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Acorn Arcade forums: News and features: RISC OS 2000: Show Report

RISC OS 2000: Show Report

Posted by Keith McKillop on 00:00, 22/11/2000 | , ,
As we speak, the RISC OS 2000 show is already coming to a close for this year. Planning began back in February, and now the second London RISC OS show since the demise of Acorn took place on the foggy weekend of the 21st/22nd at Epsom Downs Racecourse.

Although the show was small compared to previous Acorn World shows and the Wakefield show earlier this year, you gained a sense that RISC OS 2000 was still a show worth attending. Demonstrations of products were held by their authors, sums of cash were exchanged, and there was a generally 'chatty' atmosphere amongst exhibitors and attendees alike. Acorn Arcade has compiled a brief review of the show; a full review can be found at our sister site, The Icon Bar.

The Entrance
The Stairway Entrance to RISC OS 2000


RiscStation Ltd. and RiscStation Village

RiscStation Ltd's stand
RiscStation Ltd's Stand, featuring the RiscStation Portable.
On entering RISC OS 2000, the first stand you see is that of RiscStation Ltd's. Among other things, they were demonstrating their EPOS and MIDI systems on a range of R7500 packages, including their NetWORX, Scorcher and Lite machines. Prices were ranging from £399 to bring the RISC OS market in line with the less expensive PC desktop machines. Their long awaited RiscStation Portable was also in evidence:

RiscStation's PortableOr perhaps not?
And now, the moment you've all been waiting for...Oops!

However, this turned out to be a 'mock-up' running a Windows screensaver. A spokesperson from RiscStation did mention that we should look forward to the Midlands 2000 show near Birmingham on the 2nd December, at which the the final product should be up and running. There's also an ongoing competition to name the laptop, current suggestions being "Ranger" or "Lapwing". There's no prize, but you can take part by voting or entering your own suggestion on The Icon Bar's submission form

RiscStation held their RiscStation Village near to their stand, for people who wished to exhibit their software but didn't have the money to do buy a stand of their own. Among them were Jon Duddington, Paul Vigay, Zenta Multimedia and Aleph 1. Reflex Electronics had a stand in the RiscStation Village, although on the Saturday it was empty, except for a sheet of paper detailing safety regulations for Epsom Downs.



RISCOS Ltd's Stand - I believe that is Paul just in shot there.
RISCOS Ltd. were present once again, with their usual PRMS and Foundation RISC User CDs on sale, along with encouragements to join the RISC OS Foundation. Currently they have 30 programmers developing RISC OS 4.5, although they are involved in other companies so obviously not all of them can work on RISC OS full time. Release date is planned for Summer 2001 though. They plan to implement all the features they originally intended to in RISC OS 4 but never got the chance. This includes hardware independence of IOMD/VIDC/MEMC which should bring RISC OS a huge step closer to supporting new technologies. "If they're not done, RISC OS has no future", commented Paul Middleton, Managing Director of RISC OS. Pre-emptive multitasking and multithreading are not planned for RISC OS 4.5 as of yet, since no programs support it. RISC OS 5 perhaps?

Castle Technology Ltd and Internet Cafe

Castle Technology Ltd
Castle Technology demonstrating Oregano on their Kinetic RiscPCs.
Castle were demonstrating their latest Kinetic RiscPCs, which are theoretically 4 times faster than standard RiscPCs, and their web browser Oregano. Castle were also running the Internet Cafe, on which you could try out Oregano on Castle's Kinetic RiscPCs, and catch the latest news on the show from The Icon Bar and Acorn Arcade.

Millipede Electronic Graphics

Millipede's Imago and Cerilica's Nucleus.
Millipede were showing off their Imago motherboard, a replacement for the RiscPC motherboard, already capable of video resolutions up to 2048x1536 pixels in true colour. It is unable to run RISC OS at present, due to a few problems with their FPGAs which simulate the Video, Memory, and I/O processors that RISC OS is dependant on. However, they speculate that they will be ready for release sometime during 2001. Price? Between £500-£1000 at a rough estimate. Cerilica's Nucleus machine was also on show, a high end machine designed using Cerilica's vector graphics package Vantage and powered by an Imago motherboard. It still has the screwdriver on the back, so you have all the necessary tools on the machine to open up the case and upgrade.

Millipede also showed us a prototype daughter board for their Imago motherboard, which will allow them to take advantage of Intel's Xscale processors. There are also indications that RISC OS may be running on Intel's Xscale architecture, since Xscale appears to be fully compatible with the StrongARM instruction set. Last year, it's what you would've called StrongARM-2.



The Omega
The closest you could get to Omega at the show - a poster!
Although MicroDigital were unable to attend the RISC OS 2000 show, there were many flyers dotter around the show of their new Omega machine. Omega is a dual processor machine, powered by a StrongARM 110 and capable of supporting 600MHz-1GHz Intel 80200 Xscale or ARM 9 processors. With an enhanced version of MicroDigital's Lightning graphics processor, Omega is capable of 2D and 3D acceleration of resolutions up to 2048x1536 in true colour. It also features four PCI slots, 64MB PC133 SDRAM, 20GB Harddisc, 52x CDROM and 56K internal modem as standard. They are already running RISC OS 4.03, thanks to their special design of RISC OS 4 compliant chips which provide the original memory, I/O and graphics functions of the original RiscPCs. MicroDigital plan to start shipping Omega in the New Year, prices starting at £999 ex VAT.

The ARM Club

 Organisers of the RISC OS show for the past 2 years, The ARM Club had their range of products on offer including !StrongGuard and their PDCDs. They were also premiering DiscKnight, ARM Club's new disc checking and repair utility that handles the old format discs in use up to RISC OS 3.7, and the new RISC OS 4 format discs. Handy step-by-step instructions are supplied, and there's also an 'undo' feature to restore the disc if you encounter problems. At a price of just £10 (or £9 for ARM Club members) it is well worth purchasing!

CJE Micro's/4th Dimension

CJE Micro's
CJE Micro's Stand - say 'cheese' Mr Evans!
Chris Evans was there himself, presenting their range of hardware and software for RISC OS computers. As usual, they were sporting 4th Dimension's games in the Value for Money range of software costing between £10-15. They also had a small selection of 2nd hand games, from which their last copy of Star Fighter 3000 was sold for £20. This maybe the penultimate copy of the game still available from dealers, the final being available (and to our knowledge, still available) for just £2.00 from the Zenta Multimedia stand in their second hand collection.

CJE were also demonstrating Windfall Engineering's Viewfinder graphics cards for the RiscPC, capable of resolutions of up to 1600x1200 in 16 million colours, or 1920x1440 in 32,000/256 colours. Chris stated that they were doing so well with Viewfinder that they couldn't keep up with demand. Although not quite up to Imago's technical standards, it was certainly impressive to see! The machine used for demonstrating was controlled by a rather cool "no moving parts" mouse that had an eerie red glow beneath it. It works on every surface, and has no ball to require cleaning. CJE are selling it for between £30-40, but it does require one of Stuart Tyrell's PS2 interfaces for use on a RiscPC. I can't afford a Viewfinder card, but I'll definitely put one of these on my Christmas list!


R-Comp/R-Comp Interactive and Games Arcade

R-Comp/RCI's stand.
At the show, R-Comp had all their usual software titles available, including their new Network Printer Drivers, and Internet connectivity software DialUp. DialUp allows you to get onto the Internet even easier than before on RISC OS, and comes as part of a complete Internet Suite featuring WebsterXL (web browser), Messenger Pro (e-mail and news software) and various other Internet utilities for just £60. R-Comp Interactive had all their latest games on show and to buy, including the latest version of the extremely psychedelic Spheres of Chaos. The author, Iain McLeod, was there racking up a highscore on one of R-Comp Interactive's computers, and taking on board suggestions for future improvements.
Games Arcade
Andrew Rawnsley taking time out to play 'The Chaos Engine'.
R-Comp Interactive were also providing machines and software for the Games Arcade. All of RCI's and their affiliate's Leisure titles were available to try, including the Chaos Engine, HOMM2, Doom+, Heretic, Ankh, Frak, and some PD software such as Marsquake - fun for 4 player amusement. I shall leave you with a photo of an early version of VOTI's Eat My Dust playing on one of the machines:
Eat My Pants

Could this mean that we'll see EMD for sale in the near future?

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Acorn Arcade forums: News and features: RISC OS 2000: Show Report