Castle bids farewell to RiscPCBy Chris Williams. Published: 11th Nov 2003, 22:42:22 | Permalink | Printable
Somebody call the fat ladyCastle have today acknowledged that the venerable RiscPC has reached the end of the line and there are no plans for future production, confirming a rumour previously leaked by a leading RISC OS dealer. When existing stocks of the machine dry up, we'll be left with the A7000+, the barely a year old XScale Iyonix and products from what Castle define as "independent manufacturers".
So long, farewell RiscPC. You have served us well and we have served you well, with USB, AGP and PCI treats. Whenever we power up our next generation RISC OS machines, the near silent hum from the power supply will always whisper the name, "Medusa".
Castle took over the rights to the RiscPC and A7000+ design from Acorn during the 1998 break up of Acorn Group. According to Robert McMordie's excellent History of Acorn website, the very first RiscPC was publically released in 1994 and featured a 30MHz ARM610 processor, 2MB of RAM, no VRAM, a 210MB hard disc and, with a 14 inch monitor, cost 1249 quid. By 1997, when the Acorn world was looking relatively rosy and upbeat, StrongARM RiscPCs could be had for 1399 quid and each packed a 202MHz StrongARM processor, a 1.2 GB hard disc, 8 MB of RAM and 2 MB of VRAM. The StrongARM chip was a joint venture between ARM and Digital.
"The demise of the Risc PC is the end of an era", commented Castle's MD, Jack Lillingston. "It has served the RISC OS market for an incredibly long time and proved a wonderful tool for those who appreciate RISC OS systems. The increasing difficulty in obtaining components and its relative lack of speed in today's demanding markets, make it no longer viable.
"As far as Castle is concerned the future of RISC OS computing now lies with the IYONIX pc and the continuing development of RISC OS 5. Nevertheless, the Risc PC will be greatly missed for what it has allowed users to achieve during its long lifetime."
There appears to be no plans for a RiscPC 2 then, which could be something appealing and interesting like a low cost, cut down Iyonix. What is refreshing to spot is Castle's reassurance that there will be "continuing development of RISC OS 5", whatever that means. Is its brother RISC OS 4 invited for the ride or are Castle going to single handedly catch up on the past 3 years of Select development?
Surely the current absurd OS development split between RISC OS 5 and 4 has gone on long enough. Can someone glance at their wrist watch and tell us its time for the two OS developers to start thinking of customers rather than technicalities and decide on how the fork is going to be resolved? We've noticed people are asking questions that aren't being answered, unless everyone's agreed that "sort of, well, maybe, just wait a little" is a sufficient response.
What's also important is a question that should be answered by the userbase : what will make us happy and can we expect it? If Castle and RISCOS Ltd. do eventually team up to produce RISC OS 6, a combined RISC OS Select and 5 (fingers crossed while touching some serious amount of wood), will we be satisfied? Will we then demand PMT, full memory protection and a ia64 port?
The RiscPC, approaching its 10th birthday, has seen the Acorn platform through thick and thin and stayed strong despite the many changes sweeping the platform. What will pass by the Iyonix and the Omega over the next 10 years?
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