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Midlands show report

By Chris Williams. Published: 30th Nov 2002, 00:52:23 | Permalink | Printable

Just in case you were wondering where everyone was [Update] Show news

0:52am, 30th November 2002 - Pre-show warmup
A bit late but for the sake of completeness, the RISC OS Midlands show in Birmingham is taking place today with a full host of exhibitors. The Midlands show, managed by the ARM Club, is normally considered to be the little brother of the yearly schedule of RISC OS events, this year however looks set to change all that.

Roll call of exhibitors
R-Comp, Castle, MW Software, CJE/4thDim, Icon Technology, Surftec, Kudlian Software, ITC, Acorn Publisher, Acorn User, Archive, Photodesk, Soft Rock Software, Zenta, Cerilica, RISCOS Ltd., Fortran Friends, APDL, Virtual Acorn, AAUG, Aemulor.com, Unix Porting Project and drobe.co.uk.

1pm, later that day - Iyonix in action
We had an informal play with the Iyonix computer, trying out the bundled software such as Oregano 2 and then stressing the machine with some simple tests, such as forcing !Draw to do a 9,999 interpolation and hacking about with writing some simple multitasking applications (in !Edit, how old school). Although we liked what we saw (except Oregano 2 although the reboots were pretty damn fast), we'll be publishing a full indepth Iyonix review in due course. It was nice to see at least some quality software like Nettle running natively on the Iyonix.

4pm, later that day - Image galore
Show photos taken by drobe.co.uk photograpic consultant Stuart Winter can be found here. Server master Ian also took a few photos of us with his compact geeky digital camera, best picture being here here.

Sunday, 1st December - Round up
The show was essentially an event for RISC OS users to meet developers and pick up stuff at discount prices. Most exhibitors were showing off 32 bit compatible software fresh off the compiler or something new. The show became very busy around lunchtime but there was enough space for everyone, unlike the South East show. Here's interesting things going down that are worth mentioning:

New OHP from Photodesk Ltd.
Billed as "the leading RISC OS presentation software package", the new OHP (version 2.5) is 26/32 bit neutral and features the following enhancements:

  • Improved compatibility with large video modes
  • New 'actual size' mode for presenting bit map files (Sprites and JPEGs)
  • Improved slide selection and editing
  • Extended gallery of preset backgrounds
  • New transition effects
  • What Photodesk call "various other minor improvements", what we call "bug fixes".

OHP is an editor and viewer for full-screen presentations under RISC OS, a computerised OverHead Projector but with sound and transition effects. This is the second major update to the package since its first release in 1998.
OHP website

Castle Iyonix in the flesh
The date on RISC OS 5 (from the Switcher) was 28th November 2002, so development must have been right up until the end of the week in time for the show. Castle had with them 50 Iyonixes or so, all ready for sale. We were told by a Castle lackey that, by the end of the day, they had shifted a total of 28 with the first two going as soon as the show opened. One third party developer we spoke to commented that he expected all of them to have gone, especially if they'd been shipping at the South East show. Show attendees who spoke to us on the drobe.co.uk stand seemed cautious, waiting instead for the Omega arrive so a proper comparasion could be made; something we're looking forward too as well. It was however a promising sight to see users exiting the show with large white Iyonix boxes tucked safely under their arms, people who'll be among the first to use RISC OS natively on a machine that exceeds the (in comparasion) rather dreary RiscPC specifications. If you have an Iyonix and want to tell us about it, please get in touch.

Aemulor progresses
Aemulor, the 26 bit emulator for the 32 bit Iyonix, is progressing nicely it seems with a release date (for the full version) aimed at January. The developers we spoke to seemed confident that they can squeeze more out of the emulator engine. Artworks and Impression appeared to run at ARM600/ARM700 speed, so no slower than on an original RiscPC.

If there's anything we've missed out, email us.

Previous: Iyonix on sale now: First batch at Midlands show
Next: Paradise Graphics tablets for Xmas?


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Damn and blast! Can't get to Birmingham from Cambridge in time.

scans for show reports -- Andrew Harmsworth, Cambridge. www.gcse.com owner and author

 is a RISC OS Userharmsy on 30/11/02 1:03PM
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Damn and blast! Can't get to Birmingham from Cambridge in time.

scans for show reports -- Andrew Harmsworth, Cambridge. www.gcse.com owner and author

 is a RISC OS Userharmsy on 30/11/02 1:14PM
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...and that's a useful comment for us to hear, because?...

 is a RISC OS Userian on 30/11/02 1:14PM
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...it echoes the thoughts of lots of us out there? :-)

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 30/11/02 1:45PM
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Heh. I got to break it.

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 30/11/02 2:33PM
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First show pics! here, here, and here

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 30/11/02 2:54PM
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Could Chocky look any smarter in that suit?

Could the Iyonix look any duller in that case?


 is a RISC OS UserDougal on 30/11/02 4:13PM
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It's a computer case, what more do you want? Fairy lights?

As for Chocky and that suit,...

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 30/11/02 6:01PM
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Come on, come on ppl! Who saw Iyonix? What did you think? Did you buy one? Tell, tell, tell all!!

-- Thomas

 is a RISC OS UserTRM on 30/11/02 6:56PM
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Any news on the elusive Oregano 2? -- Govind Kharbanda, Edinburgh

 is a RISC OS Usergovind on 30/11/02 8:51PM
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So who's got an Iyonix? Any benchmarks to tell us about?

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 30/11/02 11:15PM
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-- Sendu Bala,

 is a RISC OS Usersenduran on 30/11/02 11:29PM
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I got one... but can't tell you about it because this thing doesn't seem to be working...

-- Sendu Bala,

 is a RISC OS Usersenduran on 30/11/02 11:53PM
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Ok, let my try posting with Oregano 2 then... What sort of benchmakrs do you want to see? The only 'real' app I have here is !PDF and that shows a rather massive improvement over my SA RPC - an 8 semes aocond wait for a new page to display becomes a rather more bareable 2 second redraw. Fearing that there's a length limit to these postings I won't say anymore. Except that Oregano 2 is aweful but hopefully this isn't the final version.

-- Sendu Bala,

 is a RISC OS Usersenduran on 1/12/02 1:12AM
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What about viewing a JPEG with ChangeFSI? I'm getting a s/h RPC soon, and wondering about Oregano 2, any good? Java? Flash?

Best of luck with the Iyonix anyway!

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 1/12/02 1:26AM
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Uggh, I really hate this comment poster. 13s vs 3s for a jpeg. No browser plugins yet Flash /seems/ to be doing something. You'd have to point me to some test websites for flash and java though.

-- Sendu Bala,

 is a RISC OS Usersenduran on 1/12/02 9:01AM
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Here is a simple page with Java:


Here is some Flash:


13 secs vs 3 for a JPEG sounds good.


 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 1/12/02 11:28AM
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The java doesn't work. The Flash does. However the sound effect is quite delayed and its generally a bit slowish - it doesn't work as a calculator you'd want to use! And yes, the jpeg result is good. Two real-world benchmarks show hugely significant (4x) improvments. Its now sensible to read PDFs under RISC OS! -- Sendu Bala,

 is a RISC OS Usersenduran on 1/12/02 12:41PM
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I was the other person who bought an Iyonix. Having basic boot-up problems problems with no dhcp server from my cable modem alternating with mouse usb connection disappearing. Anyone know how to do a hard reset?

 is a RISC OS Usertony18m on 1/12/02 9:43PM
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Would this be a bad time to mention that my 200 quid machine can decompress a JPEG that my StrongARM RiscPC takes 12 seconds to display in no measurable time with a wall clock? :)

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 1/12/02 10:28PM
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Yes Bob, it would.

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 1/12/02 10:34PM
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Bah! :)

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 1/12/02 10:38PM
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Timings like PDF/JPEG render nice to know, but how much faster the machine seem in use? Elementary things like day-to-day desktop responsiveness are much more important to me, any comments? -- Ryan, Hull

 is a RISC OS Userdrjones69 on 2/12/02 12:32AM
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Its noticably faster than an RPC. But about the only thing I've done with it is wiggle windows about - very nice and smooth. What else do you mean by 'desktop responsiveness'? Oregano2 generally spoils the whole experience because its clunky as hell, but then again it emphasises how nice normal apps are in use. -- Sendu Bala,

 is a RISC OS Usersenduran on 2/12/02 6:31AM
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Would this be a bad time to mention that my 7 year old RiscPC can render a JPEG in no measurable time with a wall clock? :)

Might I also mention that this software is also on the Iyonix and will run quicker? -- Spriteman, not using a sledgehammer to crack a nut Dept.

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 2/12/02 9:35AM
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Has anyone tried using KinoAmp on a Iyonix? I would hope that the Iyonix would be much improved in this area.

 is a RISC OS UserSnig on 2/12/02 11:34AM
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There should be a version of KA in the near future. Just be patient, better correct than rushed.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 2/12/02 5:44PM
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Considering the size of the production runs I would say the price is a *bargain*. The Omega even has a chipset on FPGA's (I'm guessing Xilinx Virtex... does anyone actually know?)which are significantly more expensive (and slower due to routing overhead) than full custom IC's. Of course they are reconfigurable so it would be possible to update the chipset with a software patch. I can't understand why MD aren't promoting this as a big selling point. Some hardware DCT on a spare bit of FPGA might even blow that wallclock beating PC out of the water.

 is a RISC OS Userrob on 2/12/02 11:33PM
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Does it matter which FPGAs they use? The early boards I saw (when they were demoing it publicly) were Altera, IIRC. Also, the do point out that the hardware is software-upgradable. And if the FPGAs are so slow (according to you) then having them do DCT in the FPGA won't help matters that much, will it? (MMX and SSE JPEG decoders are worryingly fast.)

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 3/12/02 10:23AM
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It doesn't really matter... I'm just interested (I think it was the Imago I saw Xilinx chips on). Also run-time and partial reconfiguration is better supported on Xilinx. FPGA's are slow, although I bet you could still beat a software implementation of JPEG decompression. You're probably right about the effect of MMX and SSE so I stand corrected on that. Anyway, it's good that they are promoting the reconfiguration aspect I do think it's a major point.

 is a RISC OS Userrob on 3/12/02 11:20AM
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You can EASILY beat software decompression of a JPEG on an FPGA since you can utilise the parallelism of the hardware to vastly speed up all the multiplies and adds needed to perform the inverse DCT. The same goes for the inverse MDCT used in perceptual audio decoding (MP3, Vorbis etc.) - in fact Celoxica claim real-time MP3 decoding can be achieved on a Xilinx FPGA running at only 8 MHz (see [link] - choose the first PDF file and scroll down to the last page)

 is a RISC OS Usergovind on 3/12/02 11:01PM
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To answer an earlier question.... I think the Omega uses a Xilinx Spartan FPGA. I asked at the Livingston show. I was also told that their main problem with the FPGA design came late in the design flow - place and route - rather than the VHDL (or Verilog, or Handel-C) authoring stage. -- Govind Kharbanda, Edinburgh

 is a RISC OS Usergovind on 3/12/02 11:05PM
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I was at Celoxica today :-). Do Microdigital (or any other RISC OS people) use Handel-C?

 is a RISC OS Userrob on 4/12/02 11:43PM
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ummm.... I use Handel-C for my MSc project, I think MD used VHDL. You could have a look at [link] to see what I did with Handel-C. A few folk from celoxica came up to Livingston to give a seminar and to help us along with the project, who did you meet? -- Govind Kharbanda, Edinburgh

 is a RISC OS Usergovind on 5/12/02 4:00PM
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I don't really want to post names here. If you want to continue by email... robert.dimond@ic.ac.uk. Cheers. Rob

 is a RISC OS Userrob on 7/12/02 11:29AM
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