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Iyonix price slash offer, yawns stifled

By Chris Williams. Published: 2nd Sep 2004, 19:30:34 | Permalink | Printable

A panther that is positively still over a grand

Over two months after the Merlin project ended its consultation process, Castle have announced yet another, apparently "fantastic", Iyonix special offer.

Iyonix PantherThe price slash means you can save 200 quid on a Panther TC model of their now classic Iyonix range, provided you order this month. The Panther TC features the usual 600MHz XScale processor, RISC OS 5, 1GB of DDR RAM and 240GB of hard disc storage. Castle also have an LCD monitor offer going too, at the moment.

We're wondering just how much mileage is left in the Iyonix, which will, in terms of public awareness, turn two years old next month: is the design going to be another RiscPC beast, stumbling on and on for the next ten years?

After enticing us with tales of porting the RISC OS kernel to yonder ARM9, we're looking forward more to concrete announcements of new processor support, rather than, say, special offers aimed at users who either already have an Iyonix, or are waiting for a price slash that's substantially more than 12 percent.

Links

Castle Iyonix website

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Discussion

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Hmm. Quite a cutting article, given that the Iyonix _was_ probably the biggest (finished) development since the RPC...

 is a RISC OS Userhutchies on 2/9/04 8:52PM
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It's true now. Surely everybody who wants one already has an Iyonix? Yawn, let's get something new rather than offering a stingy discount that doesn't actually help the Iyonix not look expensive.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 2/9/04 9:24PM
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I almost today got pulled into a conversation along the lines of "new G5 iMac is only $1249, and you'd actually have a hard time getting an [AMD64/P4EE) PC to compete for that money".

It's quite interesting that the Iyonix is actually more expensive still, even with the Panther/LCD offers.....

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 2/9/04 9:45PM
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A ten year "Beast" is more interesting than a two year "Lame Dog" (XP Curtains... or something!!) thown out the Window every 2 years. I do hope that the "Beast" gets over it's (inherited) Stumbling problem!?!? Price slash sale before the new model/update release? Expensive Iyonixs? I don't look at the price as an issue, yes they could be cheaper if more were sold but I think you get what you pay for. Otherwise buy a cheap PC? Regards, Steve.

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 2/9/04 9:56PM
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Sawadee: Yeah, except the ten year "beast" in this case was underpowered, out-dated, and generally nasty 3 years after it was released, so we were left with something cack for 7 years with nothing better.

It's not as if the RiscPC was even well designed - was I the only one who spotted the total insanity in the case design?

I'm not sure that the bulk has *that* much to do with it - Simtec manage to churn out ARM-based motherboards comparitively cheaply, for example.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 2/9/04 10:01PM
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I still want an Iyonix, and I still don't have one! The offers still don't make the Iyonix affordable to me - but then again, what do you expect from a student! People glory about the long-lived RiscPC, but wasnt the only reason it survived so long was because there was no RISC OS alternative?

 is a RISC OS UserSnig on 2/9/04 10:43PM
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Realistically, surely Castle (or anyone else for that matter) will have to wait for a significantly faster RISC OS friendly CPU to come along before it's worth trying to better the Iyonix ?

Although, perhaps, frustrating all round, there is virtue in waiting until the time is right to build a new machine, and then going all out to do it as quickly as possible.

In the meantime, enhancing the OS, and tidying up interfacing issues such as USB, is a good thing to focus on. Maybe I'm missing something but, to me, Castle seem to be charting a safe and sensible course.

Maybe the Autum shows will bring a few surprises...

 is a RISC OS Usermartin on 2/9/04 11:03PM
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nunfetishist: Nope, you're not the only one. When I saw pictures of the RiscPC I was impressed and fell for the expansion possibilities. Then when I finally bought one and had a chance to look inside the box (I lived in Iceland at the time and Acorns were few and far between) and at what was required to expand it I was very disappointed. All my fears at the first look were later confirmed when I wanted to expand it. The computer wasn't really that expandable other than the possibility to add slices for extra drives.

Quite an effort for little gain in my opinion. I still love the beast though :)

 is a RISC OS UserGulli on 2/9/04 11:07PM
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gulli: You could upgrade other stuff, e.g. the CPU and add a PC card, plus 2 podules for every slice.

Reports have suggested that the Iyonix time from conception to announcement were short, it certainly surprised me how fast so I have no reason to doubt that new machines would appear similarly quickly when the time is right.

However, it's up to castle when the time is right for then. I certainly won't be paying out over 1k ukp any time soon for any computer.

 is a RISC OS Userjohn on 3/9/04 12:33AM
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True, RPCs were not that expanable when released, you could only add as many 5.25" and 3.5" bays as you wanted, 6 podules, a CPU that's 10 times faster than the original, about 100 times more ram, harddrives up to 1000 times larger, and about 6 OS upgrades, USB, 100bT networking, AGP graphics card, multiple PSUs if needed, 16bit sound, etc etc.

The main problem was someone put the reset button next to the headphone socket.

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 3/9/04 12:51AM
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mavhc: too true! The RPC probably ranks as the most upgradeable (and upgraded) computer in history. Without its unique qualities I doubt there'd still /be/ a Risc OS market.

martin: from what I've read, the latest X-Scale (80331, I think) IS a significant advance on the chip in the Iyonix even though the clock speed is the same. However it would require a mobo redesign, apparently. BTW, has anyone tried to overclock an X-Scale?

George

 is a RISC OS Userbucksboy on 3/9/04 8:37AM
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mavhc: Yes that is one of the more annying features. The number of times I've missed the socked and reset my computer :(

 is a RISC OS UserAndrewDuffell on 3/9/04 8:44AM
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Does this mean Castle will come out with an Iyonix mark II in a few months' time?

Bucks: I bet they overclock a fair bit. They're been sold with their speed specification decided by heat and electrical consumption in mind, which isn't nearly as tight a window in a desktop computer as what Intel makes ARMs for.

 is a RISC OS UserClades on 3/9/04 9:44AM
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I think 'slashed' is a bit of an overstatement, although I'd love a new RISC OS machine - and indeed love to go back to using RISC OS as my main work OS; but until the prices of the machines come down to substanitally under a grand then there's just no hope of me managing to return to the RISC OS market.

There are a few things which keep me from RISC OS; the most obvious being the lack of a decent browser (yes, I've played with Netsurf and WebsterXL recently (last night, actually)) and neither render enough of the internet well (although on the plus side Netsurf looks like it really will be good, but without Javascript is, well, not very useful for a large proportion of the sites I use, and WXL is much faster than I remember)....

Although, obviously, the lack of a machine I can even hope to afford is the most pressing reason. My RISC PC is well loved (tatty, but loved), but it is hopelessly slow when actually being used for work. I can put together a decent PC for around 300 quid.

I do wonder why no-one produces a bare-bones RISC OS motherboard, Even a board plus graphics card. I can sort out the rest, usually my PC's pinch bits from the previous one anyway and that could make the whole machine substantially more affordable....

That and a faster processor and I might even actually be tempted to come back, rather than just read about RISC OS and mutter darkly about how much I prefer it to whatever OS I'm currently using.

 is a RISC OS UserPyoorKate on 3/9/04 10:06AM
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PyoorKate> Got your RISC OS box talking to your Linux box in the end then? :)

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 3/9/04 10:40AM
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Heh, no actually. I think I need to sit down and sort out my RiscPC. Despite having put RISC OS 4 in it about a year ago I never really sorted it out, and it's still got 7 years of accumulated crud installed; and the remnants of 5 different network configurations.

In the end I used my website to stick the files I wanted on, then sucked them back off using the ROS box. It's a problem I've had before with SSH/SCP and our network. I keep meaning to talk to my local network guru and sort it out :-)

 is a RISC OS UserPyoorKate on 3/9/04 11:17AM
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mavhc: So, about as upgradable as a standard PC, then? (Although you wouldn't need to, 'cause it had most of that stuff ages ago ;-)

What I was refering to was the shockingly bad design of the interior of the case - the space above the CPU cards in slices above the first one is completely wasted, you have to take the whole damned thing apart to change the OS, RAM, network card, the power supplies were more than one slice thick so you could only put another in in every third slice, the door wasn't reliable, *and* they put the reset button right next to the headphone socket. :)

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 3/9/04 11:45AM
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Yeah, PCs that you could expand to 8 PCI cards, with cases that you could expand for more drive bays. Dunno which ones you could have a CPU that's 10 times faster than the original.

PCs often don't recognise much larger RAM sticks than existed at the time, have harddrives size limitations.

6 OS upgrades in 10 years would be 3.1 to XP, AGP graphics card when there's no AGP slot, never seen that, or multiple PSUs except if you buy a case with that to start with, 16bit sound you had to add anyway and use up a PCI slot, for some reason they can't use the speaker that's already connected to the motherboard.

To get to the base just take out all the slices as 1 lump, not that hard. You can mount something in the wasted space if you're bored, harddrive say.

Most other computer case designs of the time weren't any/much better, and none would last for 10 years of upgrades

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 3/9/04 12:43PM
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The easiest way to add more drive bays to a PC is to buy a new case. Which is also usually substantially cheaper that buying a new slice (though probably less environmentally friendly). And the '10x' faster Strongarm card, as well as Windfall's podule to AGP adaptor were only ever stopgaps until something like Pheobe came along.

Also, I can't take my slices out as one lump, since they screwed up with the earthing in that case and the podule backplace I have is meant to be screwed to the PSU. I can remove the top slice without needing a screwdriver, but to do that I still need to disconnect four cables from the drives.

The OS upgrade analogy is also misleading. The RISC OS kernel has not been completely rewritten from scratch based on the principles of server OSes, nor does it now use an improved form of multitasking. You can argue that RISC OS doesn't need any of that, but that's not my point.

Where the RISC PC does win is in the UI, widely supported *true* plug and play (where drivers and included and you don't have to worry about IRQs with each added card) and excellent support from the Acorn community. The RISC PC hardware did have some design improvements over previous boards, such as dedicated video ram, and using standard SIMMs, but the case in particular was never the magnum opus promised to me by the magazines (except, possibly, for the funky sliding drive covers). The solution for the Iyonix seems much more practical.

 is a RISC OS Userninja on 3/9/04 1:58PM
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PyoorKate: What sort of profit would there be for Castle (or any other RO developer) on a bare-bones RO mobo for 300? This is the result of a large-scale, 'commoditised' PC market. That said, Castle are in the desktop computer market and will have to respond to the general decline of prices, especially when a 700 PC plus VRPC can equal or exceed the performance of the fastest native RO hardware.

As to Browsers, I agree that Netsurf is limited at present, but I find Oregano 2 works with the majority (about 95%) of sites I visit, and permits online banking, ordering etc. George

 is a RISC OS Userbucksboy on 3/9/04 2:11PM
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mavhc: How many working RiscPCs have you seen with 8 podules? Most PC cases have room for more than one internal HDD, and have more externally facing bays anyway. You can have a faster CPU by replacing the board with the CPU on, just like in a RiscPC (except it's much cheaper to do so with a PC.) IME, the maximum supported memory on PC motherboards is far larger than what is available at the time. (My aging PC motherboard supports 4GB of RAM, with only 2 slots). A PC's hard drive size limitation is identical to that of a RiscPC or larger. The number of OS upgrades bear no relationship to the advance made. (The single 3.11 to 95 jump was much larger than any jump made by RISC OS for RiscPCs). You can chain multiple PSUs in PCs in an identical way to RiscPCs, but you don't normally need to because a) new PSUs are cheap, b) they're not normally tiny to start with. Sound has been standard on PC motherboards for *years* now, and 16bit sound was available a long time before it was available for RiscPCs (and if you had an 8bit audio RiscPC, you couldn't upgrade without spending a huge sum of money, and that'd take up a podule slot). Most motherboards, if wired correctly, can use the the case's speaker. To take the base slice out of a RiscPC requires you to detach all the podules so you can safely remove the backplane, which may also mean detaching SCSI and IDE devices hanging off podules.

Not many PCs have lasted 10 years of upgrades, that's true. Because you don't need to. You just buy a new one for less money than an upgrade to a RiscPC would cost you.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 3/9/04 3:59PM
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in reply to nunfetishist "and if you had an 8bit audio RiscPC, you couldn't upgrade without spending a huge sum of money, and that'd take up a podule slot" the 16bit sound upgrade for early riscpc 600's wasn't expensive and it didn't take up a podule slot, it was a small card that fitted to a 6 pin header on the mainboard.

 is a RISC OS Userleeshep on 3/9/04 6:09PM
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Actually to get (somewhat) back on topic - the offer seems to be quite a decent one (pity a proportionate cut wasn't made at the lower end of the Iyonix range as that might persuade some to take the plunge - after all if you can't just afford the cheapest one a 150 or 200 amount off *might* make the difference. If someone can't quite afford the high end box they're more likely to opt for the lowerspec one rather than *none* at all).

That having been said I bought my Iyonix (mid range one with the CD/RW and the old case) nearly a year ago and it only cost a little less than this special offer (sob- talk about cr*p timing ;) ).

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 3/9/04 6:39PM
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I think Castle has something hidden up their sleeves, like in previous cases... don't know what though, but perhaps it isn't overly optimistic to say they'll anounce something before xmas..

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 3/9/04 6:50PM
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Is that just wild speculation or do you have facts to back it up?

 is a RISC OS Userjonix on 3/9/04 7:51PM
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Well, I heard a rumour that Castle have been talking to ARM and that they've got access to a new processor with a 3GHz clock speed and are going to release it as an upgrade in November and a new machine in December and the completion of Merlin at the same time and a contract to supply the entire government with new machines and 500 cash back for all current RO users and I bet I get modded down and ... ;)

 is a RISC OS Useradamr on 3/9/04 8:15PM
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jonix:

- just wild specs -

only backing up of my theory is historical review... ;)

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 3/9/04 8:30PM
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adamr: That'd be a Pentium 4, then? :)

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 3/9/04 8:50PM
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*gulli / Slade / hEgelia / adamr*

An Iyonixs new beast? A new mark II? Some thing up their sleeve before Xmas? Sale announcement after Merlin marketing evaluations lead up to a new release? This may be a "Beauty" to obsolete the beast Mark II of a "Short Sleeve" rabbit out of a hat! I hope your "Little Birdie" rumour is correct adamr. While Castle may offer a slight price reduction on the current model ( like motor cars?), I can't see new models/releases being as cheap as old models too unless there are huge volume sales?? The answer to the question "PC's are much cheaper than Iyonixs!" points the question to purely money and not quality, then just buy a PC to be financially content? Yes the Iyonixs is much more expensive, but I would only compare the price of a PC to another PC? But then the price "difference" between the Iyonixs and the PC alone is way under the cost of labour and maintenance costs to keep our school PC's running "DAILY".!?!? Just my opinion and how I compare? Regards, Steve

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 4/9/04 7:20AM
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> How many working RiscPCs have you seen with 8 podules? 6 then, plus the network card slot. And 2nd CPU slot, and 16bit sound upgrade pins.

> Most PC cases have room for more than one internal HDD, and have more externally facing bays anyway. Most PC cases NOW. And when they're full you throw it away.

> You can have a faster CPU by replacing the board with the CPU on, just like in a RiscPC (except it's much cheaper to do so with a PC.) As long as it's the same pin format. Which motherboard lets you plug in a CPU 10 times faster than the max available when it was made again? I missed your reply.

> IME, the maximum supported memory on PC motherboards is far larger than what is available at the time. (My aging PC motherboard supports 4GB of RAM, with only 2 slot) But oddly everyone else's has problems recognising 256MB RAM sticks when they're only 4 years old. After a BIOS update they sometimes see 128MB of it.

> A PC's hard drive size limitation is identical to that of a RiscPC or larger. [link] There were numerous 2/4/8/32GB limitations.

> The number of OS upgrades bear no relationship to the advance made. (The single 3.11 to 95 jump was much larger than any jump made by RISC OS for RiscPCs). You can't advance as fast if you start so far ahead.

> You can chain multiple PSUs in PCs in an identical way to RiscPCs, but you don't normally need to because a) new PSUs are cheap, b) they're not normally tiny to start with. If a) they have 240V outputs externally, and b) you have a case that'll fit them

> Sound has been standard on PC motherboards for years now Where years >=10?

> and 16bit sound was available a long time before it was available for RiscPCs 1992, what was the price?

> (and if you had an 8bit audio RiscPC, you couldn't upgrade without spending a huge sum of money, and that'd take up a podule slot) So wrong it's almost funny.

> Most motherboards, if wired correctly, can use the the case's speaker Just take a wire from the outside of your case inside, wire it up manually and all's fine, or a mess, whichever.

> To take the base slice out of a RiscPC requires you to detach all the podules so you can safely remove the backplane, which may also mean detaching SCSI and IDE devices hanging off podules. I just pull the whole thing out together, much easier.

> Not many PCs have lasted 10 years of upgrades, that's true. Because you don't need to. You just buy a new one for less money than an upgrade to a RiscPC would cost you. 1500 for a new PC or 300 for a StrongARM? tough choice.

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 4/9/04 11:55AM
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mavhc:

"Most PC cases NOW. And when they're full you throw it away. " Christ, my Amstrad 286 had room for 4 internal HDDs!

"As long as it's the same pin format. Which motherboard lets you plug in a CPU 10 times faster than the max available when it was made again? I missed your reply. " Read what I said, then.

"But oddly everyone else's has problems recognising 256MB RAM sticks when they're only 4 years old." Perhaps they just bought a cack 20 quid motherboard instead of a good 40 quid one, then?

"There were numerous 2/4/8/32GB limitations. " This is a not a limit on the size of drive you can put in, but a limit of how far into the disc the bootable area can be. And all OSes make sure that their bootstrap code is early anyway, so this limit has no ill effects at all.

"You can't advance as fast if you start so far ahead. " Err, this clearly isn't actually true, no matter who you consider ahead.

"If a) they have 240V outputs externally, and b) you have a case that'll fit them" Considering you have to change the case in a RiscPC to support another power supply, I hardly see this as an argument.

"1992, what was the price?" Still somewhat cheaper than an Acorn, which have historically been even more overpriced than Macs.

"Just take a wire from the outside of your case inside, wire it up manually and all's fine, or a mess, whichever. " Or you could just wire it up properly.

"I just pull the whole thing out together, much easier. " And also much less safe. It becomes even more exciting when you have multiple PSUs.

"1500 for a new PC or 300 for a StrongARM? tough choice." Although you'd only need to spend 400 to buy a new PC with the performance of the StrongARM, and get an upgrade for everything else at the same time :)

Come on mavhc, you're not even trying. You're normally a lot better than this.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 05/09/04 03:29AM
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nunfetishist:"Most PC cases NOW. And when they're full you throw it away." Christ, my Amstrad 286 had room for 4 internal HDDs! I don't think anyone's arguning about the HD situation.

Clearly this discussion is pretty tricky since "PC"s are so variable, but here's my experience with my P200 Compaq Deskpro, which must be (a lot?) newer than the Risc PC:

nunfetishist:"As long as it's the same pin format. Which motherboard lets you plug in a CPU 10 times faster than the max available when it was made again? I missed your reply. " Read what I said, then. I can upgrade the processor to 233 (wow) easily but it costs me 80 quid to buy an expansion board which would allow me to put in a 400MHz AMD processor.

nunfetishist:"There were numerous 2/4/8/32GB limitations. " This is a not a limit on the size of drive you can put in, but a limit of how far into the disc the bootable area can be. And all OSes make sure that their bootstrap code is early anyway, so this limit has no ill effects at all. No ill effects? I can't put in anything greater than 8GB (believe me, I've tried) - it simply isn't recognised beyong 8GB.

Compared to that, the RiscPC does fairly well.

Adam

 is a RISC OS Useradamr on 05/09/04 10:35AM
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adamr: You may want to check if there's a free BIOS upgrade for your motherboard to fix that, then.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 05/09/04 1:11PM
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No - there isn't! I've got the latest BIOS version and have been in touch with Compaq & forums etc etc. As I understand it, it's not an uncommon problem. Apparently some HD manufacturers provide "bios overlays" which makes the big size usable but at the cost of a *massive* performance hit :(

 is a RISC OS Useradamr on 05/09/04 1:21PM
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> You can have a faster CPU by replacing the board with the CPU on, just like in a RiscPC So you're saying you have to buy a new motherboard? Of course ATX only arrived in 96, so you'd be buying new MB, CPU, case, PSU, probably RAM. So in 2 years you've bought 2 computers.

> my Amstrad 286 had room for 4 internal HDDs! And most didn't. And of course we go back to a RPC case being expanable, so the base system is smaller than 90% of PCs.

A 20ukp motherboard in 2000? Seems unlikely. So not only do you want people to replace their motherboards to upgrade their CPUs, you want them to buy the expensive motherboards just in case they don't have to?

This is a not just a limit on the size of drive you can put in, but a limit of how far into the disc the bootable area can be.

> > You can't advance as fast if you start so far ahead. > Err, this clearly isn't actually true, no matter who you consider ahead. Because the guy who invented the wheel's now so far ahead of the rest? Intel are so far ahead of AMD, Ford are ahead of some new car company?

> And all OSes make sure that their bootstrap code is early anyway, so this limit has no ill effects at all Unless you start partitioning them to put multiple OSes on.

>16bit sound upgrade history in 1992 a 16bit stereo soundblaster card was $150, then you had 3 years of configuring every game you had to use INT73, memory 34831, and reverse stereo. By 1994 I see them for sale for $149.

The original RPC upgrade was 70ukps, 2 years later 49. And 1 year after the RPC was released it was included as standard in the RPC700, as it should have been.

> Or you could just wire it up properly. Go on then, how?

> > 1500 for a new PC or 300 for a StrongARM? tough choice. > Although you'd only need to spend 400 to buy a new PC with the performance of the StrongARM, and get an upgrade for everything else at the same time In 1996?

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 05/09/04 3:12PM
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""IME, the maximum supported memory on PC motherboards is far larger than what is available at the time. (My aging PC motherboard supports 4GB of RAM, with only 2 slot)" But oddly everyone else's has problems recognising 256MB RAM sticks when they're only 4 years old. After a BIOS update they sometimes see 128MB of it."

Um, my K6-II, which is 5 years old has 374Meg of Ram in it, it's got two DIMMS in it's two DIMM slots (no SIMMS in it's SIMM slots; oh look some form of future proofing...in a PC!). One is 256, the other 128Meg. It still does moderate service, and has been in it's time a Webserver, a workstation and is now a media player. It's about to be downgraded to 'computer in garage', but that's mostly 'cos I discovered I don't actually watch movies or listen to music in bed.

""> 1500 for a new PC or 300 for a StrongARM? tough choice." "Although you'd only need to spend 400 to buy a new PC with the performance of the StrongARM, and get an upgrade for everything else at the same time" In 1996?"

People quoting 1,500 ukp for a PC are clearly living in the brand market. Yes, you can pay 1,500 ukp for a computer, it won't actually be any better than my 300ukp PC, indeed in my experience (personal and as a PC sysadmin) they're worse and less upgradeable. The point is not that you *can* pay 1,500 ukp for a PC; you can pay 40,000ukp for a car, but you don't *have* to.

And, yes, you could get motherboard for around 20 quid in 2000. My PC's motherboard cost me 40, 'cos I wanted USB and various other things, but there were cheaper ones, and there were ones with on-board everything. No, these weren't around when the RiscPC came out, but they most definately were by the time the StrongARM Risc PC appeared; my flatmate got one.

Essentially, the TCO of owning a PC is I'm sure higher if you wish to 'keep up with the current market', but then you get a faster computer. It may not feel as fast, but when I've been doing complex graphics stuff, the PC wins hands down. Back when I got my SA RPC, my flatmates K6-II, that beat the pants off my RPC. I wouldn't have swapped, but that is because of RISC OS, not because my computer was inherantly better (not that that's what I believed at the time).

Yes, in the time I've had PC's I've had essentially 2 PC's and the RiscPC is still here but can I watch full screen DVD video on my RISC PC? No. Can I watch quicktime, flash, or so on on my RiscPC? No. Can I transfer some of my rare records to MP3 on my RiscPC? Not without a painfully expensive upgrade (for comparison, my K6-II's soundcard was a whapping 8 pounds, this machine has it onboard). Can I...hrm, encode video on my RiscPC? No, again not without an *expensive* upgrade (the TV card in my PC? I got it free, new cost 20ukp). What about editing video from my DV camera? Oh, no, again expensive software required (if it even copes with MPEG4 AVIs, which I must say I would doubt).

As someone who is fundamentally struggling to survive on limited funds, the fact remains the PC is a more affordable option. I can run my nice free Linux operating system, on my nice cheap PC. Yes, I can't stick a 10x faster processor in it, but frankly, given that the disk subsystem on my RiscPC is such utter crud (even with SCSI; speed tests with my posh Castle SCSI card and server grade harddisks were really quite distressing when compared to my flatmate's PC, 20 quid SCSI card and SCSI harddisks) and the system clock is so slow if you need to do any major disk / memory access sticking in a 10x faster processor does not give you your oh so shiny 10x speed increase.

I love my RISC PC, and it's engineering, I love that too. My PC, yes the engineering is god-awful, yes it is cludge after cludge after cludge. But the rose-tinted pure acornite view that PC's have to cost 1.5k, and have to be replaced every couple of years simply isn't true. All of my upgrades have been through choice ("I want a faster PC"), apart from one which was sheer pissed-off-edness at a graphics card I was given. Drive bays have never been an issue (space for 8 in my current case and 5 in my 6 year old PC).

If RISC OS is going to survive in the desktop market it either has to pull off an Apple, and make itself incredibly desireable (diffiicult, many people love RISC OS from when they were at school, not many people are willing to pay for a machine which isn't going to give full access to the internet, movies, and music). Or it's going to have to start living in the real world.

Quit frankly, when Simtec can manage an ARM development board for 200ukp plus VAT (a board so cheap my housemate is considering buying one just because she fancies it) the price of the current RISC OS machines seems incredibly steep. Clearly *some* people *can* make some form of profit off a 200ukp board. I wasn't expecting a board of the 200ukp variety, incidentally, but since someone made me go and look....

Now. Time to get flamed to a crisp and modded down into the undergrowth.

 is a RISC OS UserPyoorKate on 06/09/04 10:13AM
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1500ukps for a decent PC in 1996.

So what you're saying an PCs are cheaper and have more CPU power? STOP THE PRESSES!

Agreed, RISC OS has to have most things everyone else does, but that can't happen overnight. The steps are there, 32bit RISC OS, HAL, more and more standard parts, Merlin project, Unix porting project.

Simtec can sell a StrongARM mothboard for 200ukps. Riscstation ones cost about 250. Iyonix costs 600, and has an XScale and support, and a load of other features, gigabit networking, sound, 64bit PCI slots, UDMA100, DDR ram. Of course there are 103 StrongARM boards competing in the market.

Iyonix Pnather TC costs 1400ukps inc VAT. 2 120GB HDs (65*2), 1GB DDR ram stick (hard to find, say 150-200), CDRW (20), usb kb (10 from castle), mouse (20), floppy (10), 7in1 card reader (10), case (120 from castle), RISC OS 5, a converted GF2MX PCI card (90), USB card (30 from castle), PSU (50 from castle). A word processor, spreadsheet, browser, email client, CD burning software

So 640+700 for the motherboard is 1340, which leaves 60 for the software and RISC OS 5.

I'd guess the software was the 60 and RISC OS cost came from the motherboard, say 200ukps for RISC OS 5, which makes the motherboard 400 (ex VAT), take off, say, 100 for all the features Iyonix motherboard has that Simtec's doesn't (hardware, design and support), which leaves a 300ukps XScale motherboard compared to a 200ukps SA motherboard.

An A7000+ motherboard costs 350ukps+VAT

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 06/09/04 1:29PM
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If they are paying ordinary public prices for the hardware they are putting into the boxes then they are doing something seriously wrong. Even the smallest of companies I used to work for could get a decent discount on hardware on the prices paid in the shops.

And shop prices:

Iyonix Pnather TC costs 1400ukps inc VAT.

2 120GB HDs (65*2), Err, no. 2x 41 ukp (48 inc VAT)

1GB DDR ram stick (hard to find, say 150-200), Um, 92ukp (ex vat). (PC3200 - non ECC).

CDRW (20) Um, 15 quid.

usb kb (10 from castle), Aye, these are about 10 quid, although I've seen your basic USB keyboard down as low as 6 quid.

mouse (20), Not *quite* sure what kind of mouse you're expecting for 20 quid. Your basic mice start at around a fiver (USB mouse, that is) and go up to about 15 quid. Yes, you can get a dead posh one for more, but since the microsoft intellimouse is 10 quid I don't think that it's likely the one being supplied is vastly better.

My point here is simple. These are prices *I* can get *today*. If, as you're suggesting they are mad enough to not be buying in reasonable bulk, at reasonable prices *and* are paying VAT on the parts then that might, feasibly, explain the cost. But since they can reclaim the VAT and I suspect they can get substantially better prices then that seems unlikely.

 is a RISC OS UserPyoorKate on 06/09/04 8:06PM
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But we're using the price inc VAT, so the cost prices therefore must include VAT.

1GB DDR PC1600 that works in an Iyonix, what's the price?

If you wanted to build your own equiv spec machine to an Iyonix that would be the prices you pay, or Castle pay after adding the same profit margin. They're obviously not using the cheapest crap they can find, the machine is almost silent due to specific harddrives, case, fans and PSU.

Also those are the prices you can buy at *today*, if Castle doesn't spend a month after you've ordered buying in all the parts they'll be paying more to buy them last month.

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 06/09/04 10:06PM
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simo: "I almost today got pulled into a conversation along the lines of "new G5 iMac is only $1249, and you'd actually have a hard time getting an [AMD64/P4EE) PC to compete for that money"."

Well, P4EE is effectively Intel's way of creaming off the most gullible from the rich plus stupid/overenthusiastic end of the market. Meanwhile, although it may be hard to get an Opteron machine for $1249 all in (I'm not sure about that, however), there seems to be plenty of Athlon 64 kit available for way below that price (eg. [link]). But then I don't tend to entertain Apple fanboy enthusiasm myself, so I doubt I'd have been dragged into that conversation either.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 07/09/04 1:45PM
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PC3200 ram is actually capable of much faster transfers than PC1600 and should have no problems working at that lower speed. Theoretically, PC3200 ram should work in an Iyonix. Not having a grand and a half spare to buy one, and a further 100 quid spare to buy the ram I can't easily check ;-)

 is a RISC OS UserPyoorKate on 07/09/04 3:45PM
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Kate>

PC hardware is *dirt* cheap if you're prepared not to go for "known brands" and lower spec parts. Given the fact that PC's are so mass produced and that PC vendors *don't* have to singularly fund the development of the OS as well means that PC's if anything are probably massively overpriced (I figure if a PC (given the numbers produced) costs more than a good Microwave or Video recorder they're probably overpriced).

You also ignore the cost of the OS and the maintaining of the OS. Windows XP Pro (full edition for a PC without windows) will set most mere mortals back more than the cost of a low end PC (granted you *might* qualify for OEM or Upgrade deals - but these though less expensive still amount to an appreciable amount of the total cost). Also if you go the OEM route (if you can) you're on your own (no support). Add to that applications which, let's face it, Microsoft get the cream. You can buy two low end PC's for the price of MS Office (Full - again without compeditive discounts). So for someone starting off who want's to go legit and buy the software they may well jack up the price of the overall package quite a bit. The cost certainly won't be too far from that of an Iyonix (where at least you're not at Microsoft's whims).

Once you've got your WinXP/Office and obligatory Anti-virus package involved, what with time wasted on-line downloading critical patches and all the rest (assuming your time *actually* is worth something) then the cost of the Windows/PC route is one that is not reflected in the hardware price alone - after all when you buy an Iyonix you get the OS as well - not just a collection of parts.

Kind Regards

Annraoi

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 07/09/04 8:24PM
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Um, I run Linux. I use the FTP install, so it costs me, in effect, nothing.

Those are not prices for unknown brands. Hard disk was a Maxtor, the memory was a known brand.... etc, etc.

If I went to a show and went for "cheapest price" then I could get substantially cheaper things, but I tend to stick with reasonable brand stuff. I'm quite well aware that RISC OS stuff is going to cost more than PC's for ever more; it always has. *However* I don't accept that it's impossible for any of these companies to produce a cheaper bare-bones system that those of us who are somewhat more strapped for cash can buy and populate with stuff we already own.

I've *got* an entire machine which could be used for parts (memory, hdd, powersupply, case, etc, etc) - and which would feasibly make returning to RISC OS something I could consider, rather than something that I just consider as a flight of fancy because I'm unlikely, at least in the forseeable future to be able to pay 1,200 for a machine. Wheras I might be coaxed into attempting to save 300-400 (especially if the Unix Porting project brings my favourite apps :-)

 is a RISC OS UserPyoorKate on 07/09/04 11:53PM
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But then the true cost of development of the hardware and software would appear, as the 700ukps motherboard cost shows.

Dear Castle, please can I buy a cheap Iyonix, crap/no parts, I'll pirate the OS, and you'll have no money to recoup your costs and produce any new machines

Thanks, Mr Selfish

Unix porting apears to be going along quite well, I don't see why someone with unix already would care though.

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 08/09/04 00:29AM
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mavhc:Thanks, Mr Selfish Hmm, I think that's a bit harsh. It's not unreasonable for someone to state that they can't afford a 1200 pound computer, but could stretch to a 400 one. (Sounds a lot like me.) Whether a manufacturer could make money supplying such a thing is an entirely seperate issue.

Adam

 is a RISC OS Useradamr on 08/09/04 10:44AM
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If people want a 400 RISC OS computer then try APDL - they may still sell the special edition Mico.

dgs

 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 08/09/04 11:56AM
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