Announcement from Steve Revill, 23rd October, 2015.
Visitors to the London show this weekend may wish to drop by the ROOL stand to take a sneak peek at a brand new Cortex-A15 motherboard designed with RISC OS in mind, which has kindly been loaned to ROOL for the duration of the show.
Pedal to the metal with Titanium
The new board, codename Titanium, is brought to you by Cambridge based Elesar Limited1 and utilises a dual core Cortex-A15 to make light work of most computational tasks. Although one of the A15’s cores currently sits idle under RISC OS, there are also two dedicated digital signal processors (DSPs) and two dual core Cortex-M4’s waiting for an eager developer to press into action – come and talk to the ROOL crew about your ideas for extending RISC OS to use multiple processing cores.
The standard ATX form factor brings out dual DVI video heads, dual gigabit Ethernet, DDR3 memory, stereo audio, two serial ports, plus six USB ports at the rear panel and two more USB ports on the front panel (when housed in a conventional PC case).
Internally four high speed SATA ports connect any combination of ATAPI optical drive (DVD–ROM or CD-ROM), hard disc or solid state disc. These are tied together by a ground-up rewrite of ADFS by Piccolo Systems in the more portable C programming language.
Booting from dedicated flash memory keeps the OS ROM secure and leaves the micro-SD card socket free for users. The critical OS configuration settings are retained in dedicated CMOS memory, alongside the battery-backed real time clock.
The RISC OS Open project
The ground work for supporting these modern ARM cores is one of the key changes made to RISC OS in recent years, using the hardware abstraction layer (HAL) to decouple everyone’s favourite OS from the Acorn custom chipset.
More big roadworks are already under way with RISC OS 5.23, including improving system workspace protection by moving zero page on a path to enabling multi-core and multi-head support amongst other things.
The new ADFS is jointly sponsored by Elesar, CJE Micros, and R-Comp Interactive, and is due to be deployed on their ARMX6 and IGEPv5 too. This significant milestone finally brings a native serial ATA solution to RISC OS, and by handling the commonplace ATA command set can also be back ported to the Iyonix and RiscPC family which use the older parallel ATA.
Titanium also makes use of the new RGB colour layout graphics added in RISC OS 5.22, allowing it to support both true colour 4k/32k/64k/16M colour modes as well as paletted 1bpp/2bpp/4bpp colours.
We’d also love to hear from any potential bounty claimants who may be interested in trying to get the hidden USB3 port going – there’s nearly £2000 collecting at the date of going to press.
Production units are undergoing a final battery of tests prior to release, and are expected to start shipping in the next few weeks. Elesar are only able to provide the naked circuit board, both R-Comp Interactive and CJE Micros are gearing up to present details and pricing of complete systems for their customers.
The ultra low power design, especially when coupled with an SSD, makes selection of a suitable power supply a challenge – your RISC OS retailer will of course provide a matched set along with suitably qualified peripherals.
- Although in the run up to the show, a hectic schedule means it’s more practical to simply repost announcements on RISCOSitory using the ‘press release’ format, it was difficult to resist doing at least a tiny bit of research before posting this exciting news. That research was to answer the obvious question: Who is behind Elesar Limited? And according to Companies House, the answer is Rob Sprowson, who incorporated the company on 3rd March this year.