News in briefBy Chris Williams. Published: 16th Feb 2006, 23:45:47 | Permalink | Printable
XScale hacking, showcasing RISC OS, a bunker of software updates and more GCC 3.4.5 released
The GCCSDK team have announced the availability of a new version of the GNU compiler package for RISC OS. This edition can generate operating system modules from C++ code, includes an updated cmunge and Andreas Dehmel's DRenderer module, and various bug fixes. Version 3.4.5 is derived from the mainstream GNU release of the same version. John Tytgat thanked the contributors to this release in his announcement on behalf of the GCCSDK team.
Hit the accelerator
Rik Griffin has been experimenting with the Xscale IOP321's application accelerator. The CPU, as found in the Iyonix, is primarily aimed at hard disc arrays, and includes a hardware enhanced ability to copy blocks of data quickly. Rik, who works for RISC OS friendly radar systems engineers Denbridge, has written an operating system extension module to quickly shift chunks of memory about using this untapped component of the IOP321.
Rik said: "I've found that the overheads of setting up the device can nullify the speed advantages for very small amounts of data. But for larger blocks the results are pretty impressive - copying data at up to 300 MB/s and filling at up to 600 MB/s. There's a chance I might get time to tidy the code up and release the module."
Whose website pulled its pixel ad scheme within weeks of its launch? Charging 50 quid for a 10 pixel square was clearly too much of a risc for punters... Which RISC OS dealer issued a press release the other week claiming its 1.7Ghz Pentium M processors were as good as 3.4GHz Pentium 4s? The PC peddling company with a fondness for sugar cube shaped computers is offering a free upgrade to 1.8GHz chips for punters, but turned down an invite to entertain us with independent benchmarks to support its claims. CPUScoreCard.com reckons the P4 can hold its own - inquiring minds want to know... Meanwhile New electronics magazine is running a feature this month on a variant of the ARM9 processor that can run without a processor clock and an interview with an ARM product manager. The article isn't published online but you can always email the dead tree outlet nicely...
Two artful ideas
A new website with a gallery of example graphics made with Artworks has gone live. Richard Ashbery says he hopes to showcase other users' designs and photography work in the future. As a macro-phtotography enthusiast, he also intends to publish more of his own work and wants the website to be an example of what he believes is capable with RISC OS. As well as the vector art package published by MW Software, he also used HTML3 and Pic_Index for the website.
Richard said: "Most of the ArtWorks files are wallpaper graphics produced by the replication tool. The Moorish designs really benefit from this wonderful drawing tool."
On a similar note, risc-os.net has kick started a plan to introduce RISC OS to non-RISC OS users by offering them presentations of the platform in use. The plan is to eventually create a proper video of the desktop being used, iconbar menus opened, and so on, but website maintainer Rebecca Shalfield has called on for members of the community to lend a hand in the production of this endeavor - contact her for details.
Graphics so fast you can't see 'em
Castle recently sneaked out a quick note about its GraphicsV API. The text describes Castle's approach to abstracting its video drivers from the RISC OS 5 kernel, allowing the innards to remain ignorant of exactly how the display works just as long as the driver module sorts it all out. Expect the RISC OS 4 graphics abstraction API to be different.
Version 0.34 of video player KinoAMP is now available. Now under the wing of Andre Timmermans after Peter Everett stepped down due to having little spare time these days, KinoAMP features support for AC3 and PCM audio. It has display acceleration on the Iyonix, faster monochrome mode and various stability fixes. ArtWorks 2.57 has been released to users, and includes fixes for PDF export and ClipView as well as user interface tweaks. TechWriter and Easiwriter have been updated with improved Microsoft Word support and draw export for pages. It's also understood that Martin Wuerthner, current developer of the TechWriter family, has moved over to using StubsG to release 26bit and 32bit neutral builds of TechWriter and EasiWriter.
Alan Buckley has ported platform game Primate Plunge to RISC OS (pictured left). You can grab a copy of the latest amusing slice of entertainment to attract the attention of Alan from here. Meanwhile puzzle game SuperDoku has had its drawfile export feature improved.
Database Impact has been bug fixed and now support three types of action triggered by the 'return' key, in record forms.
Open source web browser NetSurf continues to benefit from rolling updates and enhancements: recently it's gained amongst other things, faster GIF handling, overhauled application configuration, HTTP caching, and various bug fixes and user interface tweaks. Support module Iconv 0.07 is also now available (A9home version).
A new release of RiscLua, an interpreter for scripting language Lua, is available. The release is a bug fixing exercise, but its website also hosts a no-frills Lua interpreter and compiler, for those wishing to write truly portable code, and RiscLua source code for anyone looking to customise their coding environment.
A bug fixed version of gallery app ThumbCat is available, standing at version 5.4d. Search engine front end RiscSearch has been updated, as has utility HelpScan. 7th Software's Routines library has been tweaked, and had a few extra functions added. Postscript utility GView can now display PDF files. Conversion tool DrawToSprite can now export vector files in GIF format. Apple lawyer bait ROTunes has been updated, and author Paul Vigay has taken the trouble to release a utility to tidy up loose file handles, and binary calculator for programmers, the likes of which RISC OS hasn't had since 1993.
And finally, John Williams has written a guide on using RISC OS with Linux firewall and networking package IPCop.
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