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Technology / AI and automation


Acorn Computers Plc yesterday duly launched its 32-bit RISC machine and dubbed it Archimedes in honour of the Greek, but pointed out that it is also an anagram of he made RISC. It comes in two series: the 300, to be called the BBC Micro 300; and the Acorn 400. The 300 comes in two models – a diskless 305 with 512Kb and 1Mb 3.5 floppy, plus two-slot backplane for UKP800, and a 1Mb 310 for UKP875. The 400 series consists of 410 with 1Mb, 512Kb ROM, 1Mb floppy and four slots for UKP1,400. The 440 has 4Mb RAM and adds 20Mb Winchester and is UKP2,300. Acorn has coined the word podule – peripheral module – for plug-ins to emulate the 6502 in the first BBC Micros, or the 8088 for MS-DOS. Acorn plans ROM extension, additional input/output facilities, MIDI music interface, modem, SCSI and MS-DOS co-processor podules in the future. The Archimedes machines have 18 standard screen modes and 256 colours from a palette of 4,096. The operating system used on both series is Arthur, an enhanced version of the BBC executive. BBC Basic is extended to BBC Basic V level, and C, Pascal, Fortran-77, Lisp, Prolog and Comal are available. Acorn is keeping to its traditional education, home and small business computing markets, but sees the 4 MIPS box winning OEM pacts in areas such as desk-top publishing. The 300 is out now, the 400, November.

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