The Vintage Computer

A Collection of IT Gear from the Past, Restorations and Projects around vintage computing

AMIGA Portable – MiSTer FPGA

So here is my hommage to the AMIGA – a portable machine that could have been but never happened. It’s a MiSTer FPGA system in the shell of a vintage, portable computer.

Hard- and software basics

The MiSTer is bascially two things – the field programmable gate array (FPGA) logic board and the software running on top of it. The de10-nano FPGA board is made and sold by Terasic and it’s intended as a teaching and exploration platform for FPGA development.

The main chip on it is an Intel / Altera Cyclone V with a capacity of 110.000 logic elements which can dynamically be reconfigured to the equivalent of a given logic hardware – for instance, a CPU.

The actual configuration is described by core files which model the hardware and supporting logic that the FPGA device should replicate.

Terasic DE10 Nano FPGA Board

There are many different cores available, ranging from arcade machines and 8bit microprocessors up to M68k CPUs and custom chips. Since the FPGA is programmed by the cores to behave identically from a logic perspective as the selected CPU it is exactly as fast and cycle accurate.

The software part is a Linux-based operating system that manages user interaction and loads the selected cores onto the FPGA chip. It also provides the environment to host virtual disks and modules for use by the systems being impersonated.

MiSTer main menu – the core selection

The MiSTer software is open sourced and can be downloaded from github:

Both, hardware and software together provide an exact replica of any given target system for which a core exists with the practical limit being the number of logic elements and the propagation speed of logic signals inside the FPGA. Currently, that limit seems to be reached with the cores of the N64 and the Sega Saturn gaming console.

Building the FPGA portable

For my build, I used the DE10-nano from Terasic, a 128MB memory expansion and a USB hub board from ebay. Initially, I used it with USB devices and via an HDMI to VGA converter on a CRT.

I then came across the Sharp PC7000 case which looked like a perfect fit to make a portable machine. I tried to keep the looks the same as original including making an adapter to use the keyboard as a USB device. I replaced the mono LCD screen with an HDMI flatplanel that fit almost perfectly into the case. Later, I added a converter to hook up classic 9-pin AMIGA style joysticks to the system.

Below are some photos taking during the build, showing the internals of the case.

Note: No vintage computer was hurt in this build. The PC7000 was dead and beyond repair.

I think the result looks great. Why didn’t Commodore even consider building a portable Amiga? This is how it could have looked like.

The completed build

Running different cores on the MiSTer

Below are a few samples of cores that are available for the MiSTer system. Meanwhile, there must be hundreds of them, including arcade machines, consoles and 8 and 16bit micros.

As a former AMIGA owner – I had both the A2000 and the A4000 -, that particular core obviously is my go-to one. I also do like some arcade machines like Galaga and Ghosts’n Goblins, but whenever I fire the thing up, I’ll enjoy a nice round of Silkworm.


The MiSTer system takes vintage systems emulation to a completely different level. Especially the AMIGA core runs exactly like real hardware, there is no lagging as typically is with software-based emulators since this thing replicates the hardware.

If you’re interested in exploring vintage computer systems or game consoles or arcade machines, look no further. Admittedly, the DE10 is expensive, but so is buying multiple original machines.

Then again, if you are a collector, you might want to go for real hardware.

FPGA Portable technical data

CPUARM Cortex-A9 2-core @ 800MHz
Altera Cyclone 5 FPGA
Memory1GB for the ARM side
128MB for the FPGA side
Removable MediaSDCard
VideoHDMI, Full HD
Internal LCD Screen &
External HDMI Port
OtherUSB Port
9-pin classic joystick port
Ethernet, 1Gbit
Release Pricen/a
AMIGA Portable FPGA Tech Brief


Terasic DE10 Nano specifications

MiSTer FPGA Software

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