brings up the Workbench screen with the post installation tasks:

We need to configure the sound card and network connection - in my case I need the Envy 24 HT sound card driver.

Under AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition the network needs to be configured to use the onboard network port on the Sam 460CR:

Networking is setup and works straight away - great:

I then install the Extras on the system from the AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition DVD, which I need to put back into the DVD Drive at this point:

I even found a place on the new case to put the AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition sticker included in the OEM packaging:

Here is the Sam 460 CR system with the initial installation of AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition done:

I have found already that I have to unplug/replug the keyboard on cold power on once in AmigaOS4.1 Final Edition to use the keyboard - it works fine in U-boot so not sure why this is needed yet - it works fine on soft reboots or pressing the reset button on the case - just cold boots:

There is plenty more work to do putting my usual favourite applications and games on it - re-using the X1000 hard disk means I already have most of what I need on the Work (DH2) partition which I kept intact (it was my X1000 main hard disk until January 2015 when I changed hard disks for AmigaOS4.1 Final Edition).

Here is some in progress shots as I am working on getting the Sam 460CR up to scratch:

The work continues of course, and some music to help pass the time while working on reloading applications and setups:

It is not finished yet - since the last screenshot I have put QT and AmiCygnix back on as well, with plenty more still to come.

I am very happy to have an AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition system again while I am waiting for my X1000 to be repaired by AmigaKit.

It means that now I can try out some of the stuff I have been missing out on while my X1000 has not been working!

I won't be using the new Warp3D Southern Islands on this machine sadly, as I don't have a one slot pci-e R7 or above HD card to use in the Sam 460CR. The two slot gfx cards I have don't fit, as the SATA card has to be placed in the PCI slot directly underneath the graphics card on the Sam.

Once the X1000 is returned to me, I look forward to trying Warp3D then, and it should be much faster on the X1000 anyway.  I really hope to get the X1000 back soon.

In the meantime, the Sam 460CR should be great to use AmigaOS 4.1 again - I really did miss it!


  1. Congratulations on your new SAM 460CR! Photos looks great as always. Keep'em coming! :)

  2. Can you say something about speed? X1000 vs Sam460? For example in OWB, HD movies etc? Its usable in everyday tasks?

  3. Did the new Uboot 2015.a solve the keyboard problem?

  4. I´m also interested in the speed between the systems and if the solved the keyboard problem?
    Looks like a nice os 4 system to me though..

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. I have the same audio card but get a stuttering sound which becomes normal when I move the mouse but then after a couple of seconds starts stuttering again.
    Any ideas?