Drobe :: The archives
About Drobe | Contact | RSS | Twitter | Tech docs | Downloads | BBC Micro

R-Comp offers RISC OS emulation solution

By Chris Williams. Published: 10th Oct 2003, 17:45:54 | Permalink | Printable

Look, it's a PC in a small box

Want to run RISC OS on a Windows PC but you're not sure which Wintel hardware to get? Hot on the heels of Advantage Six's offering, R-Comp have launched their RISCube PC system. The RISCube features a 1GHz+ processor, 256Mb DDR RAM, 40GB hard disc, high speed CD Rewriter and DVD drive. Great.

The RISCube uses emulation to run RISC OS 4 and RISC OS software on the WindowsXP host OS. The machine presumably uses VirtualRPC although there's no specific reference to it. The RISCube does include R-Comp's UniPrint system and claims the emulation system beats StrongARM RiscPC speeds.

"We are very conscious that there are companies producing excellent desktop ARM-based RISC OS machines, and we would urge those looking for a stand-alone RISC OS computer to check out the Iyonix and the Omega", R-Comp stress in their announcement.


Spacecube and RISCube website - pricings, details

Previous: Website news
Next: South East show warms up


Viewing threaded comments | View comments unthreaded, listed by date | Skip to the end

But getting ar RISCube is cheaper than an IYONIX. As long as RISC OS companys are getting money out of emulation then it is good :) More money means mroe development. Any one have a photo of the "RISCube" case? I assume it is a Cube. -- Andrew [link] - RISC OS Banner Network [link] - RISC OS Web Counters

 is a RISC OS UserAndrewDuffell on 10/10/03 6:01PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Interesting. I like what they say about the Iyonix and Omega, but for those who need even occasional access to Windows software, this sort of thing can't be good for the hardware market.

Still, the price is excellent if that includes VRPC. -- Andrew Harmsworth, Cambridge. www.gcse.com owner and author

 is a RISC OS Userharmsy on 10/10/03 6:04PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

On their site they mention the graphics cards as being GeForce4MX. Those cards are entry-level graphics cards as far as the PC market is concerned.

I would have expected their high-end PC to have a decent graphics card such as at *least* a GeForce4 Ti4200.

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 10/10/03 6:17PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Yes it and the A6 are helping to kill of the RISC OS platform (by that I mean OS+Hardware). At least unlike the A6 announcement R-Comp at least tell you it's an Athlon (the only processor mentioned on the A6 announcement is StrongARM).

I think it's ironic (in fact if it weren't so serious it'd be funny) - but the SpaceCube advert even says the following (apparently with a streight face) "Unlike PCcards and other solutions from the past, the RISCube runs full WindowsXP using real hardware, giving full speed/compatibility".

Let's turn that on it's head shall we ? SpaceCube can run RISC OS but like emulation from the past does *not* use real ARM hardware so therefore cannot offer the full speed or full compatibility of actual RISC OS hardware.

-- Annraoi

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 10/10/03 6:22PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

I can't tell if buying one of these PC/emulator bundles represents a saving over buying any old PC at PC World and getting VirtualRPC-SE. Does anyone know? -- Simon Wilson, Boulder, Colorado

 is a RISC OS Userksattic on 10/10/03 6:47PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

PC world is the worst overpriced s*** you can buy anywhere. Egads - say you don't shop there?!

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 10/10/03 6:57PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

g0ati - nice graphics cards are available as an option, but for most of the audiance, 3D gaming isn't a top priority. If you check the site, we offer a variety up to Rad 9800pro

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 10/10/03 8:45PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Additional edit - the "high spec" refers to the fact that we're using a fast-bus-speed CPU, and dual-channel corsair XMS ram (needed to give good stability), and the high end audio, and low latency networking etc. Adding a Radeon 9800pro wouldn't actually run RISC OS any faster!

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 10/10/03 8:49PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

I think it's interesting that people take the view that as long as the money goes back into the market it's OK. I have to ask - if you are one of these people, have you considered that companies don't share what they've earned? R-Comp produce software, not hardware. How does giving R-Comp money contribute to the development of RISC OS or hardware? -- Smiler - :D Alex Melhuish

 is a RISC OS UserSmiler on 10/10/03 8:55PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

The RISCube looks quite cool. Can I order one with an XScale and RISC OS 5?

 is a RISC OS UserJessFranco on 10/10/03 9:00PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

JessFranco - I WISH! Before chosing to go with VRPC, we looked around for whether we could do pure RISC OS. Microdigital talked of "Yellow" but no timescales, Simtec could only offer 7500 with RISC OS (and seemed to prefer Linux designs) and so on...

Thus, we were forced to decide - VRPC or no small-form-factor RISC OS-capable machine. VRPC seemed best.

Smiler - I suspect R-Comp has bought enough RISC OS hardware to neutralise your point. The company runs on pure RISC OS hardware - RPCs, Iyonix, Omega and so on.

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 10/10/03 9:24PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Also, people forget that a large slice of the VRPC money goes to RISC OS Ltd. More than the cost of WinXP, btw. And VirtualAcorn don't discount VRPC (much) for system builders. This means that VA and RISC OS ltd profit nicely. Certainly a lot more than Uncle Bill.

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 10/10/03 9:27PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

There's a school of thought that RISC OS Ltd doesn't really deserve the money anyway. After all, they were the ones that ruled out 32bit RISC OS altogether, which probably shed another shedload of users before Castle stopped a rot a little.

Having said that, the latest Select FINALLY offers seriously compelling, tempting features (I confession using 3.7, but that's only because at one time I was saving for the post-RISC PC machine).

For years I've made my money on the Mac, so any new RISC OS machine will be for personal pleasure, a piece of enjoyable exotica. I do still prefer the basic feel of Artworks for illustration over Illustrator, though.

I'd love to see 'IyonixCube for 799' as a Drobe headline. 1249 is too much for 90% the RISC OS market to take, it's a shame 32bit RISC OS really has nowhere to run at the moment.

 is a RISC OS UserJessFranco on 10/10/03 10:12PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

If people want their product then they (RISCOS Ltd.) deserve the money.

 is a RISC OS UserGrek1 on 10/10/03 10:17PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Interesting how ROL only started selling for emulators after Castle released ROS5, have they given up with hoping to sell many copies with new hardware?

Dunno who posted the above remark "123" attributed to me, what was the IP of the poster?

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 10/10/03 11:03PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

I have no arguments against Virtual RPC as long as it never develops into true hardware independence. To me a Risc OS computer is more than just the OS;its an ARM processor as well.

 is a RISC OS Userjlavallin on 11/10/03 12:08AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

ksattic: put it this way, HP were doing a deal the other day for a XP2600+ PC for $375 including tax/shipping. VARPC-SE is what 160?

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

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 11/10/03 2:53AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

imj: They don't have PC World in Colorado, but they have similar shops. ;-)

Much as I dislike them, they are box shifters, and occasionally they have a very good deal. I was suggesting that you could browse the mail-order and box-shifter offers and create your own bundle. However, Mr Rawnsley makes a good point that this does put money back into the RISC OS market, and looking at the PCs, I feel they are well-priced for neat little boxes. -- Simon Wilson, Boulder, Colorado

 is a RISC OS Userksattic on 11/10/03 8:08AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Money back into the RISC OS market? Well, some will to a company that, hopefully, will continue making useful RISC OS applications. The rest goes to a company that doesn't even have an OS that runs on 32bit only ARMs.

There is still ambiguity over exactly how Castle and RISC OS Ltd are positioned. I have now idea what the margin on Iyonix is, perhaps it's is very small.

Yet I've worked in an incredibly low margin industry - books - and setting prices is all about what the market can 'take'. It's no use saying 'well, we're a small publisher and, besides, we spent a lot of time and money on making this book'. It just doesn't work that way. Castle need to find additional ways of getting a return on their investment, besides merely selling a 1249 computer.

 is a RISC OS UserJessFranco on 11/10/03 9:09AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]


Yep it's a four star quandary alright.

If Castle (could) cut their sales price there'd be insufficient funds to cover future developments and (basically) the last ARM based RISC OS machine would be Iyonix.

Ok more people would have them - but the hardware would be going nowhere.

Also I'd imagine if someone bought an Iyonix today (at 1249) and in a weeks time the price was cut to (say) 699 they'd blow fuses and never buy anything off Castle again (end result - the platform still dies).

The only work around I would suggest is a new VERY cut down machine based on Iyonix technology (with say a lower speed CPU, less RAM (say an upper limit of 128MB)) and only 1 free PCI slot. If that shipped at the 599-699 bracket then it *might* allow a little profit and prevent some definate losses to Windows out there.

But hey I am not Jack Lillington and Castle have played a stormer so far so I think I'll leave this one in their capable hands.

-- Annraoi McShane,

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 11/10/03 1:52PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

But that would reduce sales of Iyonix. With such low sales compared to a PC the standing costs per machine design/run are higher per computer sold.

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 11/10/03 1:58PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

It's a tough call, and I don't have the information Castle have to hand (they can make their own mind up).

I can't see sales of Iyonix having been helped by VARPC, and I suspect price *is* a problem for many people. If Castle *can't* do anything about VARPC then they may have to reposition their machine/pricing or introduce cut-price boxes (lower spec so as to maintain Iyonix's premium position but at a lower compedative price).

The final alternative is to do nothing and see what happens......

-- Annraoi McShane,

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 11/10/03 2:22PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

VRPC is, of course, a problem for Castle's pricing policy.

Having said that, isn't there already a faster Xscale (800mhz IIRC), so they could surely bring that in at say, 1100 with a big HD and high RAM, and bring down the 600mhz to 800.

Alternatively, they should go back to the self build option. An Iyonix motherboard for (400 about the price of a high-end PC motherboard) would tempt many users and Castle could issue an easy 'no support' disclaimer. For me, and I'm sure many other users, that would be effectively a RISC OS 5 32bit machine for 400 (I have a 40gb IDE drive from a G4, a huge ATX case with PSU and an 8x sony CDROM currently going to waste).

 is a RISC OS UserJessFranco on 11/10/03 4:42PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

And while I see no reason not to have access to RISC OS on PC if it's possible, I basically saw a RISCube in a 'back street Bob' type computer shop today for 500. It really is a bit silly calling this a RISC OS machine. Why not include a Playstation Emulator as well and call it a RiscStation. No, er, hang on....

 is a RISC OS UserJessFranco on 11/10/03 4:48PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Meanwhile, back in the real world of business realities. Iyonix is not a PC. Its pricing is completely different.

-- Peter, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 11/10/03 5:04PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Emulation was certianly the way forward for Apple. They knew that the M68K was doomed to be an old cack CPU, so they ported their OS to something that was cheaper, and had more punch, and wrote an emulator so all your old software would work. Acorn should have done this years ago.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 11/10/03 5:43PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Business realities? Pricing a machine at a level that only a small percentage of RISC OS users can afford or are willing to pay is business UNREALITY at its craziest. Especially as there's now a new 'business reality' called VirtualRPC.

It's even crazier still if Castle actually want a RISC OS scene in large part based on new, 32bit machines and RISC OS 5. Otherwise, it'll be a scene based on emulators - many downloaded off Gnutella - and 50 RISC PCs from Ebay/school jumble sales.

 is a RISC OS UserJessFranco on 11/10/03 5:55PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Well, that's the most naive statement I've heard all week. Well done.

If Castle price their machine where they can't make money, they won't be selling ANYTHING. End of story, no matter how much RO users complain the price is "too high", or wish for it to be lower. That is the reality, end of story.

-- Peter, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 11/10/03 6:00PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Ok, next time I am involved with costing a book, i'll lobby hard to get it priced at 60, now I have my naviety-bustin' sub-Key Stage 2 MBA courtesy of Drobe.

 is a RISC OS UserJessFranco on 11/10/03 6:45PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

I'm glad that your book pricing experience puts you in a position to comment on Castle's Business model, and they'll be happy to take on your ideas. Or not.

Too much Deja Vu - as usual, there's someone who apparently knows far more about the economics of a given RISC OS company than the people running it, and will dictate how they should price their products, and if they do not is ready to predict doom for said company. Yawn.

-- Peter, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 11/10/03 6:58PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]


You may well be right about the emulation choosing emulation as a way to move to new hardware. However, this is much closer to what Castle have done with the Iyonix and Aemulor than it is to Virtual Acorn and emulating the whole flipping machine :-)

Personally I'd be quite happy to see the next Iyonix being a PPC machine with RISC OS 6 and full ARM abstraction. Backed up by an ARM emulator. Given the speeds of VA and the fact that much of the support hardware wouldn't need to be emulated it makes you wonder how fast such a setup would be. Development wise, it's one hell of a task.

-- Spriteman

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 12/10/03 03:09AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

If you're going to change CPUs why go for the one most likely not to succeed? Apple are already complaining that the CPUs they use aren't fast enough because the designers are thinking more about embedded uses.

It still amuses me that the place where ARM is most suited, portables, is where a RISC OS machine doesn't exist. Castle are now in a better position than ROL to get RISC OS running on a Psion though.

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 12/10/03 11:04AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Spriteman: What would have been more sensible is for Aemulor to targer a CPU that wasn't a weedy microcontroller!

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 12/10/03 11:17AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]


 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 12/10/03 11:17AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Apple now use a G5 chip jointly-developed with IBM and derrived from their Power series of server CPUs. It makes the Xeon look damn weedy.

 is a RISC OS Useranon/ via on 12/10/03 11:26AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Jess: You mean IBM developed it. Apple had nothing to do with the development of it, no matter what Apple's marketing department tells you. Apple's marketing department will tell you alsorts of other exciting bendings of the truth. Like MacOS X being the most advanced OS on the planet, the PowerMac G5 being the world's first 64bit personal computer, and it being the fastest personal computer in the world, that the XServe was the first dual-RISC CPUed 1U server, faster than light CPUs, etc...

Closer to home, Apple famously claimed that they produced the world's first 32bit personal computer. Of course, all the Acorn people laughed at them, and Acorn printed a full-page pisstake in the national press.

I played with a PowerMac G5 at Linux Expo this week. I can tell you that Opteron machines *certainly* feel a good deal faster (not to mention a good deal cheaper) and is much of a muchness against a twin 3.2GHz Xeon with HT. In fact, I'd imagine the Xeon would win for most raw number-crunching tasks, because compilers and such are more mature for it.

TTOTD: Never believe what Apple's marketing bumph says: it's almost always misleading.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 12/10/03 2:31PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

No, Apple committing to the project DID in large part get the G5 developed. Without a commitment of a large Apple order IBM would never have had any reason to add things like AltiVec support.

By the way, I'm no Apple fan. I have an 800mhz G4 that I only bought to 'go OS X' and found that the GUI performance in Jaguar is so sluggish it feels like using a 7000 series sometimes. My built-for-next-to-nothing Duron 1.1ghz with Windows 98 leaves in in the dust for GUI, although the G4 beats it for just about any big process in Photoshop. I really with I'd stuck with my beige G3 - the G4 is probably my only near-pointless computer purchase.

As the G4 runs speedily enough under Linux and OS 9, it can only be down to the huge overhead of Quartz. I'm sure the sluggishness of Quartz still has an effect on much faster G4s/G5s.

 is a RISC OS UserJessFranco on 12/10/03 4:09PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Jess: ... except that IBM make a *huge* use of PPC themselves. IBM have also but huge sums of money into developing a 64bit PPC compiler (which they give away free). Hardly the standpoint of a company developing a product where the majority of its sales will go to an active competitor. (PPC after all has always been a 64bit design, except nobody had got around to implementing it fully.) And either way, commiting to buying some is a fair distance from helping to develop it.

And yeah, Apple noticed that having lots of CPU time to waste was great - means they can waste it on pretty things. When ever I've used OS X boxes (even recent versions) I've always been completely underwelmed by its performance.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 12/10/03 7:19PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

So, to sum up;

Reasons not to use a G5 PPC as the basis of a RISC OS machine:

1) It's the one most likely not to succeed since the designers are thinking more about embedded uses and Apple are already complaining that the CPUs they use aren't fast enough.


2) With Mac OS X the GUI performance in Jaguar is so sluggish it feels like using a 7000 series.


-- Spriteman

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 12/10/03 7:44PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

The PowerPC initiative was supposedly founded by IBM, Motorola and Apple, although Apple's involvement presumably got no deeper than making the tea in strategy meetings. They still get their name printed on the fancy stationery, however.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 13/10/03 10:47AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

/me puts on the waders and joins in...

Motorola based PowerPCs are aimed at embedded systems, but the currect G5 isn't. It's a cut down of IBMs POWER4 series of high end processors designed for more modest workstations and blades.

The Apple complaint, if they ever publicly slagged of the PowerPC, which I find hard to believe (produce a qualified source of Apple slagging off a major supplier and I'll happily believe you thought), would only have been referring to the G4. But the embedded nature of the G4 mean's is whizzo for PowerBooks. Apple get the benefit of 64 bit workstations and Powerbooks/iBooks with fantastic battery life.

And as for companies stuck using embedded system's chips, pot, kettle, black :)

 is a RISC OS UserDougal on 13/10/03 11:32AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

That's rubbish. Apple were instrumental in PPC. They had actual paid-for employees at an ARM-style chip development team, IIRC, called the Somerset Design Team, which was joint IBM, Apple and Motorola. This continued until the PPC alliance essentially broke up, with IBM concentrating on embedded G3s and their Power server chips and Motorola on embedded G4s. The finally provides a desktop-suitable gap in the middle of it all.

 is a RISC OS UserJessFranco on 13/10/03 11:45AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Comparing PPC and ARM in an embedded context isn't really fair. ARM is targetted at low-power devices, and integration. PPC is targetted at things that want lots of speed. (MIPS is in between the two.)

As said before, IBM use PPC in massive amounts in servers and mainframes. I don't see people using ARMs in them. :)

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 13/10/03 12:08AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Are ARMs able to be used multi-processor?

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 13/10/03 12:25AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

The PowerPC ISA (Instruction Set Architecture) is designed with different implementations in mind (a typical IBM trait if you look back their mainframe processor designs in the 70s).

You can get increadibly simple PowerPC implementations aimed at embedded systems (e.g., the PPC405, which just has a single, 32 bit, integer execution unit, and as part of the Xilinx Virtex II Pro clocks up to 300 MHz), then you can get the IBM POWER4 high end compute-tastic jobs which consume enough power that were you to try put one of those in a mac it would melt the case (according to one IBM engineer on comp.arch).

Thus, it is fair to compare the small scale, embedded minded PowerPC implementations, but obviously it makes no sense to compare the PPC970 (aka G5) with an ARM part.

The key distinction is that the PowerPC ISA was designed to be scalable from the low and to the high end, just as it was designed to support both 32 bit and 64 bit implementations. In terms of processor design it's quite unusual in that it demonstrates foresight on behalf of the original design team :)

I can't remember who designed what in AIM, but I can recommend Jim Carlton's book "Apple - The inside story of intrigue, egomania, and business blunders", which will probably explain it. It's facinating look at how Apple got from it's founding stages to where Jobs was brought back in. It's amazing that they ever survived given how many golden eggs they just passed up.

I'm told, and I can't confirm this, that PowerPC is generally the embedded processor of choice in mobile phone base stations.

 is a RISC OS UserDougal on 13/10/03 12:42AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

OK getting back to the emmulator front.

If Emmulators are bad for software I cant see it. I bought datapower because of VA5000. In addition, why does RISC OS HAVE to run on ARM? I've said before but I'll say again. I firmly beleive most people use RISC OS for the OS. If it runs better on a x86 then I dont care (note I didn't say windows.) Indeed if you look at BeOS it is on the way back and it runs on x86 oh and linux.

Now if VRPC ran on linux I could use it on my server and desktop. (well my Linux desktop) In addition why not get it to run on BSD? Indeed comercial companies wanting a custom app on RISC OS under Emmulation would be better on BSD. (for licensing etc.

Cheers bob

 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 13/10/03 1:16PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Bob has a point surely? You guys surely are interested in the operating system up (or at least the majority of users are). Given that you can apparently emulate RISC OS at reasonable speedson ix86, why not switch over?

When Apple moved over to PowerPC, one of the reasons they got away with it was that they could emulate 68k on the PowerPC at speeds comparable to running it natively. This was quite important as lots of the OS was in 68k asm, and that was run in the same emulation environment. And all this was before fun things like JITs were the norm.

So, you move RISC OS to ix86, emulate what needs to be, recompile where at all possible, and move developers over to ix86 tool chains. RISC OS hardware companies can specialise in building PCs that have appropriate driver support.

What's more, users could dual boot to get Windows if need be.

Unlikely to happen I'd say, but not infeasible technically.

 is a RISC OS UserDougal on 13/10/03 4:22PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

nijinsky> "If Emmulators are bad for software I cant see it. I bought datapower because of VA5000. In addition, why does RISC OS HAVE to run on ARM?"

Bully for you. But the point is if you want to run VARPC-SE you'd be buying WindowsXP as well.

There are a number of reasons for running RISC OS on actual ARM hardware:

(1). It's guaranteed to be compatible (2). It's the fastest means of running RISC OS software (3). It is not dependant on a "foreign" OS to boot and run successfully *first* (now I take you're point that the base OS does not need to be Windows - but as the ONLY OS VARPC runs on *is* Windows then that's your *only* choice). (4). No OS is perfect (not even RISC OS), but if you put RISC OS (with its bugs) on top of WindowsXP (and it's bugs) then the composite will be less reliable than either separately. When things are simpler there is *less* to go wrong.

and finally

VARPC is an emulation, it is a sophisticated package but it is still *only* an approximation of how a real RISC PC will perform. This means it can diverge from the real thing and that no matter how talented and skilled Graham Barnes is there is still going to be some deviation in the behaviour from that of a "real" RISC PC.

Please don't sell pigs in pokes here emulators are selling WindowsXP to Acorn users and that has been (and will be) their main success......



 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 13/10/03 6:58PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Plenty of people use ARM processors in large servers - I've set up a server with (at least) six StrongARMs in it. Admittedly, the 64-bit RISC CPUs were doing more of the complicated work than the 32-bit ones :-)

Based on experience, I wouldn't buy an IBM server if given the choice (though I have been known to spend serious money on some of their peripherals).


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 13/10/03 7:53PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Dgs: I'm curious, what was the server?

Got to disagree about IBM servers, AS/400s can be quite compelling.

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 14/10/03 01:12AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

The server is a SunFire. The StrongARMs are mostly sitting on PCI cards :-)


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 14/10/03 08:09AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

In reply to AMS: "Bully for you. But the point is if you want to run VARPC-SE you'd be buying WindowsXP as well."

Ahhh so it is an anti-MS and not pro RISC OS reason. Is that the point? So OK I should not buy VARPC-SE since it runs on MS and therefore not buy datapower? Is that the point you make? I'm Confused??

I Used Mac's in research for years BUT have to have windows. This is because Amira www.tgs.com runs on win as does Neurolucida and metamorph and lasersharp2000 and imagePro+ as does just about all the software I use for work.


"VARPC is an emulation, it is a sophisticated package but it is still only an approximation of how a real RiscPC will perform."

And in Many cases it outperforms an Iyonix. How? WEll using the win interface to access my pendrive AND camera AND microscope if i wrote an app to use it AND my text database for my palmtop. OK it has its drawbacks but in many cases it will be better.

If you don't like emmulation then that is fine by me, but in some cases it is KEEPING people using and buying software. That means the software is more viable and the ARM side will have a bigger software base.

I'll give you an example of how the platform was regarded in 1995. I went into the Glasgow Acorn Dealler on Buchanan Street and was told "Yes they are a lot faster than the windows machines but you cant get a good selection of software" If that was the case in the heyday what will "new recruits" think now? Unless there is a quality software base then the hardware sales will drop. Without VARPC I dont see many software titles being commercially viable for development.

In any case, emmulation wont hurt hardware sales. The main market for something like an Iyonix or Omega should be in custom solutions. I was asked by RISC OS about one of them and I know that the market is massive. Indeed I'm off to new orleans next month to discuss with some software developers about this market. (sorry windows and SGI and Solaris only).

Cheers Bob

 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 14/10/03 09:07AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

It's amusing how upset people get about running RISC OS alongside Windows in one of these "emulator machines" when Acorn were doing exactly the same thing from the very start of the RISC OS era, albeit with the hardware situation turned on its head.

It's particularly amusing that some of those people then blame RComp and friends for trying to kill the RISC OS scene when Acorn themselves, by wasting a fair amount of time/money on bizarre hardware to have Windows running alongside RISC OS, pretty much did the groundwork for killing their own platform by diverting that time/money away from more important projects.

So, as we finally see products which deliver on Acorn's obsessions (that they must provide PC compatibility even though it would have been better for users to buy a PC), I think many people now realise how ridiculous those obsessions were. The difference between then and now is that there really is no choice in how it's all done - x86-compatible hardware is in the metaphorical driving seat and some people can't accept that reality.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 14/10/03 1:00PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Guest X:

Well, I think you'll find that many people thought that it was damned amusing that Acorns could emulate PCs useing PCem. It kind of belittled the PC, which many people liked. And what's more, the emulator was cheap.

When it came to the PC card it was a similar situation. I got a PC card with my RISC PC for 99. I certainly wasn't going to get a real PC for that kind of money. For 99 it was a nice toy that allowed me to play the odd PC game and run the odd bit of software. An amusing extra that showcased the flexibility of the Acorn design. It was also Acorn's way of saying 'you don't need a PC because you have an Acorn'.

So, of course people are upset now the tables are turned.

And where are people getting this idea that Acorn was trying to push people into using Windows/DOS by providing PC cards and emulators? If that is the case then Apple, Silicon Graphics, etc are all doing the same. Odd way of looking at it.

-- Spriteman

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 14/10/03 1:43PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Yep, A6 and RISCube probably are bad for the hardware market, but Omega and RiscStation Laptop are much worse since they took deposits from users and didn't deliver in a reasonable amount of time ... sorry ... didn't deliver the full product by now despite claiming to have it ready much much earlier! That kind of business really can get people think that they should reconsider where to put their money; and "where" can mean the company and/or the operating system.

But I do commend R-Comp since they mention IYONIX pc as a viable, good RISC OS machine and thus are in the open with what they offer! STD on the other hand gives away close to nothing but claims to be one of the rare companies still designing and developing RISC OS hardware - nice one...

But, solutions like these were to be expected after that Alpha Laptop popping up - A6 and RISCube are no different: Pre-configured Windows systems for the user who doesn't want the hassle of setup.

BUT: They all are old 26 bit technonoly which is not going forward into the future. Luckily part of the income goes to Castle (RISC OS License) so that they don't loose all the way on these deals.

I definitively recommend: go for the real system and not an emulated one!

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 14/10/03 4:14PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]


" STD on the other hand gives away close to nothing but claims to be one of the rare companies still designing and developing RISC OS hardware - nice one..."

I hereby declare that STD have designed, commissioned and sold more custom RISC OS specific hardware to the consumer market than any other RISC OS developer in the last three years, possibly bar one (and only because I'm being charitable about the word "commissioned"). This is excluding any sales of product associated with "emulation" in any way, and excluding hardware which has not been expressly designed or modified for use with RISC OS kit.

Herbert, with all due respect, come back when you have a clue.

 is a RISC OS Userstdevel on 14/10/03 10:58PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Well, Spriteman, the rule about waving the metaphorical todger (eg. PC capabilities on minor platforms) about is that it only impresses people if those people are actually looking. In other words, Acorn went to a lot of effort for little effect with their PC card add-ons, whereas they could have impressed more people if they'd kept things relatively simple and said, "Here's a Risc PC with two ARMs in it." They could have dropped the "open bus" complexity and concentrated on the SMP issues with two identical processors directly. I believe the A540 had two slots for processor modules, even, so it was a shame that Acorn got sidetracked.

Of course, people are going to say, "ARMs aren't good at SMP." But then I'd recommend such people to read that last paragraph again properly and also to consider the fact that ARMs and 486s probably aren't designed to share the same bus either.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 15/10/03 1:19PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

>"Emulators are selling WindowsXP to Acorn users..." In my experience, it's more like "RISC OS users are being forced on to WindowsXP, and emulators allow them to keep supporting RISC OS".

My father is being forced to move to a PC by his work for 'compatibility reasons' (i.e. Easiwriter's Word facilities aren't good enough and there's real way he can handle Excel on an Risc PC); he has 14 years' worth of Acorn files to keep and 14 years' of experience of RISC OS computers. He's far more likely to be able to persuade them to buy him VRPC than an IYONIX (at practically ten times the price).

Of course it's sad that he has to move at all, but I don't think in this case an emulator is making it any worse.

 is a RISC OS Userhutchies on 16/10/03 1:46PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Compability reasons = we're not compatible with standards. Still, using a RiscPC at work up until now is an achievement.

What are the implications of CMT when using a SMT computer?

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 16/10/03 3:20PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

My dad works from home which makes using a Risc PC easier :-) I don't know what CMT or SMT are so I can't be much help there...

 is a RISC OS Userhutchies on 16/10/03 9:40PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]


Acorn didn't do the PC Cards to impress outsiders so much as to impress existing Acorn users and coz it was cool and coz they could. Worked for me. The 'little effect' statement kind of negates the fact that hundreds of these cards were sold to people. I think you're more upset because you were more interested in multiple ARMs than PC cards and Acorn didn't deliver this.

Someone can correct me if I'm wrong but the 2nd processor slot on an A540 would have been for a FPU.

-- Spriteman

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 17/10/03 10:07AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Spriteman: You're correct, the A540 was never designed for two CPUs.

As for Risc PC x86 cards, thousands were sold, not hundreds. Remember that the offer of a PC card for only 99ukp ran for a long time...


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 17/10/03 10:52AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Yes, that offer did run for a long time. I suppose that for "only" 99, it was worth having around to run the occasional application, but for the intended full price, I'm not so sure.

As for the double slot architecture, there's a range of possibilities when it comes to bus sharing. However, mixing two completely incompatible processor families, choosing possibly one of the most mediocre Intel-compatible processors available (just because it wasn't made by Intel) and then spending lots of time and money on gluing them together all seems a bit misdirected, especially when they could have used their ARM expertise on a multiprocessing ARM solution and possibly turned more heads in their direction.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 17/10/03 1:21PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

guestx: You seem to be under a number of misconceptions :-)

(1) A great many RISC OS users bought x86 cards at the intended full price, including myself. Usually after they'd already used the basic 486SLC card, and wanted more performance.

(2) Most PC card owners, initially at least, used their x86 cards quite extensively, not just for an occasional application.

(3) It wasn't only the rather sluggish Texas Instruments 486SLC that appeared on a PC card. There was a very wide variety, including 486DX chips at 40MHz, 66MHz and 80MHz, and two different varieties of 5x86 chips at 100MHz and 133MHz.

(4) The investment involved was large, but not colossal (remember it was a joint project with Aleph One, not all carried out by Acorn). The main problem in terms of time and cost was the faults with the first ASIC production run.

Just like a real PC (and unlike the Risc PC), the x86 card add on had a fairly limited lifetime - it was designed to accept 5x86 class processors, but no more. But that doesn't mean it wasn't extremely valuable to a great many Risc PC users during its realistic lifetime (and I do know some still use it now).

Be Inc built an SMP system with twin 66MHz (later 100MHz IIRC) RISC chips, and it did indeed turn a lot of heards in their direction (along with some of their software). But heads turning didn't enable them to survive as a hardware company, either.


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 17/10/03 3:28PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Please login before posting a comment. Use the form on the right to do so or create a free account.

Search the archives

Today's featured article

  • The new apple of my eye
    Would you swap your dusty Acorn for a polished Apple computer? Martin Hansen has been checking out the world of Steve Jobs and his range of shiny kit.
     15 comments, latest by adh1003 on 6/1/09 1:06PM. Published: 17 Nov 2008

  • Random article

  • Wakefield 2002 communication
    Telewest exhibits (updated) RISCOS Ltd. too
     13 comments, latest by on 27/4/02 11:42AM. Published: 18 Apr 2002

  • Useful links

    News and media:

    Top developers:
    RISCOS LtdRISC OS OpenMW SoftwareR-CompAdvantage SixVirtualAcorn

    CJE MicrosAPDLCastlea4X-AmpleLiquid SiliconWebmonster


    RISCOS.org.ukRISCOS.orgRISCOS.infoFilebaseChris Why's Acorn/RISC OS collectionNetSurf

    Non-RISC OS:
    The RegisterThe InquirerApple InsiderBBC NewsSky NewsGoogle Newsxkcddiodesign

    © 1999-2009 The Drobe Team. Some rights reserved, click here for more information
    Powered by MiniDrobeCMS, based on J4U | Statistics
    "'Only the truly memorable stunts are worth a write up'. So, what sort of memorable 'stunt' might be worth a write up?"
    Page generated in 0.536 seconds.