STD really does support the Simtec USB poduleBy Chris Williams. Published: 30th Mar 2004, 21:46:57 | Permalink | Printable
Same podule, same end user support, new nameStuart Tyrrell Developments has announced today that it is to officially take over distribution and front line of support of the Simtec USB1.1 card, for both end users and RISC OS dealers. Henceforth, the USB card, designed and manufactured by Simtec, will be known merely as the 'STD USB card'.
This announcement will, in all probability, not win a prize for being the most exciting RISC OS news for 2004. This is especially because STD have more or less provided all end user support and sales presence for the USB card, so punters won't see a drastic change in operations. However, we were taught never to rain on anyone's parade so we'll indulge the two companies just this once.
"We have worked for many years with Simtec, acting as dealers and agents for their RISC OS products, and we have commissioned designs such as NET100 from them," explained Stuart Tyrrell of STD. "We're delighted to formalise these arrangements."
Simtec's Gavin Simpson added, wistfully: "With Stuart Tyrrell Developments distributing and supporting the RISC OS port of our embedded USB stack, Simtec can concentrate on product development - adding new features and hardware interface support."
See, that's the interesting part: while Simtec have been producing upgrades for RISC OS hardware for almost 15 years now, they are an electronic design house with many customers coming from well outside of our market and one can understand their gradual tip-toeing away from our tiny platform. Philips, for example, recommends them for designing USB products. So, now that Simtec can concentrate fully on their own work, STD claim changes made to the Simtec USB stack will eventually filter down to RISC OS end users. Citing an example of this, STD say support for wireless networking and other non-mass storage USB devices was made available to RISC OS users following work that Simtec carried out for their customers.
The STD USB podule is suitable for machines fitted with a backplane and 26bit RISC OS, namely RiscPCs, A7000s and A5000s. The drivers for the card are incompatible with Castle's USB stack and vice versa - which, naturally, is really handy for the platform. Both USB implementations have their supported devices lists online for you to compare at your leisure: Simtec vs. Castle. Given the race last year to be the first developer to release drivers for digital cameras, MP3 players and other gadgets, at least we can conclude that a little competition certainly never hurt nobody.
Update at 23:59 30/3/2004
Having read through the STD FAQ on USB, we've spotted an eyebrow raising entry in the aforementioned FAQ, titled Why are there two USB 'standards' for RISC OS?, which explains STD's and Simtec's side of the USB driver split. According to the FAQ: "In April 2002, Simtec were approached by an ex-employee of Pace, offering access to the Pace DeviceFS API free of charge. As they were unable to verify the legitimacy of this source, and did not want to pollute their own stack, Simtec declined this offer. In May 2002, Simtec announced their USB card, based around their existing USB API; Castle announced their USB card, based upon a DeviceFS API."
Perhaps an interesting read, if you fancy delving into STD's retelling of the politics and history behind the embarrassing USB divide.
RISC OS USB website - to be updated shortly with "current and future developments of the STD USB card".
STD USB podule details
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