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AdvantageSix launches new VirtualRPC based PC

By Chris Williams. Published: 7th Oct 2003, 08:31:25 | Permalink | Printable

Desktop ready

Announcing it as a "new RISC OS machine", which really woke us up this morning, AdvantageSix (better known as STD to RISC OS users) has instead launched the A6 - a WindowsXP PC that employs VirtualRPC-SE to allow RISC OS and RISC OS applications to run on it.

"Under VirtualRPC-SE, users can expect performance which meets or exceeds that of the fastest traditional StrongARM RiscPC machines (287MHz), and applications requiring disk access can exceed the speeds of this machine significantly", Stuart Tyrrell of AdvantageSix told us today. "Independant benchmark results will be published as soon as they are available."

Just last week we asked if there would be a time when RISC OS dealers would recommend an emulation solution over an in-house engineered, native RISC OS hardware product. Emulation, once a taboo subject, is now enabling RISC OS to run ever faster as well as securing a future architecture.

We're looking forward to the possibility of a Linux edition of VRPC-SE.

The A6 PC specifications fail to note the processor speed of the machine but the base unit includes a 40GB harddisc and 256MB of RAM. The focus of the machine is being able to use RISC OS and Microsoft's WindowsXP operating systems at the same time, at an affordable price. AdvantageSix is, to our best knowledge, the second RISC OS dealer to offer a RISC OS emulation product based on the Intel x86 architecture.


A6 PC website - details, pricings

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I was looking at that 'infinitely upgradeable' ATX case from another supplier last night.

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 7/10/03 9:13AM
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Personally, I prefer the looks of the R-Comp Spacecube. But to be fair, the photo of the A6 is not of the best.

Now all we need is a Mac version of VRPC --

 is a RISC OS UserEddie on 7/10/03 9:28AM
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Eddie> There's already ArcEm ;) Surely you don't really need such things as host file system access and anything post RISC OS 3.1?

-- Dougal

 is a RISC OS UserDougal on 7/10/03 9:58AM
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Networking in ArcEm would be nice (prod, prod) :)

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 7/10/03 10:02AM
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It runs cruddy XpHome, not XpPro. Yugh.

The website also implies that the USB ports work from VRPC-SE. That means the Simtec API I assume? That's one-up on Microdigital's Alpha offering!

Shame it's so damn ugly.

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 7/10/03 10:09AM
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Eddie - RISCube (SpaceCubes which can boot neatly into RISC OS) will be launched this week. We're just finalising prices, and waiting for certain aspects of VRPC-SE which should be ready for the show.

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 7/10/03 10:13AM
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g0tai> Given how out of date the emulated hardware in ArcEm is, I can't really see the point in investing the effort in extending it. I think a more interesting project is getting it to run a more modern version of RISC OS (something 32 bit for instance). This is probably a substantial undertaking, though I have some experience with ARM CPU emulator writing. Personally, getting the CPU up and running doesn't strike me as a problem, but getting the rest of it running would be, as I'm no RISC OS expert. It should be noted I merely ported ArcEm to the mac and didn't do any of the internals on it.

And then, the question is, does RISC OS really want developers pouring more time into emulation or more time on native development projects? Me working on it is no loss to the RO community, but dragging more RO savy people that the project would need is.

Also, if you're emulating a RISC OS machine then running it on a PC will be easier as they're both used in Little Endian mode, whereas the PowerPCs in the mac are big endian mode. And the G5 lacks the nice instructions the G3 and G4 had to do a load and byte swap. -- Dougal

 is a RISC OS UserDougal on 7/10/03 10:31AM
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Emulation is useful only if it brings people back to RISC OS from Windows. I know many people who hate using Windows, but think there is no option, they see Mac OS is as being just as bad and think Linux is for nerds. VirtualRPC-SE needs to be well advertised, so that people out there a well thought out, intuitive way to run their computer, that wont have them tearing their hair out on a regular basis.

However, just as vital is the availability of software that lets the ordinary user do what they do on the Windows box, things that they take for granted, but that the RISC OS solution has to be esier to use than the PC solution and does the job with more style than the PC ever would.

Finally, once the PC box that is running VirtualRPC-SE comes to the end of its inevitably short life, there should be cheap, powerful real ARM based RISC OS machines available for the new users to move onto. -- Keep Flying

 is a RISC OS UserJWCR on 7/10/03 11:16AM
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JWRC> "there should be cheap, powerful real ARM based RISC OS machines available" - upon what are you basing that statement? :)

I disagree that emulators have their place, my point more was that there already are such beasts and that given the developer effort of doing yet another one doesn't really seem worth it.

-- Dougal

 is a RISC OS UserDougal on 7/10/03 11:23AM
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Ok, you get a cheapish computer that runs Windows as well as RISC OS, but only matches a SARPC, now obtainable second hand for very little.

The Iyonix is pricey, but it gives massively higher performance than an bog-standard SARPC. A much cheaper 32bit ARM-based machine would be exciting, or a tiny portable a la NetBook.

Emulation is another option, but it's hardly a future. How many platforms survived as merely an emulation on another? Unless of course emulation is used as a bridging tool to develop a hypothetical RISC OS 'X', which can be compiled to run on various archectures, while retaining ARM emulation for legacy apps. A pipedream, of course, but with RISC OS increasingly plundering UNIX for ports and drivers, well, who knows...

Imagine real, native RISC OS apps running natively on a G5 or whatever?

 is a RISC OS UserJessFranco on 7/10/03 11:27AM
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Like Xara (aka Artworks) on a Windows box?

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 7/10/03 11:36AM
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"I was looking at that 'infinitely upgradeable' ATX case from another supplier last night."

I'm looking at one on my desk at work.

XP - ugh.

Still, it might be a good way to infiltrate Wintel only organisations.

-- Jess

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 7/10/03 11:38AM
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JessFranco> VRPC massively outperforms a real RiscPC for disk performance, screen resolution (unless you fork out $$$ for a ViewFinder, which is still slower), CD performance...

With PCs getting faster every day, emulation provides a scalable way to upgrade, wheras a RiscPC is a fixed 10+ year old design.

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 7/10/03 12:12PM
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JessFranco - testing a high end RISCube gave performance about twice that of an RPC on many tests, and things like the Artworks-apple test were extremely impressive. It *isn't* meant to compete with the Iyonix or Omega, but for those looking for a single machine (and let's be honest, many wives/significant others would prefer just one computer in the house) it provides a solution. A second hand RPC certainly couldn't compete in the performance stakes (although I'm sure some benchmark will prove the opposite!)

However, the key thing is that emulation and full machines can co-exist. I certainly wouldn't have the gaul to recommend a RISCube over an Iyonix or Omega for someone looking for a normal desktop RISC OS machine. But for some people, there are other criteria at play, and a market needs to recognise that.

This arguement won't go away. But I am fairly certain that arguing over the merits of VRPC/VA isn't going to win RISC OS any favors!

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 7/10/03 12:19PM
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In portable terms, emulation is the only affordable way for RISC OS users atm.

For instance, I am a student, who would pay 1000 for a laptop that does XP & Risc OS instead of 1500 on a RISC OS only box.

That and the fact that there hasn't been a successful RISC OS laptop since the A4!

As far as desktops are concerned, physical ARM machines (Iyonix/Omega...) are the best way as these give the stability of a single OS Machine, and with the added bonus that you can purchase a PC for a cheaper amount, allowing you to purchase two Computers instead of one.

 is a RISC OS Userem2ac on 7/10/03 12:49PM
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Where on earth did you get 1500 from?

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 7/10/03 1:43PM
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Re: g0tai 1500? Try looking here: [link]

 is a RISC OS Usermonkeyson on 7/10/03 2:06PM
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Fantastic. Then your prices are already several months out of date. How about current ones from their website. 1249 for a base machine (inc VAT) and just under 1399 for a monitor as well.

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 7/10/03 2:14PM
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I hate emulators. They are a horrible half-way house between RPCs and the Iyonix that are sure to tempt people away from spending their money on real risc os kit and into buying PCs. However they have become inevitable given that the majority of the commonity have been left stagnating on 10-year-old hardware whilst the rest of the PC market has cruised on past us, lowering prices and increasing performance. I suppose it would be quite so sad if it weren't for the fact that, at last, there are actually 2 successors to the RiscPC. -- Spriteman - understandably downbeat.

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 7/10/03 2:23PM
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Is anyone who can actually afford an iyonix going to buy a VRPC/PC instead?

-- Jess

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 7/10/03 2:53PM
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There was never any 1500UKP price, though. It was 1400 _with_ the extras spent on software upgrades.

-- Peter, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 7/10/03 3:08PM
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Personally I find myself using Windows most of the time now - superior browsers, the ability to burn DVD's, Unreal Tournament... ;)

I've actually used RISC OS more under RedSquirrel lately than I've used my SA287 or SA233 machines. RS is pretty much the only thing making me stick with RISC OS.

I think when we get networking, I'll probably use the RiscPC's for parts for a Linux box (hey one of them has a 17Gb HD and a 32Mb AGP graphics card!)

Personally I can't justify 1000+ UKP for an Iyonix anymore, I'd rather buy a new laptop PC.

-- C'mon, mod me down, PUNK!

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 7/10/03 5:00PM
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I'm not plain anti the emulators. I just find it a bit wierd calling a bog-standard PC a 'RISC OS' machine because it has an emulator.

That's like selling a Mac as a PC because of VPC. Ok, you could sell a Mac in that way, but it's obviously not the same as having a real PC. Saying so is a bit daft.

There's also something really weird about using a vast, overheating Pentium chip to make an OS that only needs a tiny, low-power CPU to run.

This is why I hope for a cheaper 32bit Xscale machine from Castle. New ARMs will keep real RISC OS hardware ahead of emulation by a large margin. It just needs a machine for the market to start getting sentimental about. The Iyonix is fab, but with it's boring PEE CEE case and high price, it will struggle to become a much-loved machine like the RISC PC. Castle could at least find a case manufacturer who'll make them the front in an unusual Pantone to get back to that 'I saw an Iyonix on BBC4 last night!!!' excitement again.

 is a RISC OS UserJessFranco on 7/10/03 5:16PM
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The main advantage of a real machine over an emulated one is Podules.

But for most, Podules will be Viewfinder, NIC and IDE/SCSI card, but you don't need those things with VARPC as you have interfaces to the [superior] PC hardware.

Personally I don't think VARPC will get us any new users, like real hardware may, but it will bring back ex-users and about-to-leave users like me, and also current users will buy it and give some funding to ROL, so it's not the big evil as some people make out.

-- C'mon, mod me down, PUNK!

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 7/10/03 6:50PM
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I've sold VA5000 to several schools, on a site licence basis. Should anyone wish to buy VARPC on a PC box, I'll sell them it.

What I'm not going to do, though, is glue together a clone and stick VARPC on it....

Oh, well, I might as well make it official, I suppose...

TME (South West) Ltd - [link] - are pleased to announce that they are more than happy to supply either VARPC or VA5000 on any of the Fujitsu Siemens Scenic PC or LifeBook machines we supply. We will not be describing these as RISC OS systems. Customers are advised that VARPC does not work on Windows XP Tablet Edition, so the LifeBook T and Stylistic models are excluded. Until we talk to Aaron and/or Graeme, I'll reserve judgement on HT processors too.



 is a RISC OS Usermikeg on 7/10/03 7:30PM
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Of course the real question we'll want to know is - Will we be able to play Half-Life 2 on it at a decent frame rate?

 is a RISC OS Userquatermass on 7/10/03 7:40PM
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mikeg: I've tried RedSquirrel on a dual PII/400 and it uses 50% of each processor when running on Win2K Pro, so I expect it to do similar on HT'd P4s.

I doubt that it's HT optimized like PhotoShop etc.

-- C'mon, mod me down, PUNK!

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 7/10/03 10:11PM
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simo: Cool. The box in question is Scenic E, which is v. cute anyway, with silent running, 865 chipset and "green" build.

Tablet is still a nono, though.

 is a RISC OS Usermikeg on 8/10/03 7:45AM
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Spriteman: "I hate emulators. They are a horrible half-way house between RPCs and the Iyonix that are sure to tempt people away from spending their money on real RISC OS kit and into buying PCs."

But what RISC OS kit is there for portable users and power users? (Where, for the sake of argument, "power user" is someone who needs contemporary computing performance.)

JessFranco: "Emulation is another option, but it's hardly a future. How many platforms survived as merely an emulation on another?"

I suppose there are a fair number, but I suppose dropping the specialised hardware does stop platform proponents whopping it (the hardware) onto the table and claiming that theirs (the chosen performance or desirability metric) is bigger.

Then again, given the competitive state of RISC OS hardware, the few interested observers would probably be at a loss to see what the fuss was all about.

Nevertheless, some classic platforms have been successfully emulated over time, and I don't just mean arcade machines and games consoles either.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 8/10/03 4:29PM
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Power users can buy Iyonix.

Fujitsu Scenic machines are evil, ours keep forgetting they have harddiscs, and the internal design means you need to take out the PSU to work on it, and therefore the CPU has no fan until you put it back.

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 8/10/03 5:16PM
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mavhc: Dunno what model of Scenics you've got. The late blue-front ones suffered from crowded cases, which made taking the HDD out a pig. I've sold hundreds, and am not aware of any noticeable level of hard drive failure. Even if I was, it'd be the warranty engineer who'd replace the drive, not us. And as he comes with the sale for 3 years, you mudt have quite old boxes (:-)

 is a RISC OS Usermikeg on 08/10/03 11:44PM
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guestx: "But what RISC OS kit is there for portable users and power users?"

The Iyonix is for power users. It's be quite some time before the emulator passes it for performance. The portable solution will now never happen. CTL were the group best placed to put an Iyonix in a small case. With thier RISC OS 5 being free of the hardware ties that stopped previous efforts to develop a laptop.

"I suppose there are a fair number [of platforms surviving under emulation]. Nevertheless, some classic platforms have been successfully emulated over time"

Yes, but there is a difference between allowing a 'classic platform' to still be accessible via emulation and actually using emulation to further a living platform. IMO emulation will serve to first kill hardware development and then software development too.

-- Spriteman

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 09/10/03 09:57AM
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[link] although our drives don't seem to be within their date range they're often not seen by the bios.

How many people do you know who buy software to run under emulation?

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 09/10/03 10:21AM
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guestx: "Nevertheless, some classic platforms have been successfully emulated over time, and I don't just mean arcade machines and games consoles either."

But what of them have survived as a system that people will want to use for day to day work? What of them have fresh software developed for them once the emulated platform no longer has hardware produced for it?

One benefit of having a good emulation platform for RISC OS is if people at work could use it where there would be no chance that they could convince their boss to get anything non-wintel based. This only really works though if the same people have an Iyonix or an Omega at home too, generating revenue for further hardware production.

An whilst the Iyonix is currently the bee's knees of the RISC OS world, given guestx's definition of power users needed contemporary computing performance, I don't think the Iyonix cuts the mustard. There's no way an n hundred megahertz XScale is going to compare in perfomance to a high end PC.

 is a RISC OS UserDougal on 09/10/03 12:10AM
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"There's no way an n hundred megahertz XScale is going to compare in perfomance to a high end PC."

Depends on your criteia really. An A5000 compares favourably to a new PC in quite a few respects. (Start time, desktop response, shutdown time and for some tasks these are the most important things)

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 09/10/03 1:45PM
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I think another interesting thing to add is that the number of people logging onto #riscos on IRC and asking where they can download RISC OS for emulation has increased. They don't want to pay for the OS. Do you think they are going to pay for the software?

-- Spriteman

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 09/10/03 1:53PM
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irc is the place pirates hang out though, so it's not quite a fair survey.

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 09/10/03 2:50PM
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If they don't want to pay for the OS, then they're not going to pay for VirtualRPC-SE or for an A6.

Why is this discussion in a forum about the A6? The OS is being paid for (and people are encouraged to buy select), and the machine boots into RISC OS (restores in 25 seconds). These new developments are a move /away/ from encouraging free emulation. The "bad" emulation scene is already out there - surely any move towards presenting a "legitimate" alternative and moving the scene away from the freeloaders (who, lets face it, were ripping of RO games and apps 15 years ago) is a good thing?

 is a RISC OS Userstdevel on 09/10/03 3:40PM
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Stuart: so are you trying to imply that us ArcEm developers are evil?

 is a RISC OS UserDougal on 09/10/03 4:08PM
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Eeeeevil!? ;)

No - I just don't think it's fair to associate the A6 with arguements about the perceived issues associated with free emulation when, due to the way VAT works out, we're possibly paying more for a copy of RO than anyone.

There are both advantages and issues to do with free emulation and paid-for emulation. The A6 will stand or fall in its own right with regards to its performance, its price, and the money it brings into the RISC OS market. The A6 not presented as an emulated machine for the geeks who would throw a set of ROMS into a burner and the license in the bin if it saved a fiver, it presents itself primarily as a RISC OS machine for those who want to run RO with the option of Windows if they really want.

It's a non-sequitur to attempt to make the association between the OS freeloaders and VRPC-SE customers, and I don't think it's productive to do this.

 is a RISC OS Userstdevel on 09/10/03 5:55PM
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I have to agree with Stuart here. There seem to have been a number of comments that I feel I should try and answer as best I can.

Firstly I see the old "no one buys software for use on an emulator" comment, may I suggest that it would be worth contacting Accountz.com, Icon Technology, Explan, APDL or one of our other customers who sell their products with VirtualAcorn. I can tell you now the answer is yes, people will buy software to run on an emulator.

Secondly we have the very real piracy issue, yes some silly twits will be wandering around trying to get their hands on a free copy of RISC OS because they don't want to pay for it, but that is true of everything, as Mark Scholes quite correctly points out.

But there is a big difference between swipping a copy of RISC OS and buying a PC with a copy of VirtualRPC-SE pre installed, because RISCOS Ltd get paid for the OS when it is supplied with the PC. The money paid to ROL goes into further development of the OS. As a ROL shareholder myself I would be delighted to see ROL make more money in this financial year, and I am in a position to help by buying OS licences from them.

I do agree with Michael Dales, emulation is very useful in a situation where it is impossible (due to company policy, government stupidity etc) to sell a real machine. At least we are in a position to allow users to run their OS of choice. That's why VirtualAcorn was launched at the BETT show in January 2002.

Which is really the bottom line. I love RISC OS, I started out with the Acorn Atom in 1981, and I have been using Acorn and RISC OS computers ever since. I want the entire RISC OS market to thrive and the best way I can see for that to happen is for those who want to use RISC OS to be able to use it. Yes I would prefer they were running it on a real machine.

However I am a realist and I understand that there are lots of people who would run RISC OS, but are unable to. With VirtualAcorn they can run RISC OS on their PCs, they may buy nothing further and use their existing software, but at least they are running RISC OS. Without emulation they wouldn't be, and then they are 100% guaranteed not to buy anything.

 is a RISC OS UserVirtualAcorn on 09/10/03 7:53PM
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Stuart: Damn, I just got my PhD, and was hoping I could become Dr. Evil ;)

I think Aaron has done a good job of summarising everything nicely, so not much more to add except...

If ROL see emulation as a way forward for their product, then perhaps they could develop RO in a direction that allows emulation to be easier, by prodviding drivers, etc., which will work with a virtual machine environment, turning the emulator more into a bridge between the host an native environment.

Kind of in for a penny, in for a pound: if ROL are going to try and generate revenue from emulation then they may as well try and work with it.

 is a RISC OS UserDougal on 09/10/03 9:11PM
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>yes, people will buy software to run on an emulator.

Some will. Most won't. These people now have a powerful PC natively running Windows or Linux at their fingertips, as well as their beloved but (relatively speaking) slow RISC OS environment. There's no longer any incentive to buy RISC OS alternatives for what's already available for cheap/free for PC's, be it hardware (as soon as someone writes some kind of interface) or software.

All in all, emulation is disastrous for the Acorn market. It will kill the hardware market outright. And it will speed up the decline of the software market. Sales 'lost' to PC software will far outweigh sales gained for a couple of utilities or the odd serious app unique to RISC OS.

 is a RISC OS Userjerryf on 09/10/03 9:13PM
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jerryf: I guess the counter argument is the number of people that buy virtual PC for the mac an use it to run PC software.

 is a RISC OS UserDougal on 09/10/03 9:37PM
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>I guess the counter argument is the number of people that buy virtual PC for the mac an use it to run PC software.

Eh ? What's 'counter' about that. It's exactly the same situation. These people will no longer buy PC hardware. And will only buy PC software if they can't run an alternative natively (at, say, 10 times the speed).

Explain please.

 is a RISC OS Userjerryf on 09/10/03 9:50PM
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jerry: in the opening line you say that most people won't buy software to run under an emulator. the counter argument to that is the popularity of Virtual PC on the mac, and now I come to think of it, VMWare - I know a lot of people that use VMWare to run Windows software under linux.

 is a RISC OS UserDougal on 09/10/03 9:57PM
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mavhc: The Fujitsu hard discs thing is unrelated to any problem you might be having. The fault was a Cirrus chip frying, not the drive disappearing. And, from memory, Scenics have never had Fujitsu drives in 'em.

 is a RISC OS Usermikeg on 09/10/03 10:24PM
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I totally agree with your point that Virtual RPC should be set apart from the free emulators which do attract the freeloaders. I meant make the distinction. My comments were on the wider world of emulation which I believe is within the bounds of a forum posting.

Re: software sales It's possible to look at it from this angle; the V-RPC user now has the choice of software for either the Windows or RISC OS platforms. Great for the user but do you think the choice is going to always be in RISC OS's favour? I see the two sides as, 'Some sales are better than none' or 'If they had a RISC OS machine they'd be bound to buy RISC OS now they split their spending between two systems'.

I see it boiling down to whether you think emulation is going to keep people, who might otherwise left for good, actively using RISC OS or whether it'll providing a way for people to ease away from the system. With the former would you accept that whilst VRPC users are puting money into the software side of the market they are not contributing to the hardware side? And will this affect future computer development?

This is not a black and white issue. I'm just voicing some of my thoughts on the matter.

-- Spriteman

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 09/10/03 10:47PM
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Whilst I appreciate that there is this whole "will emulators distract from hardware development" issue, I think that people have to realise that the cat is out the bag so to speak, and I doubt you'll be able to magic away emulators now.

The question is then not whether they're good or bad, more whether they will eventually have a positive or negative affect on the scene.

I also have to object strongly to the statement that free emulators attract freeloaders. If people steal ROM images to make such things work then then problem is on their side. I think for a lot of people who own old Acorn hardware it makes a nice way of doing RISC OS stuff on their PC/Mac.

 is a RISC OS UserDougal on 09/10/03 11:04PM
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You're saying that people will buy a PC and VRPC, and then only buy software for Windows? Why did they buy VRPC then? Surely the point is RISC OS software is better to use even when it's xMHz slower. 95% of computer time is spent waiting for user input.

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 09/10/03 11:18PM
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mwd: I do think that free emulators do attract some freeloaders. But, as you say, that is up to those individuals. The developers of the emulators should not be held responsible for this at all.

mark: You misread my comments.

In general: I'm not against anyone developing or selling emulators as such. As I said on the article comments, I think it's inevitable given the performance gap between RISC OS machines and the rest of the PC world. Fast emulation is possible and there is customer deman. I'm voice my concerns as to where this path will now lead us.

I hope that clarifies things :-)

-- Spriteman

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 09/10/03 11:58PM
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Once again Mark Scholes has hit the nail dead on the head. If you are buying a machine (or a stand alone copy of VRPC-SE) it is because you want/need to run RISC OS. Why do you want RISC OS? Because it's better in some way, it's faster or more efficient to do that job with RISC OS software. RISC OS makes more sense than Windows, at the end of the day it is simply better. It all comes down to the "killer app", something that is so superior that users want it. In my view RISC OS itself is a killer app.

 is a RISC OS UserVirtualAcorn on 09/10/03 11:59PM
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Dougal : people will only buy X software for X emulators running on Y machines (at something like 1/10th the speed of native Y software) in exceptional cases (else they'd have bought an X machine and a Y emulator). In particular, people run PC emulators on Macs primarily because there's loads more PC software around than Mac software and hence some of it is either unique (no Mac equivalent), or absolutely needs to be used to achieve 100% compatibility with real-world standards (which means Wintel for at least 90% of the world).

Almost the converse is true for RISC OS software. There's very little around and RISC OS is hardly a world standard. At best, from a software sales point of view, people will use a RISC OS emulator to run some absolutely unique RISC OS application. Of which there have only ever been a few, are less nowadays (e.g. due to ports, Sibelius anyone ?), and probably won't be by tomorrow.

It's an entirely different situation.

Many more RISC OS software sales will be lost to PC software (which can be run natively) than the other way around. One could only hope that the option of usable RISC OS emulation would eventually attract new users but it'd be nothing compared to users eventually lost to the PC platform instead.

 is a RISC OS Userjerryf on 10/10/03 00:30AM
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One could also see it this way. Who are these people buying VRPC ? Three kinds of user come to mind :

1. People that already have a Risc PC, but are attracted by unique emulator features : faster harddisc, faster memory, eventually interfaces to Windows drivers for all kinds of PC hardware (in addition to what's already there). And a 'free' kick-ass performance PC environment. These people will know RISC OS well, and will have bought their killer apps (if any). Unless some more killer apps are in the pipeline (highly unlikely considering the state of the market) : no sales to these people. And migration to native PC software, with this kick-ass PC under their fingertips, is highly attractive.

2. People that don't have a Risc PC, but know RISC OS. I.e. nostalgia. New killer app sales ? I don't think so.

3. People entirely new to RISC OS. New killer app sales ? Perhaps. But these people are highly likely to be PC afficionados and buy their usual PC stuff for all their other requirements.

More sales gained by 3 than lost by 1 ? I don't think so.

 is a RISC OS Userjerryf on 10/10/03 00:58AM
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Why not PC emulation on native ARM hardware? Software emulation would be too slow, but perhaps PC cards or a design similar to the RPC (open processor bus to accomodate x86 proccesor on top of ARM processor). A setup like this might be expensive to buy, but would offer an alternative to buying a Wintel box.

I guess there are technical reasons why Castle & Co. haven't really tried to sell this.

 is a RISC OS Usertimephoenix on 10/10/03 05:02AM
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Jerry: I think you're missed that there is one guaranteed sale for each copy of V-RPC, and that's of RO4.

This money goes to a company developing (a version of) the operating system.

Think of it as people paying money to the market to leave!

 is a RISC OS UserStoppers on 10/10/03 09:29AM
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jerryf: so, you think that there's no compelling reason to pay for RISC OS software when you have a PC? In which case surely the platform deserves to die as there's no point in using it anymore! :)

The people I know run VMWare on Linux to get office, despite there being Star Office installed on their Linux boxes. This surely is a case of people preferring to work with some bit of software they like.

PC emulation in an Iyonix or such would just put the price up even more. Compare the cost of a PC with VA-RPC to an Iyonix and PC hardware on a card, and I think you'll find the former is cheaper.

My point is that I have no idea what the affect of emulation will be on the platform in the long run, and to be blunt, neither does anyone else here :) All I was trying to do was provide some alternative ideas to that which had been expressed which offered a possibly more positive situation.

 is a RISC OS UserDougal on 10/10/03 10:13AM
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It is interesting that a lot of the people making strong comments about emulators not resulting in sales don't run RISC OS software companies! Funny, that....

Now, speaking *as* a RISC OS software company, you may be interested to know that people *do* buy software for use on VA machines. Even VA5000. Gosh. Why would they do that? They must be barmy?? Well, believe it or not, there are many people who *LIKE* RISC OS software. This may come as news to certain individuals! For example, we have seen a significant number of schools sales due to VA5000 that we would not have seen otherwise.

Now, it isn't huge compared with the desktop-RISC OS sales, but it *is* proportional to the copies sold.

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 10/10/03 10:42AM
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I think Andrew R makes a very good point, and he *is* in a position to comment on software sales, unlike most us, including myself. But to speculate, I think in the long run software sales will be affected, particularly in areas where RISC OS is weak, such as web browsing and multimedia, 100 for O2, or a far better browser for free?

If like Andrew says, sales of add-on software are not affected by emulators, then it has to be a good thing for the RO software market, but it has to, inevitably be a bad thing for the hardware market, unless the companies involved get with the program on pricing.

A good RO emulator under *NIX on a laptop might get the likes of me buying it, and probably many more here, but an Iyonix for < 500 would *certainly* get me buying it.


 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 10/10/03 10:51AM
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Andrew : nobody here has denied some software is being sold to be run on emulators. The question is how much and whether or not it will balance the immediate and future loss of Acorn users by giving them a native PC platform with RISC OS emulation instead of the other way around.

And schools may buy emulators but they won't be new customers. They'll want to continue running their tried and tested RISC OS software but can't afford (and hence won't buy !) a Risc PC, Omega or Iyonix. Nor any new educational software, since, basically, there isn't any.

Dougal : "so, you think that there's no compelling reason to pay for RISC OS software when you have a PC?". Why don't you read what's being said. Yes obviously some people will want to run that unique app. Nobody denies that. The real question is will it outweigh the loss of users that have been given an easy way to migrate to PC software and hardware.

Stoppers : yes, Virtual Acorn and RISC OS Ltd. *do* win some money in this game. So we'll certainly have a nicer OS eventually. But no new software to run on it. Not to mention hardware.

 is a RISC OS Userjerryf on 10/10/03 11:07AM
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Josh Eilken: "Why not PC emulation on native ARM hardware? Software emulation would be too slow, but perhaps PC cards or a design similar to the RPC (open processor bus to accomodate x86 proccesor on top of ARM processor). A setup like this might be expensive to buy, but would offer an alternative to buying a Wintel box."

This idea of hardware emulation in the same box is a waste of time, firstly because software emulators are now good enough, and secondly because the RiscPC demonstrated that messing around with exotic hardware technologies is a great way of wasting resources on something people (zealots excluded) don't really care that much about.

Back in 1994, Acorn demonstrated the RiscPC and said that multiprocessing with 4 ARMs in a box was a possibility. They then wasted a load of time and money on getting a 486SX running alongside the ARM in order to claim some kind of pointless bragging right. Had they kept to a simpler script, they could have given everyone useful multiprocessing and a better operating system, rather than d!cking around and scrapping every operating system project that wasn't the dated-even-at-that-time RISC OS.

"I guess there are technical reasons why Castle & Co. haven't really tried to sell this."

Yes, but there are also some sound economic and strategic reasons, too. See above.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 10/10/03 1:13PM
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I think VRPC will have a few different types of purchaser.

1. Those who have jumped ship. 2. Those who are buying a PC as an alternative to keeping their exist RO machine too. 3. Those who need a laptop 4. Those who have a PC at work and an acorn at home.

I don't think (m)any people will buy it instead of an Iyonix

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 10/10/03 2:40PM
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I suspect

1. It depends - if they moved to Windows they might ? If they've become Linux converts probably not (Windows just doesn't seem to instill the same enthusiasm).

2. I bought a copy of VA5000 many moons ago and it's used on my *second* computer (a PC).

3. A gap in the market guys.....

I am not sure that the point about not buying it instead of an Iyonix is true. Yes in speed and usefulness terms it lags far behind an Iyonix, but in price terms (sadly) Iyonix makes a stick to beat itself with - and yes I don't think Castle can do much about this - paying for hardware/software development costs money (simply dumping VARPC-SE on any old PC vanilla clone doesn't cost anywhere near as much - hence the price difference).

Ultimately all this will do is kill the RISC OS platform, and to those fans of WindowsXP/Emulation what Microsoft giveth Microsoft can taketh away - will all this stuff still work on Longhorn ? All this stuff does is dupe more people into buying Windows (with it's constant patching and upgrading every 12-18 months) - and it should be seen as such.

I find myself actually thinking (for the first time ever) why waste time with RISC OS when it is blatantly apparent that some "big wheels" here seem intent on forcing us down the emulation on XP path. If they have their way it'll only run on WindowsXP/PC's and at that point I'll be saying bye bye.....

There are other things in life apart from computing, and some of them also don't involve lining Bill Gate's pockets.



 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 10/10/03 6:34PM
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VRPC will appeal to those who have an existing Acorn system and are planning of getting a PC anyway. It is an alternative to buying a PC and keeping an Acorn as a second system or just replacing the acorn. Unless you want Windows, for most users there will be no advantage over a good spec RPC which is likely to be cheaper secondhand.

Until windows is cut out of the equation, there is no serious competition to native systems.

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 11/10/03 08:51AM
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It's against my religion to give any money to Microsoft, they sponser computer terrorism.

We have Castle making new ARM based machines, and ROL allowing emulated machines to exist, where does this leave MD?

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 11/10/03 12:06AM
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mavhc >

MD are selling clones too (the Alpha).

Although I take your point, Iyonix has a considerable advantage in speed and compatibility over the Windows/VARPC thing, MD has a much lesser speed advantage so it is in a more "dodgy" position - it's also not helped by the fact it costs more than the Iyonix.

I suspect MD took a calculated risk on Alpha helping to fund Omega's final bells and whistle additions while (in their view hopefully) not damaging potential Omega sales. The fact that a lot of other WindowsXP distributors (VA/R-Comp and Advantage-Six/STD) are now selling complete kit too probably doesn't help MD.

As I said a while back emulation *will* destroy the RISC OS platform (OS+Hardware).



 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 11/10/03 1:40PM
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Aren't you forgetting the existance of XScale portables with other OSes are available? When RISC OS is made available for these the situation will be different.

An emulated option is not a sensible choice for a user who _only_ wants to use RISC OS on a desktop machine. You have all the security issues, power consumption issues and maintenance issues of a PC for a performance not much different to an SA RPC + viewfinder + fast IDE interface. You also have some limitations (networking, USB, and SCSI support, although at least one is being worked on).

An emulated option is a good choice for anyone with an Acorn who is finding they need a PC too. These users would not be concidering buying an Iyonix, they would be concidering a PC as a replacement or as a second machine. In the first case we retain an RO user we would otherwise lose. In both cases money goes to the RO market that otherwise wouldn't.

The only way that an emulated option would be a serious contender to a native system (for RO only use) is if all the host system ran was the emulator - eg a cut down linux system. And if this happened the OS itself would not be threatened.

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 12/10/03 10:18AM
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Jess: I totally agree on the XScale portables, especially the netBook, which has a 800x600 screen.I also agree that emulators can keep users the platform would otherwise lose. But I disagree on your last point, as a full-blown Linux/*NIX with RISC OS on top would be attractive to me, but a cut down one would not, as presumably I would not be able to run UNIX apps on it. I know this would encourage people to buy RISC OS software rather than get *NIX wares. But I don't think a platform could or should survive based on deliberatly denying users access to valuable features like good web browsers, programming environments like Java,etc.

But to go back to your first point, RISC OS could do great on the existing ARM portables, you can compare RISC OS to WinCE without bias, and RISC OS will frequently come out on top, which is not the case (looking cold-headed) at RISC OS vs. other desktop platforms.



 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 12/10/03 11:24AM
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I was thinking of a turnkey type solution, like smoothwall does for firewalls. You boot the PC off a CD run the installer, then you have a RISC OS system. There would be nothing to stop the same emulator being installed as an app on an existing X system.

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 12/10/03 12:21AM
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I see your point, that would be kind of nice, particularly running as an X app.

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 12/10/03 12:33AM
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How hardware independent is RISC OS 5 now? Any coders here in a position to judge? Is RISC OS 5 on NetBook merely a matter of a new HAL, and how much work is a new HAL anyway?

RISC OS on NetBook could be a strong seller, even as an 'alternative OS' choice for NetBook owners that habe never used RISC OS before. Heck, I'm sure it would shift a lot of copies merely as a curiosity punt.

As I've said on other threads, Castle need additional ways of exploiting their RISC OS 5 efforts.

 is a RISC OS UserJessFranco on 12/10/03 4:19PM
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It would be sad if it's not totally hardware independant already.

What I do know is that what is called the HAL only handles part of the hardware abstraction, other parts involve replacing modules, (presumably these parts already had the needed abstraction in earlier versions of RO)

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 12/10/03 6:49PM
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<em><strong>In reply to Jess:</strong></em>

I am considering buying an Iyonix.

I am also considering buying a Windows machine and VARPC.

An Iyonix would have the advantage that it would be faster than VARPC. The windows machine would enable me to do things that currently in RISC OS I cannot.

Neither of these things are essential to me (which explains why I haven't bought either yet). Both would be nice.

I suspect there may be more people like me than you seem to think.

 is a RISC OS Userrichcheng on 13/10/03 1:43PM
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Ok. I have failed the intelligence test. :( How does one reply to a post? I can't see any Reply links/buttons.

 is a RISC OS Userrichcheng on 13/10/03 1:45PM
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AS PCs are dirt cheap now. If you just want a general purpose PC, you can make a pretty good one for 200, less if you have a donor machine to cannibalise.

If you want top-notch RISC OS performance, there's nothing to choose apart from the Iyonix. If you can take the asking price, it's a great computer. Everyone should have one.

 is a RISC OS UserJessFranco on 13/10/03 4:04PM
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>Rich Cheng

Ah those cleaver guys at Drobe have done their stuff in a most clever manner.... to do a reply use the Greater Than sign (>;) give the name of the poster *et voila*. Also if you put an asterisk either side of words they get *italicised*.

Of the two options Iyonix (inspite of its price) is still appealing, in purchasing it you're at least helping to keep the hardware scene going and of course get a very fast RISC OS machine in the process.



 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 13/10/03 7:05PM
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Well at least the did get italised in the past ?

Very curious.....


Annraoi (looking around in a nervous manner).....

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 13/10/03 7:06PM
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My point was supposed to be in rebuttal to your claim that VARPC wouldn't take sales away from Iyonix, because potential Iyonix users wouldn't be interested in it.

I want top notch RISC OS performance, sure, but I'm not sure if I want it so much that I'll choose it over a cheaper and more powerful windows box.

 is a RISC OS Userrichcheng on 14/10/03 11:34AM
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If an emulated solution gives inferior RISC OS performance, then it doesn't have "top notch RISC OS performance".

So if you genuinely "want top notch RISC OS performance", you know to choose the real thing instead.

Obvious really :-)


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 14/10/03 7:00PM
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> So if you genuinely "want top notch RISC OS performance", you know to choose the real thing instead.

You're still missing my point.

I *would like* top notch RISC OS performance.

That is not the same as saying "I will only buy a computer that delivers top notch RISC OS performance."

I'm not claiming that VARPC offers top notch RISC OS performance. Only that it's possible for it to appeal to someone who is also a potential Iyonix customer.

 is a RISC OS Userrichcheng on 15/10/03 10:22AM
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That's fine. I *want* top notch performance, whereas you would only like it.

Some people would presumably also buy a VARPC computer because it's cheaper, and they can't afford the real thing.


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 15/10/03 11:43AM
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Well, no, I do *want* top notch RISC OS performance. I'm just not whether the pros of buying outweigh the cons, for me.

But I'm arguing semantics here. I thought earlier you were disagreeing with my original point that a potential Iyonix customer might instead choose VARPC, and now it seems you weren't.

 is a RISC OS Userrichcheng on 15/10/03 1:01PM
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I wonder what kind of "top notch RISC OS performance" you'd get on one of those dual Opteron machines running ArcEm on Linux...

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 15/10/03 1:20PM
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Pretty slow. ArcEm has not JIT compiler yet.

 is a RISC OS Userg0tai on 16/10/03 08:12AM
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