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VirtualAcorn moves "further forward"

By Chris Williams. Published: 1st Sep 2004, 00:02:54 | Permalink | Printable

3QD move, ARM copyright

As of today, the sales and technical support of VirtualAcorn software will be handled by 3QD, a web consultancy company managed by Aaron Timbrell. Aaron also managed VirtualAcorn, so end users shouldn't expect any changes in contact details.

"There have been a number of changes over the last few months and since it's the end of the 'Aaron Timbrell trading as 3QD' financial year it made sense to form a limited company to take VirtualAcorn even further forward," Aaron told drobe.co.uk today.

"So it's still myself, with Graeme [Barnes] developing, although there are now others involved, which has been part of the reason for the change of structure."

VirtualRiscPC info boxThe "others involved" bit got us interested, as did this part from Aaron's announcement: "New versions of VirtualRPC-SE and VirtualRPC-Adjust will shortly be available as free upgrades for existing customers, these upgrades will reflect the change of status of VirtualAcorn."

As pictured left, the VA website is showing a screenshot of VirtualRiscPC 1.2, which is apparently copyrighted 2000-2004 Red Squirrel Technologies (Graeme, essentially), and oh look, portions copyrighted 2000-2004 ARM Ltd.

Links


VirtualAcorn website 3QD

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Discussion

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I was surprised to see that VA still comes in two flavours; either with RISC OS 4 or with RISC OS Adjust (4.39): I'd have thought that it would be much simpler all round (for VA itself and for potential customers) to focus on VA Adjust. Certainly, my advice to anyone going down the VA route would be to forget what's old and in the past, and get the Adjust version.

I'm getting into Adjust now and the improvements to Edit, Draw and Paint (compaired to RISC OS 4) are excellent: the whole package is now much more consistent in the way it works, quite aside from all the extra features.

On a 'true' RiscPC, the ROMs are much better than the softloading select if you do the sort of experimentation I do with others software that frequently "hangs" the machine: so much faster to get going again from a restart.

 is a RISC OS Usermartin on 1/9/04 11:02AM
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Some people might actually need RO 4.0x in order to run/develop software intended for RO 5.xx so Adjust could be a bad move for those.

 is a RISC OS UserGulli on 1/9/04 11:45AM
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Gulli: "so Adjust could be a bad move for those" - How did you figure that one?

Chris. Just me.

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 1/9/04 12:03PM
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Isn't a price difference of 50 UKP enough reason for two seperate versions? And why should Select subscribers pay that rather large price difference for something they already have?

 is a RISC OS Userhubersn on 1/9/04 12:25PM
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I'd like to upgrade from VirtualA5000 and until recently, an upgrade path was advertised on the VirtualAcorn website, which involved posting back the software CD. I held off upgrading till I returned to the UK after a year in Japan (yesterday) to save postage and - bad news - VirtualAcorn has just confirmed that I can't upgrade from VirtualA5000 any more. It would have been helpful if there had been some prior notice that upgrades from VirtualA5000 would only be accepted up to a certain date.

 is a RISC OS Usergovind on 1/9/04 12:30PM
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govind: Wouldn't waiting til you returned to this country have been a rather expensive way of saving postage ?

If you'd upgraded while still in Japan you would have saved well over 20 ukp in VAT, and I can't believe postage would have cost anything like that much.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 1/9/04 4:19PM
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In reply to apdl:

Sure, I agree with your comment! I just didn't realise that the upgrade offer would have expired when I got back. Was there any note of the expiry date of the upgrade offer advertised on the website? If I had known this, of course I would have upgraded in time!

 is a RISC OS Usergovind on 1/9/04 5:24PM
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govind>

If you have an old PC you may also need to upgrade to WinXP (as that seems to be a requirement of VARPC that VA-5000 seems *not* to demand), therefore you may need to budget for that too. If you opt for the non-adjust version [*] that should at least offset some of the cost of upgrading the Windows version (albeit not by much).

Regards

Annraoi

(*) [Well I figure if you're gradually going to be forced into moving over to Windows you probably won't want to be wasting too much on RISC OS now will you ;) ]

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 1/9/04 6:58PM
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completly off topic but apple have just released there new G5 imac :-(

 is a RISC OS Userleeshep on 1/9/04 7:37PM
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Is there any news of a Linux version of VA?

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 1/9/04 7:53PM
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moss: I'm very interested in a Linux version of VA. I'll quite happily maim several small cute furry animals for it!

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 2/9/04 1:23AM
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So nobody's actually picked up on the ARM thing? Just ranting about Linux VA......

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 2/9/04 6:59AM
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Could it be that ARM is working towards providing VA as a development platform themselves? This would provide a major boost for our platform, ARM has some very interesting software (compilers and libraries) wich could benefit us a lot.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 2/9/04 8:12AM
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JGZimmerle: ARM's development tools are quite sophisticated in that respect already.

simo: Hey, it could just be stuff from the ARMulator, which wouldn't be news worthy at all. Where a Linux version of VA is much more interesting.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 2/9/04 9:54AM
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I know, I was just speculating. :-)

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 2/9/04 11:56AM
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We all know that ARM always closely guarded their IP. My guess is that everyone who writes a software ARM emulator needs to have the OK from ARM to be allowed to use their IP (which includes e.g. the instruction set). Just the same as if you want to build an ARM compatible processor in hardware and sell it.

 is a RISC OS Userhubersn on 2/9/04 12:14PM
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hubersn: Emulators should be OK: there are plenty of them that almost certainly don't have the OK - Archie, Sleeve, QEMU, and many more, for example.

There's also the interesting fact that there are no patents at all on the ARM instruction set used in earlier Acorn machines, nor copyrights, as Acorn made them publically available for free before ARM even existed. They get around this with the might of money - see the DEC StrongARM (which used no ARM patents or IP at all, and the design didn't involve ARM in the slightest) or the NEC FPGA/ASIC clone used in the 3DO console that ARM just ended up buying instead.)

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 2/9/04 3:42PM
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nunfetishist: "the design [of StrongARM] didn't involve ARM in the slightest"

Not really true. See [link] especially under "Project Organization".

dgs (speaking personally)

 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 2/9/04 4:44PM
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Both DEC and Intel had to take out an architecture licence with ARM. AFAIK, there is no ARM compatible processor available that is not properly licenced.

The other emulators you mentioned are not sold commercially, so there is probably very little reason for ARM to chase them.

Anyway, my idea is surely speculation. We'll have to wait and see. Maybe VA licenced the processor emulation code to ARM and received something else (c) ARM in return. We just don't know.

 is a RISC OS Userhubersn on 2/9/04 4:58PM
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hubersn: The final production StrongARM did include patented stuff. There's also a lot of things you get with being an architecture licensee other than the right to sell things that execute ARM code. (Test suites, for a start.)

Things that aren't commerical still worry ARM: consider the OpenCore ARM clone.

dgs: That paper's dated well after ARM actually got involved.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 2/9/04 5:17PM
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diomus: Well, people could start using features that are in Adjust but not available in 4.0x and 5.xx. Some developers might want to avoid that by using 4.0x to develop on.

I could, of course, be completely wrong on this.

 is a RISC OS UserGulli on 2/9/04 5:17PM
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dgs: An informed source just told me: 'The "on-site participation by personnel from Advanced RISC Machines Limited" was mainly their lawyers slowly becoming convinced ARM couldn't sue them, so had to get into bed with them.'

It looks very much to me like it was the same thing that happened to NEC - NEC make a nice synthesisable clone, ARM go "oh s***" and realise that sueing a company the size of NEC isn't going to be possible, so buys it off them instead.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 2/9/04 5:39PM
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hubersn: ARM are very friendly to emulator writers in fact. I wrote a data path level emulator of the ARM for my PhD (called SWARM), and within a day of putting it on the web (announcing it on Freshmeat) ARM invited me down to Cambridge to give a talk on the simulator and my PhD. They were even said if I wanted to sign an NDA I could try validating it with their test suite, but I didn't need my simulator to be amazinly accurate, so declined. Still, they were very positive and I got to visit ARM and chat about technical stuff with their engineers.

But at no point did they try and get me to do anything legal. The only time I heard from ARM legal was when someone tried to do an open source hardware implementation based in part on my source code. The simply asked me to add a note to the readme that ARM don't take kindly to hardware implementations of the ARM, and people should refrain from doing so. During this in no way at all did they get at me.

I've got a very high regard for ARM as a result.

 is a RISC OS UserDougal on 2/9/04 6:15PM
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I must remember that a question is defined as a "rant".

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 2/9/04 7:51PM
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Why does everyone assume that the ARM connection is things going _from_ ARM to VA and thus requiring credit? AFAIK, VA has no ARMulator core.

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 3/9/04 1:14AM
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You're saying VA code was sold/given to ARM and copyright also transferred to them?

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 4/9/04 11:59AM
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