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Simtec offer 7500FE boards

By Chris Williams. Published: 8th Jul 2003, 18:10:50 | Permalink | Printable

Hardware projects galore

We know there's a particular quarter of the drobe.co.uk readerbase that's quite familiar or interested in the hardware aspects of the RISC OS platform - like the reader told us he's bought a Hydra card and currently looking for ARM710 processors to populate it - so here's an article that should interest you.

Simtec Electronics are currently pushing their EB7500ATX boards which are powered by Cirrus 7500FE processors running at 56Mhz or 64Mhz. The board has been previously seen as the motherboards in the RiscStation RS7500s. Simtec are no strangers to RISC OS or ARM as from 1990, they've designed and produced electronics for Acorn related hardware.

The EB7500ATX board is very much self contained and features dual channel IDE, 10Mbit ethernet, FlashROM chips, standard parallel and serial ports and more. As the whole board costs less than a hundred quid, we reckon it could well be useful in an embedded project, if you're already familar with the ARM7 core and the 7500FE processor.

As for an operating system, Simtec provide a Debian ARM Linux package for the device, although RISC OS is an option. Simtec don't have a licence to distribute RISC OS on the board and therefore will not provide a copy of RISC OS for the board. However it is possible to flash RISC OS 4.03 onto the board's FlashROM chips or to use the Simtec ABLE bootloader to softload RISC OS Select from other media or from the network. It goes without saying that Simtec and Drobe do not condone piracy or the abuse of any EULAs.

Anyone already thinking of a laptop or luggable project should look Simtec's LCD driver module and be aware of other details such as how to fit a portable power supply.

Also, Simtec have informed us that they also have some remaining 2MB VRAM (video memory) modules available. We're told that the chips used in these modules are obsolete so it's unlikely that any further suitable modules will be manufactured.


Simtec Electronics

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So if it's an ARM processor, there'll be no fan on it? Does that mean I can build myself a nice quiet 24/7 Samba box for network storage?

 is a RISC OS UserNudeLooney on 8/7/03 6:58PM
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 is a RISC OS Userepistaxsis_RISC OS on 8/7/03 7:10PM
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Simtec are also doing an SA110-based board, for an extra hundred pounds - running at a tidy 233MHz. The website hints that it should be capable of running RISC OS (I don't know of any reason why it wouldn't be), and of course, ARM Linux and NetBSD.

 is a RISC OS Usermckinlay on 8/7/03 7:29PM
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It may be capable of *running* RISC OS, but where it would write any video output would be another thing... I don't think it has a VIDC of any sort.

 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 8/7/03 7:31PM
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Someone somewhere else has just pointed that out to me. I noticed Simtec resell RISC OS, though I don't know if it's modified at all (I must confess I don't have a clue who all the licensees and sub-licensees are).

I wonder if there's any way to plug a replacement video driver of some sort into the OS without having access to the sources... a fresh challenge for the very bored? :-)

 is a RISC OS Usermckinlay on 8/7/03 7:40PM
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Nice, very interested in the boards.

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 8/7/03 8:11PM
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Hmm, these boards look like they'll fit in stuff from mini-itx.com. Any comments?

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 8/7/03 8:29PM
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I believe the 7500FE based board is of the MicroATX format (since it's basically the same as the one used in the RiscStation Lite (is it identical?))

I thought the SA110 based board was the one designed for the ill-fated Evolution machine. Cheers!

 is a RISC OS Userfwibbler on 8/7/03 8:45PM
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A teeny RO box would be good for a replacement for the NC, cheaper too, so long as a solution for video can be sorted out. I think a user's license for Select is per user, not per machine, so I guess anyone with Select could also put it on one of these.

I recall Simtec mentioning an ARM9 board a while back, I hope they also offer this for such a great price, maybe a few hundred pounds?

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 8/7/03 9:32PM
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The SA110 machine from Simtec is the CATS board, which has had moderate success in the NetBSD and Linux markets (and has been around quite some time).

You'd have to discuss any relationship to the Evolution with Simtec or RiscStation.

-- Peter, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 8/7/03 9:55PM
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<p>It should be noted Simtec do <em>not</em> sell or have licence for RISC OS, the 7500 board has been used by some dealers who sold it with RISC OS Flash ROMS but these were not licence by Simtec. <p>The website also lists the other ARM powered boards that Simtec manufacture the <a href="[link]">ARM 9</a> has been mentioned as has the <a href="[link]">SA110</a> board both of these do <em>not</em> run RISC OS to my knowledge but do run ARM Linux and NetBSD.

 is a RISC OS Userkyllikki on 8/7/03 10:54PM
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ooh, but the arm9 one can run win ce, so bob will be happy :)

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 9/7/03 12:17AM
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I don't see the ARM9 one on their site, might make a nice mid-range RISC OS machine.

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 9/7/03 12:27AM
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Simtec don't sell RISC OS?

[link] seems to suggest otherwise - though on inspection it does only specifically mention the 7500 board as being supported with RISC OS.

 is a RISC OS Usermckinlay on 9/7/03 1:31AM
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Ah, no, my mistake entirely. Christ, that website is confusing. Simtec direct people who want to use RISC OS with their boards to their VARs, though they do say that they have always supported RISC OS, and provide supporting drivers and software should you decide to use it on their boards.

 is a RISC OS Usermckinlay on 9/7/03 1:35AM
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curses. i've just gutted a mac IIci and put a via epia motherboard into it. this would have been a much better option. why can't these deals come out a week before i spend my money ?

 is a RISC OS Userlostamarble on 9/7/03 8:19AM
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Flibble, do you nean me? :-)

Well I would have no reason to use this since there are lots of great winCE machines around. eg jornada 720. (OK SH)

cheers bob

 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 9/7/03 9:42AM
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njinsky: yep I meant you :)

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 9/7/03 11:43AM
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Flibble. :-) good one.

Mind you ther are some good apps out there now being developed for wince and a hack of the dll's makes PPC apps run on wince.

textmaker is an example app.

cheers bob

 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 9/7/03 12:07PM
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I must say that running WinCE on these various devices now seems distinctly unappealing given the advances that have been made in the various handheld Linux distros. Plus programming for WinCE is pretty horrible.

-- Peter, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 9/7/03 12:27PM
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WinCE isn't just horrible to program for, it's horrible in every respect. They say it's a real-time, reliable OS. It's not. Plus, the PocketPC platform requires a huge amount of RAM and ROM. It requires 32MB of flash as the "boot ROM". My Linux-based PDA runs Linux 2.4, and X Windows, and has 16MB of flash (OS *and* user data) and 16MB of RAM for running apps in.

*Microsoft in memory inefficent software unshocker!*

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 9/7/03 1:12PM
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mrchocky. most people buy a computer to use and not toprogramme on. especially PDA's. This is perhaps one of the problems with RISC OS. Lots of programming tools etc etc and not so many top apps, percentage wise, of the same quality. Yes i'm sure the linux versions are better and in my major software/hardware collaboration we will most certainly use netbsd or similar.

nonfetishest: Yes I agree totally, however people buy them. I also see there is a palm sync for riscos. I originally wanted to write my SW for palm but they didn't have a keyboard and large screen (my jornada 710), I have now gone for a pocket machine so I should reassess the palm since it is a far better OS to use.

cheers bob

 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 10/7/03 9:02AM
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nijinsky: I feel kind of the opposite, programming tools are frankly, crap, on RISC OS. I'm not talking about GCC or BASIC, but the very basic nature of the RISC OS toolkit, and lack of good Java, and to a lesser extent, C++ bindings. On the other hand, for such a small platform, we've got some amazing titles like Artworks,Vantage, OPro etc.

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 10/7/03 10:00AM
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thegman: I agree on some of these points. Certainly JAVA. I should have qualified things a bit and said "that for my uses". :-)

cheers bob; off to do some voxel rendering; really boring :-(

 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 10/7/03 11:44AM
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nijinsky: Yes, it depends on what you use the machine for, I only program,browse web, do email with my computers so I cannot speak with much experience on the big apps.

On the Java front, we have Kaffe now, which I was pretty surprised how good it was, shame that there is no AWT or other graphical toolkit, but great nonetheless.

voxel rendering? eh?!


 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 10/7/03 11:52AM
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thegman: Voxel rendering :-




Amira is brilliant on a 32processor SGI in VR. The only thing wrong with this is I only have one eye and cant see 3D REALLY. Still 2D is good enough. :-)))

cheers bob

 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 10/7/03 1:34PM
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nijinsky: you said there is Palm sysnc for RISC OS???? Tell me more,r even better, tellme where.


 is a RISC OS UserNeilWB on 10/7/03 1:42PM
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nijinsky: That's some pretty high end gear, I expect you guys are pretty excited about the new SGI rackmount workstation which is supposed to be out soon (Tezro). David Atkins was going on about medical imaging on the Omega, but I doubt it's *quite* as good as the 32-way SGI (Onyx, I imagine?)!

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 10/7/03 2:19PM
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Aye, Onyx.

...that sounds familiar!

 is a RISC OS Usermonkeyson on 10/7/03 2:37PM
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NeilWB. palmlink from [link]

I also downloaded some palm stuff to develop some databases on that.

Regarding some 3D stuff. We have some software in our imageing suite and the chap there wants to get a full SGI the size of a wardrobe. I normally use manual tracing programms like neurolucida 5000ukp and metamorph 2,500ukp. Amira is grat and only 2000ukp but is a bit slow on this PC. However, if you want some great software for rendering, probably better than Amira, then VOLOCITY IS IT. The big drawback at the demo I had was the price, 13,000ukp but it is great and runs on a mac G4 really quickly. see:- [link] [link]

As for medical imageing, well I cant say anything regarding RISC OS "the platform" :-) but it would be ideal. To give you an example, my wife is one of the UK's experts in a certain field (she kept her own name so dont search) I have seen some wonderful machines that could have sold thousands, but they had windows as a backbone and crashed or were un-intuitive to learn. This can really be done on riscos since the computing power is minimal. THe probable market is 10 machines/ trust. IE a lot. There are other applications where boards like the simtec board can be used. EG to control biology devices like PCR sequencers, hixstology ovens etc etc. Anyway starting to rant abit :-)

cheers bob

 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 10/7/03 4:58PM
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