You may have seen some teasing tweets from RISCOSbits which suggest they have been working on something which is fast. Intrigued, we applied some gentle persuasion (Andy - your pets and family are fine and should be home safe very soon) to find out more...
RISCOSbits have a very nice new set of FAST machines, which look like a Mac Studio or a fat Mac mini. It certainly looks very stylish and my machine was silent in operation.
This is a family of systems all based around the Raspberry Pi 4 Compute module in an ITX case with some custom software support added. This drives the SATA card installed in the PCIe slot and provides four full-speed SATA ports. This should give the machine much faster I/O than the standard Pi systems, and we are also able to over-clock the chip. So this machine should be fast!
There are 4 systems in the range (CORE, KITT, FIRE and FURY), going from really powerful to not sure what I would do with it! The FURY machine has 4GB of memory and a 1 TB drive. Prices range from 99 pounds to 499 pounds for a real monster of a machine. RISCOSbits claims the machine is comparable to or exceeds a Titanium. I will wait for Chris Hall to run his benchmarks on a production machine, but my Titanium is certainly looking very nervous...
The machine comes with a wide selection of software and is ready to run. It was plug and play for me...
The FAST scheme will be offering up to four OS updates a year. Some features are still being worked on, and these are the details I was given:-
4Kn /512e Disc Support - 85% complete
Multi-format Partition Support - 30% complete
NVMe Support - 15% complete
Power control - 25% complete
Onboard RTC Support - 10% complete
SATA CDFS Support - 90% complete
Over The Air ROM updates - 95% complete
Updates will be free for existing users.
The 4Kn/512e support will be especially useful as it will allow RISC OS to use relatively cheap and compact SSD drives.
Obviously the first thing I do if someone gives me a powerful RISC OS machine is to install the Iris web browser on it. Again opinion is subjective, but after testing, this is the machine I would choose to run Iris on (please don't tell my Titanium or Pi400). I would definitely have this as my main power machine.
The enhancements look really exciting, but you should judge this machine for what it offers today. This is a very fast, expandable and polished machine which comes in a compact and stylish case. It is not the cheapest Pi solution on the market but you are getting a lot for your money now and the promise of some exciting new features to follow...