Welcome, progress so far...

Informal forum to keep you all informed on development progress

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Site Admin
Posts: 381
Joined: Wed Oct 23, 2002 11:25 pm
Location: Cambridge, England

Welcome, progress so far...

Post by admin » Mon Nov 11, 2002 4:45 pm

Okay, I asked Neil to create another forum where I can post
regular 'informal' updates on the development work that I'm
doing on Aemulor... for everybody who's interested in what
Aemulor is, how it works and what will run under it.

So, to kick off, Aemulor was 'conceived' in the cafe at
the Wakefield Show earlier this year. Neil and I were talking
about how an XScale processor could execute the old-style
26-bit ARM code, and I started to think about it over the next
couple of months.

I actively started working on it during August, in the hope
that I could provoke RISC OS Ltd into producing a 32-bit
RISC OS that could exploit the full power of the Omega
computer. This was still two months before Castle announced
the Iyonix and I knew nothing of Castle's excellent work
until about 4 days before their developer day presentation,
by which point Aemulor was able to run a few simple
applications, although since I'd done all of my work on
a RO4 StrongARM RiscPC the code had some trouble running
on the new XScale processor.

Someone asked me at the RISC OS South East Show whether
Aemulor can run on RISC OS 4/RiscPC, and the answer is yes,
though doing so is completely pointless! - this is in
fact where most of the development work has been done.

A few people have commented on the speed of Aemulor as
seen at the RISC OS South East Show. We're keen to emphasise
that what we displayed at the show is early development
code that lacks many possibly speed improvements, and it
was also running a very harsh test; emulating the whole of
ArtWorks including all the rendering code in its modules.
Plus Aemulor still contains a fair amount of diagnostic and
debugging code :)

The performance of other, less intensive applications
such as Impression is a lot better. Also, most of
my effort since the Iyonix was announced has been directed
at getting the popular applications and all of their modules
running, which means handling changes to the OS API and
the memory map etc. So I haven't had much chance to focus
on the speed of the emulator lately, but rest assured
that we will be demoing a faster version at the
Midlands Show.

Okay, for those of you are wondering what does/doesn't
work now, here is a list of the major applications that
now run on the Iyonix:

Impression Publisher
Impression Style
Hard Disc Companion ;)

Plus a number of lesser-known, smaller applications
and some applications that have already/will be converted
to 32-bit and which I therefore haven't listed.

Zap does not work at present, pending some internal
changes to the way Aemulor handles modules. It will
be running before long because its ability to view binary
files is invaluable to me when programming.

I should make it clear that until we try a particular
application under the emulator we can't be sure that it
will work... successful emulation is actually a lot more
complex than just providing the behaviour of the old 26-bit
modes; indeed most of the work is involved in handling
changes to the OS - we effectively need to reintroduce
a lot of legacy that Castle has, thankfully, removed from
RISC OS in moving forwards to a true 32-bit platform.

Indeed I've just had to solve an incompatibility within
Publisher that is actually a bug in CC's code! - the code
performs a spurious read from the top of the ROM address
space which has been harmless on all earlier platforms,
but with the altered memory map there is no longer anything
to access at this address.

So you can see that Aemulor is a difficult project but
we already have the major applications running and
compatibility will doubtlessly improve further over time.

We're not allowed to tell you very much about the Iyonix
at this stage, so please be patient. I want to say, however,
that I think it's an excellent machine and I'm very grateful
to Castle for all their hard work.

And if Aemulor helps users adopt the Iyonix PC and RISC OS 5
then I will be very happy.

I'll keep you posted...

BTW if anybody knows where I can buy Midnight Oil in bulk,
that'd be a big help, thanks ;)


PS. Finally, for all those doubters out there, please be patient.
I'm not the only developer who cares passionately about RISC OS,
things are happening!

Mick Burrell
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2002 2:21 pm
Location: Andover, Hampshire

Post by Mick Burrell » Tue Nov 12, 2002 10:50 pm

Do you have anywhere (or do you have enough headaches :wink: ) where we can suggest software which we suspect may not get converted to 32 bit, so that you can find out the author's intentions and then test if the answer is negative?

Site Admin
Posts: 381
Joined: Wed Oct 23, 2002 11:25 pm
Location: Cambridge, England

Post by admin » Tue Nov 12, 2002 11:14 pm

> Do you have anywhere where we can suggest software which we
> suspect may not get converted to 32 bit, so that you can find out the
> author's intentions and then test if the answer is negative?

Later I think this will be covered by the databases that are being
set up, so you'll be able to search by the software's name to find
out its status - 32-bit/being converted/never will be - and whether
it does or doesn't work under Aemulor.

But, for now...

Looking down the list of forums that Neil has set up I'd suggest
that "Pre-sales questions" is perhaps the best place (don't worry,
it doesn't commit you to buying anything :wink: )

But we're checking all the forums regularly so questions shouldn't
go unanswered anyway.


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