Omega progress clarifiedBy Chris Williams. Published: 9th Apr 2004, 05:38:13 | Permalink | Printable
Dear Drobe, You're wrong. Love, DaveEditorial MicroDigital have responded to our recent coverage of the Omega's progress on their website by addressing each of our observations one by one.
Their news release starts by explaining, "We would point out that the Drobe article has raised a number of issues which we hope to clarify here. It is important that anyone reading this article should not take away the idea that we are anti-Drobe or anti Chris Williams, we accept that the article was written in good faith, as is our reply."
We're flattered, truly flattered and it goes without saying that in all seriousness, each and every drobe.co.uk article is checked by at least one other editor for accuracy and editorial balance. We also often consult people who know better than us on a wide range of subjects. Indeed, it is in everyone's interest that drobe.co.uk remains as unbiased, transparent and objective as possible - we can't stress that enough.
MicroDigital have echoed the views of some of our readers on our coverage of the USB issue, by describing our reporting of the matter as "complete nonsense". One particular reader today expressed this opinion via email: "The letter from Simtec is totally consistent with [MicroDigital's] statement. I think you should pull the 'simtec denies' story entirely and include the letter in a footnote to an edited version of the original story."
On the subject of benchmarks, the Yorkshire based hardware developer also illustrated how futile they can be. Oddly, they dismissed Steffen's Iyonix vs. Omega benchmark results on the basis that they were not 'real world' results, despite the fact that Steffen tested both machines in everyday end user situations, such as copying large files with Filer, using SparkFS to make zipfiles and processing JPEGs. Conversely, MicroDigital were quite happy to quote Richard's RISCOSmark results despite them being far from real world tests. And yes, the Omega is included in those results, we're not hallucinating - it's between the Iyonix and SA287 columns. We've also seen the futility of benchmarks, as earlier tonight during investigations, we found that by optimising the RISCOSMark's CPU test, the Iyonix gained a further 30 percent increase in its score while the StrongARM RiscPC gained nothing.
As for the "slam dunk" phrase, we were referring to the Omega's performance in Steffen's benchmarks. Richard's benchmarks highlight that, as far as we understand, the Omega's IDEFS is faster at byte transfers than the Iyonix's ADFS, and that Draw module operations occur faster on an Omega than the Iyonix. The full headache of benchmarking is now apparent, which is why we and the majority of the userbase prefer actual application testing akin to Steffen's measurements as non-technically inclined users can relate better to Photodesk image loading speeds than, say, PCI bus latencies.
Moving along: the discussion on bus bandwidth is rapidly hurtling into the realms of electronic engineering, so we'll leave it up to you to read more about the issue in this Russell King posting on SDRAM speeds, in this guide to memory speeds and also these details on the IOP331, the XScale that MicroDigital have their eye on. Nobody outside MicroDigital can really officially comment more on the exact bandwidth allocations inside the Omega, the design of the shared memory system and how the processors and video FPGA will fit together until either someone suitably dissects an Omega or MicroDigital publish an Omega TRM - we would prefer the latter, naturally.
And so you're probably wondering by now what exactly the point of all of this is? This textual jockeying for position between MicroDigital and the media, the alleged spin versus the supposed propaganda, what will it achieve? For MicroDigital, it gives them a PR boost and more column inches in the news pages and (for some) a welcome return of their Newsdesk section. For drobe.co.uk, it gives us something to write about and investigate and cynically, page impressions to rack up. For end users, it'll hopefully see more facts rise to the surface and nagging issues (such as XScale and USB support) addressed and debated in the public eye - provided of course this whole saga doesn't descend into some tragic soap opera of the kind that this market really doesn't deserve.
And yes, MicroDigital is probably right: it's 'grammatical', not 'grammar'.
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Chris Why's Acorn/RISC OS collection •
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