Linked by David Adams on Mon 28th Jun 2010 16:14 UTC, submitted by M.Onty
RISC OS

The ARM based RISC OS has been floundering in the wilderness somewhat these past years, but it looks like it may - finally - be on the path to a real Lazarus moment with the new Beagleboard and, unusually, El Reg has taken an interest.

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Hopefully on the verge of more ARM systems
by Ravyne on Mon 28th Jun 2010 18:56 UTC
Ravyne
Member since:
2006-01-08

I'm hopefull we'll be seeing more ARM-based systems this year. We're finally seeing the arm-based netbooks that have been promised these past two years, and there are a couple net-top-like ARM systems available, like the one from Genesi (who also has one of the few ARM netbooks, both manufactured by Pegatron and powered by Freescale's i.MX515), but I'm hoping that new, more-powerful ARM chips will find their way into other roles soon -- I'd love a 12" or 13.3" ARM laptop for example, or a mini/nano ITX system with a fast (say 1.2Ghz+) dual-core ARM chip.

There's also potential for form factors that intel can't touch yet, even with Atom -- if you went with a modest ammount of flash, you could have an ARM-based "pocket-PC" about the size of a 2.5" portable hard drive, complete with ethernet, a couple USB, wifi/bluetooth and HDMI/DisplayPort -- A little thicker and a little deeper and you could get a 1.8" or 2.5" drive in there too (The beagle-board has a lot of extra I/O and is only 3" square or so). The whole thing could be powered by USB (or PoE), so you could jack in to a PC and remote/shell in over the same USB connection (using an included program on a small, dedicated USB mass storage partition), power it from a small and cheap mini-USB cell-phone charger, or just access your files like a USB storage device (perhaps the ARM could provide a FAT32 translation service so the flash could use a more modern, flash-aware filesystem). Just about any company with ARM experience could bring this to market for probably $200, certainly no more than $300, and I'd buy one in a heartbeat.

Reply Score: 1

Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

There's also potential for form factors that intel can't touch yet, even with Atom -- if you went with a modest ammount of flash, you could have an ARM-based "pocket-PC" about the size of a 2.5" portable hard drive, complete with ethernet, a couple USB, wifi/bluetooth and HDMI/DisplayPort -- A little thicker and a little deeper and you could get a 1.8" or 2.5" drive in there too (The beagle-board has a lot of extra I/O and is only 3" square or so). The whole thing could be powered by USB (or PoE), so you could jack in to a PC and remote/shell in over the same USB connection (using an included program on a small, dedicated USB mass storage partition), power it from a small and cheap mini-USB cell-phone charger, or just access your files like a USB storage device (perhaps the ARM could provide a FAT32 translation service so the flash could use a more modern, flash-aware filesystem). Just about any company with ARM experience could bring this to market for probably $200, certainly no more than $300, and I'd buy one in a heartbeat.

To a degree, that's already been possible for a long while.

My PocketPC is about 4 years old and just as powerful as the Beagleboard, only many of it's ports are provided via a specialist cable rather than on the unit itself.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Ravyne Member since:
2006-01-08

To a degree, that's already been possible for a long while.

My PocketPC is about 4 years old and just as powerful as the Beagleboard, only many of it's ports are provided via a specialist cable rather than on the unit itself.


Form factor hasn't been an issue -- PDAs have been about that size (a bit bigger) forever -- with a screen and battery. What's changed is that ARM processors have advanced to the point (capability and integration wise) that it would actually be a fairly usable desktop experience for common tasks (email, web, productivity, even light-moderate gaming with the integrated 3D capability) -- sorry, BTW, your 4 year old PocketPC doesn't even approach what the BeagleBoard has, clock-for-clock its probably 3ish times faster than what you've got, which is probably an ARM9, ARM11, maybe a StrongArm or XScale.

Already many ARM liscensees have announced dual-core parts in the 1.2 GHz range, and hinted at parts as high as 1.6 or 2.Ghz. Marvel already has parts at 2Ghz (though those are older, single-core, in-order parts).

I know I've said it more than once before, but I truly believe that ARM is the most credible threat to x86 that has ever stepped to the plate -- PPC, Sparc, Alpha and Mips never had the presense in the consumer space that ARM does (given the polularity of mobile media devices and phones, even though most people don't realize or care that it's ARM under the hood) -- combine that with the dramatic shift toward portable computing (where ARM still beats Intel by an order of magnitude under load and a smaller but significant margin at idle, even with integrated 3D acceleration), the rise of VM environments like Java and .net which make the underlying architecture not matter quite so much, and the impedning push towards Cloud computing (ChromeOS, et all) and you begin to realize how many fronts are about to converge on x86/x64 -- I don't expect that x86 is going to go away, not by any means, but I do see them loosing significant ground to ARM starting with smaller systems, running through power-concious devices, and culminating in encroachment on the desktop and server space. x86 will probably have to shore itself up on raw performance, where ARM still lags (though I'm sure if someone took the ARM ISA and took the chains off, giving it a power budget similar to even mid-tier laptop platforms, that you'd see an ARM with some serious performance -- its just that no one will build such a device until there's a need for it.)

Reply Parent Score: 1