[Acorn Gaming]


PC Card Compatibility
Software Add-ons

This page contains information on the following:

PC Card System Software
Final Versions of !PCx86 | PC Pro | Network Links
Commercial Software Add-Ons
PC Exchange | WinRisc | PC Sound Professional | x86 Card Floating Point Accelerator
Freeware Add-Ons
ARMEdit | ARMASPI | Other Free Utilities

See also Aleph One's Third Party Utilities Page for some other interesting software.

PC Card System Software

Recent versions of !PCx86

Software updates can be found at the Acorn ftp site at ftp://ftp.acorn.co.uk/.

The latest release version of the PC card software is 1.93 and the latest beta test version is 1.995, although both have now been overtaken by Aleph One's PC Pro.

PC Pro

  • Supplier: Aleph One
  • Available from: Aleph One, Xemplar Education, or Acorn dealers
  • Price: 39ukp from Aleph One (or 49ukp including a copy of PC Exchange), 25ukp from Xemplar; free from Aleph One for owners of Aleph One PC cards
This is the very latest version of the PC card software, specially developed by Aleph One, and has a large number of important improvements. These include:
  • substantial speed increases in Windows and Windows 95
  • full StrongARM compatibility
  • shared memory drivers to speed up hard disk and CD-ROM access
  • support for VESA screen modes in DOS (without which most of the more recent DOS games won't work)
  • proper support for Windows 95, including semi-automatic installation of all the various drivers etc.
The current version of PC Pro is 2.03; this fixes problems with PC Exchange seen when using PC Pro v2.02 with StrongARM. An update from PC Pro 2.02 to v2.03 is available on Aleph One's web site, as well as information, performance statistics and ordering details for PC Pro itself.

A new version of PC Pro will be released very shortly. Improvements will include:

  • Changes to the sound software in order to allow improved sound with a future version of PC Sound Pro
  • Option to disable floppy disk access (for use in schools)
  • Access for programmers to "unfreeze" function via wimpmessage
  • A number of bug fixes, including year 2000 support, extended keyboard calls, and 5x86 I/O timing configuration correction
This upgrade will of course be free to those who have already purchased PC Pro (and owners of Aleph One PC cards). The changes in the area of sound support will be supported by a new version of PC Sound Professional designed to take advantage of the changes.

At the top of Aleph One's list of future improvements is support for VESA 2.0 using a linear frame buffer. This will allow better performance for all VESA games. In addition, once this is complete, work can start on DirectX/DirectDraw support for Windows 95 games. These improvements require a lot of work, but are planned for some time in 1997.

Network Links

  • Supplier: Aleph One
  • Available from: Aleph One, Xemplar Education, or Acorn dealers
  • Pricing:
    • 1-3 stations; 25ukp + VAT
    • 4-10 stations; 100ukp + VAT
    • 11-20 stations; 175ukp + VAT
    • 20+ stations; enquire
The Network Links software allows your x86 card to access standard PC ethernet networks (provided that your Risc PC has an ethernet card fitted).

Commercial Software Add-Ons

PC Exchange

PC Exchange allows text and graphics to be copied between RISC OS and the Windows 3.11 or Windows 95 clipboard.

Win, Risc

  • Supplier: ARMed Forces Software, but available via dealers (CJE are the main distributor); Chris Claydon can be contacted as claydoc7@cs.man.ac.uk
  • Price: 29.95 ukp
  • Minimum requirements:
    • PC card
    • Microsoft Windows 3.11 or Windows 95
    • !PC v1.995 or PC Pro
    • at least 8MB RAM
WinRisc is designed to run PC card applications within RISC OS. It begins by opening a RISC OS window representing the Windows Program Manager. Windows applications (which are still stored in the PC partition as usual) can then be started by double-clicking on the relevant icon.

When Windows applications are run, they appear in ordinary RISC OS windows, although the contents still look like the original Windows applications. Instead of Windows-style menubars, however, pressing the [MENU] mouse button over the window produces a standard RISC OS menu with the same entries as would have appeared in the menubar. When a Windows application is minimized under WinRisc, the result is that an entry for that application is added to WinRisc's icon bar menu. In most other respects the Windows applications continue to behave exactly as they would under Windows.

WinRisc was released at the Acorn World 1996 exhibition. On 22nd January 1997 Chris Claydon of ARMed Forces Software announced the release of the free upgrade to v1.30 of WinRisc. This includes:

  • Windows 95 support
  • Support for using ImageFS in drag-and-drop operations between RISC OS and Windows
  • Support for 32-thousand and 16-million colour RISC OS screen modes
  • Fully automatic startup (loads !PC, opens Program Manager and closes !PC window from one double-click)
  • Various bug-fixes and support for additional applications

WinRisc also allows files to be copied between RISC OS and Windows by drag and drop. Dragging a file icon from a filer window and dropping it on a WinRisc window results in a normal Windows "save as" dialogue box being opened, allowing the file to be saved to the PC partition, from where it may be loaded into a Windows application. In the other direction, saving a file from a Windows application to the WINRISC/TO.ARM directory will open a RISC OS "save as" window allowing the file to be dragged to a filer window.

As yet, WinRisc doesn't operate very quickly (the current release is faster than some of the beta-release versions which generated very negative comments); even with StrongARM and 5x86 processors, there is a short pause as application windows to be updated; this makes the system too slow to use for some styles of applications. ARMed Forces Software currently recommend running Windows in a 16-colour screenmode, as this makes WinRisc much faster.

The speed of the system is being worked on by Armed Forces Software; however they have said that significant increases in speed are unlikely without Aleph One making substantial changes to PC Pro. Aleph One have stated that it will be some time before these changes can be implemented.

PC Sound Professional

  • Supplier: R-Comp Interactive, 22 Robert Moffat, High Legh, Knutsford, Cheshire WA16 6PS
    Tel: (+44) 01925 755043
    Fax: (+44) 01925 757377
    E-mail: rci@arsvcs.demon.co.uk
  • Price: Single user 30ukp, Site licence 90ukp
  • Minimum requirements:
    • Risc PC
    • PC card
    • !PC v1.995 or PC Pro (PC Pro recommended)
    • 4MB RAM (8MB recommended)
    • 16-bit stereo sound (MIDI optional)
PC Sound Professional, developed in association with Aleph One and ESP, provides "highly compatible Soundblaster 16 drivers", plus MPU-401 MIDI music, for Risc PC x86 cards. It was released at the Acorn World 1996 exhibition. The features provided are as follows:
  • Full Windows 3.1 and 95 Support, including DirectSound!
  • A very high degree of DOS game support, including accurate sound for probably hundreds of games (there are now far too many to list here or even to keep track of, but see the Games Compatibility List for the details that we do have)
  • DOS and Windows MIDI Playback (requires hardware or software MIDI Synth)
  • MIDI Input support for Windows
The product will also include intructions on how to set up PC titles to work correctly, as well as full technical support. The software is also being continually developed in order to provide proper sound compatibility with more software titles, and new releases. R-Comp informed us at BETT '97 that further substantial improvements will be made to the software following changes to PC Pro which are being made by Aleph One.

See RCI's web site to download the latest version of the !PCSConfig front end, released in April 1997. Older versions may be unreliable under some circumstances, so the new version is recommended.

Note that the Windows MIDI support allows Cakewalk and CuBase to run well on the PC card; a perfect addition for Sibelius users.

PC Card Floating Point Emulation for RISC OS

  • Supplier: Warm Silence Software, P.O. Box 28, Woodstock, Oxfordshire, OX20 1XX
    Tel: 0585 487642
    Home Tel: 01865 510752
    E-mail: Robin.Watts@wss.co.uk
  • Price: TBA (probably around 30ukp)
  • Minimum requirements:
    • Risc PC
    • 486DX or 5x86 PC card (Gemini II required for first release)
During November 1996, Robin Watts of Warm Silence Software announced on comp.sys.acorn.extra-cpu that they were looking into the possibility of providing a replacement for the RISC OS floating point emulator (FPE) that would use an x86 card to carry out floating point operations. The response on the newsgroup was enthusiastic (with the exception of one sceptical voice with regard to the likely speed improvements), and the software is now scheduled for release at the Wakefield Acorn Show.

Tests so far have revealed that, with an ARM710 and a 486DX4/100, the minimum speed-up (seen with instructions such as MOVE) is 4 times (220%), while the maximum speed-up (seen with more complex instructions such as SINE) is over 100 times (10,000%). With a StrongARM the speedup is less apparent, but WSS are investigating the possibility of a specially StrongARM-tuned version of the software. A simple test program (plotting lissajous figures) showed a speedup of four times with a StrongARM, but more than a hundred times speedup with an ARM710. (This is because the StrongARM is much faster at floating point even using the software FPE emulator, not because the x86 card floating point accelerator doesn't work as well with StrongARM).

It appears that, as far as existing RISC OS software is concerned, Merlin would benefit from the FPE replacement, as it uses the FPE, but Davinci and Top Model would not, as they use specially written integer arithmetic.

However, Robin has also stated that, once the software has been written to completely emulate the standard FPU on the PC card, it is possible that a library of useful functions will also be made available, for machines both with and without a PC card. Thus software authors would be able to write software to use this standard set of functions, and the software would be able to take advantage of the PC card floating point software where it was available.

It will not be possible to use the PC card as a floating point accelerator and as a PC card at the same time.

All prices listed exclusive of VAT and subject to change; consult your supplier

Freeware Add-Ons


  • Author: Alexander Thoukydides
  • Availability: Free download via ftp as ftp://tailor.linc.ox.ac.uk/pub/alex/armedit.1v03.arc, or see the ARMEdit web pages (N.B. Acorn ToolBox modules are also required)
  • Features:
    • enhanced GETFILE and PUTFILE utilities, for use in copying files between RISC OS and the PC card
    • OSCLI utility to allow RISC OS *commands to be called from DOS
    • DOS device driver that allows read-only access to RISC OS filesystems from within DOS
    • documentation, header files and object code to allow extra PC utilities to be written
    • support for multiple PC card configurations
    • DOS utility allowing PC files to be edited using a RISC OS text editor via the External Data Editing Protocol (supported by Zap and StrongEd
    • options for controlling the speed of the PC card when multi-tasking
    • RISC OS front-end, allowing easy control of ARMEdit

ARMASPI drivers for SCSI, by Andreas Walter

See the hardware compatibility list for details of (a small but increasing number of) devices known to work with ASPI drivers on the PC card.

Other Free and Shareware Utilities

  • HD Extend, allows you to use up to four hard disks with !PCx86 (not yet compatible with PC Pro)
  • Num Lock, ensures that the num lock is always turned on (getting round some versions of DOS which boot up with it turned off)
  • PC Joy, allows you to use joysticks on with the PC card

    (Note that "plug and play" drivers for all their joystick products (allowing them to work without any need for PC Joy) are now available from Stuart Tyrell Developments - upgrades are free for existing customers and the drivers are supplied with all new purchases)

  • RISCutils, utility package providing a variety of extra features for RISC OS, including preventing the PC partition being truncated by accidentally closing it.

Back to PC Card Games Menu

...this page last updated: 23/12/98...
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