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The Icon Bar: News and features: Omega: no delays

Omega: no delays

Posted by Richard Goodwin on 17:54, 18/9/2001 | , ,
After a long and informative talk with an enthusiastic David Atkins of MicroDigital, it seems that contrary to what we'd heard before the Omega is still on track for an October release.

Alas much of the conversation was off the record, so you'll just have to wait a while longer to see some of the innovations under the hood; however it would appear that not only is the wait going to be quite short, it should be well worth it.

Source: MicroDigital

  Omega: no delays
  (18:00 18/9/2001)
  William Black (19:54 18/9/2001)
    Kevin Wells (20:51 18/9/2001)
      Lee Johnston (09:37 19/9/2001)
        Richard Goodwin (11:02 19/9/2001)
          Michael Stubbs (13:57 19/9/2001)
            Lee Johnston (16:41 19/9/2001)
              Neil Whiteley-Bolton (16:42 19/9/2001)
                Rob Kendrick (20:41 19/9/2001)
                  Guy Inchbald (09:18 20/9/2001)
                    Lee Johnston (09:53 20/9/2001)
                      Andrew Weston (10:13 20/9/2001)
                        Rob Kendrick (13:38 20/9/2001)
                          Richard Goodwin (11:08 21/9/2001)
                            Anonymous (16:43 21/9/2001)
                              Lee Johnston (18:13 21/9/2001)
                                Umi Giddiant (18:56 21/9/2001)
                                  Rob Kendrick (21:49 21/9/2001)
                                    David (23:51 21/9/2001)
                                      Rob Kendrick (11:54 22/9/2001)
                                        harmsy (16:14 22/9/2001)
                                          Gordon Bennet (22:32 22/9/2001)
                                            Mac (20:48 25/9/2001)
                                              jess (23:34 2/11/2001)
Richard Goodwin Message #89128, posted at 18:00, 18/9/2001
Unregistered user Yes, I've changed my tune a bit. Yes, I expect to get flack for it. And yes, David can sometimes be abrupt in his emails. But talking to the guy on the 'phone he knows his stuff, and is passionate about it; he's put his money where his mouth is, and it looks like he's about to back up his statements with an excellent machine. As such I'm prepared to cut him some slack, and hope to see the Omega soon.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
William Black Message #89129, posted at 19:54, 18/9/2001, in reply to message #89128
Unregistered user I'm not so sure Mr Atkins deserves any success after the low tricks he's pulled. Funny how long it's taken to get this machine here (assuming it arrives in October) considering they'd spent 3 years working on it before announcing it. Just what work did they do?

It's disturbing how much support he's getting off the press when he's done nothing but harm so far.

The Kinetic 300Mhz is here now, it's faster and it works. Plus your money goes to a decent company with competent engineers. The same company that saved the market, the same company that gave you a decent browser, the same company that's developed drivers for new, decent printers. The list goes on, but everyone is obsessed with a liar instead!

He hasn't put his money where his mouth is: he's put everyone's deposits where his mouth is.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Kevin Wells Message #89130, posted at 20:51, 18/9/2001, in reply to message #89129
Unregistered user Hopefully in time for Risco Os show in Binfield or not the Epsom Show.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Lee Johnston Message #89131, posted at 09:37, 19/9/2001, in reply to message #89130
Unregistered user "The kinetic 300Mhz...is faster"

Interesting comment when, apart from demo units with known problems at Wakefield, no one but MD has seen the Omega. Surely you're not basing machine performance purely on clock speed? :)

As for Castle saving the market - how about giving RiscStation some credit..oh and the original RISC OS Ltd team (Justin Fletcher, Matthew Bullock, Andrew Rawnsley and co)?

I'm not defending MD, I'm not condoning what has happened, but I do appreciate that problems occur.

  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Richard Goodwin Message #89132, posted at 11:02, 19/9/2001, in reply to message #89131
Unregistered user William - you're wrong on a number of points, although as David doesn't come across very well sometimes some of this has been missed by people who look at the personalities rather than the technical capabilities of the machine. I had a personal rule against MD news because of the way David came across sometimes, but it only took a phone call to sort that out. He's working damned hard and gets stressed when people take a pop - fair dos, so do I sometimes.

Putting his money where his mouth is - do you really think that you could fund a project like this just on the deposits? You've already pointed out that there was 3 years work before the deposits were already taken. Think of how much Acorn poured into Phoebe, and then figure how much different the Omega is to anything that's come before. There have been delays, but then where's that RiscStation laptop that I've been pining for? These things happen.

And as for the Kinetic being faster, I very much doubt that even ignoring the X-scale second processor option. The Kinetic is still based inside a RiscPC, which is how old now? Some of the bottlenecks have been eased by putting the RAM and processor on the same card, but you've still got all the old problems (graphics, IDE bus etc.). This is without taking into account some of the new tricks the Omega has.

Yes, the Kinetic is out now. Fair enough, I'm not knocking that. But giving MD another chance to show us what they're capable of isn't mutually exclusive with supporting Castle or RiscStation or the other projects such as the Explan Solo, Cerilica's Nucleus or whatever. The more the merrier.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Michael Stubbs Message #89133, posted at 13:57, 19/9/2001, in reply to message #89132
Unregistered user Rich, William's got some valid points there.

What exactly was under development for three years? They hadn't even started on the 32bit-under-26bit feature when Omega was announced. Last Wakefield show the video system didn't even work properly. Not impressive for 4 years of 'work'. It's been over one year of constant excuses and delays since the announcement and you can't blame the chip manufacturers for all of that.

Money: depends how many £500 deposits they have. On top of which, no-one knows how much they've really spent nor whether the Omega *will* ever appear or actually work properly. Certainly there is no evidence to suggest that the XScale under RISC OS 4 is going to work and, if it does, whether it will be fast and stable.

For a faster machine than the Kinetic RiscPC, I am going to wait for real 32bit RISC OS running on a new Castle motherboard because I can trust them to be truthful, deliver the goods and offer tremendous after-sales support. David Atkins, so far to me, has proved to be the exact opposite of this and I fundamentally disagree with his practices and attitude thus far.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Lee Johnston Message #89134, posted at 16:41, 19/9/2001, in reply to message #89133
Unregistered user I don't think Rich suggested that William didn't ahve valid points - merely pointing out the other side of the story.

While waiting for a 32bit OS and machine from Castle might seem prudent, unless Castle are doing the work on the 32bit OS (and not telling RISC OS Ltd or having ROS Ltd under NDA) then, judging from RISC OS Ltds stance, we're going to be waiting a long time.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Neil Whiteley-Bolton Message #89135, posted at 16:42, 19/9/2001, in reply to message #89134
Unregistered user Erm,

I have been absent from the Acorn/RISC OS scene for a couple of years and would like to understand why people are so critical of MD - there are references to events I know nothing of. Anyone care to enlighten me?

  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Rob Kendrick Message #89136, posted at 20:41, 19/9/2001, in reply to message #89135
Unregistered user Comparing money spent on Phoebe and money spent on Omega isn't fair. Phoebe used real hard-wired chips, rather than FPGAs. Believe me, writing VHDL is a *lot* simplier and easier to do than plotting a fabbed chip.

The speed is something important to consider. As a general rule of thumb, FPGAs constructed in VHDL verses hand-wired chips, is similar in performance to writing software in C, and writing it in assembler.

Also, MicroDigital have yet to explain (even when I talked to them at Wakefield) just how they plan to run both 26bit and 32bit software at the same time... not so much 'sorry, it's a secret' but more of a skimming around the question. If you think about this, you notice it becomes insanely complex and slow to do.

Also, nobody seems to have taken note on how long Millipede's Imago is taking... it's taking longer, but people don't rant at them/him. He said, that if sales were good, they were going to look into hard-wired replacements for the two large FPGAs, in return for a 30-40% speed increase.

Also, remember the 3DO games machines that had an ARM7 in them? They didn't; they had an FPGA with an ARM emulator written in VHDL in them, and as such they were a good 30% slower, but the cost of them was so much cheaper (as a licence fee wasn't payable to ARM) it was worth it. Digital did a similar trick when doing the StrongARM, except they hard-wired it.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Guy Inchbald Message #89137, posted at 09:18, 20/9/2001, in reply to message #89136
Unregistered user Neil, about a year ago MD announced a fabulous new machine, Omega, to be available in time for last Christmas. It is yet to appear. Some people say that sales of other hardware (Castle/Acorn, RiscStation) have suffered as a result of this pre-announcement. I expect they are right to some extent, but I also suspect that sales would never have been *that* much better. Lots of bad feeling and flamefests all round.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Lee Johnston Message #89138, posted at 09:53, 20/9/2001, in reply to message #89137
Unregistered user Rob - to be fair Millipede never aimed Imago at the desktop market, merely saying that it might be a possibility. I think this stance, and the fact that it has been low-key, has meant that most people haven't really considered it as a potential option.

OTOH Omega has always been mooted as a desktop machine and, as such, is probably deeper embedded in the markets consciousness and therefore more open to scrutiny.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Andrew Weston Message #89139, posted at 10:13, 20/9/2001, in reply to message #89138
Unregistered user Buy one Lee, then invite me round :-)
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Rob Kendrick Message #89140, posted at 13:38, 20/9/2001, in reply to message #89139
Unregistered user Lee: "it is Millipede's intention that the Imago technology should be accessible to a broad market and should be priced accordingly." from http://www.millipede.co.uk/imago/spec2.htm makes it sounds as if they wanted a broad market take-up... it would have been in their interest to sell lots of them anyway, purely from making their money back and further development of there core business. I do understand though that that quote is a bit vague.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Richard Goodwin Message #89141, posted at 11:08, 21/9/2001, in reply to message #89140
Unregistered user I just want something on my desktop that's /significantly/ faster than my SA 202 (shelling out 400 UKP for a relatively minor increase doesn't appeal) and handles better than the 800x600 maximum for 24bpp colour. USB support would be spiffy too[1]. First to market with such a beast gets first consideration for my hard-earned readies. I'm past caring what name's on it! :)

[1] Actually, first to market with a USB podule for existing RiscPCs will probably get some cash off me too, especially if they have finally ironed out those modem drivers for the BT ADSL service...
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Anonymous Message #89142, posted at 16:43, 21/9/2001, in reply to message #89141
Unregistered user Has anyone else seen Dan Ellis' CV at http://www.pod51.demon.co.uk/CV.html - "My primary responsibility was the writing of the USB stack for RISC OS..." ?
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Lee Johnston Message #89143, posted at 18:13, 21/9/2001, in reply to message #89142
Unregistered user And it surprises you> Pace have probably had it for a long time. Given their target markets and the widespread use of USB for modem / broadband adapters, I'd bet they did this quite some time ago.

Oh and the minor point about threading is interesting too.

Pace have no obligation to release any of their developments to RISC OS Ltd. Now who wants to bet they don't already have at least a subset of RISC OS running on prototype XScale processors? We know they have a 32bit subset of RISC OS and prototype XScales are available....

Depressing isn't it?
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Umi Giddiant Message #89144, posted at 18:56, 21/9/2001, in reply to message #89143
Unregistered user I'm sure everything will work out just tickety-boo.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Rob Kendrick Message #89145, posted at 21:49, 21/9/2001, in reply to message #89144
Unregistered user Of course they already have a version of RISC OS suitable for running on an XScale. If you've ever been to one of Pace's open days (Living near Ely, I'm only 20 minutes away from Camby; great for shopping </gay>) you'll see it for yourself.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
David Message #89146, posted at 23:51, 21/9/2001, in reply to message #89145
Unregistered user Rob: are you gay? and why mention it?
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Rob Kendrick Message #89147, posted at 11:54, 22/9/2001, in reply to message #89146
Unregistered user That shopping thing. Throwing usless meaningless information in to converstations often spices them up a bit and causes them to be interesting :)
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
harmsy Message #89148, posted at 16:14, 22/9/2001, in reply to message #89147
Unregistered user This whole lack of "next generation" machines thing is annoying, but what do people expect? Small companies cannot work as quickly as large ones. Period. If the slightest unexpected 'niggle' creeps in to functions of a machine, it will take a significant length of time to iron them out.

Patience is something people need to learn, and beyond Christmas I probably will have none remaining - especially with Dell PCs at sub-grand level...
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Gordon Bennet Message #89149, posted at 22:32, 22/9/2001, in reply to message #89148
Unregistered user Ah, 'gay' as in feminine. I've heard it used like that before.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Mac Message #89150, posted at 20:48, 25/9/2001, in reply to message #89149
Unregistered user Can't wait to get my hands on any new StrongARM hardware that appears.

It would be nice if Pace produced a RISC OS home gateway and client or even let us have old Phoebe.

Have you seen the new StrongARM portable on ARM's site? Cute isn't it.

  ^[ Log in to reply ]
jess Message #89151, posted at 23:34, 2/11/2001, in reply to message #89150
Unregistered user October has come and gone. :-(
  ^[ Log in to reply ]

The Icon Bar: News and features: Omega: no delays