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AMPM: Alpha Micro Eagle 300

My favourite Alpha Micro computers are the 68K Eagles -- they're "old enough to be interesting but new enough to be useful," as they say. No, this isn't saying an AM-1000 isn't worthy or able to do useful work, and I have a Commodore 128 next to my Power Mac, so it's not as if I don't put vintage machines in work environments. However, the Ethernet port on the Eagles is a huge plus, and they're small enough (passing for boring beige box PCs at first glance) to fit into any server room. That's why there's one in mine!

The Eagle 300 is the first of the line, making it a landmark model. In addition to its other evolutionary hardware features, the '030 CPU is a big plus and gives great processing oomph -- especially since AMOS works so efficiently even on the lowliest 68000. You can imagine that this box screams by comparison to an AM-1000.

These are pictures of the very E300 that is serving you this very page.

For a successor to this design, see the Eagle 100 page.

Pictures

Front of the unit. Notice that it resembles an oversized PC tower case, but it has no 3.5" bays (instead it has four 5.25"). The AM-626 tape streamer (actually a Tandberg 3820) and 2GB Seagate Hawk ST31051N drive were factory-installed. The AM-626 takes standard QIC-525 cartridges.

It is unusual given when this particular Eagle was manufactured (1997) that a CD-ROM was not standard equipment ...

... but an external one can be connected easily to the rear SCSI port, and in fact after these pictures were taken I installed an Alpha Micro-branded external Toshiba XM-5401-TA CD-ROM drive, and replaced the AM-626 with an AM-628 (Tandberg 4200) so I could use 2GB cartridges.

There is also an RJ-45 Ethernet port (available also as an AUI port, but they are the same interface), two DB-25 parallel ports, and "eight slots" (actually four, more in a moment). This unit has 16 serial ports installed. There is also a second fan but I did not see this in the E100; presumably this is due to the split board design (see below).

You can't see it here, but the official model number is AM-3500-E300; all 68030 Eagles that I have seen are officially "AM-3500" series models. I presume that '040 Eagles are AM-4500, and so on, though I'm not sure what the ColdFire Eagles would be.

Inside view, showing the AM-319 I/O sideboard and the AM-172 CPU motherboard. This dual board design is probably why there are two fans. The AM-172 motherboard has several chips of note; the large black one with trim closest to the bottom left corner is the 68EC030, and the chip behind it is the Symbios Logic 53C710 SCSI controller. The board copyright is 1993. Click the picture for a larger, different angle (150K).

The AM-319 I/O sideboard only has four slots for serial "SIMM module" cards, but each card splits into two groups of four ports, so with two slots populated we have our sixteen. The SIMM cards are AM-318-10s, with Super I/O acceleration under AMOS 2.x, and the actual ports are AM-90 Lightning boards which contain built-in surge protection to retard damage to the computer from the terminals connected to it.

Up and running, with its AM-65 terminal console. The status LED is faintly visible on the black band along the front of the case and displays a "0" for "no error."

Potpourri


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