Castle ponder GeForce 4 graphics upgradeBy Mark Stephens. Published: 19th Sep 2005, 23:48:35 | Permalink | Printable
In house pre-beta driver, no cause for alarmCastle's Jack Lillingston dropped into London usergroup ROUGOL this evening, although he was giving nothing away on his company's plans for the South East Show. One of the nice things about ROUGOL is its informal atmosphere, so Jack did a less formal, off-the-cuff presentation and it gave lots of people the chance to all sorts of questions. And the conversation eventually turned to the future of graphics cards on the Iyonix.
Jack started by showing the new cases which are available - the X300 (which replaces the Panther) and the Aria (X400). The original Iyonix was the X200, so there is a clear pattern (except for the Panther). He showed how easy they were to open up and demonstrated connecting his USB Sony phone as a 500MB storage device and accessing the stored files. Jack expressed a general preference for using Sony items in the product range as the firmware remains very consistent between releases and batches. Castle have found more intermittent behaviour in devices from other manufacturers.
The new Iyonixes contain the original hardware design from 2002, which has been tweaked three times since the original version to sort out USB and some minor timing issues. While Castle may have some promotions on the high end machines, they have focussed on bringing the cost down on the entry-level machines, which is why these models do not include as much bundled software, such as Writer, and may or may not have anything to do with the introduction of AdvantageSix's cheaper A9home. Castle believes a lot of their target market already have a large library of software and would prefer a cheaper machine, though.
The Aria does not include a floppy drive as standard which did cause confusion for one of the audience, who had received her machine that morning with Aemulor supplied on floppy disc for her by the dealer (presumably they had it in stock). Jack suggested that the best solution for upgrading from a RiscPC to an Iyonix is to use a USB device or a network connection, which the Iyonix would auto-detect.
In response to questions about graphics cards, Jack congratulated Simon Wilson on his excellent 3D driver port which may allow Castle to speed-up some areas of the desktop, although he saw it as being more attractive to games writers. Castle have been looking at Nvidia GeForce 4 cards as possible replacements for the current GeForece 2 cards due to their ability to handle interlacing. John Ballance has a 'pre-beta' driver running on his machine with a GF4, for instance. Castle haven't decided whether they will move to them as standard - they only want to make changes if it gives most users a clear benefit.
One of the nice features of the usergroup meetings is the little facts that come out: If you weren't there, you will not know that the Aria can actually have 3 drives inside, although it's not officially specified and not recommend as a constant feature due to potential heat generation from the drives. The X100 has also had an improved design on its cooling slots and a different graphics card allowing it to run much cooler.
Example GF 4 PCI graphics card
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