Ruiner, contd.

This will be a rant. Though it’s a blog I normally don’t do rants – but seeing how I started this shitstorm it’s only fitting I try to clean up the mess. And I have better things to do than argue with Internet warriors in the comments, it’s a loosing battle so one last post and I’m done with it.

First, thank you people for all the kind words. I didn’t say I WILL raise the prices, just that I’m considering it. The example I gave was just that, an example. But then again if I do add more security to my new projects I might have no other choice but to revise the pricing somewhat. All of that is still something I’m thinking about.

Second, I expected the “it’s your fault” argument but it still surprises me how many people belive that. This is my last ditch attempt at explaining my position, I will ignore any further comments on that.

So you say it’s all because of poor availability that you buy clones. And you give me “an offer I can’t refuse” – either I make more devices or you will buy the clone. Moral, legal and free market arguments aside, that is simply put bullshit.

Let’s say I priced my devices 250 Euro a piece. Or, better yet, 500. How many people do you think would buy a GDEMU for 500? I’d be lucky to sell any at all. So I would have stock, since nobody is buying. Great availability. Except now you’d claim (and rightfully so) that my prices are insane, and you want to get my device but can’t pay so much so you’re going to buy the clone instead. Same story, different angle.

So, really, what you want is that I have both stock and low price. And while I fully understand that, it’s not how things work, I have my limits. And not just me, there has been and will be a lot of other products out there that people want, and cheaply too. And they are not going to get it. The latest being RAM and GPUs for example.

In fact I belive I can stretch this argument further – if I had the device more often in stock you’d demand other concessions. Lower the price. Have the orders always open. Lower the price again. Because it’s the same demand all over again – the cloners have it, and they have it cheaper.

Well, the whole point of cloning is that all you have to do is manufacturing. No R&D, no software, no testing, no work on other devices, nothing but manufacturing. And in a place where both the parts and labor are way cheaper the price is always going to be better than mine. So I can NEVER, ever, win on the price or availability – and so you’ll always have the argument that the cloner is just “better business” for you.

Now, granted, some might say that if the price is close enough they would rather buy the original. Well gee, thanks. But it’s again the same argument, either I meet your demands on what you think you should pay me, or you will just pay the thieves to steal from me instead. What’s not to like? “Here, have my 50$” for a device that costs me more in parts. “Don’t want it? I’m buying a clone instead and you should learn how to do business.”

As for the argument that you are staying up untill 5 in the morning to get into ordering queue, well, the Earth is round (belive it or not). From my point of view you live on the opposite side of it. But sure, feel free to blame me for that as well. After all I don’t need to sleep. And please spare me that old argument that you’d wait for months if necessary if you only you were sure to get the ODE. My current waiting times are weeks and already the attrition rate near the end of the list is so big that I take more orders than I have stock. So that’s bullshit too, I know from experience. I did a “long” list once, accidentaly, and that was an unmitigated disaster.

Morality and legality of buying clones aside, that is just a short-term gain and long-term loss for you, though I guess you don’t care. The message it sends is the device has to expensive and well secured. You’re going to bitch anyway, might as well profit on it. As for me – once burned, twice shy. There is perhaps a great community supporting projects like mine but it’s much smaller than it seems. Most people just want cheap toys to play with and don’t care how they get them. Seems obvious but I underestimated just how low some are willing to stoop to get what they want.

And that’s it folks. If this didn’t convince you, nothing will. Except maybe if it happens to you – and I really would like for you to learn that this stick you’re beating me with has two ends. One can only hope.

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Ruiner

I think it’s high time to address the elephant in the room. Yes, GDEMU has been cloned. The clone is not perfect, it does work but not without issues and can’t have the FW upgraded.

And you know what, turns out it is – after all – my fault that it got cloned. The reason being I made my devices too affordable and picked common off-the-shelf parts with not enough security. I looked at the prices of other similar projects and figured I can make mine cheaper since it didn’t make sense to me that the ODE costs twice what the console does. Turns out that was a huge mistake, too many would rather stuff the cloner’s pockets and claim it’s competition. And best of all I’m the one being called money pinching piracy enabler – might as well play the part. Why should I care how many can afford my devices? If I price them at over 200 Euros I will get less orders but still the same profit. That’s less work for me too. Clearly I need to rethink what I’m doing here.

So, there will be changes. Let’s start with the rules – mentioning or discussing the clones is fair enough but posting links to ebay or sales pages is not. Don’t do it. Also, commenting only to say that you want a clone or got one and it works great? That’s trolling (not even very creative) and wasn’t allowed anyway but I mostly turned a blind eye so far. Too much, I suppose.

As for new projects – I will use more expensive parts now. I’m experimenting with clone-resistant code, and new ideas in general, and DocBrown is going to be the first device to test some of those. That’s why the menu software isn’t ready yet – or actually, it is, but I’m going to release it along with newer FW and not any sooner.

The PCE ODE will require a major redesign though, I’ve put too much time into it to just see it cloned right away. I was too obsessed with cost cutting and frankly I don’t care if I only sell 5 of these by the time I’m done. This was a hobby project I had hoped would be useful for other people as well and initially I only wanted to make just a bunch for some guys I know.

TL;DR: Enjoy your cheap SEGA CD ODE “competition”. Oh wait…

Motherboard, contd.

Pretty please don’t start or fuel flame wars in the comments. Accept that there are people with different views than yours, and/or trolls, and move on. I really don’t have time to moderate so when/if I get another complaint about it, I will not be merciful.

I’m about done shipping Rheas so GDEMU orders will open this Saturday. Which brings us to another issue – it seems some of you think it’s acceptable to send multiple orders “just to be sure you get one”. While that might work, what it also does is flood me with bogus duplicates and blocks other people from ordering since I close earlier. Then I have more work compiling the list and removing these duplicates – and some of them I miss. Then I expect to be paid but these requests are ignored and have to wait 7 days to time out, slowing everything down.
Don’t do that please because I’m annoyed to a point where I might start removing such orders completly as a punitive action. Nobody wants that.

With that out of the way, here’re some results of synthetic benchmarks of the 486 Marty. Keep in mind this is a CPU-heavy code and typical games will be more memory bound. Then again a 386 has to fetch each instruction from RAM to execute it while the cache on 486 allow it to fully utilize the memory bus for actual data transfers. It makes a huge difference.

Time (m:ss.ds)
Marty FMTg3 Marty (486) Marty (486, cache) Marty (486×2, cache)
1:05.84 1:06.04 0:45.46 0:29.86 0:17.82

As you can see CPU-heavy code clock for clock is considerably faster on 486, and with cache enabled the system gets twice as fast. With clock doubler enabled you get almost another such speedup but beware, Marty chipset doesn’t deal well with so fast CPU. It’s difficult to get things working. That being said remember the clock-doubled variants of the 486SLC have 8kB of cache rather than 1kB that Cyrix originally used – that too is a very good reason to be looking for x2 CPU.

Now some memory-bound loops (you can compare the results with my previous post below):

Marty (486) Marty (486, cache) Marty (486×2, cache)
Read (ms) Write (ms) Read (ms) Write (ms) Read (ms) Write (ms)
BYTE 15170 9980 14880 9505 12195 4785
WORD 7590 5000 7465 4770 6125 2405
DWORD 5010 3170 4930 3040 4270 2400

 

UPDATE: GDEMU orders are open closed. If you didn’t get it there will be another batch very soon.

UPDATE 2: There will be another opportunity to order GDEMU this Saturday, same time as before. With two back-to-back ordering windows the crazy rush hour should not happen – that’s the idea, anyway. That’s done.