CELF conference feedback

Sébastien Bourdeauducq sebastien.bourdeauducq at lekernel.net
Mon Nov 1 13:14:59 EDT 2010

Le Mon, 01 Nov 2010 16:11:22 +0000,
"Phil Endecott" <spam_from_qihw at chezphil.org> a écrit :
> There was a certain amount of buzz about
> the OMAP4 chip and the new Panda Board (successor to the OMAP3 Beagle
> Board); to me the interesting aspect is that it's one of the first
> non-x86 systems with video outputs that can drive desktop monitor
> resolutions; previously I've had to use things like pico-ITX VIA
> boards for that.

Then please return the "no free CPU" troll to those people, since
Beagleboard is run by TI which, contrary to Qi Hardware, has today
almost every* resource to make their chips open but does not make the
slightest effort in this direction. There are even BINARY BLOBS in some
Beagleboard drivers, which is plain ridiculous.

For companies like TI (Beagleboard) and ARM (mbed), "open hardware"
sounds like a cheap way of educating/recruiting developers about
using their proprietary chips and making some viral promotion of them
among the geeks/hackers/nerds at the same time.

They obviously benefit a lot from having hackers interested in their SoC
architecture, just have, for example, a look at how hard and
time-sinking it is to get GCC, Linux, Qt and other big software to work
properly on LM32 (the CPU core used in Milkymist) and how clean and
up-to-date ARM ports are by comparison. Not to mention the countless
cases when GNU/Autocrap blows up in your face saying "I don't know your

(of course, there are other factors which play in their favor, like
big companies using ARM SoCs in their products and supporting open
source development, or the fact that no one is shipping millions of
LM32 devices yet)

BTW the Milkymist One board (available end of next month) has a
video output that can drive desktop monitor resolutions (up to 140MHz
pixel clock, though the current non-x86 FPGA SoC design can't go that
fast yet - but 1024x768 is doable today), and the chip design is open
to the register transfer level (RTL). If you want to improve the SoC
design so it can go to full-HD resolutions, you are most welcome, and
your contribution will be covered by the GPL (just like the rest of the
SoC) and written in standard and quite portable HDL that does not
lock you into a particular FPGA or ASIC manufacturer.


* Some IP cores in the OMAP are licensed from 3rd parties and covered
  by NDAs - the ARM core for example. Mbed - run by ARM -, however,
  makes a perfect target for the "no free CPU" attacks.

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