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No plans to change USB 1.1 in A9home

By Chris Williams. Published: 4th Jul 2005, 14:31:59 | Permalink | Printable

Tributes paid instead to dead Italian hell raiser

AdvantageSix have "no current plans to change the specification of the A9home" amid concerns over the suitability of the product's USB 1.1 ports. The hardware in the ARM9 powered computer is currently limited to a maximum transfer rate of 12MBit/s through the USB ports, which is further reduced by software overheads.

A9home users rely on these USB ports to hook up removable media, such as USB based CD and DVD drives, to their tiny computers. To give some context: DVD movie playback requires information to be constantly read from the disc at around 10MBit/s which is pushing it on USB 1.1. Ironically, the A9home's chipset offers hardware acceleration that is advantageous for DVD playback, once the data has arrived from the disc. AdvantageSix's Matt Edgar argued that "typical DVDs" require a sustained transfer rate of around 5MBit/s. He added: "However because of protocol overheads and CPU usage I suspect this could still be difficult."

USB 2.0 can offer up to 480MBit/s, which the Simtec USB software stack can support.

Garibaldi himselfSTD, aka AdvantageSix, also paid tribute today to Giuseppe Garibaldi, who was born on July 4th 1807. To recognise the Italian patriot, military leader and general rebel rouser, STD have liberated the price of a fully unlocked Unipod if bought in conjuction with a USB DVD drive. The Unipod is also a USB 1.1 device, although the internal data bus in legacy Acorn kit is severely limited anyway.

When asked how useful a CD or DVD drive connected via USB to a Unipod or A9home is, Matt replied, "The majority of RISC OS specific things are CD based, initially mostly for use with CDs. RISC OS data DVDs are starting to become available, and it seems sensible to support this and not restrict the audience for them by selling a CD only solution. The recent availability of CDVDBurn will hopefully encourage this further.

"Of course some DVD data discs from other platforms may have useful content in an appropriate format too."


STD website

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It does seem a shame that the USB is going to be limited to 12MBits/s. USB will be the only way to expand this machine and it looks like the speed will make getting things like DVD movie playback working a struggle.

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 4/7/05 2:46PM
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Thinking about this a little more. The USB issue combined with being limited to 128MBs of RAM is actually quite off putting. No doubt John Cartmell will pop along any second to convince us all that we have no need for anything more.

On the other hand, it does mean there are clear distinctions between the IYONIX pc and the A9home.

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 4/7/05 2:52PM
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fylfot: Buy a USB TV capture doobry and a 30 quid seperates DVD player. :)

Alternatively, perhaps there are other issues with putting USB2 in it other than not wanting to. It might be that a suitable chip, in terms of power requirements and size, simply isn't available.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 4/7/05 2:53PM
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Ian: I have no knowlede of your needs! ;-) As always take 'limitations' with a pinch of salt as there are always other potential bottlenecks in a computer system.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 4/7/05 3:40PM
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"As always take 'limitations' with a pinch of salt as there are always other potential bottlenecks in a computer system."

Could you say that again, in English?

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 4/7/05 4:15PM
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jc: What a nonsense arguement. Next you'll be saying that there's no point buying a car if a scooter will do the speed limit.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 4/7/05 4:21PM
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Ian: It clearly was in English as Rob (almost) understood it - although he seems to have added a great deal that I didn't mention at all!

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 4/7/05 5:45PM
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Getting back on topic. The USB 1.1 is adequate for most things, even CD burning.

Why people are obsessed with watching a full length DVD movie on their computer is beyond my comprehension.

People on here seem to forget, the A9home is essentialy the new entry level RISC OS computer. As such it fills a gap in the RISC OS market. It is also a big step up in performance from the A7000 type computers yet still at a similar price. If you require USB 2, buy an Iyoix.

The A9home. If only everything this good came in small packages.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 4/7/05 6:54PM
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English or not, John once again is trying to comment on a rather complex topic that he simply isn't in a position to comment authoratively on.

In any case, my understanding from comments made by Dan Ellis is that the speed claims for USB 2 are often fiction for many devices, and many devices go much slower than that anyway (but faster than USB 1.1).

Additionally, many USB 2 devices offer USB 1.1 backwards compatibility. I don't think this is a big loss.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 4/7/05 7:28PM
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USB 1.1 and 128 MB aren't off putting for me. My Iyonix hasn't been upgraded beyond these, even though it could be easily.

I'm surprised that the lack of DVI (which apparently the video chip could support, since some of the worries about resolution were based on the chip's DVI spec) doesn't draw more attention. Anyone buying a RISC OS machine would typically be expecting *well* over 5 years use. In five years time large LCDs are likely to be the norm and very affordable, to get the best quality a DVI output would be required (they may even only support DVI).

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 4/7/05 7:45PM
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In reply to jess:

I too was surprised at the lack of DVI, but then this is a low spec low priced computer. You don't really see many low spec Windows boxes with DVI. Anyway, I do believe you can get a dongle that will connvert from DVI to Analogue.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 4/7/05 8:04PM
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DVD Movie data rates are mostly between 4 and 6 Mbs. 10Mbs is the maximum for MPEG2 data. In fact some DVDs I have are coded at an average of only 4Mbs. Even the Superbit DVD are mainly coded at 6 to 7 Mbs. Only now are some of the Harddisc/DVD writer Personal Video Recorders offering recording at 10Mbs - although I belive one (Sony I think) has a 15Mb superbit rate.

Cheers DaveC

 is a RISC OS UserDaveC on 4/7/05 8:37PM
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sa110: I don't think many low spec PCs are intended to last much more than 18 months, so DVI isn't really an issue, but most could be upgraded to DVI anyway (as the Iyonix potentially could be). A more obvious comparison would be the mac mini, which does have a DVI connector.

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 4/7/05 10:10PM
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MPEG MP@ML can go up to 15Mbps. MPEG can go up to 50Mbps for professional versions.

 is a RISC OS Userdjames on 5/7/05 9:45AM
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sa110 Watching a full length video on your computer makes sense if your computer has the largest display in your home ;) .....Plus a mac mini and screen is more compact than a stand alone DVD player and TV.

I often watch TV via Real Audio on the mac partly as I am busy and don't want to watch TV and also because I can select channels I cannot otherwise get. As regards RISC OS, I'm looking forward to Geminus being able to display a PCITV window in one screen and the Iyonix desktop in a second. All I'd then need is a way of recording video from the TV card in the Iyonix to hard disc and playing it back when I wanted!

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 5/7/05 10:39AM
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Hmm, my DVD player displays the current bitrate on the OSD, and unless the screen's completely black, it normally tends to be at least 8Mbps for most of the stuff I've got, and quite often goes as high as 12Mbps. Remember, 5.1 audio and all subtitling tracks and such take up space. :)

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 5/7/05 11:07AM
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The DVD in my machine at the moment is 'The Man Who Would be King' Sean Connery and Michael Caine.

On the busy market scene - Scene 4 - the rite rate is varying between 4 and 8 Mbs and is mostly bewteen 5.6 and 6.5 MBs.

Cheers, DaveC

 is a RISC OS UserDaveC on 5/7/05 1:52PM
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DaveC: Hmm, even steady scenes in 28 Days Later are using around 6.5 to 8 Mbps, and the busier scenes taking 11Mbps. Perhaps it depends greatly on the DVD, or perhaps different players report different figures. I'm using a Meridian 596. What are you using?

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 5/7/05 3:04PM
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If that could happen, i'd ditch my PC as my Video Recorder (Which sadly died when my HP 5L decided to attack me from the shelf while fixing the video machine)

But more on-topic... I cannot believe that people are still making USB 1.1 controller chips.....I hope they have a good reason for using one.

 is a RISC OS Userem2ac on 5/7/05 3:04PM
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sa110: "Why people are obsessed with watching a full length DVD movie on their computer is beyond my comprehension."

If you have your computer as some kind of "media PC" - ie. recording and playing television programmes and DVDs - it wouldn't exactly be an obsession to watch movies on/using it. The profile of the A9home probably fits right in to the whole "media PC" thing - a small unintrusive unit that doesn't make much noise, generate much heat, or consume much power. One wonders why the RISC OS hardware vendors aren't (as far as we know) making a bigger play for that end of the market. Even Acorn and Pace gave it a shot, albeit tying their devices in with sometimes doomed services rather than letting the customer work out what kind of cool stuff can be done with them.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 5/7/05 5:11PM
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In Reply to nutfetishist:- The DVD player I used is the my old one in the bedroom - Logix 3000 - but I've just tried it in my main machine - JVC XY-N212 - trying different scenes the lowest bitrate I got was 4.1 and the highest 8.8Mbs. Most of my DVDs are packed up as I'm moving house soon. One DVD out - a cheap DVD from the Post Office - but a good film 'By the Sword' which is 4:3 aspect - goes down to 3.2 and up to about 7.2 Cheers, DaveC

 is a RISC OS UserDaveC on 5/7/05 5:23PM
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To nutfetishist

Have a look here:-


Cheers DaveC

 is a RISC OS UserDaveC on 5/7/05 5:36PM
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sa110 said > "The USB 1.1 is adequate for most things, even CD burning. "

Yes, except CDVDBurn to my knowledge doesn't support USB for burning (quite undestandable given the relatively small number of RISC OS users with RISC OS machines with USB).

As of *now* A9Home can only read not write CDs (never mind the speed), that might change if the good Mr Huber can be persuaded to add USB burning support - although I doubt if the IDE using DVD writing community would be much impressed if his valuable time was taken away on something that would be of no benefit to them ;)

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 5/7/05 7:06PM
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In reply to AMS:

But if the A9home take up is good, Mr Huber might make more money by adding USB cd writing to his program.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 5/7/05 7:58PM
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@sa110: Haha, good joke... making money!

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 6/7/05 2:42AM
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C(DV)DBurn and USB: in theory, C(DV)DBurn already containes "USB" support, as long as the USB stack already contains a default implementation for the mass storage/transparent SCSI USB protocol in the way of providing standard SCSI SWIs. Castle's USB stack implements mass storage support in that way. There is also a generic SCSI module for the Simtec stack to do the same IIRC.

In practice however, I was not able to use an Iomega USB CD writer with either stack. I have not really analysed the problem yet, it might be something simple.

Implementing specific USB support is of course possible, and I did some groundwork quite some time ago, but my speed experiments were not very promising - it looked like you wouldn't be able to do a 4 speed Audio CD write, so I put it on hold. Now that a machine is on the market which will only ever have a CD/DVD connected via USB, the picture changes of course.


 is a RISC OS Userhubersn on 6/7/05 9:47AM
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sa110: Regarding DVI to analogue dongles, it depends on the monitor you are using. If you are using one with a DVI-I (Integrated) digital input, a dongle will work. If it's DVI-D, it will only accept digital signals. The DVI pins actually have support for both analogue and digital signals, but if the monitor only listens to the digital ones, the dongle will not work because all it does is put the analogue VGA lines onto the analogue DVI lines.

 is a RISC OS Usercocodude on 6/7/05 11:54AM
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In reply to cocodue: A good informative reply. I was not away there was both DVI-D and DVI-I.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 6/7/05 1:39PM
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DVI to analogue: for home cinema stuff, there are now real converters that are able to create a true analogue VGA signal from a DVI digital signal (even when it is HDCP protected) - works up to 1080p (1920x1080 pixels) apparently. Not sure how flexible they are wrt other signals (i.e. not standard NTSC/PAL/HDTV resolutions and refresh rates).

 is a RISC OS Userhubersn on 6/7/05 2:33PM
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Having used USB CD burners a fair amount, it does surprise me that only USB 1.1 is supported on the A9home. With USB 2 added to some 1997 era PC hardware, I could get 24x burning done fairly reliably (32x was more risky, 40x on such slow hardware wasn't practical). I did try burning with USB 1.x on slightly newer hardware, but doing anything better than 4x seemed somewhat foolish. Is USB 1.x even supported on modern CD/DVD burners?

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 6/7/05 4:03PM
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In reply to guestx:

Most if not all USB 2 devices are backwards compatible with USB 1.1.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 06/07/05 7:51PM
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In reply to em2ac and guestc:

So far there exist only one ARM SOC chip integreating USB 2 High Speed, but its only a 200MHz device. To offer USB 2 High Speed the main board would have to be redesigned to incorporate a seperate USB 2 chip which I guess explains why there won't be any changes for the A9Home.

On the other hand I wonder, since the ARM SOC chip is on a seperate card and could be replaced by a future processor with integrated USB 2 High Speed capability, if the main board itself is fit to transfer such data rates between the USB connectors and the daugther board.

 is a RISC OS Userandretim on 07/07/05 07:58AM
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This might well be true..but why was an extra chip not added at design time?

This I see as a backward step.

Althou USB2 devices are backward compatible....whats the point.. we might as well use RiscPCs with UniPods in.

What ever happened to the vast advancement in technology our platform used to have oh 10 odd years ago?

 is a RISC OS Userem2ac on 07/07/05 10:00AM
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em2ac > Why? Simple; money. The users of other A9 types and the other users of the CPU module card don't need it (yet). I think we only can expect a USB2-A9Home when they need it or when the sales of the A9Home will be huge. For now, see the A9Home as a ?present? to the RISC OS community, take it as it is or leave it.

 is a RISC OS Useregel on 07/07/05 11:02AM
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egel: I can understand that thought....but by not useing (lets face it) a technology that was around since 2000..this is a pointless step..I would spend a little bit more to get an up to date machine.

Or more likely get an iyonix.....that has USB2 in it....

If we take back steps like this, the there really is no point in producing any more devices....its like the A3010 to A5000 jump, nothing specifically different, just re-shaped.

The A9Home appears to be a nice beast, but its soo limited with the only method of expansion not being the most up to date.

As with the iyonix..PCI for a grpahics adaptor? I couldnt find any in PC world or the local computer shop. we passed AGP by and now going to ignore stuff like PCI expresx / PCI X / USB 2?

A step back - there is a reason as to why USB 2 is in 99% of things these days, even printers......who wants to purchase a computer and then upgrade it again once to get USB2, if they are not even going to support the USB2 price hike (if there was one)?

 is a RISC OS Userem2ac on 07/07/05 1:42PM
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PS...attempting to show this machine to my friends had this reaction "USB 1.1??? 128 Megs of RAM??? are you serious?"

Other than that....I would buy it....oh if only i haad the money to get that for home, and an iyonix for work...

 is a RISC OS Userem2ac on 07/07/05 1:43PM
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Michael> You're friend is probably using a PC where *everything* takes a lot of RAM to run (for example the Microsoft .NET Framework weighs in at some 22MB - and that *isn't even the OS*). On RISC OS you can get a lot of apps (even some of the heaver ports such as GCC *and* Firefox) running happily with 128MB as well as the usual suspects like !Draw, !Paint et al. On a PC the basic OS and .NET framework will leave you with short change of your 128MB (and things will slow somewhat when you try run Office etc). So *we* are the ones who should be ones who should be saying "are you serious 512MB of RAM why would I ever need that ?"

The virtue of RISC OS is you *don't*, on the whole, need to use anything like 128MB to be productive. I suspect the only time you'd broach that is with large scanned images for printing and the like.

Yes having *more* RAM is better - but is *not as necessary* as it would be on a PC.

The USB issue is the more serious one, it is rather unfortunate that having decided to limit the machine to USB only expansion that the USB chosen was 1.1 and not 2. It *will* have knock on effects for those wishing to burn CD's, if that capability becomes available, particularly with longer burn times than PC's or Iyonixs or - if it's possible at all - painfully long burn times of DVD data disks. It'll also rule out having fast external hard disk storage (you can have it - but it *won't* be fast). I've used USB2 external drives on PC's and you *really* wouldn't know they're not a normal internal UDMA/IDE drive from a speed perspective - sadly at USB1.1 the difference would be all too noticeable. Still I'd rather not be critical of Ad6/Simtec they *have* managed to create a worthy, compact RISC OS box that has more "hits" than "misses".

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 07/07/05 7:53PM
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In reply to AMS:

I thought too that it was a pity not to have USB 2 on board since I'd like to have ideally is a small, compact, easely replacable computer with storage devices located in external racks. The problem however is not even speed first, but do we have access to more than 2GB harddisks? My understanding is that we only have access yo FAT formatted discs with the 2GB limitation of image filing systems like DOSFS/Win95FS.

A solution could be to use Ethernet storage racks which appears like sharable disks on the network, but they are not cheap and since I never managed to access the company's portable from my RPC with LanManFS, I'm not even sure it would work.

 is a RISC OS Userandretim on 08/07/05 09:35AM
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Oh i know all about the momory thing...hence why I didnt say anything about it ;@P sorry for the mis-understanding caused there.

as I also said, this is a nice little box. But my brother instantly dismissed the idea of using it as a TV media player due to the usb 1.1 only issue.

Which is a shame as he has always said that the platform is better suited for video editing tham most OS (Windows is the worst)

andretim: I have managed to use our companie's LAN Disc controllers via LanMAN98, I suggest you try that

 is a RISC OS Userem2ac on 08/07/05 3:08PM
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