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A9home on sale from CJE Micros

By Chris Williams. Published: 6th May 2006, 12:52:30 | Permalink | Printable

Not every day a new ROS computer arrives [Updated]

An A9 with a fanThe A9home is officially on sale to the public with the first orders expected to ship by next month. The pint-sized ARM 9 powered computer was previously sold about this time last year to a small army of selected beta testers, who then spent 12 months test driving the machine.

Produced by Advantage Six and Simtec, the A9home will be sold and distributed by CJE Micros. In an email to punters who registered an interest in buying a unit, CJE Micros said they are now taking orders and described the A9home as "an exciting new computer".

CJE's Chris Evans said: "We are pleased to tell you the A9home is now going through its final quality assurance testing, and we can now accept orders for delivery within 28 days. They may even be available at the Wakefield Show next Saturday."

The published specification says the A9home is just 168 mm by 103 mm by 53 mm (roughly 6 x 4 x 2 inches) in size. Inside its blue aluminum case is a 400MHz Samsung ARM9 processor with a Silicon Motion chipset, a 40GB hard disc, 128MB of SDRAM and 8MB of video RAM. The operating system is 32bit RISC OS Adjust, and the box runs off a 5 volt 20W power supply. It features four USB 1.1 ports, 2 PS/2 sockets, an ethernet network port, and an audio out socket.

The final price, including VAT, stands at the round number of 603 quid - up from the beta version's price tag of 586 quid (inc VAT). It's believed CJE Micros wanted to charge slightly more for the product, but Ad6 were keen to keep the price well below the 1000 pound mark. Since the introduction of the A9home, Castle have gradually brought down the price of their RISC OS computer offering, the XScale powered Iyonix.

AdvantageSix have tried to make the A9home as portable as possible, making use of ARM-based embedded technologies to pull it off. The A9home forms part of Ad6's A9 range - a group of ARM powered computers Ad6 are designing for various undisclosed clients.

One interesting aspect is that it has no floppy or CD drive built in - users will have to either install software and copy files from a network or plug in a USB connected drive. A version of Aemulor is also available for punters wishing to use 26bit RISC OS applications on their new 32bit machine.

The A9home is due to be demonstrated at next week's Wakefield show.

• Got an A9home? Tell us about it.

Update at 21:32 8/5/2006
CJE Micros's Chris Evans has clarified the pricing of the A9home, and denied that he wanted to price the product higher.

He said: "The price is not higher it has always been 499+15 delivery + VAT. The email price was inclusive of Delivery and VAT. I don't know were you got the idea I wanted a higher price, I have never mentioned that."


A9 website

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Great News.

Well done to AD6, RISCOS Ltd, CJE and everyone associated with this project.

After some of the gloom of recent months it's good to see this moving forward.

Hopefully this signals the start of some more positives for the market and I'm looking forward to at last recieving Select4 and Select for Iyonix.

 is a RISC OS Userbluenose on 6/5/06 1:16PM
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Whilst I can appreciate it's probably £500 + VAT + delivery, wouldn't a price point of £599.99 all inclusive make it look a lot more attractive?

 is a RISC OS Usernot_ginger_matt on 6/5/06 1:57PM
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not_ginger_matt>The actual price 604GBP (which excludes an optical drive), means that you'd need to spend an extra 94GBP (a total of 698) - I mean you *will* want at some stage to load software from CD won't you that being the case (unless you have a network) you're going to have to view 698 as the price "entry point" for A9?

While I applaud Ad6 and CJE for managing to bring the A9 to market the asking price is less than 100 pounds off that of an entry level Iyonix which has twice the RAM, HDD capacity, has an inbuilt CD-RW that can *burn* stuff to disk (unlike the A9 which can't) and a networking capability x10 times faster. I suspect if A9 really wants to make a splash then the price is going to have to come down some - otherwise it simply won't make economic sense when compared to the Iyonix Aria Cube.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 6/5/06 2:17PM
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not_ginger_matt: What, making it more expensive would make it look more attractive? I don't think so. Plus I find all that 99.99 business rather annoying - is anyone taken in by it?

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 6/5/06 2:18PM
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SimonC: No, £599.99 /including VAT and delivery/ as opposed to £603.96.

 is a RISC OS Usernot_ginger_matt on 6/5/06 2:35PM
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No, he is saying making it £3.01 cheaper.

The reason why prices tend to have .99 in them, is just due to advertisers exploiting human psychology. We perceive there to be a noticeable difference between something being FIVE hundred and something, rather than SIX hundred and something. Even though it is only 1p less of becoming SIX hundred. Unfortunately, more often than it not, it works - which is why they keep doing it.

 is a RISC OS UserWalks on 6/5/06 2:39PM
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Walks: I seem to recall the origin of things ending in .99 was to force a till operator to actually ring the item through as everything would require them to give the customer change. This may however purely be folklore, and it's now certainly advertisers who benefit from the "For less than £1!" headlines they can write.

 is a RISC OS Usernot_ginger_matt on 6/5/06 2:47PM
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"it simply won't make economic sense when compared to the Iyonix Aria Cube."

That seems a strange conclusion. If I'm after a computer which is small & portable, runs RISC OS Select, and I don't need a CDRom, why would I buy a bulky Iyonix which is almost 200 UKP more expensive?

Both machines will suit different users. I don't see why everyone is automatically, and regardless of their needs, better off with an Iyonix.

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 6/5/06 2:55PM
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fylfot>Check your prices man.

The Iyonix Aria cube with twice the RAM, twice the harddisk, a built in CD-RW drive (yes it writes as well as reads unlike the A9's), has a faster processor and *can* be expanded unlike the A9 costs 799 (includes vat) as against the A9Home (with optical drive) that cost 698 - how is that a difference of 200 GBP????

Yes if you drop the optical drive from the A9 it is cheaper again - but how do you load software? (Are all software distributors going to put software on Pen Drives just to suit A9 users (and what of their price?)). Will you need to have a second machine to act as a network linked CD just for your A9?

Yes the argument on size is the clincher for A9, but PRICE Isn't - which was my key point which you effectively ignored. For a person wanting to use an A9 realistically as their *sole* machine they'll need an optical drive - then the A9 most certainly would *NOT* be as attractive an option as the Iyonix cube.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 6/5/06 3:22PM
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flyfot: Given that RISC OS CDs are usually PC-compatible and most RISC OS users own a PC, if you are only an occasional RISC OS CD user (eg for new software purchases), you can alternatively hook an A9 up to a network (or use a crossover cable to a PC,) and then share a PC's CD/DVD ROM drive. In fact, I did this when I purchased a copy of TechWriter. For regular users or those needing CDs whilst travelling (rather than USB keyrings), the combo drive option makes more sense.

 is a RISC OS Usermd0u80c9 on 6/5/06 3:25PM
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md0u80c9: "most RISC OS users own a PC". Evidence?

 is a RISC OS UserGML on 6/5/06 3:37PM
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But there again the A9 is new and the Iyonix is old with a processor which is soon to be out of production ;-)

 is a RISC OS Usertweety on 6/5/06 3:46PM
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AMS: Unless you can buy an Iyonix Aria cube without a CD-RW drive for less than the list price, the entry level price for the A9 home /is/ nearly two hundred pounds cheaper.

(I have a network, it has 1 DVD writer, 1 DVD reader, 2 CD-RW drives on it; why would I want another one?)

Has anyone actually used the Gigabit Ethernet on the Iyonix as such? I don't see it being particularly common in the PC world (not that I look much).

As for expansion, my RPC has gone from a two-slice to a one-slice over the years as I decided I wasn't actually going to buy any more expansion podules!

 is a RISC OS UserStoppers on 6/5/06 4:12PM
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Stoppers>I specified that a person using an A9Home as their sole machine didn't I. Such a person *would absolutely NEED* a CD-R or other optical drive. So in that instance the difference between the A9 and Iyonix Aria Cube is only around 100 GBP.

Stoppers>"Has anyone actually used the Gigabit Ethernet on the Iyonix as such? I don't see it being particularly common in the PC world"

Yes the Iyonix has a better Interconnect than the A9Home and many PC's - but some PC's do now (and will in future have) Gigabit interconnection. Call it future proofing Iyonix has it A9 doesn't.

Each person has individual needs and that may mean in some circumstances the A9 may represent a better choice than the Iyonix - but in reality in *most* instances on the grounds of modernity, expansion capability and (yes) just being able to DO things the Iyonix is the better choice.

Tweety>"But there again the A9 is new and the Iyonix is old with a processor which is soon to be out of production"

In the trade that's called FUD (Fear Uncertainty Doubt). Regularly on Drobe just before a show an article showing how (a). Someone thinks the Iyonix is crap (b). That Castle have moved (gasp they're on the virge of bankrupcy) or (c). The Iyonix's CPU has gone out of production. Still its in the realm of FUD.

Now Intel being Intel and their distribution channel will have *years* worth of IOP321's in stock (you can still get StrongARM's and they went out of production 2 years ago). That gives Castle *plenty* of time to introduce an newer Iyonix and (unfortunately for A9) a much faster one.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 6/5/06 4:33PM
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AMS: Why argue? We have a choice. We have a range of RISC OS machines and each person can make their choice. There is absolutely no reason for anyone to be negative about either of the choices. Say "Great stuff!" ?;-)

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 6/5/06 5:50PM
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AMS:I personally don't see why an optical drive is so essential -- I can't remember ever using one on my SA RPC as everything I install is obtained via the internet. Personally, if I wanted a desktop RISC OS solution it'd probably be a decent spec Dell PC running VirtualAcorn (far cheaper and faster than an Iyonix.) If I wanted a RISC OS solution with the form factor of an A9Home then I have no other options (a MacMini running Windows running VirtualAcorn isn't yet available other than via the Apple beta software.) There's also the various issues of the A9Home's OS advantages which is increasingly making RISC OS 5 look like it's not had the attention of anyone other than CTL's lawyers. Anyway, it's all totally academic -- the real choice people are going to make is for size of expandability. If you just look at the price of any RISC OS machine based on it's spec it's impossible to justify it against mainstream alternatives.

 is a RISC OS Usernot_ginger_matt on 6/5/06 5:51PM
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That should read '...for size *or* expandability' and not '...for size of expandability'.

 is a RISC OS Usernot_ginger_matt on 6/5/06 5:52PM
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jc>Agreed, choice is a good thing - and actually I do wish Ad6 and CJE well with this.

The only thing disturbing my calm interior is the tendancy for some to throw "brick bats" (as the guys across the pond would say...) at Iyonix. Both machines deserve support (but you'll sadly find a considerable amount of what could be validily described as FUD being spread about Iyonix at the moment), yet glaring deficiencies in the A9 are ignored.

not_ginger_matt>So not having a means of reading or writing data from/to optical disks is not a necessity for you. Grand - if that floats your boat save the 200 (or so) GBP and forgo it and opt for an A9.

The speed assertions regarding VA and a Dell laptop would require verification - for example doing what ? And if you went that route and proved that case then surely the A9 would be even slower still....

not_ginger_matt wrote>"making RISC OS 5 look like it's not had the attention of anyone other than CTL's lawyers"

Jc that's the sort of thing I am talking about and matt's not the first and won't be the last either. I'd argue that RO5 is quite a good OS and it does things that Select (or even the cut down version on the A9 doesn't or can't do).

not_ginger_matt wrote>"If you just look at the price of any RISC OS machine based on it's spec it's impossible to justify it against mainstream alternatives."

That's conveniently ignoring that software, support, AV and other issues *COST* a lot more on those alternatives. The cost of the computer *ISN'T* just the cost of the box.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 6/5/06 6:01PM
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Very off topic, but nevertheless:

Not only in the current discussion, but many times before I've read that a VirtualRPC, running on a up-to-date Pentium laptop, is much faster than an Iyonix.

Well, I happent to have all three of them - VRPC, fast laptop and an Iyonix - but the only thing that really goes faster on the VRPC is the boot process. All other things that I do on a VRPC (typically running Basic programs, as well as some games) run approximately two times SLOWER than the same programs on my Iyonix. So, I suppose it heavily depends on what specific software we're actually talking about.

Kind regards, Paul Sprangers

 is a RISC OS Userdelink on 6/5/06 7:00PM
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AMS: You appear to be very confused -- so far no-one has argued against buying an Iyonix at all, everyone has merely pointed out that your original statement was bogus. I personally simply think it's painful that Castle and RISC OS Ltd couldn't work together for the OS development (does A32 have unicode support?, does OS5 have alpha support?)

 is a RISC OS Usernot_ginger_matt on 6/5/06 7:19PM
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delink:I was thinking more about a desktop PC rather than a laptop, purely to keep the PC 'class' the same. I would guess that an equivalently priced PC (minus the copy of VA) compared to an Iyonix should have better performance -- anyone got any speed tests for various machines under Windows and emulated RISC OS?

 is a RISC OS Usernot_ginger_matt on 6/5/06 7:25PM
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In reply to AMS:

94GBP for a optical drive? where? i'm here in germany. 75 euros in an external usb case for a dvd rw. means around 50GBP i calculate right. inclusive Mwst (german VAT).

 is a RISC OS Usercaveman on 6/5/06 7:31PM
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The thing about the A9 home is that it could easily be turned into a laptop.

1. A rechargable battery pack 2. Small LCD screen 3. Briefcase

Attach the screen to the top inside cover of the briefcase

LCD attached to the back of the A9 home and into the battery pack

Cut a hole in the briefcase for the PSU, mini keyboard and mouse is added, inside a samll briefcase no problems.

 is a RISC OS UserRevin Kevin on 6/5/06 8:02PM
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For me the A9 looks good and in my very own cases it would make sense to buy this one instead of an Iyonix - not that i would not love to get one.

a) I made the experiences that RISC OS 4.0x and Select 3i3 with more than 128MB of memory may cause a lot of trouble due to some well known issues with the DA and some (miss-)behaving applications with. And the fixes i knew were not so helpful. This may be solved with RISC OS 4.39 or 5.xx. But if no the more on RAM would not be such a great deal.

b) I run a RPC 700 here with no optical drive and the build in FDD was just used once for starting !HForm. And even the CD/RW drive in my RPC SA has not been used for a rather long time now.

c) IFAIK the 1000 MBit NIC in the Iyonix is far from this performence in real life. Depending on the sources i read that the perfomance is somewhere between 20 and 100 MBit. But i guess that the NIC in the A9 will be at least as "fast" as the old EtherH i have in my RPC 700.

The only niggle i can see now on the A9 is the external power supply so it does not have this computer-typical power cords (in german called "Kaltgerätestecker"). This means i can not connect the A9 with my APC power backup package.

Just my thoughts.

Sincerely Hauke

 is a RISC OS UserVLIW on 6/5/06 9:18PM
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In reply to VLIW; The A9 uses an exteral AC adaptor. The connection from the adaptor to the power uses a standard (if forget the correct name - IC lead?) 3 pin moulded power adaptor i.e. 3 pin int the ac adatpor. If the old RPC power leaded fitted your APC, then the A9 should too.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 6/5/06 10:09PM
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AMS wrote: Jc that's the sort of thing I am talking about and matt's not the first and won't be the last either.

Then he wrote: (or even the cut down version on the A9 doesn't or can't do)

 is a RISC OS Userbobloblaw on 7/5/06 7:56AM
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AMS: "I specified that a person using an A9Home as their sole machine didn't I".

Yes, I see you did. Unfortunately, it was in the "small print" at the bottom!

I was answering the question "... how is that a difference of 200 GBP????" by saying, in effect, "it is, if you compare the cheapest options".

Nobody's arguing that if you need more RAM, USB 2, Gigabit Ethernet, an optical disc writer, podule bus, or any of the other features of the Iyonix that the a9home doesn't have that you shouldn't buy an Iyonix, just that the a9home is three-quarters the price of the cheapest Iyonix.

 is a RISC OS UserStoppers on 7/5/06 10:07AM
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bobloblaw: AFAIK AMS doesn't have an A9 so his "what it can't do" has to be seen in that light. What I've found to be important about that machine is the new perspective that it gives to how you can use computers. It's a perspective that will add positive vibes to RISC OS as a whole and help everyone involved in promoting RISC OS products - which is why brickbats, even from AMS, are an irrelevancy within our community.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 7/5/06 10:08AM
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Except price, there are some substantial differences between the A9home and Iyonix. Some of which I think have still not been mentioned here.

I prefer the A9home by a long shot;

It's very small, tiny in fact. I have a hunch it's about as small as they could make it, it was a goal which suits my needs very well.

It's robust. Built to withstand the severe trauma of being on the road with me. It fits right in with some of my other gear, neat.

It's quiet. Quiet I say? Try silent. Fanless. Anyone know of any other (semi-)desktop computer which has no fans? Anyone know how much money and effort is invested in making a PC silent these days? Why, you ask? Well, for example to use it in a recording studio, without compromising recording clarity and listening (to verify) ability. This is a huge plus for me.

It doesn't have an optical drive onboard. I don't need it, for several reasons. I network it when I need data, files, etc. I can use a USB stick for back-up. Optical drives also tend to get rather noisy, IMO. I do not need to burn data or even audio with it.

It can run RO Select 4 out of the box.

In summary, I can understand very well that this lovely, unique machine can not live up to certain (average) needs of a home user. Iyonix can.

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 7/5/06 11:48AM
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Point taken about my earlier price cockup (although if it makes me think that it's approx. ~100 more then it backs up my point about 99.99! I do wish things like that would just be put to 600 instead of 599.99).

heglia: The A9 isn't really all that suitable as a sole standalone machine, but would make a very nice second one. All its benefits seem to support the idea that that's what it's for. Its purpose seems to be exactly the type of thing you say appeals - small, unobtrusive, additional, and can connect to another machine if it needs to.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 7/5/06 12:00PM
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It's certainly positive news that the final product will be in people's hands very soon.

As for what is the true cost of entry - that will vary from user to user. I don't especially need an optical drive but what is essential is wireless network capability - an option that should hopefully be provided by STD's Wireless USB adaptor. Which would give me an entry price of £603.96 + £79.95 = £683.91 for a tiny, modern RISC OS machine running Adjust and capable of running Select 4.

I am looking forward to hearing some feedback from users and hope that the A9 will be released prior to or at Wakefield ^_^

 is a RISC OS UserJohnB on 7/5/06 12:08PM
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Ahemmmm :-)

Can one perhaps plug an A9 into an external pocket DVD player or the removable screen you get on some cars. If so, you have a laptop.

Cheers Bob

 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 7/5/06 12:16PM
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This is good news indeed and as mentioned above this would make a lovely travelling machine. As I already have a 8" touchscreen available I would love to get that fully working on an A9home, including the USB tocuh system. Looking forward to the RISCOS Roadshow in the Netherlands where we can look at the final production machine.

 is a RISC OS Usernico on 07/05/06 3:27PM
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Well, 600 quid really seems too much, regardless of how much the cheapest Iyonix is. Hopefully, future developments will be somewhat more competitive with the wider industry.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 07/05/06 4:35PM
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boblobaw quoted me as saying >"AMS wrote:Jc that's the sort of thing I am talking about and matt's not the first and won't be the last either."

Then he wrote: (or even the cut down version on the A9 doesn't or can't do)

Well the *reality* of things (the reference I quoted was someone saying that "Castle's Lawyers spent more time over their OS" an unverifiable, certainly untrue statement. If boblobaw you want a reality check when I say there are things the Iyonix can do that the A9 can't consider the following:

Fact - The A9 has 1/2 the RAM of the Iyonix and *can't* be expanded (the Iyonix when maximally expanded has 1GB some 8 times that of the A9. Is that me being negative or just stating a fact - note I am *not* saying things you *can't* verify for yourself.

Fact - The A9 *can't* write CD or DVD media (it has *only* the option of a USB connection to such external devices - hence the added costs of these devices.

Fact - The A9 only uses USB1.1 so that it's only means of expansion (USB) is limited to archaic speeds (Iyonix uses faster USB 2).

Fact - The A9 can only take one hard disk internally. The Iyonix can take up to three (with the fourth IDE connector available for a CD/DVD class optical read/write device.

Fact - The A9 can't take multiple video cards (or indeed any expansion cards at all). Iyonix supports up to 4 PCI expansion cards. Expansion cards that work with Iyonix include Video Capture and ancilliary video cards to allow for multiple screens.

Fact - The OS on the A9 can't handle memory spaces as large as the Iyonix (Iyonix does not need DA's).

These things, just so you can tell the difference, are called FACTS they are verifiable. Whether CTL has lawyers spending more time over their OS than developers I can't verify and neither can the person who originally suggested this. When I say that Iyonix CAN do things A9 *CAN'T* I mean PRECISELY THAT (and the short list above shows this). If you want to read FACTS (essentially neutral things) as negative that's your choice - but denying reality is silly and is a waste of everyones time.

All of the above being said the A9 is *smaller* than the Iyonix and that in some instance may swing it in the A9's favours. See if you can spot the last time a proponent of the A9 said something nice about Iyonix.....

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 07/05/06 5:17PM
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AMS: During and after WWII there was a lot of "discussion" about which was the better fighter, the Spitfire or the P52 Mustang.

The clincher was always that the P52 could do almost anything the Spitfire could do and almost as well, but it could do it over Berlin.

So stop all this b*****ks about whether the A9 or the Iyonix is best. The fact is that the A9 can do almost anything the Iyonix can do and almost as well, but you can carry it it in your pocket. If you want it portable, that's the clincher.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 07/05/06 5:28PM
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I'm very happy to read that A9home is there to buy now. I think it is good to have an alternative to the IYONIX pc as native RISC OS system and the A9home is very different.

OK, let me now comment the odd comment:

IYONIX Gigabit: I did quite a few benchmars on the network and the fastest I got was when the IYONIX pc ran with Linux but then the speed was just a bit above 100MBit throughput. Don't expect more since the Ethernet interface is connected through normal PCI (that is not PCIx) and that is the limiting hardware (apart for the fact that the IP stack in RISC OS is not into speed anyhow).

A9home optical drive: I think the price for the external optical drive offered is much too high - at least looking at the prices in Germany where for that money I get a external USB 2.0 Dual Layer DVD writer for DVD+, DVD- and DVD-RAM.

A9home storage: I guess that for the A9home to be useful you will indeed need another system connected via network. The USB interface is too slow for regular use unless you have much time - just think having a digital camera and fetching some 200 MB images through USB 1.1 or consider doing backups or feeding your MP3 player USB stick with new music or ...

A9home power supply: The power supply uses a standard connector (German: Kaltgerätestecker) which is good - having an external power supply is something I personally am not into but on the other hand that makes it so small and silent so I guess that is o.k. What does surprise me is that it needs 20 watts though!

A9home wish: What I think would be a nice system is a variant of the A9home with bigger case which accomodates the A9home, the power supply and a slim line optical drive which is attached via IDE... and USB 2.0. But I guess that is something to be considered the possible next steps.

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 07/05/06 5:31PM
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So the A9 is burning DVD+RW's then? And running at USB2 speeds? And it can take 1GB of RAM and it has 3 Harddisks and is massively expandible. Or am I mistaking what you're saying. Or is it just smaller.... and YES that could be a clincher in some cases (I would even consider one myself where SIZE was the only criterion).

The reason I commented on the A9 at all was the *absolutely continual* negative messages put out here and elsewhere about Iyonix (e.g., it has no CPU anymore, Castle have moved (eek), they only have lawyers working on their OS).

For God sake Dave get real, get the lies stopped and I'll stop telling the truth about the A9 Ok ?

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 07/05/06 5:34PM
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Sorry my last comments were addressed at Dave NOT nico....

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 07/05/06 5:35PM
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Sorry that was address to Dave not Herbert (sorry....)

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 07/05/06 5:37PM
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In reply to AMS:

Ok so your an pro Iyonix guy and you dont like the A9. We all like different things.

 is a RISC OS UserMikeCarter on 07/05/06 5:49PM
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Mike>And when I wrote "I would even consider one [A9] myself where SIZE was the only criterion" what does that indicate.

I am not a "pro Iyonix guy" who doesn't like the A9. The A9 is grand for what it does and if people are aware of what it does.

I am more an "anti-lies" guy. And to be truthful I'd have wished CJE and Ad6 well and said no more if it weren't for several articles and comments here that seemed to suggest that Iyonix was in trouble because (a). It's processor was being discontinued (this by the way is only a "rumour" and may take years even if true) then (b). That Castle had moved again (even hints of various problems) and (c). That Castle's lawyers spent more time on the OS than developers. All things which people like yourself let past without comment.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 07/05/06 5:58PM
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"I am not a 'pro Iyonix guy' who doesn't like the A9."

You owe me a new keyboard for the coffee I just spilled on it. It's a huge leap of logic to compare the A9home and the Iyonix just because you've read some upsetting news. If you read an article on Drobe that you don't like, for whatever reason, I recommend this link ;-)


I'll also note that we're not in the business of publishing 'lies', either ;-P

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 07/05/06 6:20PM
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@AMS: Calling Dave Holden a liar is overly harsh and unnceccsary. Are you trying to say that the A9 is going to be so much slower at running RISC OS software that saying it will run almost as well as an Iyonix is a gross exageration ? I don't see anyone disputing the disparity between the expansion capabilities of the two systems and, in any case, we will shortly be able to verify how well the A9 performs when the reviews start appearing.

Speaking in general as far as I'm concerned it's great to see both on the market. I've nothing bad to say about the Iyonix in terms of the hardware offered by Castle. I just find it unfortunate that due to the way things have turned out it's currently unable to run Select. Hopefully that is something that will be resolved soon now the rush to get the A9 ready for release has passed.

 is a RISC OS UserJohnB on 07/05/06 6:25PM
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Not content with RISCOS version wars we now seem to have hardware wars.

I'm an Iyonix owner but that doesn't stop me thinking that the A(home has it's distinct atributes.

As far as I'm concerned it comes down to what you need:

A9 - Portable, small, latest RISCOS Ltd software enhancements, new kid on the block, initial purchase price cheaper.

Iyonix - Mature offering, good price range, medium to large sized cases for expansion options, faster processor and RISCOS5 with USB2

Now we have alternatives that each have their strengths and niches that they can exploit so lets rejoice in that and not descend into playground posturing.

 is a RISC OS Userbluenose on 07/05/06 6:58PM
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bluenose: Well said. Unlike AMS you (and I, and most others) are able to appreciate that both machines have advantages and disadvantages. Which one you choose will very much depend on which attributes you rate most highly.

BTW I'm also an Iyonix owner (I've got two), and an Omega, and two PCs runnibg VRPC, and a selection of RPCs in daily use.....

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 07/05/06 7:37PM
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Geez. For the first time ever, the RISC OS market has two alternative high-end machines (I don't consider the barrage of ARM 7500 things worth a mention), and people can't stop moaning about which is better and why.

If you don't like one, don't buy it. If an A9home isn't expandable enough for you, don't buy it. Your reason should be presented as "It's not expandable enough" If an Iyonix isn't portable enough for your needs, don't buy it. Your reason should be presented as "It's not portable enough"

Everyone clear? Good. Now stop whining at each other.

 is a RISC OS Userjymbob on 07/05/06 7:38PM
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In reply to bluenose:

I agree with you entirely. If you look at the Windows market. You have a whole range of machines, from those Celerons only just capable of running windows to your 3Ghz dual core Pentiums. Every market needs a range of products. We now have ours: Iyonix, A9 and VRPC.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 07/05/06 7:41PM
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In reply to jymbob:

Quite right :)

 is a RISC OS UserMikeCarter on 07/05/06 8:01PM
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IIRC The A9 psu is slightly overrated, and normally the A9 consumes only a couple of watts. The reason for the much bigger PSU is the potential load via its four USB ports.

 is a RISC OS Userkdm on 07/05/06 8:24PM
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Thanks for all the good wishes and enthusiasm!

Clarification on Price the price has always been: A9home 499+VAT=586.33 + Delivery 15+VAT = Total 603.96 We decided to quote the inclusive of VAT & Delivery price in the email to those people who had registered an interest.

See you at Wakefield, please bring your chequebooks or bits of plastic with you, and form a nice orderly queue:-)

 is a RISC OS Userchrisevans on 07/05/06 9:09PM
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notices a few people making comments that are actually sensible and fair

scratches head, thinking 'uh? this is drobe's forum, isn't it?'

decides it must still be last night and this is, therefore, some kind of strange dream

 is a RISC OS UserVinceH on 07/05/06 9:56PM
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VinceH: If you look closely you'll see that most of the "usual suspects" don't seen to be around. Only one making silly and contentious comments and, as usual, at great length.

No doubt normal service will resume tommorow :(

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 08/05/06 07:18AM
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Its great that the A9 is finally released, but the one fly in the ointment is the last minute update to Adjust32 which prevents any absolute from running unless it has a 32bit AIF header. This breaks lots of perfectly 32bit compatible programs, such as all BASIC code which has been wrapped as an absolute. This means developers will be fielding a lot of complaints when the machines reach the general public - something that could have been avoided completely wirth a bit of consultation.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 08/05/06 09:50AM
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druck: AD6 sounded quite keen on it doing that when they were at RONWUG the other week, giving the explanation that they couldn't be sure if something without a 32bit AIF header would work or stuff the machine, and felt that they had to present as reliable a machine as possible to their other customers. Personally I think a warning message would be more appropriate for a home computer, but I'm not entirely unsympathetic with their view.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 08/05/06 11:27AM
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When we first developed Aemulor for RISC OS 5, we suggested some kind of API that could be used by the OS to run 26-bit applications under emulation, rather than just crashing (RO5) or just plain refusing (A9Home).

The OS would examine the app when launching, decide if its 32-bit safe, run it natively if so, or pass it to the currently registered emulator if not.

At present, Aemulor has to intercept the application loading process and make its own decision as to whether to emulate an application to stop apps being rejected or just crashing the OS.



 is a RISC OS Userspellinn on 08/05/06 4:02PM
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In reply to druck: As far back as October 1996 Acorn stated that "All Absolute files must have valid AIF headers. Absolute files without AIF headers and untyped files are deprecated." This was in application note 295 "Introduction to StrongARM and Programming Guidelines". Given that developers have had nearly TEN YEARS warning, I have little sympathy for those who did nothing about it!

Standardising on an executable file format that includes a header gives other benefits unrelated to 32 bit compatibility, such as: - Can ensure that enough application memory is allocated. - Can check the file is has not been truncated or extended (i.e. corrupted). - Can protect read-only areas of the image from alteration.

I hope that developers will embrace this as a positive step for the future of RISC OS.

 is a RISC OS Userthesnark on 08/05/06 6:17PM
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In reply to kdm: You wrote "IIRC The A9 psu is slightly overrated, and normally the A9 consumes only a couple of watts. The reason for the much bigger PSU is the potential load via its four USB ports."

Thanks - I forgot that part a bit (with USB 1.1 I don't expect all four to be fully loaded anyhow but I guess the power supply should be able to cope). Since one USB port may have to supply 500mA at 5 Volts which is 2,5 Watts, or 10 Watts for all four. That is half of the power supply is there for potential USB usage and the other half probably shared by the hard disc and the rest of the system as well as some safety surplus. So to save power cost you could probably run it off an 5-10 Watt power supply making the laptopping idea with a rechargable battery even more possible.

To drobe: I'm happy to have gotten a reply to the posting I thougt I did insert here about Gigabit and the odd other issue.... for some reason I don't see that post anymore though but perhaps it was not worth the space anyhow...

To several: As for the AIF header checking: I think it is not a good idea to introduce this just now making it more of a hassle for users getting the A9home - they will probably be busy enough updating the odd app to 32 bit so why create more trouble than necessary. At least the user should have a config option to decide if strict checking (blocking quite a few apps), just an info message or ignoring like RISC OS does since many years now. Why is it an issue for A9home ... or what is wrong with all the other systems where this harassement is not in place?

Well, perhaps APDL will offer A9Guard (like StrongGuard) which solves this one by supplying a dummy AIF header which is formally ok so that A9home loads the app :-)

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 08/05/06 7:09PM
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To drobe:

Oops... I just wrote a comment and for some reason the top one on this page is gone. Before posting this one the top entry was "Sorry my last comments were addressed at Dave NOT nico...."

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 08/05/06 7:10PM
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To drobe:

And just after that posting the "Sorry my last comments were addressed at Dave NOT nico...." was gone... and now the top one "Sorry that was address to Dave not Herbert (sorry....)" by AMS too is gone as well probably - sorry AMS!

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 08/05/06 7:12PM
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JohnB>Far from it I never called Dave Holden a liar, he's done a great deal for the platform.

Chris> Sorry about the keyboard mate! I do like the link (brings me back it does...;).

I guess I should lighten up a bit eh? The A9 deserves a fair wind anyway and I (again) wish Ad9 and CJE well with it - after all they're not responsible for any inaccuracies written by others.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 08/05/06 7:24PM
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Hzn: Don't worry, your messages are not disappearing. You are viewing the 'Latest posts' page. Drobe jumps to this when you follow a link to the forum - quite disconcerting I know. Use the links at the top or bottom to go to the earlier pages of comments.

 is a RISC OS UserLoris on 08/05/06 8:45PM
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I am strongly considering purchasing an A9 home, mainly due to the fact my risc pc has kinda broke. The A9 home seems a very nifty lil machine. Any idea how well firefox performs on it? One thing i can't understand about the machine is it only has 128mb of ram, while this is usually more than enough for risc os wouldn't it have made sence to have at least 256mb, i'm sure it would av only cost them a couple of quid more. I think this could push people to get an Iyonix instead.

I'd be interested to see if people can turn the machine into a laptop and how it's battery life would perform against those super efficent intel centrino's ;)

 is a RISC OS Usermark1282 on 09/05/06 10:51AM
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In Reply to mark1282:

Firefox performs well on the A9home, as does Netsurf and WebsterXL.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 09/05/06 11:03AM
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mark1282: Some people find the A9 works (for them) as a laptop without any modification as they would use a laptop simply as a machine to work in two or more places - rather than working eg in the back of a car. To now there has been desktop or laptop; the A9 provides another alternative which partially overlaps the functionality of both in addition to previously unexplored areas. Carrying a desktop computer in the side pocket of your car (or equivalent) takes some re-adjustment of expectations of what a computer actually is and does.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 09/05/06 11:21AM
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I can't get Firefox to run on my RiscPC 600 with RO 4.02 and 41mb RAM.

I guess that I do not have enough RAM?

How much RAM does Firefox need to run?

I gave up trying well before last Christmas.



 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 09/05/06 11:55AM
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@ AMS: Sorry if I misunderstood where your comment was directed. I certainly agree with your sentiment regarding Dave & APDL.

Further to my initial post on entry cost - is it possible for the A9 to share an internet connection by connecting via the ethernet port to an Apple Mac that is on my wireless network ?

 is a RISC OS UserJohnB on 09/05/06 12:56AM
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Sawadee: Well, it would definitely run more comfortable with more RAM (64 MB would be ok), but I believe it should at least be able to run on your system as 30 MB is stated as the minimum. Do you have the latest beta version? If beta 5 doesn't work, try beta 4 which in my case persuaded it to run after I'd upgraded to StrongARM. You should also make sure you've read and understood the accompanying !Help file, since it tries to explain most common issues involved. Do you have installed all required modules? I assume you have formatted your harddisc to the RO4 format (E+ which enables long filenames).

If you've checked and it still refuses to start, try deleting all the files under !UnixHome.home./mozilla - this may help. I hope you can run it now, but remember it's still a beta and will not be entirely stable. Another thing, it might also help if you restart your machine clean whenever you wish to run Firefox, so that Firefox is the only app running and gets all system resources!

There's always NetSurf, which can do stuff no other RO browser can. I advise people keep up with it, since some of the latest new stuff is incredibly cool, such as drag-saving selected text, Ctrl-dragging from the URL bar to save a link or from an image to directly save that to disc. Great stuff!

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 09/05/06 1:18PM
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In reply to Chris Bazley: //As far back as October 1996 Acorn stated that "All Absolute files must have valid AIF headers. Absolute files without AIF headers and untyped files are deprecated." This was in application note 295 "Introduction to StrongARM and Programming Guidelines". Given that developers have had nearly TEN YEARS warning, I have little sympathy for those who did nothing about it!//

Actually to be fair the AIF format seems to have some issues. PRM 4-383 : "Avoid using the NV (execute never) condition code: ... It is recommended that the instruction MOV R0,R0 be used as a general purpose NOP."


PRM 4-436 AIF header layout "... BLNV 0 if the image is not compressed."

You will always have to put three such NOPs in there at some point. So what are we supposed to use?

And there seem to be a few other things as well. Is the zero-init code required even if you don't use it? If I only want a small area zeroed could I modify it to save bytes?

The relocation code given in the PRM looks like it is not StrongARM compatible. And in any case, it would fail if the word-list contained -1. Uh-hoh, there goes everything after the mode block! So presumably you can supply your own relocation/decompression routines. I assume that the module they released -UnsqueezeAIF- makes this work in spite of that, but christ what a kludge. Presumably it hacks in its own branches for the three initial branches, so it can synchronise the code-area. -- Actually no it doesn't. "Proprietary code squeezers may cause problems." Thats just great. I have to use a code squeezer I don't have.

My impression is that some of the other benefits you mention arn't taken. For example, it appears that the memory protection doesn't occur unless the program itself performs it.

So, given that it hasn't been necessary up to now, I'm not surprised some people haven't used it, even if they looked at it. Myself, I didn't even look at it until yesterday.

So I would be interesting in knowing exactly what is necessary to ensure compatibility with the A9.

 is a RISC OS UserLoris on 09/05/06 1:51PM
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Loris: You're quoting from the RO3 PRMs - published 1992 - so it seems that the AIF headers became mandatory sometime between then and Chris' 1996 reference. I'd heard that the instructions to make them mandatory were from 1994 so that fits in with what both of you say. In which case developers should have been including the headers for the past 12 years.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 09/05/06 2:17PM
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The annoying thing about the AIF header issue is not that it's been done, but that little to no communication has been made that this has changed. The first I heard of it was a user complaint coinciding with a comment from Theo Markettos on csa.*.

The fact that the application note which made them mandatory was ten years ago doesn't excuse making the change with no warning: in fact just the opposite!

Saying "developers should have been including the headers for the past X years" is all well and good, but changing the external behaviour of a system should *only* be done with sufficient advanced communication. Especially with a shrinking market meaning developers can't be expected to buy every new piece of kit (no matter how shiny) to test on.

...and I agree with Tony Haines: we've had to do a variety of round-trips with slightly different AIF headers to handle squeezed absolute-wrapped BASIC code as the documentation that exists on the AIF header is ambiguous at best with regards to exactly what should go in which field.

 is a RISC OS UserJaffa on 09/05/06 2:38PM
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Jaffa: I always thought the AIF spec at [link] was pretty clear.

 is a RISC OS Userjmb on 09/05/06 2:50PM
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In reply to John Cartmell: actually I was working from both the PRMs and the SA release note (App note 295; 1996), where the AIFs are declared mandatory. There doesn't seem to be an update in PRV vol. 5a, either.

In reply to John-Mark Bell: That is an interesting file. It does at least mention that NOP is MOV R0,R0. A quick scan revealed an error - the zero-init code is described as 14 words long, when it is in fact 16 instructions. Or perhaps 15, depending on how you read it. The copy code again looks like it'll fail on SA, which isn't perhaps surprising given that it looks like it is from 1993. Also, it has a word indicating the address mode as 26 or 32 bit. So that creates the additional question of what to do if your code should work on both.

Basically it seems you have to put a lot of legacy stuff you can't use in your file, little of which can be used on modern systems - and the system by which it could be extended has been subverted by a hack to make the old stuff work.

 is a RISC OS UserLoris on 09/05/06 5:30PM
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In reply to Loris:

I added an AIF header to make StrongED work and it really was very simple (my changes are now with the maintainer). The zero init code is not mandatory, and nor is the compression or relocation code.

.start MOV R0,R0 ; image is not compressed MOV R0,R0 ; image is not self-relocating MOV R0,R0 ; image has no debug/zero init code BL image_entry_point ; program should never return SWI "OS_Exit" ; last ditch exit in case of return EQUD image_entry_point-start ; read-only size (just this header) EQUD len_prg%-(image_entry_point-start) ; read-write size (remainder) EQUD 0 ; debug area size EQUD 0 ; zero initialisation size EQUD 0 ; debug type (no debugging data present) EQUD &8000 ; image base address EQUD 0 ; work space required EQUD 32 ; addressing mode and flags (32 bit compatible) EQUD &0 ; data base address EQUD 0 ; reserved word &38 EQUD 0 ; reserved word &3C MOV R0,R0 ; debug init instruction ; would be start of zero init code but we have none .image_entry_point ... rest of StrongED's source code. (len_prg% is the length of the whole output executable file, including this header)

Obviously this is not ideal because almost all of the code is in the read/write area, which will circumvent any memory protection that may be implemented in future. However a utility to produce AIF headers for legacy Absolute files would be very easy to write.

 is a RISC OS Userthesnark on 09/05/06 8:33PM
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Thanks Chris. That is the pragmatic approach I suppose. Although if the A9 tests for branch-links in the first four instructions, or something unanticipated like that, the code may still not be permitted.

 is a RISC OS UserLoris on 10/05/06 5:24PM
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