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Windfall withdraws PCI kit

By Chris Williams. Published: 20th Jan 2004, 01:08:51 | Permalink | Printable

Nobody cared

Windfall.nl logoIn September last year, Windfall Engineering announced details of their PCIFace kit. This week, however, Windfall have abandoned their PCI interface for RiscPCs.

"Today I've withdrawn Windfall's PCIFace, the PCI-to-podule-bus interface for the Risc PC, due to lack of interest", John Kortink of Windfall revealed to the Windfall mailing list.

Windfall also developed the Viewfinder graphics card that allows selected 'off the shelf' AGP cards to be fitted to RiscPCs and A7000s. Perhaps Windfall's slightly erratic end user support policy could have contributed to the blamed "lack of interest".

John also quipped: "How this reflects, in general, on the drive left in the market to develop PCI card drivers for RISC OS machines is probably pretty clear."

What John failed to clarify is that he was obviously specifically refering to the lack of interest in developing PCI drivers for legacy, aging dinosaurs like the RiscPC and the A7000. If a user really wants to get the most out of using RISC OS and PCI, surely they'll upgrade to a new generation of machine that boasts a post-Acorn era architecture? God knows where emulation fits in there.

But what have Iyonix and Omega users got to look forward to? Or rather, what have Iyonix users got to look forward to? There's Simon Wilson's PCI TV card that's still excruciatingly unreleased to the general public. There's also CinoDVD which is still in development and includes a driver for some SoundBlaster PCI sound cards. We've also heard of SCSI and internal modem PCI drivers promised, but it's still very much a 'wait and see' affair for this year.

You might conclude that there's sadly a drought in drivers for RISC OS machines, or you might decide that given the size of the market, these developments are a fine start. As for the RiscPCs and A7000s, well they should be grateful enough that they have AGP support.

At least this product discontinuation will leave Windfall more time for them to develop drivers for the latest generation of RISC OS computers, right?

Links

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Discussion

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This project was doomed from the start. I was surprised when it was originally announced but concluded that it might have an application for RISC OS hobbyists, of which there are many.

Perhaps its failure is indicative of the large proportion of the market who have moved to the IYONIX pc. Most people I know who like playing with hardware have certainly made the move.

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 20/1/04 1:16AM
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Certainly not a drought compared with cards for RISC OS machines equipped with the much vaunted microbus or ISA slots.

What does John think about the drive to develop *any* new cards for RISC OS machines? He thinks it's all in new podule cards for systems that are no longer manufactured?

I think a high performance PCI SCSI card is the one that most people want for their Iyonix (sooner rather than later), I've just come back from a user group meeting where two different audience members had two different high(er) performance graphics cards already fitted to their Iyonix systems for testing, maybe I'm an optimist.

Oh, and I'm a former ViewFinder owner, too (of course).

dgs

 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 20/1/04 1:33AM
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The PCI TV card driver is also excruciatingly close to release, but a number of things came up right after Christmas and made it impossible to find the time to fix the remaining issues with the software.

 is a RISC OS Userksattic on 20/1/04 1:37AM
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Lack of interest? I've mailed him at least twice asking for further details about the card as I had a couple of projects in mind. He didn't respond at all. How the hell he expects to sell his product when ignoring questions from people who want to buy it, I really have no idea.

John's clearly a clever bloke, making the PCIFace and ViewFinders, but has a ridiculous way of treating customers.

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 20/1/04 8:37AM
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I was not impressed by the support offered either, the basic was response was "Buy a card, and we will tell you". I was not prepared to pay money until I could work out wether it was right for the job in hand.

The other problem to look at is that the cost of a solution with the PCIFace, PCI card and then driver software makes quite an expensive looking solution.

 is a RISC OS Userfluff on 20/1/04 10:46AM
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fluff: Unfortunately, I couldn't agree more on both counts. Contrast for example with the avilability of PCI documentation for the Iyonix and indeed for the two USB solutions.

Furthermore, his track record of offering such information isn't great - I'm after a small piece of information which would enable me to do a Linux ViewFinder driver.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 20/1/04 11:17AM
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I must admit I failed to see the purpose of "hoiking" a PCI card onto a RISC PC, given that the podule bus (to which PCIFace must attach) is considerably slower than PCI (hence people wouldn't gain anything on speed) and also much of the functionality provided in PCI format would already be available in Podule bus format (e.g., NIC's, SCSI cards and so on - bear in mind where faster PCI SCSI cards would be available you'd still need a driver for 'em (!) and also you'd (once again) have no speed advantage as it would have limited by the podule bus).

So you'd gain no new functionality, gain no more speed and spend a lot more to do it - yep the word "pointless" springs to mind.

I suspect PCIFace was as much damaged by the availability of emulation as anything else - those users who'd have upgraded to Iyonix wouldn't need it and those who were continuing with the RISC PC have been "encouraged" to move to PC emulation (again PCIFace not required).

Perhaps if Mr Kortink would apply its talents to the newer RISC OS hardware platforms (Iyonix and Omega) that might make better use of his time and yield more success to boot.

Regards

Annraoi

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 20/1/04 1:04PM
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Oops,

for "its" read "His" - sorry about that !

Rgrds

Annraoi

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 20/1/04 1:06PM
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Mr Kortink would indeed be able to apply his time more appropriatly by supporting the Omega and Iyonix.

However I feel that the PCIFace device would help those in industry whom already have PCI interface cards developed - and thus allowing older RiscPCs to get in on the action.

However, PCIE (When it comes out) would be a good idea to try for say the Iyonix.....(Faster than AGP X8). Although the M/B on the Iyonix might make this impossible, so how abouts the Iyonix 2?

 is a RISC OS Userem2ac on 20/1/04 1:27PM
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Bit of a 'me too' post, but likewise I was put off by the fact that I couldn't get an API for it. If I could have at least /seen/ an API, I'd have had a play.

 is a RISC OS Usermd0u80c9 on 20/1/04 1:35PM
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AMS> The point of "hoiking" a PCI card in was that folks like myself can pop a PCI card in to the PCIFace, and work on the driver, producing a product without any knowledge of hardware design or great manufacturing input. Given the total lack of new podules arriving these days, this seemed to be a great step, but what fluff says is 100% true for me ... I wasn't going to shell out for a card without any response to questions from Kortink, and when none came, there was no choice but to give it all a miss. Another would-be-product gone by wayside.

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 20/1/04 1:51PM
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Glad at least, there is something for IYONIX users to look forward to.

 is a RISC OS UserTimothy609 on 20/1/04 5:12PM
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imj>

Please don't get me wrong it would have been *nice* to have the option of having PCI as yet another capability on the RISC PC. My only doubts about it were practical ones.

Regards

Annraoi

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 20/1/04 6:19PM
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The problem with awfull "support" is also noted with certain UK-developpers. I've personally encounterd lack of interest from even Stuart Tyrell regarding his PS2-i/f. The problem is that currently it are just THESE guys who supposedly drive developments in RISC OS.

As far as I am concerned the only 2 vissible companies that I find worthwhile in the RISC OS market are Castle Technology (because they don't talk but DELIVER) and R-Comp (at least for the products that Andrew had input in like HTML-studio). Unfortunatly some products from RComp really suck (WebsterXL to name the prime example) which decreases their credibilty.

OFcourse there are some individuals like mr. Pillings and Mr. Würthner whom I also consider amongst "the good guys". But these don't get a lot of "airplay"... unfortunatly.

Sorry but I used to like the market and the ppl developping for it but that was a long time ago. In fact if this continues then I have no other choice but to revert to Apple for my future computing needs. This will also mean the end of my company as a long time RISC OS supporting and former official dealer.

 is a RISC OS Userepdm3be on 21/1/04 6:43PM
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I won't comment beyond saying that Manu's experience was regarding a small order in 2001. I think we can safely assume that we're in a slightly different position now...

 is a RISC OS Userstdevel on 21/1/04 10:09PM
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epdm3be:

STD must have changed over the years. I've always found them very helpful and I've heard positive things from other users on these forums. As many will know, I took issue with STD about their focus on emulated solutions in an article about their A6, but the A6 users I've spoken to seem happy enough. Martin's review of the A6 concluded the same opinion.

In fact, I don't think I've had an unresolvable problem with any of the remaining RISC OS companies; the market's too small for bad service to go unnoticed.

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 21/1/04 11:10PM
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On regards to Mr. Tyrell's comments:

1) the RISC OS Market, especially after the demise of Acorn, was ALWAYS about "small" orders? I fail to see why it should be any different now than it was then.

So what's the "different" situation now then? The few machines that took 5 years to materialise and that are being sold in such small quantities that even hardware supliers don't even bother to sell cases? Or are you refering to the emulation of RISC OS which don't generate ANY RISC OS hardware sales at all?

Prove me wrong that STD is trustworthy. And that it's still viable to promote this platform outside the tiny Brittain. Though for me this comes all much too late. I really want to believe that Stuart has learned from his past mistakes. But I had to pay a very high price. My company is gone, the bits of support I provide for the few ex-customers who still have their Acorn equipment are solely based on personal commitment and friendship. Sales of RISC OS hardware AND software ceased completely. I know that one or two fellow Belgians occasionally by directly in the UK or at the Acorn Expo in Holland orso. But that's it.

Again what's happening with Windfall is clear sign that indeed the interest of a few hundred home-users (usually with cashflow problems) is not enough for hardware developpers to survive. Especially outside the UK. It's also clear that the path to walk is not the rejuvenation of the Risc PC. We need to get those new machines recognised as a viable consumer product! And these machines HAVE to be sold in MUCH larger quantities if we want to KEEP the few developpers that we still have. They should become more affordable for MORE ppl to obtain them.

Does anyone outside the Acorn world read Drobe? Please?

 is a RISC OS Userepdm3be on 22/1/04 12:02AM
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Part of the reason that Iyonix supports PCI cards is so that we don't have to have people developing specific hardware which can be time consuming and costly.

 is a RISC OS Userjonix on 26/1/04 11:31PM
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