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Vpod: first pictures of new RiscPC graphics card

Published: 25th Apr 2009, 11:19:26 | Permalink | Printable

Stuart Tyrrell Developments' graphics accelerator was unveiled today as a RiscPC podule card "designed specifically for RISC OS 6" with 32MB of on-board VRAM, some hardware acceleration and desktop resolutions including 1680x1050 in 16 million colours. The video chip is a SM500-series device from Silicon Motion - as found in the A9home and predicted here first. The card uses a "more advanced version" of the A9home's SM501 video driver. It's also a pure graphics card with no other interfaces, such as USB and networking found in its predecessor, the Unipod. And it costs 149 quid. More updates here

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Discussion

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1680x1050 seems a bit low... and no DVI connector? No obvious nice big chunk of RAM on there either. I guess we need more details to see if it's a pointless lemon or something worth using up a slot for.

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 25/4/09 11:44AM
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I don't know if it supports resolutions higher than that, but it really doesn't need much RAM beyond 32MB. Shame about the DVI connector, but there are bags of pin arrays on it, so perhaps one can be retrofitted later. The machines feel quite snappy; certainly taking advantage of the acceleration they provide. Possibly the first podule with BGAs and heat sinks!

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 25/4/09 12:59PM
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The price is a little nuts though -- VF with more RAM, better h/w accel and a DVI connector can be had for the same. Any known benefits over VF?

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 25/4/09 1:04PM
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Seems faster, can be bought with a warranty.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 25/4/09 1:19PM
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And does 64K cols, which allows you to run 1900X1200 (and probably higher than that) at 64K cols if you want.

Not going to raise the temperature inside your box significantly compared to ViewFinder!

 is a RISC OS Usermd0u80c9 on 26/4/09 9:58PM
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I would have thought that 1900x1200 in 32 bit colour would fit in its memory, given that's just shy of 9M and the card has 32MB. Perhaps the memory map doesn't make it an easy thing.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 27/4/09 12:16AM
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Is this going to make any difference speed-wise with a 233MHz processor and Viewfinder?

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 25/4/09 2:23PM
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I'm told RISC OS can't use both a ViewFinder and a V-Pod at the same time. I think the aim is to make this sort of upgrade available again to people who missed the VF boat. Looks like there might be bags of room for future improvements, though; lots of juicy-looking pin arrays that seem to have nothing plugged in.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 25/4/09 2:46PM
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For use with RO 6. Supplied? Have to obtain separately? Have to subscribe?

 is a RISC OS Userfreder on 25/4/09 3:33PM
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I understand it is probably RISC OS 6-only because the driver will use the video abstraction interface new to RISC OS 6.

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 25/4/09 3:40PM
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With CRT monitors all but gone, there isn't so much need to drive the sort of ultra high resolutions I use on my 22" Iiyama, where as lower resolution LCDs give a far sharper picture. But DVI or preferably dual DVI is pretty much essential as analogue VGA compatibility is increasingly rare.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 25/4/09 8:16PM
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Druck, please get in the real world. Analoge TFT's are still to be had in the plenty.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 26/4/09 12:34AM
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If you are talking about the cheap and crappy end of the real world then yes, but anyone considering a decent large CD panel will be needing DVI-D or dual DVI-D.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 27/4/09 10:07AM
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What are you talking about druck? That people need less pixels just because they're LCD pixels rather than CRT pixels? Get real. I think anything less than WUXGA (1920x1200) is poor. And (obviously) that includes LCD screens.

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 26/4/09 11:56AM
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I'm quite happy with twin-head 1680x1050, but then I don't do any CAD work or anything.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 26/4/09 12:36PM
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Can you put two Vpods in one box then?

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 26/4/09 7:57PM
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You can put four.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 27/4/09 12:17AM
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Four? Are you sure? I thought there were only two DMA slots in a RiscPC.

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 27/4/09 10:29AM
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There are only two, yes. But that doesn't effect the VPod, as it is not a DMA device. (Neither's the ViewFinder, IIRC, and there's very little advantage in any case when the bus is so crippled.) And there are four 32 bit slots.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 27/4/09 12:08PM
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ViewFinder is a DMA device (at least under John Kortink's firmware), and having DMA working over the podule bus greatly accelerated the speed of transfer of large bitmaps to the screen. I noticed that again when I swapped back from the Kinetic to a normal StrongARM, (a few months before selling the RPC), and had DMA available again.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 29/4/09 9:18AM
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I run RISC OS at 2028x1536 on my 22" CRT and it gives a decent enough display, but with a 1920x1200 24" widescreen LCD I can use smaller anti-aliased and ZAP bitmapped fonts, and read them more easily due to the increased sharpness. Try it some time.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 27/4/09 10:14AM
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I just use a better font rasteriser that's already sharper, and find this works well.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 27/4/09 10:20AM
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That's true, while RISC OS fonts are great on fuzzy CRTs, on pin sharp LCD's they look smudged, and I have to say Linux fonts look a lot better.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 27/4/09 2:16PM
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Definitely. RISC OS fonts look too "fat" when crisply displayed IMO. One would think think the antialiaser would have tuning properties which could be wound back to provide a crisper output.

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 27/4/09 7:59PM
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Unfortunately, RISC OS's "antialiasing" is just rendering the glyph at a higher resolution and resampling it down. Blurryness ahoy!

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 27/4/09 8:35PM
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CRTs might be gone, but what about those nice 2560 x 1600 LCDs...

 is a RISC OS Userhubersn on 28/4/09 12:00AM
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My sincere congratulations to the developers - all development is good development when you're talking retro-platforms. Price? A bit steeper than I'd like but if you consider an Indivision for an Amiga A1200 is £115.99 and that's not a full GFX card... Features? It REALLY needs a DVI out and while I'm not too disappointed that despite the name it *only* does GFX I'd need to see those pins will support real (not vapour) upgrades before I buy. Needs RiscOS 6? Very sadly that's a deal-breaker for me as buying that too is going to double the price...

 is a RISC OS UserCharlie on 25/4/09 9:04PM
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RO Six is only £50

 is a RISC OS Userhighlandcattle on 25/4/09 9:12PM
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Really? That's also good news - the last time I looked joining the select scheme was a hell of a lot more... I suppose the reason I've not looked @ ROL's web site in a loooong time - I'll go have another look... Still £150+50 to outfit on of my toys with a GFX card...

 is a RISC OS UserCharlie on 25/4/09 10:04PM
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[link]

I was surprised by that one, too...

 is a RISC OS Userbhtooefr on 26/4/09 12:35AM
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The £50 purchase with option to upgrade to full select has been around for some time. However positives tend not to be trumpeted as much as they should.

Now ROL have started to update their website hopefully bits like that shouldn't fall down any cracks in the maze that was the old site. Good news all round.

 is a RISC OS UserJohnB on 26/4/09 8:30AM
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Is there a reason STD don't have any info available for this yet? All we've got is some crappy photos on Bob's twitpic site and some vague info here. Bit weird no?

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 27/4/09 9:31PM
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Don't forget, this is the RISC OS market. In general terms it's something like this: -

1. Produce a Product 2. Be very cryptic about it to the press 3. Launch it 4. Don't bother actually telling anyone about it 5. Complain when nobody buys it

Did I miss out any steps?

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 27/4/09 9:55PM
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6. React by accusing Drobe and others of slander and riscos-bashing.

7. React badly to bad reactions about your reaction.

 is a RISC OS UserMonty on 29/4/09 6:34PM
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8. Then accuse the person, who is reacting badly to your reaction of them not liking your product, of risc os bashing.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 2/5/09 1:10PM
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