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First Desktop Computer To Use Intel's XScale 184

Ian Chamberlain writes "Drobe, the leading RISC OS portal, has reported the release of Iyonix, the first desktop computer to use Intel's XScale processor. The XScale is now famous for its increasingly widespread use in PDA devices, used because of its low power consumption and high performance processing. The Iyonix runs a new 32bit version of RISC OS, the operating system orginally developed by Acorn, but now owned by Pace." The same site links to a pair of reviews (one translated from heise.de) of this machine. RISC OS is also what powers the solar PC mentioned a few months ago.
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First Desktop Computer To Use Intel's XScale

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  • solar pc link (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by squarefish ( 561836 )
    just goes back to the main /. page. please fix!
  • Intel Link (Score:5, Informative)

    by L3WKW4RM ( 228924 ) on Saturday December 07, 2002 @05:20PM (#4834270) Homepage
    Intel's XScale site is here: http://www.intel.com/design/intelxscale/ [intel.com]
  • by peculiarmethod ( 301094 ) on Saturday December 07, 2002 @05:20PM (#4834276) Journal
    "All for £1299"

    Now I just have to drive God knows how many meters to get to the trade show.

  • Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jericho4.0 ( 565125 ) on Saturday December 07, 2002 @05:23PM (#4834288)
    IYONIX pc (128MB) 80GB HDD; 128MB DDR RAM; CDRW £1299

    Ouch. OS in flash ROM is cool, but what are people going to be buying these for? Are there legacy apps in RISC OS that people need to run faster?

    I want one, anyway.

    • Re:Why? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jonathan ( 5011 )
      You have to understand the British. RISC-PC fans are at least as fanatical as Amiga fans are. There is a market, believe it or not.
      • Re:Why? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by fistynuts ( 457323 )
        Unfortunately it's a very small market!
        I can't believe people are still using Acorn machines. I loved my A3010, but then I saw a PC with a 3D accelerator and I never looked back..
        ROM/flashROM operating systems were the business though. A working OS in about 10 seconds - I wish I could do that with XP.
      • You have to understand the British. RISC-PC fans are at least as fanatical as Amiga fans are. There is a market, believe it or not.

        Serious question, who uses the RISC PC, and what for? Amigas are still used for some TV effects, AFAIK. Is it just hobbyists, or do people use them commercially?
    • The OpenBeOS project were thinking about trying to make a new version of the BeBox, IIRC, and they were wanting the OS to be in the ROM so that it would boot like *that*. BeBoxen are almost as cool as Amigas. Almost.

      It was in the newsletter a while ago, forget where they live though... come on karma whores, you know you want to link it!

    • Let's not also forget that you don't get AGP for that 1299. that's, what, 2K in USD?
  • Chopped links? (Score:4, Informative)

    by MagPulse ( 316 ) on Saturday December 07, 2002 @05:24PM (#4834293)
    Here's the XScale link [intel.com] and the Solar PC link [slashdot.org].
  • and higher processor density. ...now back to the microbox racks...
  • by enos ( 627034 ) on Saturday December 07, 2002 @05:31PM (#4834328)
    If they can add a built-in touchscreen, a battery, and make it fit in my pocket, I think they have a winner!
  • Logo theft (Score:1, Interesting)

    by XgD ( 578260 )
    Pace seem to have tried to copy the /. logo with their cheap .// logo.

    Get the DMCA on them!!

  • I don't get it... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by venomkid ( 624425 ) on Saturday December 07, 2002 @05:33PM (#4834335)
    ...if this is supposed to be an alternative OS to Windows, MacOS and Linux. I mean, if it's 1299 UK pounds (about $2000), I can get a MAD Win/Lin/Mac PC for that.

    It's a 600Mhz Processor (blah blah Mhz Myth blah blah) so how powerful is that compared to AMD or Intel chips? Benchmarks anyone?

    No AGP slot?

    Can someone please, other than for RISC OS development, explain to me why I would buy one of these?
    • Re:I don't get it... (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The Iyonix is a good choice for someone who wants to run RISC OS faster than possible before. RISC OS is another alternative OS to MacOS, Windows and Linux, and is the OS of choice for quite a few.

      The Iyonix contains mostly PC hardware and it's fairly obvious the XScale won't be able to beat a P4/G4 in terms of raw speed. But, you'd be hard-pressed getting RISC OS to run faster on any other piece of hardware.

      Simon Wilson, Boulder, Colorado
      • Ok fair enough, but at 1299 Pounds, why would I want to do this? It really does not seem to be that useful in a bigger picture context.

        Had this been a tablet PC at 600 USD, well then that is an entirely different ball game....
        • 1299 POUNDS ? Obviously I cant carry it around. I think my table cant stand the weight either. Count me out folks.
  • >XScale is now famous for its increasingly widespread
    >use in PDA devices, used because of its low power
    >consumption and high performance processing.

    um... this must explain why my inbox is full of messages from Sean at thekompany.com about how crappy the performance of the new Zaurus is.
  • it looks like (Score:4, Informative)

    by foonf ( 447461 ) on Saturday December 07, 2002 @05:53PM (#4834399) Homepage
    Based on the image of the motherboard here [iyonix.com] this box looks to use a standard ATX-factor motherboard (aside from the "podule" bays and rear port arrangement, anyhow). Anybody know who makes the board, and if they are available separately? I don't think I would pay over 2000 bucks for a whole system, but since it uses pretty typical PC hardware, if the board were available for a reasonable price (even "reasonable" like the $500 for some of the open PPC boards) it would be a cool alternative to the x86 orthodoxy, even if its somewhat slow by modern standards (especially in light of the fact that it should be trivial to get NetBSD and probably Linux running on it).
  • why?? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 07, 2002 @05:53PM (#4834400)
    The whole point of the XScale is to save power through voltage scaling. Voltage scaling involves reducing the CPU voltage(and the CPU performance) during tasks that aren't time-critical, and during system idle time. This doesn't make much sense on a desktop machine for two reasons:

    1) For desktop systems power is cheap and readily available and
    2) For most desktop systems, the CPU consumes a small fraction of the entire system power. Even the fastest P4 uses like 70 watts, where the entire system might consume something like 250-350 watts. So even if we reduced the CPU wattage to zero, we still would only get about a 1/4 or less improvement in overall system power.

    So, why put an XScale in a desktop system?? Ideas anyone??
    • Re:why?? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 07, 2002 @06:04PM (#4834438)
      Both you and the person who moderated your post to +1 insightful have no idea about what you're talking.

      That the Xscale just happens to be designed to be low-power is not the reason why they chose it.
      This computer is being sold because it runs RiscOS, an OS developed in the UK and still used by many people. RiscOS only runs on ARM CPUs, and the Xscale happens to be an ARM CPU.
      • Re:why?? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Hairy Dude ( 561867 )
        The real point is that Intel don't guarantee future supplies of old-style 26-bit StrongARM processors, since their only market would be in RISC OS machines, which wouldn't be profitable. And XScale is not binary compatible with them.

        So, hardware developers have been toiling to design 32-bit XScale-based RISC OS-compatible systems, while RISCOS Ltd. created a 32-bit version of the OS and software authors are using their tools to port their programs to XScale. The Microdigital Omega [microdigital.co.uk] has a dual processor design, incorporating a 26-bit StrongARM and a slot for an XScale.

        The Iyonix is the first pure XScale machine.

    • Re:why?? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by benzapp ( 464105 ) on Saturday December 07, 2002 @06:04PM (#4834441)
      So, why put an XScale in a desktop system?? Ideas anyone??

      Given the rather high cost of this device, I would venture to say the primary purpose of this device is for folks who REALLY need one, say developers of software for the Xscale processor. With all the PDA makers switching the Xscale, and ATI making their PDA graphics chips, some might think these things will take off.

      Why not emulate it? AFAIK, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible to emulate RISC processors on the x86 architecture. Perhaps it is even difficult to emulate one risc architecture on top of another, such as Xscale on PowerPC.

      One thing is for sure, at that price, this is a vertical market product. Not many people need it, but those who do will pay a lot for it.
      • Re:why?? (Score:3, Informative)

        by anjackson ( 631897 )
        RISC OS has already been emulated - see Virtual Acorn [virtualacorn.co.uk]. It runs at a reasonable speed on most modern PC hardware, but lacks some important functionality, so I'll be sticking to my Risc PC for now.
        • Re:why?? (Score:3, Informative)

          by Ed Avis ( 5917 )
          Why bother with that emulator when Arcem [sourceforge.net] is pretty fast and GPLed. You just need a suitable RISC OS ROM image...
          • Because it appears to emulate the A440, which is 15 year-old technology?

      • Re:why?? (Score:3, Informative)

        by stevarooski ( 121971 )
        AFAIK, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible to emulate RISC processors on the x86 architecture.

        I don't think this is true at all. If anything, its easier to emulate a RISC processor than CISC.

        As for some examples to back this up, MIPS chips have been successfully emulated for years--SPIM and XSPIM come to mind. This is also true for the playstation (which runs a MIPS chip, more or less). Check out Bleem. A lot of Palm development is done via emulator (POSE, which kicks ass); I believe the dragonball is a RISC chip.

        Not trying to be asinine or know-it-all, just adding to an otherwise good post. :)
        • The Dragonball used in almost all Palms up till now is in fact an M68k processor which is definitely a CISC chip! Yup, that's the same kind of processor used in the first macs and amigas...

          And emulation of RISC chips is not difficult at all: ever tried building a cross-compilation GNU toolchain? GDB has simulators included for a _lot_ of architectures. (ARM, MIPS, SuperH, ...)
    • Re:why?? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TeknoHog ( 164938 )
      Because they can. This is Slashdot and we're geeks, you know.

      Seriously, it's something like a proof of concept. If it catches on, laptops might follow.

    • Re:why?? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Natalie's Hot Grits ( 241348 ) on Saturday December 07, 2002 @06:20PM (#4834502) Homepage
      "1) For desktop systems power is cheap and readily available and
      2) For most desktop systems, the CPU consumes a small fraction of the entire system power. Even the fastest P4 uses like 70 watts, where the entire system might consume something like 250-350 watts. So even if we reduced the CPU wattage to zero, we still would only get about a 1/4 or less improvement in overall system power.

      Ohhhh Kayyy...I'll have to go ahead and... disagree with you on that... yea...

      Joking aside:

      1) My parents own a house out in the woods that we go to sometimes to stay. It has no electricity. The only power available is solar energy and a generator. What if I want a desktop computer, or more than one, up there? I suppose I could use a laptop. but still, this machine is going to have more features and possibly better power management and definately use less power. When your household has a maximum # of watts you can use at any given time, then this becomes a BIG issue.

      2)Do you think it is financially viable to have 1, 2, 3, more 70W light bulbs running continuously inside your house? Unless you have a grow room full of dank bud, I would hope not. So that 70W could be saved while the CPU is idle, or half idle, or 1/4 idle... (which is nearly 100% of the time). My household has 5 computers combined, 3 of which run 24/7. It woud be nice for them to use CPU power only when needed. (The same principle holds true to your energy star monitor that goes into sleep mode and "instantly" wakes up upon use). After all power saving features are enabled while in idle state (fans slowed, monitor sleeps, hard drives spin down, cpu slows, etc..) that 300W just turned into 10-50W, somewhat like a nightlight. When under half load, sure, the HDD spins up, monitor uses 20-300W (CRT v LCD) but you can still reduce the electricity used even while you USE the machine. If you are word processing, and you have 3 cpu's running in your house, you could be using 10W per cpu insted of 70W per cpu.

      Other uses are in the server room. Obviously, TCO is a big concern, and the electrical bill is a very very large part of the TCO. Remember, the Crusoe CPU was designed and is marketed mainly because of this exact feature.
      • solar (Score:3, Interesting)

        by zogger ( 617870 )
        --hey, check out the other slashdot story today about the "littlepc". It's 12 volt dc! Just the ticket for your solar cabin. You could probably even modify any old case, the littlepc fits in one of the larger drive bays. You could cut it open and make it so the lcd screen and keyboard fit inside for traveling. Granted, not a laptop, but still,a possible nifty project. We run on solar and watch our watts as well, the deal with laptops is the stupid adapters waste watts converting the juice, tons of waste heat off those things. Hmm, for that matter you might be able to adapt a small UPS battery inside your project case as well, so you'd have a built in "emergency power".

        If I was going to do it, I'd use an old busted mac 6400 tower case, for the killer built into the case sound system. I had one, just amazingly good sound from the internal speakers.

        Of course if you really want to run this other OS, oh well...carry on
        • You are so right about the AC Adapters. Same goes for 12V Car adapters it goes from 12vDC-> AC -> 12vDC, ridiculous.

          Solar power is interesting. It solves so many problems, but produces so many (smaller but overwhelming) more. the AC/DC problem is a big one, and to my knowledge there really isn't a "good" fix for it. Someone needs to sell quality ATX PSU's that run off DC current. Then we could start running server farms off solar power!!

          "the deal with laptops is the stupid adapters waste watts converting the juice, tons of waste heat off those things."

          I have seen DC->DC laptop power supplies(for cars 12v DC powersource), but they are all designed to specific laptops, so not all laptop models are supported. check http://www.fedco-electronics.com they make/sell a few.
          • dc appliances (Score:3, Informative)

            by zogger ( 617870 )
            --check it oput sometime, you can get 12 vdc and 24 vdc appliances. A lot of times as close as your nearest marina boat store or RV place. We keep trying to gradually change over to all dc appliances, or if they were already dc to get better ones. Example, we had 12 volt incadescents, we switched to fluorescents. Next step is LED strip lighting. The vacuum cleaner, switched from a 110 AC to a smallish but still "good enough" 12 volt vac I found, a small step up from a normal car vac. Our tvs are 12 volt, but the color/vcr combo one crapped out on the dc part so had to switch that one back to AC, (well, that's for the girlfriend here, she's the movie nut), I have a small 12 vdc black and white I use whenever I really want to follow a breaking news story as I sit at the computer. I've got laptops and desktops, but this project I just thunked up is intriguing me now, laptops just got too small of a screen, and 99.99% of the time they sit around for me as a desktop, so I just use the energy hog desktop so I can have a bigger monitor. I know I could run the monitor from the laptop, but the desktop is a bigger better computer.

            If this littlepc was cheaper-down to 500$ maybe- I'd consider it, but a grand right now..well..guess I'd still go a hundred bucks more and get an iBook. I mean, you still need to get the LCD monitor, and they *ain't* cheap.

            As to the solar itself, going on 4 years now for us, my only regret is not doing it a decade earlier. I'd encourzge anyone to at least start on it, decent battery bank storage, a panel or two and a charge controller and possibly an inverter. I'd size the components in advance so you could add extra PV panels as you want to and can afford it. I'd start with the solar rig running the computer in the home as it makes a *nifty* UPS system, beats the pants off buying a dedicated UPS. all ya got to do is check the battery size difference, heh, my "backup" batteries would run this desktop for days and days without any solar input from a decent full charge. Also note this last ice storm, millions still without ANY power. Having guaranteed SOME all the time is a lot better than ZERO when you really WANT some power.
      • Other uses are in the server room. Obviously, TCO is a big concern, and the electrical bill is a very very large part of the TCO.

        Ummm... yeaahh.. no

        This cpu only saves power when there is no processing to be done.

        If you have an expensive server sitting in a expensive room with an unused CPU you have made some pretty bad TCO choices already.
        • I'm not sure I follow..

          "This cpu only saves power when there is no processing to be done."

          I am under the impression this CPU scales its clock and voltage depending on the load it is given. If the CPU is running at low load (say 10%), it throttles the clock down and lowers the voltage to predefined discrete clocks untill the CPU is under heaver load (say, 50%), but at lower clock, and thus less wasted cycles and lower power.

          For instance, what about a corporoate server farm that serves to all its employees/customers. Normal business hours are certaintly going to be heavy load, but what about at night, where the servers must still be available, but only a few requests now and then are needed? what if you have a website that uses 10 servers for DB/web/cache (like slashdot) that is at 80% load during the day, but 5% load during the night hours(I'm don't really know what ./'s load looks like, these numbers are just examples).

          I'm not a server admin, so bear with me. I don't really know how you could expect all your CPU's to be loaded all of the time?
        • My impression that this thing is a lot more efficient than others, particularly at the CPU, so there would be a relative power savings over more conventional systems even when the system is running full bore.
    • XScale has some design advantages other than power consumption over the good old ARM chips of the past. Tom's Hardware has a pretty good article [tomshardware.com] about the processor as it relates to some of the PDAs it's popped up in. Tom makes a point that the software needs to be optimized for the processor to really take advantage of it & I really have no idea if that's been done for this product.

      I still have to ask why anyone would run one of these things. Put Linux on it & I might not wonder so hard. Personally, I'm a lot more intrigued by the Transmeta Astro.
    • Re:why?? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Ed Avis ( 5917 ) <ed@membled.com> on Saturday December 07, 2002 @08:01PM (#4834898) Homepage
      The reason to use an XScale is that large parts of the OS and applications are written in ARM assembler, and the XScale is currently the fastest ARM-compatible processor (AFAIK).

      (No, really, the applications as well. Impression Publisher is a DTP package written in assembler, and ArtWorks from the same company a vector drawing package (later rewritten in C++ as Corel Xara). The original version of Sibelius was in assembler - apparently including a Postscript printer driver!)

      So when they say 'a very fast desktop machine' there is some truth to the statement, even though an XScale processor isn't that hot in raw computing power compared to current i386 or PowerPC chips. (The Archimedes in 1987 was the fastest microcomputer in the world - for those people who still used the term microcomputer - but although the ARM series is the best-selling processor type it's now mostly embedded and hasn't kept pace with desktop chips.)
    • noise. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by neurojab ( 15737 )
      How much noise does an XScale CPU setup generate vs and Athlon? I'd be willing to bet that the Xscale runs much cooler, requiring less noisy heat-dissipation mechanisms, and making the PC suitable for places like the bedroom, livingroom, or say, the office...

      I don't know, but to me the noise factor is a really big advantage.
    • Even the fastest P4 uses like 70 watts, where the entire system might consume something like 250-350 watts.

      No, this isn't quite right. That 250-350 watts is a measure of the power supply's capacity, not what the system actually draws.

      From what I've seen on UPS load meters, most systems draw less than 100 watts. Perhaps power greedy P4 and Athlon systems draw slightly more than 100 watts, but it can't be much more. Actually, I'd consider the CPU the biggest power draw in the system, unless there is an array of 6 or more hard drives or multiple really hot video cards.

      Of course, the monitor will add 75 to 150 watts, but that is only when it is turned on.

      Personally, I've found that anything faster than a Pentium 200 meets my needs, so I will consider power efficiency when buying my next computer. Non-Pentium and non-Athlon processors can be very low-power--even Sun's 650MHz UltraSPARC IIi draws less than 20 watts. I'm sure some of those other x86 clones can do well, also. A computer without a CPU blower would be a very good thing.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 07, 2002 @06:00PM (#4834422)
    Acorn was a British computer company which was more or less dissolved a couple of years ago.
    They designed and released the BBC computer for BBC TV corp. in the early 1980s for their "The Computer" television series. It was like the Commodore 64, only better... Definently the best mass-market desktop computer of the age.
    Acorn then moved on to thinking about their next-generation computing system. They found the 80286 and 68000 too slow and expensive for their tastes, and instead did the foolhardy thing of designing their own R.I.S.C. CPU - the ARM (XScale is an evolution of the ARM, like how the P4 is an evolution of the 386). ARM CPUs typically use amazingly small amounts of electricity, and run up to several times faster than an X86 cpu at the same mhz.
    In (I think) 1987, after having been bought by Olivetie (an Italian electronics company), Acorn released their first Arm based system. Over the next couple of years, this evolved into the RISC Operating System / ARM computer platform, which was relatively popular, especially in schools, in the UK, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, and parts of Canada and Mexico. RISCOS/Arm is virtually unheard of in the US, but it was an important platform once. In 1998 my high school had mainly Acorn computers (and my school in 1996 was still using Acorn BBCs).
    Acorn arguabily suffered from mismanagement in the 1990s, and failed to properly market and give direction to their system. The company decided to stop producing Acorn computers in late 1998 (a fast new yellow G4-cube-like computer - the Phoebie was in late development at the time) on the belief that the next big thing would be set-top boxes and the like. Of course they got it all wrong, and Acorn more or less went down the plughole and was subsequently renamed "Element 14" (huh?) which means Silicon, then merged into some forgettable company.
    Luckily the ARM-cpu-producing division was held as a seperate company and survived... ARM cpus are widely used in certain areas. Last weekend when I was at a computer shop, they had a whole range of ARM based PDAs.
    RISCOS was licenced to Pace. I don't know the whole story, but I think Pace managed to hire some of the Acorn staff.
    RISCOS is ultra-fast, tiny (several megabytes), runs from ROM for bootup speeds which put BeOS to shame, easy to program for, easy to use so long as you can understand its weird 3-mouse buttoned gui, and still has a userbase of maybe several hundred thousand.
    Linux can be run on Acorn systems too.
    There are usergroups, Acorn computer fairs, and companies dedicated to the Acorn platform in the UK. It isn't going to go away any time soon. This is why they've put together this Lyonix computer, and a couple of other companies are putting their own Acorn clones too.
    If you're wondering why it is the price it is, well they're coving themselves because low-production-run motherboards are highly expensive to produce. My guess would be there'll be substancial price-drops for new RISCOS/ARM systems within a year when they can be more certain of production numbers, and competition arrives on the scene.
    There is alot of freeware and educational software available for RISCOS. A commercial game called "Tek" was released for Riscos recently.

    Btw, is there anyone in the US using RISCO? If you are, I bet you weird out all your friends ;)
    • by jd678 ( 577145 ) on Saturday December 07, 2002 @08:26PM (#4834986)
      Just a couple of additions to do with the processor and early ARM processors. It was originally called the Acorn Risc Machine, however in 1990 it was spun off into a seperate company known as Advanced Risc Machines, owned 40% by VLSI, 40% by Apple, and 20% by Acorn. Apple then went on to use this processor in the Newton.

      What they did in producing the processor was incredible, they had a working RISC processor, running at the time very quick, and with minimal man-hours of developemend, it was something like 10 man years, unheard of at the time for a new processor. Some of the features like a full 32bit shift being available without using another clock cycle have yet to be surpassed. It was true RISC, at a time when other RISC chips had something like 60-80 instructions, this made do with just 44 - there wasn't even any instruction for divide, and the concept of subroutines and return was done purely in programming as opposed to calling functions of the processor.

      As far as the OS, the version on release was the very undeveloped Arthur, and RISC OS was released late 1988 as it's much better replacement. At the time, there was full (cooperative however) multitasking Windowing system, with 256 colours, and was much better than anything else on the market.

      • There was another machine that I personally consider better than the Archimedes: the Amiga.

        Amiga had full preemptive multitasking (not cooperative like RiscOS), 4096 colors, multiple GUI screens that could be dragged by the mouse, multiple resolutions in the same display, two joystick ports, a Unix like O/S underneath, blitter, copper, keyboard processor, mouse processor, twin joystick ports, etc, etc.

        Although Archimedes had a superior CPU, the rest of the hardware was not that good. This resulted in low FPS in most 2D games, although Zarch (a.k.a. Virus) was an exception (and it was written in Basic!!!).

  • by -douggy ( 316782 ) on Saturday December 07, 2002 @06:06PM (#4834449)
    I've got an Acorn Achimedes with an ARM 3 (8mhz)and 4MB ram in it along with 500 MBharddrive. If this were a PC is might just run linux.

    It runs a FULL GUI with anti aliased fonts. Multitasking and a better DTP program than i have on my 2 ghz PC. I easily drag stuff from my scientific notation package to a WP.

    If only modern stuff ran this well.

    Iwillbe looking seriously at these things
    • Regarding linux...

      You can run it on the RiscPC range.

      Im busy fixing the Archimedes port. I currently have it booting (although the mmu isnt working right yet) on an A410/1 with 8MB RAM.
      • Excellent - I gave up all hope of getting ARM/Linux working ages ago, glad to see someone's still working on it. Any idea whether it'll ever be possible to install on an A5000 without a CD drive? :)
        • 1) use boot floppies (e.g. debian, & probably Slackware) and suck the required material into the system via network to an exterial or local machine. 2) conect the hard drive(From the ARM PC) into another PC. Use boot floppies, or a CD and be done.
      • Well, yes, you can run it, but, unfortunately, it provides a pretty good demonstration of how the once legendary speed of Acorn machines had a lot more to do with their very tight coding than with their hardware. I installed it on a StrongARM system, and it was significantly slower than P166 systems I have set up. And that's before we get onto the fact that the disto is Debian and half the apps don't work. It's impressive, but I'm not convinced it's useful.

    • What's that, an ARM3 with 8MHz? ARM3s are usually clocked at 20-25MHz. It's an ARM2 I bet since all Acorn Archimedes machines with 8MHz had an ARM2.
  • $1891? (Score:2, Interesting)

    Hmmm almost $2k for this box. I'd suspect you could never make up cost/power saving ratio but hey I do like to have different architectures available.

  • If you get a Mini-ITX [mini-itx.com] machine instead, you get something that not only runs Pentium-based software, including Linux and Windows, you also get a smaller motherboard, more ports, and much cooler cases [mini-itx.com]. And I suspect the Mini-ITX systems use less power and are quieter, too.

    The point of building an XScale-based desktop PC and then sticking it into such a big, ugly package really eludes me. It's not like you can add a lot of expansion boards to it anyway.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      LOL, amazng how you get modded up for such a post. The computer uses an XScale so it can run RISC OS, which only runs on ARM processors. That's the reason.

      You can easily rip out the guts and put the mobo it comes with into a much nicer case. Done.

      I seriously doubt these machines beating an XScale machine for power consumption. See the heatsinks on the Mini-ITX processors? See the lack of ANY heatsinks in the Iyonix pictures?

    • The mini-ITX is a bit sluggish though. I got the 800Mhz model and it runs like a PII (using RH8.0/KDE) while compiling and surfing. I turned off all the eye candy.

      I wonder how the XScale's performance compared to the ITX.
      • The current 800MHz EPIA is more like a 300MHz PII, although it can be better on some apps. The new EPIA-M runs at 933MHz and has a number of other improvements.

        It's hard to tell how fast the XScale will be; floating point may well be much worse than even the EPIA. But if you want good CPU performance, neither the EPIA nor the XScale is a good choice.

    • The parent post shouts `I'm trolling for those in the know, but don't quite get it.'
  • From what I seen, RiscOS is mainly used in England and other European countries. Can anyone share what they like about it?
    • RISC OS is a truly horrible operating system. It has loads of problems and annoyances and bugs. It's just that it has fewer and less annoying problems than the other OSs I have to cope with.

      They at least got drag and drop right in the GUI, which might sound like a minor point but really can make life much simpler. Early on Acorn realised that they had to live in a world dominated by other OSs (unlike Apple, who try to pretend that only they matter) and so a good deal of work was done to make RISC OS machines able to cope with other kinds on floppy disc, image formats, networks etc. I have a fast Mac and a fast linux machine but I _still_ end up using my seven year old Acorn RPC for almost everything because it causes less pain. I want one of these new machines because it offers more speed, a PCI bus, USB and faster networking and discs than I have now. Yes, you can get faster PC type hardware for much less money. So what? I prefer to get quality cpu cycles over simply more cpu cycles.
    • At one point just about every school in the country was using them, so there is still a load of educational software for it. It boots in under 10 seconds, the dtp and vector drawing packages are still the fastest I have used on any system, and the applications all work together, somewhat like Un*x at the command line level, except this is all GUI. I'm using my RISC OS machine to print out display letters at this very moment.

      The problem was that ARM couldn't play the MHz game, and, in the end, compatibility with the rest of the world became an issue, even in education and DTP. I doubt if I'll buy one, but when I use the neolithic Linux GUIs I still get nostalgic.

  • The following machine that we developed in 1988 was based on THREE Acorn RiscOS machines:


  • I wish intel would make up their mind on which processor they will use for embedded devices. I would be nervous if I was a pda maker because of the direction of intel.

    • by tpr ( 267368 ) on Saturday December 07, 2002 @07:52PM (#4834867) Homepage
      RTFM dimwit. XScale is a version of ARM made by Intel and probably named so stupudly because Intel are embarrassed to have to rely on some body else's design to be able to make a low energy cpu. As is usual for Intel they've managed to make it a more complex part than really needed with a longer pipeline than other ARMs. They seem to have a hangup about 'my pipeline is longer than yours'.

      Everybody and their dog makes assorted kinds of ARM. ARMs are everywhere; PDAs, cameras, printers, mp3 players, DVD players, radios, fax machines, routers, all that sort of thing. Even Motorola eventually caved in and licensed the ARM architecture. One day the secret feature will be enabled and control of the world will revert to the British Empire! You will all have to learn cricket and proper accents! So there!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 07, 2002 @07:38PM (#4834823)
    Because they can't figure out a way to make 'em leak oil... ;p
  • by Jon Chatow ( 25684 ) <slashdot@jdforrester.org> on Saturday December 07, 2002 @08:07PM (#4834922) Homepage
    ... is the best in the world. It's wonderful, superb, fantastic, beautiful. By far the best assembler I've ever used (I've used 68k, PPC, x86, PIC, ZX80 and 6502, and perhaps some more). And RiscOS is/was a fantastic OS (font anti-aliasing from the late '80s, etc.), with the best editor ever [tartarus.org], which is currently nearly completely ported to 32-bit status.
  • I'm a fan of RISC OS, so I'm definately biased, RISC OS has many problems, if I could get some form of decent file-shareing going with my other machines and had a better monitor to put on my current machine It'd probably see a lot more use.

    Will I rush out and buy one of these machines, probably not, but in a few years time when I'm earning a reasonable wage, I will probably head out and grab one, or a similar thing to it, possibly also a sexy LiLan case for it too :)
  • by po8 ( 187055 )

    Call me when Intel puts floating point in an ARM. Except that it's unlikely that they ever will: they're afraid it will compete with their x86 sales. In the meantime, XSCALE is way underpowered for FP-intensive applications...

  • Though I'm not altogether enthralled with the thought of running a PDA-level CPU as a "full" computer, that's not really a setback if it's not being used as a serious workhorse (however much the company may claim that they have spectacular performance).

    For me, the catch is that they've basically put this 'revolutionary' design into an ordinary, beige mini-tower case (clearly to save costs). If you don't need gobs of power and don't need to worry about that much heat generation, why use up all the extra space? In my mind, it would have probably helped sales more to use one of those slimline desktop case designs, or even a 2U rackmount (assuming the GF2 MX will fit, it might need something closer to a 3U).

    Basically, this computer is too big and plain to be practical in terms of the CPU it has. Also, it's not very stylish; when you're trying to advertise your PC as being unique, don't give the impression that it's no different than anything else!
  • At that price, you could get a brand-new 650MHz SPARC workstation from a company called Sun Microsystems running an operating system called Solaris which is very Unix like. This CPU has 512kb on-chip 2nd-level cache and decent floating-point (unlike XSCale).

    The machine has serial, USB and Firewire ports, and 10/100 ethernet, not to mention ATA-100 disks, PCI,CD-ROM and a smart card reader, and it can be upgraded to 4GB RAM!!

    Solaris still has a large and dedicated user-base, and Sun still supports it (see docs.sun.com).

    Whilst the OS is loaded from hard disk, cdrom or network, you can get into a monitor very quick (about 10 seconds from power-on) by pressing "Stop-A" and here you have a full Forth interpreter if you wish to start programming very quick. This monitor is called "OpenBoot" and is stored in Flash ROM.

    Once you have your machine, you can download thousands of free applications! The GNU stuff, for instance, almost always works on it.

    These machines, and some even larger models are still in use, worldwide!

  • I've been thinking of building an ARM based linux-running system, nothing big, something real cheap and with a small passive LCD. The whole system cost should not exceed $100. Better Still if it could take power through the LAN connector, or connect via lan-on-power lines.

    This machine seems to come close, but is loaded with unnecessities like the geforce, cdrw and so many others. ARM is suited for making the lowest-cost systems for education and wiring up third-world countries. I'm talking about something resembling slackware 3.0, or something with busybox, flash, ulibc and lynx based-browsers running on low-cost LCDs, unless CRTS turn out to be lower-cost.

The world is coming to an end--save your buffers!