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The Icon Bar: News and features: New Simtec toy - sideways ROMs for RiscStations (and others?
 

New Simtec toy - sideways ROMs for RiscStations (and others?)

Posted by Richard Goodwin on 10:24, 17/5/2002 | , , ,
 
Simtec have announced that they have released re-programmable extension ROMs for the RiscStation R7500. What this means is that for just 20 of your earth pounds (inc. VAT and postage) RiscStation owners get something to slot into their third ROM socket that provides a 2MB non-volatile storage device for, um, storing useful stuff in it. CTA Direct and Stuart Tyrrell Developments will have them for sale at the show (that's tomorrow folks!)

Snafu in action
Snafu in action
The main purpose will probably be for storing cut down Boot sequences for discless network machines, or for storing modules. You can install your own modules easily with the amusingly-monikered application Snafu (Simtec Non-specific Advanced Flash Utility).

I came up against a similar thing when playing around with 100bT network cards on a RiscPC 600 - they wouldn't boot without the MBufManager module loaded, but because it can't be killed once up and running ArgoNet's Voyager had unplugged it to softload a newer version - okay for desktop usage, but not in a pre-bootup sequence. The most elegant answer? Store a copy of the new MBufManager in the network cards own sideways ROM. It does mean some of your most precious resources are always available, even without a hard drive.

Snafu was the program to use in this case also. Which means that, although this announcement says RiscStation, the Simtec Net100 card gives 512KB of storage for RiscPC users, making it an even better buy than I first thought; but there's more. The press release also has an interesting tidbit about another product - Snafu also works with the "Forthcoming USB podule", implying that USB upgrade is apparently closer than some people think. For those of you still in doubt... a very naff picture.
 
  New Simtec toy - sideways ROMs for RiscStations (and others?
  (10:38 17/5/2002)
  Richard Goodwin (10:42 17/5/2002)
    Jason Tribbeck (11:55 17/5/2002)
      [mentat] (12:55 17/5/2002)
        Richard Walker (13:15 17/5/2002)
          Simon Wilson (14:16 17/5/2002)
            Jeffrey Lee (15:03 17/5/2002)
              [mentat] (15:34 17/5/2002)
                Richard Goodwin (16:46 17/5/2002)
                  Jeffrey Lee (17:19 17/5/2002)
                    mark quint (19:39 17/5/2002)
                      Matthew Somerville (21:19 17/5/2002)
                        Jeffrey Lee (19:39 18/5/2002)
                          Andrew C. Poole (19:58 18/5/2002)
                            mark quint (22:36 18/5/2002)
                              Richard Goodwin (14:58 19/5/2002)
 
Jason Tribbeck Message #91033, posted at 10:38, 17/5/2002
Unregistered user They've had something like this in their IDE cards for quite a while - very useful.

It's nice to see that it's now available as a separate hardware.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Richard Goodwin Message #91034, posted at 10:42, 17/5/2002, in reply to message #91033
Unregistered user Yes, it did mention the IDE interface in the press release, but I was just too happy about the USB stuff to notice :)
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Jason Tribbeck Message #91035, posted at 11:55, 17/5/2002, in reply to message #91034
Unregistered user Oh yeah - and you're right: it is a naff picture ;-)
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
[mentat] Message #91036, posted at 12:55, 17/5/2002, in reply to message #91035
Unregistered user That naff picture looks like a network card...
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Richard Walker Message #91037, posted at 13:15, 17/5/2002, in reply to message #91036
Unregistered user Hmm... Chaps...

Surely these 'extension ROMs' are not 'sideways ROMs'?! Doesn't the term 'sideways' come from the BBC micro and refer to the 16k banks that were switched (because, in the memory map, they would be placed 'on the side', as addresses were shared).
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Simon Wilson Message #91038, posted at 14:16, 17/5/2002, in reply to message #91037
Unregistered user Wasn't it sideways RAM in the BBC? My BBC has two sideways RAM banks which are 32k static RAM modules with battery backup.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Jeffrey Lee Message #91039, posted at 15:03, 17/5/2002, in reply to message #91038
Unregistered user And that naff picture really is naff since it provides no proof whatsoever that that's a USB podule you're holding :p
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
[mentat] Message #91040, posted at 15:34, 17/5/2002, in reply to message #91039
Unregistered user Quite. See my comment a few up.. it's a net card :P
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Richard Goodwin Message #91041, posted at 16:46, 17/5/2002, in reply to message #91040
Unregistered user Look closer. You can see the words "Universal Serial Bus (something/something) Interface Card" along the top.

I have a bigger version somewhere, but if you're not going to take my word for it bloody sod ya! ;)
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Jeffrey Lee Message #91042, posted at 17:19, 17/5/2002, in reply to message #91041
Unregistered user I can just about make out 'Simtec', but then it's just a load of '.','.',/','.'"'.,'.,'*',. from here :D
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
mark quint Message #91043, posted at 19:39, 17/5/2002, in reply to message #91042
Unregistered user you can see two connectors on the card thou,
- the simtec NC only has a 10/100baseT connector & it's got simtec on it so it cant be a combo NC :)
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Matthew Somerville Message #91044, posted at 21:19, 17/5/2002, in reply to message #91043
Unregistered user Ooh... :) I could put DiscKnight in the ROM so it's always available when I get those annoying corrupt maps. Hmm, what else would be useful?
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Jeffrey Lee Message #91045, posted at 19:39, 18/5/2002, in reply to message #91044
Unregistered user A copy of Spark Plug so you can compress Disc Knight & other tools to get some more space out of the ROM :)
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Andrew C. Poole Message #91046, posted at 19:58, 18/5/2002, in reply to message #91045
Unregistered user or use a self extracting archive to put it in a RAM disc so you don't need a dearchiver :)
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
mark quint Message #91047, posted at 22:36, 18/5/2002, in reply to message #91046
Unregistered user if you had sparkplug, you'd need the system modules to go with them :(
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Richard Goodwin Message #91048, posted at 14:58, 19/5/2002, in reply to message #91047
Unregistered user Some of the system modules could go in the flash/sideways ROM/whatever. Either enough to get simple stuff running, or just a few of the most commonly used ones.

One thing worth noting: I've since been emailed by someone involved in the project and the RiscStation version runs modules in place - meaning that they don't eat up RAM when they're loaded/used. So it's even more worthwhile putting the latest versions of the most commonly used modules in there.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 

The Icon Bar: News and features: New Simtec toy - sideways ROMs for RiscStations (and others?