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New Iyonixes shipping with Nvidia FX52 cards

Published: 19th Aug 2006, 21:11:25 | Permalink | Printable

Plus Iyonix Ltd takes over Iyonix operations

An FX52 series PCI cardNew Iyonix computers are shipping with Nvidia FX52 series graphics cards and RISC OS 5.12 fitted as standard. The FX5200 and FX5500 cards are newer than the dinosaur Nvidia GeForce MX 2 that shipped with original Iyonixes, plus they feature dual-head and DVI output capabilities. RISC OS support for these two functions is understood to not yet be fully complete, however. The new cards, pictured, are also mildly faster than the MX 2 devices, speeding up graphics operations by an estimated 25 to 30 percent.

RISC OS 5.12 includes support for the FX52 chipset cards as well as USB 2 support. Each FlashROM image is locked down to the ethernet hardware address, which is unique to each Iyonix motherboard. Castle are understood to have prepared a new online shopping system where users can buy tokens, and then exchange them for ROM upgrades - initially to pay for the ROS 5.12 upgrade which will come with a modest price tag, and is expected to launch as a separate upgrade in September. The online shop will work without any interaction needed from Castle's end - streamlining the purchasing of Iyonix firmware upgrades.

John Ballance told drobe.co.uk earlier today that the days of Castle issuing all updates to RISC OS 5 free of charge are now over.

In an email to the Iyonix support mailing list, John added: "As some may now have noticed, the majority of new Iyonix machines from Iyonix Ltd, shipped from June onwards, have been shipped with RISC OS 5.12, and a newer type of nVidia card, either the FX5200 or FX5500.

"RISC OS 5.12 will be a pay-for upgrade. It permits the use of nVidia graphics cards later than the GeForce 2 series. It also will 'start' both of the heads in a dual head card. It does not yet, unfortunately, start the DVI drivers if they are present, though the analogue output capabilities of the DVI connector are available."

The FX52 cards were said to be chosen after there were problems sourcing suitably reliable GeForce MX 2 cards after a few users began seeing 'pyjama stripes' on their screens. Castle is also said to be planning to put out a number of "interesting" announcements over the coming months.

The RISC OS 5 developers have also shifted Iyonix operations to Iyonix Ltd, a standalone company to work around the recent RoHS regulations until the Iyonix motherboard can be redesigned. It's understood Castle made sure enough motherboards were manufactured before the July 1 cut-off date, and then passed the lot onto Iyonix Ltd, who build the final machines and ships them to customers. Iyonix Ltd's directors are Castle's Jack Lillingston and John Ballance, and its registered address shares Castle's registered address.

CJE Micros's Chris Evans, who resells Iyonix kit, told Iyonix users that Castle "have stock in the distribution chain to satisfy demand for some weeks and months, and that after that, further batches of motherboards will comply with RoHS".

Castle say they are currently fully compliant with the new EU green rules, although they will have to redesign the Iyonix motherboard when stocks run out in order to accommodate a new MACH logic chip; the device currently used on Iyonix motherboards is no longer available in a 90-pin package that is RoHS-safe, although a larger compliant part is available for use.

John Ballance's post this evening to the Iyonix list

Iyonix website

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Will Castle sell me an upgrade for the existing video card in my Iyonix?

Does RISCOS 5.12 kill pyjamas?

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 19/8/06 9:27PM
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Following on from the doom-mongering over RoHS, this is good news. It's also pleasing that RO5 development is still happening.

Perversely, I'm almost pleased that Castle are to charge for future upgrades too. We've had a lot of upgrades at no additional cost (I've had all 11) and the revenue from Iyonix hardware sales must have waned since the early rush. That may well mean a choice between establishing a new revenue stream from chargeable upgrades and cutting back on OS development. If that is the case, I hope sufficient people will be moved to buy the upgrades.

I await pricing with interest!

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 19/8/06 11:28PM
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I’m intrigued how the use of an intermediary company helps comply with the RoHS regulations. As was discussed in the earlier thread, to sell a non-compliant product it must have been placed in the market prior to the compliance deadline. The industry-wide interpretation of “placed on the market” is that the item is made available for sale in its final form. An Iyonix motherboard is not the final form of an Iyonix computer. I’m not saying that Castle are wrong, but I will comment that if they aren’t, I’m surprised that no large companies I’m aware of (including the one I work for) have used this apparently simple workaround.

 is a RISC OS Userdms on 20/8/06 12:24AM
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Iyonix websites news page has not been updated for over a year :-(

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 20/8/06 3:05AM
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dms: I'd guess that the intermediary company is simply an economic safety net. Quoting the article: "It's understood Castle made sure enough motherboards were manufactured before the July 1 cut-off date, and then passed the lot onto Iyonix Ltd, who build the final machines and ships them to customers." It would therefore make sense to have the new company purchase the motherboards and keep them in stock and if sales don't go as expected then Iyonix Ltd. can go bust without Castle being in danger of going down with it. But as I said, it's only a guess.

 is a RISC OS UserGulli on 20/8/06 11:28AM
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I wonder how worthwhile it will be to redesign the motherboard simply to stick with the existing Iyonix. Better to double up that job with a redesign that includes a faster processor (800 MHz) or a miniturisation of the board for possible use in a smaller box, or even a laptop. Just a random, and probably not a very practical, thought...

 is a RISC OS Usermartin on 20/8/06 12:43PM
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"I wonder how worthwhile it will be to redesign the motherboard simply to stick with the existing Iyonix." Because a redesign to change one package is probably a day's work for a design engineer plus a week for a CAD person and another week to test out the revised design. A complete new motherboard design would likely be at least two or three months years and take at least six months.

 is a RISC OS Userdms on 20/8/06 4:44PM
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Doh! Make that "man years", not "months years".

 is a RISC OS Userdms on 20/8/06 4:46PM
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Good news then on a number of fronts. It's understantable that RO5.XX upgrades are now chargeable items as support for newer Video cards and USB 2 (with Isosynch ????) are in the offing. Also purchasers know that the upgrades exist before they buy (rather than subscribe in advance as is the Select model).

As to the RoHS stuff the original article was a classic red-herring, the components used are available in RoHS compliant variants, the motherboard need not be redesigned *at all*, all it requires is Lead free "thinning" and the use of RoHS compliant components.

martin>No redesign is required.... if you use RoHS compliant, pin compatible parts, and a motherboard that simply uses an appropriate substrate (a complaint one) and no lead in its construct then the whole thing would work like the Iyonix but be RoHS compliant (other than upping the PCB version number no other changes should be required). That having been said it would be *nice* if we could get an uprated machine.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 20/8/06 4:59PM
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I will be interested to hear further information relating to graphics speedups resulting from use of these newer cards to decide if it's worth investing in. Having had a quick look on Novatech I can see you can pick up a "3D Fuzion GeForce FX5500 256MB TVO PCI" for £40 so, provided the cost of 5.12 isn't too high, this will make for an affordable upgrade.

 is a RISC OS UserJohnB on 20/8/06 5:20PM
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Need to correct myself I do.

According to the article one component (an Ethernet chips) is non compliant, so a redesign of that part of the motherboard is required. Should read more carefully in future, appologies all. Normal service is now resumed.....

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 20/8/06 5:53PM
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I'm eargly awaiting news from Spellings Inc, that Geminus supports the new card, both for dual head and general accelaration. I've been looking for an excuse to upgrade my card, which is one of the very original 32MB MX2s but hasn't got enough memory left in 2048x1536x32bpp mode to provide useful accelaration.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 21/8/06 9:21AM
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So, what does RO 5.12 have to offer over 5.11 for someone with no plans to upgrade their graphics card? Will Iyonix Linux continue to work with the new card?

 is a RISC OS Usermrtd on 21/8/06 10:16AM
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reply to AMS: The only non compliant (major) chip ATM is the MACH logic chip. It is not available in the current package, but is in a larger one. Hence a board re-layout is needed. In the fullness of time this will obviously happen.

reply to MRTD: a) basically, little if you are happy as you are. b) mods are needed for iyonix linux for the new card. these are in hand (once I can actually rebuild the current kernel from formally supplied sources) John

 is a RISC OS Userjb on 21/8/06 10:26AM
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Apologies - the article originally said an ethernet chp instead of a logic chip. The perils of confusing MAC and MACH over the phone..

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 21/8/06 10:43AM
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Yeah, a new type of card for ROHC to blow up!

He must have been bored with killing the old Nvidia cards by now - been there, done that, got the Iyonix turned into a door stop due to lack of video output :-)

(Apologies to non-ROUGOL members who will wonder what on earth I'm on about!)

So to get back on topic, is the new card fanless, i.e. quiet?

 is a RISC OS Userhelpful on 21/8/06 12:33PM
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Heh :-)

Actually the card I was looking at was:


So I could use a


But the cards PCI-I :-(

As it is I want a card with 1920 x 1200 on the DVI... angry

 is a RISC OS UserROHC on 21/8/06 4:31PM
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druck: We are working on modifying Geminus to support these cards. One thing that hasnt yet been mentioned is that the cards perform the R/B colour swap in hardware, but only for 32bpp screen modes. This will be fine for 90% of the applications, however for the other 10% that want/need to use non-32bpp modes, you will need a special version of Geminus to perform the colour swap in software-also in the pipeline.

rohc: <off topic> Reminds ROHC that he needs to renew his domain name ASAP or the ROHC will dissapear for good.... </off topic>



 is a RISC OS Userspellinn on 23/8/06 10:05AM
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Hi Neil

8 bit is also fine.. this is just a re-write of the pallette. it is only 16 bit that required Adrian's colour swap software


 is a RISC OS Userjb on 23/8/06 8:53PM
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I'm curious why the Iyonix doesn't support the standard 16 colour VGA mode that all standard pc video cards do. If the OS didn't detect a card it recognised, it would come up in VGA, allowing the possibility of softloaded drivers for other cards.

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 24/8/06 10:35PM
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Good point, except that if it doesn't recognise the card it cannot initialise it - and some vendor specific initialisation IS needed to reach the basic vga stage. On an X86 platform this initialisation is done by running the BIOS rom code on the card. IN RISC OS we have to know how to do that - and that usually tends to be proprietary info. (though some inf is starting to filter through the open source arena.)

 is a RISC OS Userjb on 24/8/06 11:06PM
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So you'd have to run an x86 emulator if you wanted a generic initialiser?

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 25/8/06 12:32PM
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yep - could do in theory- though there is still a lot of work to do to get a good one that is really aware of external hardware.

As a point of intterest I have tried this route but it has so far not been a help!


 is a RISC OS Userjb on 25/8/06 12:39PM
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jb: The method suggested by jess is exactly how ViewFinder does it: It has its own x86 emulator just to run the start-up BIOS code. Once working it would work for all future cards, too, which would probably be a good investment in the long run.

 is a RISC OS Userwuerthne on 25/8/06 2:01PM
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Am I correct in thinking that there are SVGA modes that are common too (VESA) but not implemented by all cards? (upto 1024 x 768 and 256 colour iirc)

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 25/8/06 4:48PM
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According to RISCOSmark, rectangle copies are 25% faster with the FX 5200 in 16M colour modes (12% in 256 colour modes). Seeing as these are common operations, I think that is excellent!

 is a RISC OS Userksattic on 27/8/06 3:39AM
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