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Floating Point Support for the Risc PC

Acorn are now accepting orders for the Risc PC ARM700/FPA upgrade card, however it is unlikely that the product will become available, since the currently indicated demand does not justify the costs involved in setting up a production line. However, should demand be substantial, a one-off production run will be initiated to fulfil all orders received. The order code is ACA51 , and the price will be £299, ex VAT.

The following information provides some background to this desision.

At the launch of the Risc PC, Acorn announced that an ARM700 with FPA upgrade would be available in the future. Prototypes of such a device were even demonstrated, although at the time only first generation (25MHz) FPAs were available and the ARM700 prototype would not execute reliably at speeds greater than 30MHz.

Whilst waiting the delivery of the second generation FPAs, it was decided to modify the ARM700 design in order develop a device which offered greater performance and could exploit the greater capability of the second generation FPA.

Unfortunately, the newer design proved problematic, and after over a year of attempting to obtain a reliable high performance part, it was decided to abandon the new design.

Consequently there is currently no hardware floating point solution for the Risc PC, and little chance of an alternative hardware solution being developed in the short term. However, one option is to revert to the original design in order to deliver enhanced floating point performance for user for which improved such performance is essential. In order to achieve this, Acorn will have to commission the production of a limited number of the original ARM 700 design. For economic reasons, this has to be performed as a single production run, with a minimum quantity of 1,000 units.

Acorn therefore invite customers to place firm, non-cancellable orders for a limited run ARM700/FPA combination card. This product will operate at approximately 30MHz, and offer performance similar to that of it's predecessor, the 33MHz A5000 with FPA. The price is £299 ex VAT, and Acorn will not be able to commence production until 1,000 firm orders are received. Orders will not be invoiced until the product is delivered.

In the longer term Acorn are investigating alternative ways of providing high performance floating point capability for existing and future Risc PCs. Information relating to this will be released as and when there is progress to report.

The above is a Press release from Acorn Computers Limited, 8/2/96.