[R] R under Pocket PC

Stuart Leask stuart.leask at nottingham.ac.uk
Wed Nov 10 10:01:11 CET 2004

> One concern I recall from looking into this a while back (hopefully
> not founded) was the issue with floating point handling on the ARMs
> and similar PDA CPUs.
> This was relevant to the familiar/intimate linux distro's around 18-24
> months ago, when I was considering an IPAQ or Zaurus to replace my old
> but not dead yet palm.

Thanks to the excellent work of the R developers in keeping all the code
quite standard, and some specific work by Simon Pickering (Bath University),
I have had R working (with graphics) on my Sharp Zaurus for some time.
Sadly, checking today his site is down, but binaries for the Zaurus are

There was a problem with NA handling that needed specifically addressing,
and some missing fonts, but the fpu emulation worked fine. This was using
X11, keypebble and VNC. It could _just about_ run in the standard RAM -
although was a lot happier with extra memory. Most impressive, and well done
Simon (and the R team).

However, a note of caution - presumably due to the lack of a hardware fpu,
and perhaps also the relatively slow access speed of SD ram, benchmarks on
the zaurus ran anything up to (wait for it!) 100 times slower than a pentium
of the same clock speed. This has sadly left R on my Zaurus largely idle, as
in practice I found it just too slow to be usable.

I fear this problem could afflict any handheld implementation, until they
start putting fpu's on these chips.


(PS. I have the same problem with a mini-ITX 'silent PC' - many of these
low-power cpus (eg. Eden) lack hardware FPU. They run many office apps fine,
but when I benchmarked with a stats program, I found it 50 times slower than
a pentium of equivalent clock speed! I am advised that even those that do
have hardware FPU eg. the Nehemiah chip are only 50-60% as fast as a
pentium-class cpu of similar clock speed)

Dr Stuart Leask DM MRCPsych, Senior Lecturer
University Dept of Psychiatry, Duncan Macmillan House
Porchester Road, Nottingham. NG3 6AA. UK
tel. 0115 924 9924 xtn 40784

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