Scor­pio News


July–September 1987 – Volume 1. Issue 3.

Page 39 of 67

Pluto IBM Range

This board is a standard IBM format board for use in PC, XT, AT and compatibles. The usual Pluto features and options ere included in the range:

7682576,interlaced,16 fixed colours,1 screen£950
768x576,non-interlaced,8 fixed colours,2 screens£1250
1024x768,interlaced, 8 fixed colours,1 screen£1250
768x576,interlaced,16 fixed colours,4 screens£1200
768x576,non-interlaced,8 fixed colours,8 screens£1500
1024x768,interlaced,8 fixed colours,4 screens£1500

On-board Processors

So far all of the boards described have had on-board processors and control ROMs. This approach has allowed Io to give all of the boards the same base commend set, and at the same time has allowed them to use different on-board CPUs and graphics display controllers. For example, Pluto 1 and 1A use an 8088 plus 6845, Pluto 2 an 8088 plus NEC7220, and Pluto IBM uses a 68000 CPU. Despite these hardware differences this technique means that many programs written to drive one Pluto model will also drive other models, and means that programmers don’t have to totally relearn commands, just modifying their programs to take advantage of more colours, more screens, or whatever.

The arrival of the Hitachi BD63484 ACRTC graphics processor caused s major re-think of this approach. This chip is much more powerful than the other graphics chips so far mentioned, and to add a CPU plus ROM between this and the host system could prove very limiting. So the new Pluto Pennant range, based on the 63484, have this chip interfaced directly to the bus.

(Incidental information: The Gemini 68K-BUS graphics boards also use the 63484, again directly interfaced to the bus.)

To maintain software compatibility with other Pluto boards, Io have written the PGI (Pluto Graphics Interface) driver. Basically this accepts the standard Pluto commend set, and converts it as appropriate to drive the actual board attached. Again, this means that as far as the programmer is concerned there is consistency across the entire Pluto range, a very attractive feature when you have spent man-months writing software for a board that gets replaced by another!

Pluto Pennant

As already mentioned, this board range is for PC, XT, AT, and compatibles. All provide flicker-free non-interlaced displays. Hardware pan and zoom, colour palette, and DMA access are supported.

1024x768,16 colours from 4096,2 screens£1650
1024x768,256 colours from 16.74,1 screen£1650
1280x960,16 colours from 4096,1 screen£1650
1280x1024, 16 colours from 4096,1 screen£1650

Software Demo

So far I’ve just run through the various hardware available. (Oh, I should add that Io also supply colour monitors, video cameras, film recorders, printers, etc.) But all this fancy hardware is obviously of little use without software. Many OEM customers (Original Equipment Manufacturers) take Pluto products, and write their own software for their own specific applications. But Io also have various software packages available, and I was shown one of these.

Designer Paint

This is “a sophisticated art and design package aimed at almost everyone in the business of visual arts”. Like many packages of this type it uses two monitors. The (usually monochrome) display of the host computer is used to allow entry of

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