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DIY Iyonix mobo mod job to cure freezes

By Chris Williams. Published: 29th Jan 2004, 19:13:51 | Permalink | Printable

Warranty, what?

Castle logoApparently an undisclosed number of Iyonix users have been suffering from system "freezes", or "lock ups" relating to hardware based sound and DMA problems. We haven't seen any widespread public outcry about it so perhaps it isn't as critical as it sounds, but still Iyonix developers Castle have felt it necessary to issue an "engineering update" to fix the issue.

Or rather, for you to fix the problem. In cutting a PCB track on your Iyonix motherboard and soldering a patch wire across another two points, Castle believes this will cure the stability problem. Naturally, if you accidentally destroy your mobo in the process then you'll have another kind of 'stability' problem on your hands.

The "freezing" issue lies with the two on-board PCI controller devices and whether they initialise in 32bit or 64bit PCI mode. According to Castle, the suggested modification forces the primary PCI bus to start up in 32bit mode, which increases system reliability.

Another DIY suggested fix aims to correct a problem with the machine's reset button. By soldering a resistor across two pins, any noise on the system reset line should be reduced.

John Ballance, Castle CTO, has said that the PCI problem is being "actively persued" by Hint and ALi, the manufacturers of the controller chips.

"Some Iyonixes have had problems with freezing, mine was one of them", Iyonix user Michael Drake told us. He reported that his Iyonix would freeze "quite quickly" once any audio playback was started. Issuing *audio off at the command line would stop the freezes, but at the expense of a working sound system. As a result, Michael would work on his Iyonix whilst playing music on the trusty nearby RiscPC.

"Different people had found diferent things stopped the freezing, some people have had no freezing at all. Other people found disabling the DMA stuff cured the freezes and the other thing that cured people freezes was to disable the screen saver.

"I'm going to wait and see how people get on with the fix and if it is fine, I'll send the Iyonix back to Castle."

Castle's website refrains from mentioning how these DIY fixes will affect your warranty, so for goodness' sake, do contact Castle before you take hot soldering iron to expensive PCB. A source close to the Suffolk based company informed us that Castle will be offering a service to fix users' machines and that all new Iyonixes should include the aforementioned fixes.

Update at 16:48 30/1/2004
John Ballance has confirmed that Castle will undertake any modifications for users. He also added: "It is anticipated that all Iyonix shipped from now on will have been pre-modded, and ship as default with a jumper in place setting a 32bit primary bus."


Motherboard update details - follow at your own risk or call Castle

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Was a 64bit PCI bus in the Iyonix really necessary? Likewise the gigabit ethernet port? If those had been leftout and "standard" 32bit PCI and 100Mb ethernet used instead, would the Iyonix be cheaper? Just a few questions, no need to flame me ;-) Anyway, well done Castle for issuing the update.

 is a RISC OS Userjonesd98 on 29/1/04 11:03PM
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By the time you pay 1399 ukp you'd expect that stuff! :)

 is a RISC OS Userjohn on 30/1/04 12:21AM
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I think you'll find the bulk of the cost would be the initial developement, rather than per unit costs.

So it probably only save a tiny amount.

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 30/1/04 7:58AM
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And in any case given the expected longevity of RISC OS computers, any new machine should have as many "advanced" features as possible at reasonable cost. That way it will be longer before the machine becomes obsolete. And new improved versions of the machine can be released more quicky in the future since the amount of development work needed to provide upgraded facilities compatible with other platforms may be reduced or eliminated.

Hence entirely forseeable inclusions such as gigabit ethernet and USB 2 hardware support and 64 bit PCI.


 is a RISC OS Usermrtd on 30/1/04 8:52AM
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The 64bit PCI interface basically comes 'for free' with the XScale processor. As for the gigabit ethernet, I expect that it comes for free on the Southbridge chip used in the Iyonix.

-- Spriteman

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 30/1/04 9:55AM
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The Ethernet is an explicit chip. Nevertheless, the cost versus a 100Mb chip is probably marginal, if anything.

The avilability of 64bit PCI is par for the course for any modern PCI setup, whether you use it or not.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 30/1/04 10:35AM
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I'm very surprised. How did *anything* ALi makes end up in the Iyonix? The quality of their chipsets are considered to be inferior to even VIA's.

 is a RISC OS UserClades on 30/1/04 3:22PM
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The number of chipsets at the time suitable for putting in the Iyonix was very small indeed, contrary to what you might think; and of that choice, ALi was the best one, given the expectation of bugs in all chipsets.

In any case, there's not yet any strong indictation that the fault has anything to do with ALi.

On the other hand, the UK ALi reps are excellent to deal with, which is often a strong consideration for these matters.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 30/1/04 3:33PM
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Quoting Mr Naulls 24-08-2003 : "Futhermore, you are claiming the Iyonix is "far from complete". Which is ridiculous, as it clearly is complete, and makes your claims plain hypocrisy. I'm willing to bet you can't justify this statement."

I think that someone has to take back a few words....

regards, Rick

 is a RISC OS Userrdenk123 on 31/1/04 2:42PM
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Rick: Nope he doesn't have to take back any words. All IyonixPCs are complete, and have been from day 1 of retail release.

I used CDBurn on the first evening to back up my disc image, made another copy via the ethernet card and a hub onto a RiscPC hard drive. I have been running my monitor at 1600x1200 16million colours since then without any oddities in the display. I have had access to the full amount of 512Mb of RAM from the first time I started up the machine at home.

A minority of the Iyonix owners have stability problems in the same way that a minority of SARPC owners suffered from the so-called timing problems. That Castle have taken the problem seriously and research a solution that appears to bring great improvements is a sign of their commitment to their customers.

As you are commenting here I assume that all Omega and Mico customers have fully functioning Ethernet cards that support all network apps that run on a RO4 RiscPC?

Oh and seeing as an "optional 2nd processor via daughter board, Intel XScale 80200 up to 1 GHz" is listed in the BASIC Omega specification that all Omega users who wish to pay for one now have fully functioning I GHz XScale 2nd processors running 26bit programs?

Prettig weekend verder! Stan

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 31/1/04 3:19PM
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The only risk with going with things which are one step ahead of the rest of the game, is sometimes the rest of the game moves down a diferent path, and youre left stuck out on your own again... I think werere probably going to end up with PCI Express than 64-bit PCI in consumer systems, with 64-bit PCI only really seeing any use currently in servers and high end workstations, though the good part of 64 bit PCI, is simply backwards compatability, and PCI isn't going anywhere any time soon, probably see PCI cards around for another good 5-10 years.

 is a RISC OS UserNoMercy on 31/1/04 3:34PM
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Why do you drag the omega in this? I quoted Mr Naulls , not Mr Atkins.

It is clear that there are things that needed to be improved despite Mr naulls claim that the Iyonix is "complete". He used the words "ridiculous" and "hypocrisy" when i said that the Iyonix is far from complete. Since this article clearly shows he is wrong he should withdraw those words.

Regards, Rick

 is a RISC OS Userrdenk123 on 31/1/04 4:04PM
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Rick In what way is the Iyonix 'incomplete' (bearing in mind my comments above)?

Perhaps you should let Castle know what you think is missing in the specifications of the Iyonix. As they respond in a professional manner to comments suggestions and bug reports, I am sure they'd be interested to hear from you. Cheers Stan

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 31/1/04 4:17PM
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Rick: yawn. Your capacity for twisting words, and using dubious logic is matched by few others in the RISC OS World. Fortunately, I am certain no one takes you seriously.

It's clearly passed you by that I've always stated that no computer will ever be "complete", RiscPC and Iyonix certainly included. My reasoning about this issue, and all other issues related to both the Omega and Iyonix have been consistent since their release.

However, for you to claim (again) that the Iyonix "far from complete", is a clear fiction to everyone (except apparently, to yourself), so you'll kindly allow me again to use the terms you've helpfully quoted. In constrast, given this phrase clearly applies to the Omega, one wonders why you're taking this cheap shot at all (since that is obviously the implied topic despite your not mentioning it).

In future, I suggest you desist from comment on both machines unless you can offer both reasoned argument, and refrain from exaggeration.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 31/1/04 5:46PM
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Posting on Drobe dated 22-12-2003 from signed Rick about the Omega ; verbatim quote:

"If you dont "care" what the omega is you have shown that you have not been able to get a good grasp behind its concept. If you wanted a "finished" computer why didnt you settle for the Iyonix?"

I don't think I need say any more. Or was that another Rick.....

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 31/1/04 5:59PM
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Mr Naulls: The dubious logic and twisting words are from you

Again let me quote: Rick 24-08-2003:And why are you keep going on and on about the suspected things which might not work at the moment? As I recall the iyonix is far from complete either. But I don not hear you say anything about that. In that light I must say you are telling one side of the story. Thus not with nuance.

Mr Naulls reaction on this on 24-08-2003: "Futhermore, you are claiming the Iyonix is "far from complete". Which is ridiculous, as it clearly is complete, and makes your claims plain hypocrisy. I'm willing to bet you can't justify this statement'

Mr Naulls 31/1/04 : It's clearly passed you by that I've always stated that no computer will ever be "complete",

Compare your statements and see your contradiction: on 24-08 you are claiming that" as it clearly is complete, and makes your claims plain hypocrisy" And now on 31-01 you are stating that "It's clearly passed you by that I've always stated that no computer will ever be "complete"

Mr Naulls,these are your own words! You are contradicting yourself! So to call this consitent does clearly indicate that you do not oversee everthing which you said and wrote. And no i didnt took them out of context.

I think you better step off that high horse you are on and Admit you are wrong

 is a RISC OS Userrdenk123 on 31/1/04 6:20PM
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Stan: I merely showed the contradiction in Mr Naulls his words. These were his words, So quoting me does not add anything. It is Simply Mr Naulls who made the rather dubious statements here.

 is a RISC OS Userrdenk123 on 31/1/04 6:25PM
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blahsnr: In what way is the Iyonix 'incomplete' (bearing in mind my comments above)?

Mic input? :)

 is a RISC OS Usermonkeyson on 31/1/04 6:28PM
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Rick: You appear to have a great talent for blowing things up out of all proportion.

This article is about a fix to a problem which a number of Iyonix users have experienced and which is intermittent.

It is *not* about missing functionality that CTL have now provided.

To call the Iyonix "incomplete" on the back of this is ridiculous and indicates one of two things:

a) You don't have a clue what you're talking about.

b) You bear a grudge against all those involved with the Iyonix, including its users and let this colour your argument.

In fact, to do so would be the same a suggesting that the RiscPC is incomplete because of timing problems caused by C32, which I am sure most people would regard as a ridiculous proposition.

 is a RISC OS Userjmb on 31/1/04 6:31PM
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As I suggested, a complete lack of reasoning from you in this matter. You've failed to explain both the exact point of my apparent contradiction, and the reasoning behind your assertion of "far from complete".

It's clear you have nothing worthwhile to say on this matter.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 31/1/04 6:32PM
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Mr Naulls: Hiding behind sarcasm and arogance isnt going to help you. Ive quoted you litteraly. No i have not failed in explaining your contradiction. Every twelve year old will spot it.

It is clear that ,allthough you are wrong, you are not willing to admit it. Instead you choose to hide behind insulting.

 is a RISC OS Userrdenk123 on 31/1/04 6:37PM
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rdenk: my reasoning is solid. If you can't bring yourself to explain this mystery contradiction, then the only conclusion is that there is none, as I'm certain will be bourne out even if you attempted to make the effort.

As I said, if you can't engage in reasoned argument, please don't bother commenting at all.

Your attempts to focus in on minute issues over the Iyonix, whilst at the same time ignoring the clear situations that have been outlined where you are wrong (for which _you_ haven't offered the slightest admission) only underlines the grudge that jmb has outlined above.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 31/1/04 6:49PM
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Mr Naulls: Let me make it even more simple:

- as it clearly is complete and - I've always stated that no computer will ever be "complete"

Mystery, Solid? No, Unwillingness.

Let me assure you: i have nothing againt the Iyonix or their users. I even have photographic evidence of that: Me actually sitting behind an Iyonix with an Iyonix user.

So show me evidence that i having a "grudge" against the Iyonix and its users.

I am looking forward to hear it.

 is a RISC OS Userrdenk123 on 31/1/04 7:00PM
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I'm not sure it's wise to enter this debate but here goes.

The Iyonix problem referred to in the main story is not an issue of completeness, it's an issue of some faulty machines. The nature of the fault is intermittent, though exacerbated in certain circumstances. There has been a process of refining those circumstances to reproduce the fault more frequently; this is a standard technique for dealing with intermittent problems that are otherwise very time-consuming to solve.

The number of machines affected is unclear (to the general reader of the Iyonix Smartgroup at least). I presume that someone with a badly affected machine would return it to Castle for repair/replacement/refund. No-one has said that they've done this, though I wouldn't read too much into that since they might regard it as a private matter.

My machine, I'm pleased to say, has shown none of the problem symptoms. This *seems* to be the experience of the large majority of active posters to the group. Equally, the machine has been 'complete', in terms of the promised spec, since day one (mine is over a year old now). It has got a lot faster and slightly more capable as Castle have onward developed it but I don't see that as completeness.

I can't comment on the Omega personally but it would seem from the Press that it had some features mssing at launch; that would be a completeness issue. Presumably that has either been resolved now or owners are content to wait for its resolution. If they're not, and they've been sold a product that does not match its description, then they have the same right to a replacement or refund. Surely this is not relevant to the Iyonix mod-programme?

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 31/1/04 7:02PM
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Well my Iyonix is complete, it does all it is supposed to do.

But who's to say that not somewhere on this world or maybe in a parallel univers there are incomplete Iyonixes to be found. There are obvious incomplete Iyonixes to be found in the mind of one person. (who doesn't seem to know the difference between perfect and complete)

I'm not going to do the board modification and I'm a micro electronics designer and know how to habdle a soldering iron.

 is a RISC OS UserJaco on 31/1/04 7:47PM
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Jaco: I am perfectly know the difference between perfect and complete. Good luck with your soldering on you complete Iyonix. ( Your words not mine)

 is a RISC OS Userrdenk123 on 31/1/04 8:48PM
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The Iyonix is incomplete damnit.

The XScale module isn't available, there's no 2d graphics accelleration, the network card doesn't work, and they don't even appear to want to sell it.

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 31/1/04 9:10PM
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monkeyson: Mic input seems to work. When I first connected my PCI TV card up to use with Simon Wilson's excellent and ever improving TV card software I accidently connected the sound out on the tv card to the mic in on the Iyonix sound card.

Sound appeared from the Iyonix so it would appear the the line in and mic in sockets both work and the sound levels can both be controlled using the Sound configuration plugin.

As yet I don't know of software that can make use of the sound in other than the Iyonix sound sub-system. It would be great to have some Iyonix compatible sampling software so I could sample my remaining LP's!

But to say that the Iyonix lacks mic and audio in is incorrect. Cheers Stan

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 31/1/04 9:17PM
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mavhc: You mean the Omega, though. :)

 is a RISC OS Userksattic on 31/1/04 9:20PM
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mavhc Iyonix=Omega in your post surely.....or have you just visited the parallel universe that Rick seems to be living in......?


 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 31/1/04 9:20PM
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Noone gets my humor

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 31/01/04 9:42PM
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Dont be so sad: I did...

 is a RISC OS Userrdenk123 on 31/01/04 9:44PM
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what soldering?

 is a RISC OS UserJaco on 31/01/04 10:34PM
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mavhc cool but I realy laughed out loud at blahsnr's responce

 is a RISC OS UserJaco on 31/01/04 10:42PM
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"Sound appeared from the Iyonix so it would appear the the line in and mic in sockets both work and the sound levels can both be controlled using the Sound configuration plugin.

As yet I don't know of software that can make use of the sound in other than the Iyonix sound sub-system. It would be great to have some Iyonix compatible sampling software so I could sample my remaining LP's!"

Yes, I meant recording facilities rather than the mixer. Should have expressed the point more clearly, but it's quite fun when these limitations are sexed up. :)

 is a RISC OS Usermonkeyson on 01/02/04 00:36AM
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Monkeyson: Oooooooo! I'll report you to Lord Hutton......:o)

Anyway killing two birds with one stone why not 1) write some sampling software for the Iyonix to earn a bob or two (from punters like me). 2) then any need for alleged sexing up will be gone, and no heads will have to roll at the Drobe media empire :o)? Cheers Stan

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 01/02/04 11:08AM
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You want me to develop a program of WMDs (WAV music digitisers) capable of recording for 45 minutes?

*types furiously*

 is a RISC OS Usermonkeyson on 01/02/04 3:00PM
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Ahhhhhh Hexman Monkeysein strikes again......

In the meantime the UN (United Nerds) inspectors have failed to find any active WMD programs on Monkeysein's palatial hard drive.

There are rumours that he has a number of mobile storage systems that he uses to move his WMD program around from laboratory to laboratory. An artist's impression of such a storage system can be found at [link]

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 01/02/04 3:42PM
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RDenk: Once again, there is no contradiction in what I have said. I accept that the exact understanding rests on a somewhat subtle use of English, but no one else has had problems.

It's not clear if you just genuinely don't understand, or are being intentionally thick. However, given that made no attempt to address the issues directed at yourself, or answer any of the questions asked of you, you'll understand that I consider it a waste of time to explain to you exactly what I meant until there is some effort on your part to address these issues.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 03/02/04 11:10AM
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