Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Fully Open A13-OLinuXino Single-Board Linux Computer

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the gadgets-everywhere dept.

Hardware Hacking 111

Penurious Penguin writes "Via LXer, an article from PCWorld describes the A13-OLinuXino, produced by OLIMEX. Similar, but distinct from the Raspberry Pi, the Linux-powered OLinuXino is touted as 'fully open,' with all CAD files and source-code freely available for both personal and commercial reuse. Its specs include an Allwinner A13 Cortex A8 1GHz processor, 3D Maili400 GPU, 512MB RAM, all packed into a nano-ITX form and fit for operation in industrial environments between -25C and 85C. The device comes with Android 4.0, but is capable of running other Linux distros, e.g., ArchlinuxARM."

cancel ×

111 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

3D printer ready? (-1)

concealment (2447304) | about 2 years ago | (#41979601)

This is admirable, but I'll know a product is "fully open" when I can fork the project, modify the designs, and then print the thing on my home 3D printer.

Re:3D printer ready? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41979715)

From the 'fully open' link -

HARDWARE
The Hardware project is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

This is where you misunderstand what is 'open'. If you had the technical know-how and equipment, you could do this and release it into the public domain. When that happens, it has a 'mature ecosystem'.

You're free to fork it now and do what you will.

Re:3D printer ready? (2)

BitZtream (692029) | about 2 years ago | (#41980815)

Show me the ARM core thats public domain please. There isn't one, ARM kinda makes it that way on purpose.

Um, yeah, about that (4, Informative)

Art Popp (29075) | about 2 years ago | (#41981105)

I guess you may be looking for "fully" open in the mathematical sense, which is generally unachievable.

You can go over to OpenCores right now and download the spiffy OR1200 OpenRisc design and run it on the OpenRISC development board, but that board uses Altera FPGAs. Which themselves aren't open. Opencores.org had a failed kickstarter that they ran themselves (probably should have used Kickstarter), which raised about half the money needed to make a comminity sponsored chip of it.

http://opencores.org/or1k/OR1200_OpenRISC_Processor [opencores.org]

Since that was not successful, you're stuck buying someone's processor, for which they'll have some ownership. Once you accept that and realize there are enormous numbers of processors out there (not really a lock in), then the question of open is about your ability to redesign the board and exert complete control of all the peripheral chips.

The A13 will let you do that. At release time the RPi would not, due to some documentation restrictions and video binaries, but they are making progress in this vein.

http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2012/10/all-code-on-raspberry-pis-arm-chip-now-open-source/ [arstechnica.com]

So if you want fully open, (and I certainly do), we need to convince the OpenCores people to run a kickstarter for the remaining funds needed, and contribute. Until then the A13 is as close as we get.

Re:Um, yeah, about that (1)

gTsiros (205624) | about 2 years ago | (#41981729)

one could try making a cpu out of 74xx series ICs

it would be open, but i doubt you could get any meaningful performance out of it

unless we pool our money and get a fab make us some chips :/

it costs like what! $2K for a couple hundred thou transistors, low-volume? I have no idea, but i do know one single mask for small processes (80um) cost like a bazillion bucks D:

Re:Um, yeah, about that (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41984417)

there is no 80um (or near) process in production for CMOS. (it would be quite cheap, and would work without masks, but one can dream...)

The mask are really expensive, after you have the mask, making the chips is surprisingly cheap. even at a low volume.
Packaging again can be expensive for low volume. But it can be done cheaply for bigger volume.

AMIS 0.5u digital CMOS process is decent enough to make a CPU, and costs about 420Euro / mm^2, where you should have at least 10mm^2 areas. For this price you can get 30 chips of your custom design.
It's about 180USD per chip (for 10mm^2 which is enough for a simple CPU), some might be faulty of course. But if you want them to make a few wafers full of your chip, the per-chip price goes really down.
You can fit a 1000 of this to a single wafer, and you can make a few wafers. This would quickly push the price down, even for a couple of wafers.

Re:Um, yeah, about that (1)

anomaly256 (1243020) | about 2 years ago | (#41985179)

I'm pretty sure you're able to fabricate the OR1200 HDL into an ASIC on your own if you wish. I'm not aware of the difficulty or costs in doing this as I've never fab'd a logic design but technically there's nothing stopping you. If I recall, the OR1200 has already been ASIC-proven.

Thanks Oprah. :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41985649)

Well, that *is* the rub. The OpenCores folk wanted to raise $50k to make an ASIC of it. That's out of the typical Raspberry Pi purchaser's reach who wants a "fully" open implementation.

Re:3D printer ready? (1)

Thiez (1281866) | about 2 years ago | (#41979723)

Are you suggesting it would be impossible for a product to be 'fully open' unless there exists a 3D printer advanced enough to produce it?

Re:3D printer ready? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41980033)

Are you suggesting it would be impossible for a product to be 'fully open' unless there exists a 3D printer advanced enough to produce it?

No, most people consider your mum's fanny to be fully open.

Re:3D printer ready? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | about 2 years ago | (#41979753)

You are allowed to do that. It's up to you to come up with a printer capable of doing it, of course.

Re:3D printer ready? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#41979899)

I suspect that you'd be stepping on the mask works rights of a number of outfits, and probably some ARM patents, if you were actually capable of printing the entire thing.

Because low-volume production of most components is so wildly impractical, "Open Hardware" doesn't generally require any particular openness inside the bits that you solder together, just openness about how you solder them together and openness on the part of the software running on top of them.

Re:3D printer ready? Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41980869)

I'm not sure what use a 3D printer would be in all this, but the board is very straightforward. I have at least a dozen Olimex development boards and they design really excellent stuff. I have the tools and experience to make a board like the A13, and they've supplied everything I'd need.

In the Bruce Perens sense, the Olimex folk totally "get it." And in fact from my dealings with them, I'm sure they'd sell me a blank board cheap so I could change components or muck about in some other way. They have a long history of actually-innovative electronic gadgetry and no resentment toward honest competition.

The serious question though is "Why would you?" This board goes for $68 at Mouser ($57 elsewhere?), talks to your spare non-HDMI monitor, and has lots of expansion I/O. If you make s great peripheral for it, send them one and they might just add it to the next version of the board. They're just that kind of folk.

Re:3D printer ready? (1)

repvik (96666) | about 2 years ago | (#41979763)

You can fork the software and hardware designs. Depending on how incredibly advanced your 3D printer is, you could in theory print it too...

Re:3D printer ready? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 2 years ago | (#41979779)

As soon as you come up with a printer that can actually print working circuits, including microchips, then the rest will be trivial.

Print the Printer (1)

emmjayell (780191) | about 2 years ago | (#41979839)

Until we have an open source printer that can be forked to print another printer which can be used to print the chip and the board, we won't be truly open.

Would the printer spec qualify for GPL or LGPL?

Re:3D printer ready? (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 2 years ago | (#41980101)

I'll just hop on my 'Back to the future' skateboard, and go fetch a printer. This shouldn't take long . . . .

Re:3D printer ready? (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 2 years ago | (#41980213)

Of all the "in the future..." technologies such as immortality or teleportation, I'd actually first put my bets on a 3D electronics printer. Really hard, but not necessarily impossible to do. PCBs and microchips are synthetically-made already, and 3D printing probably yet has to see many advancements.

Re:3D printer ready? (1)

WrecklessSandwich (1000139) | about 2 years ago | (#41980395)

This is admirable, but I'll know a product is "fully open" when I can fork the project, modify the designs, and then print the thing on my home 3D printer.

Unfortunately for you, the real world makes things out of more materials than the ABS/PLA your bargain bin Reprap uses. Namely copper and silicon. That being said, this meets all of your criteria besides the random 3D printer hardon. You would just have to have your fork made by a PCB fab house because something this complex doesn't exactly lend itself to hobbyist PCB fabrication methods.

FULLY open? (0)

arisvega (1414195) | about 2 years ago | (#41979627)

freely available for both personal and commercial reuse

Well, unfortunately that comes with the danger of abuse: MegaCorp ripping it off, bloating it with crapware and selling it for x5 the price- but let's see.

Re:FULLY open? (5, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | about 2 years ago | (#41979733)

How is that "abuse"? Why shoudn't people who want a "bloated" version at five times the price not be allowed to have it? "Fully open" means OPEN.

Re:FULLY open? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41979885)

Because.... bacause... because... it's teh Linux!@!!!!11!!!one!!

Re:FULLY open? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41980297)

Because somehow using code in complete compliance with the license is evil and wrong if you're not one of Slashdot's beloved megacorp de jour. See all the butthurt in the Oracle thread over them publicly releasing GPL code to people despite Red Hat's obfuscation attempts.

Re:FULLY open? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41979743)

That's why you don't buy it off MegaCorp. Is this such a hard concept? I really expected better given the supposed "geek" culture here.

Re:FULLY open? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41979887)

The "geek culture" left Slashdot a few years ago when Microsoft and Apple started paying shills and reputation managers to disrupt discussions here.

Now it's just an echo chamber full of trolls and marketers. You won't get intelligent discussion of any non-proprietary tech here.

Re:FULLY open? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41980215)

You're a retard if you think Microsoft or Apple is putting any money into disrupting this website. I wouldn't be surprised if /, isn't even in the top 15 of tech news sites anymore. It's just not that special.

Re:FULLY open? (1)

KevReedUK (1066760) | about 2 years ago | (#41981111)

I won't surprise you then... As far as I know, slashcomma doesn't even exist, much less sit in the top 15!

Re:FULLY open? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41983611)

slashcomma was the real tech site. slashdot was purpose-built by Microsoft because apparently it can reach more customers by shilling to a set of website visitors bent on it's destruction instead of say, any trade magazine or TV station imaginable full of people.

Re:FULLY open? (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41979745)

How is that abuse? If they can do that, good for them.

Re:FULLY open? (1)

arisvega (1414195) | about 2 years ago | (#41979873)

How is that abuse? If they can do that, good for them.

It would be abusive if the additions do not justify the price being higher: that is why I mentioned 'crapware'. I.e., a (misinformed) consumer usually falls for it, ending up being charged for the advertisment that went into a product (advertising products usually reflects on their pricing).

Otherwise, if someone builds on it and produces an even more useful device, then of course I see no problem with it, and good for them indeed.

Re:FULLY open? (1)

wed128 (722152) | about 2 years ago | (#41979935)

a (misinformed) consumer usually falls for it

Isn't that the consumer's fault for not doing their homework before making the purchase? under-educated consumers will always get duped, that's not the MegaCorp's fault.

Re:FULLY open? (1)

arisvega (1414195) | about 2 years ago | (#41980093)

under-educated consumers will always get duped, that's not the MegaCorp's fault.

You cannot be serious: how can that be, since it would be MegaCorp that is doing the duping-- you said it! See this very recent thread [slashdot.org] , and try to predict how good the 'dupe-non-tech-savvy-folk' business model will be for a company --unless, I guess, the company is too big (AT&T in the previous example) to give a crap: that's why I mentioned 'MegaCorp'.

Re:FULLY open? (1)

wed128 (722152) | about 2 years ago | (#41984575)

You missed my point... If a cheaper option is available, then it's the consumer's job to find it. It's NOT the Megacorp's job to show it to the consumer.

Re:FULLY open? (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 2 years ago | (#41980141)

Under educate consumers will be duped from time to time. It's the stupid ones who keep coming back, time and time again, to buy whatever Megacorp tells them they need to buy this year.

Telephones, for instance. There are a couple of camps that just HAVE TO HAVE the latest and greatest offering from their chosen Megacorp. Why? Ten year old phones do most of what the newest megadollar phones do. And, the extras that come with those phones are worth - a couple dollars. Certainly not hundreds of dollars.

There are few phones on the market that are actually "worth" two hundred dollars. And, NONE of them are worth being locked into a contract for two years or more to pay them off.

Re:FULLY open? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41981031)

Sorry but find me the 10 year old phone (at any price) with 16 gigs of RAM, built in GPS, a high resolution screen that can connect to my car's head either by wire or BlueTooth.
 
I'll even make it easier for you, find me the 10 year old phone that does anything of these things at any price.
 
Just because you don't value what some phone makers are bringing to the market doesn't mean that it's not worth something to someone.
 
Oh, and just as a FYI... my Motorola StarTAC cost more 12 years ago as the iPhone 5 and many of the higher end Android phones do (unsubsidized). There has always been a high end phone culture. It just has more bells and whistles now.

Re:FULLY open? (1)

An Onerous Coward (222037) | about 2 years ago | (#41981419)

You and the GP seem to have very different definitions of "phone".

Re:FULLY open? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41985215)

I see no evidence of this and since you provide none I'm guessing you're just talking to hear yourself talk.

Re:FULLY open? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#41980351)

megacorps are already selling pretty much the same thing for 5x the price - so what's there to lose there?

eth0? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41979629)

Really? No ethernet?

Re:eth0? (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 2 years ago | (#41980277)

It's indeed odd that they didn't include Ethernet. Probably the SoC has the functionality baked in, so it wouldn't have been much more than adding a RJ45 connector onboard. CMIIW.

Re:eth0? (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 2 years ago | (#41980377)

the pi has ethernet going over usb. its not baked in. ethernet is still an add-on.

Re:eth0? (2)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | about 2 years ago | (#41980483)

the pi has ethernet going over usb. its not baked in. ethernet is still an add-on.

How it's implemented with the RPi is irrelevant here because the Allwinner A10 DOES indeed have a built-in Ethernet controller, and the RPi does not use A10.

Re:eth0? (1)

Narishma (822073) | about 2 years ago | (#41981915)

But this board uses the A13, which is a cut-down version of the A10. Perhaps one of the things they removed is the Ethernet controller.

Re:eth0? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41982377)

The point is it's already built out on the board.

Re:eth0? (2)

azilian (830400) | about 2 years ago | (#41986791)

Really? No ethernet?

You have two versions of the A13 OLinuXino, one with WiFi and one without. Both of these have 4 USB ports available and Olimex sells USB Ethernet dongles. I have A13 OLinuXino with WiFi and with the USB Eth dongle, both thw WiFi and Eth work perfectly. I'm running Debian on it at the moment but I'm also preparing Fedora for it.

not however the gpu. (3, Insightful)

queazocotal (915608) | about 2 years ago | (#41979637)

On forking, however.

To elaborate on why open-source hardware is hard.

Why open-source software works is:
Widely available repository of code.
Many people able to review it, or sections of it, and understand it.
Ease of submitting tested patches.

Hardware has problems that don't really fit well with this.
The open schematic is the trivially easy part, and not really a problem.
(though in practice, you need a schematic with copious links to design documents, which isn't well solved by open tools).

The number of people who can review it is rather smaller - as you can't
open up a c file, and see a clear error or awkwardness in code that can be edited.

For all but the most basic errors, you are going to have to sit down and
read several hundred pages of hardware documentation about how the chips in question work, in addition to having in-depth knowledge about the circuit design, and costings of likely changes.

Now, you've done this, and generated a patch that you think (for example) lowers the supply current by 1%.

Compile - test.
On a PC, this takes a couple of minutes.

For something of a smartphone class, a one-off PCB may cost several hundred dollars. Then the parts will cost another several hundred dollars in small quantities, as well as being difficult to obtain.
Now, you have to solder the parts onto the board, which is a decidedly nontrivial thing - and if you decide you want someone else to do this, it's probably another several hundred dollars.

So, you're at the thick end of a thousand dollars for a 'compile'.

Now, you boot the device, and it exhibits random hangs.

Neglecting the fact that you are going to need several hundred to several thousand dollars of test equipment, you now have to find
the bug.

Is it:
A) The fact that unlabled 0.5*1mm component C38 is in fact 20% over the designed value, as the assembly company put the wrong one in.
B) C38 has a tiny bridge of solder underneath it that is making intermittent contact.
C) The chipmaker for the main chip hasn't noticed that their chip doesn't quite do what they say it will do, and the datasheet is wrong.
D) You missed a tangential reference on page 384 of the datasheet to proper setup of the RAM chip, and it is pure coincidence that all models up till now have booted.
E) Because you're ordering small quantities, you had to resort to getting the chips from a distributor who diddn't watch their supply chain really carefully, and your main chip has in fact been desoldered from a broken cellphone.
F) Though the design of the circuit is correct, and the board you made matches that design, and all the parts are correct and work properly, the inherent undesired elements introduced by real life physics means it doesn't work.
G) A completely random failure of a part that could occur with even the best design, and best manufacture.

G - may mean that it's worthwhile making two or more of each revision - which of course boosts costs.

Hardware is nasty.

This gets a lot less painful of course for lower end hardware. For very limited circuits, which can be done on simple inexpensive PCBs, and be easily soldered at home - costs of a 'compile' can be in the tens of dollars, or even lower.

Re:not however the gpu. (2, Insightful)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 2 years ago | (#41979829)

Great copy-pasta, I've seen this before. And yes, hardware isn't as easy to develop as software is.

Nevertheless it's a good thing. Better than keeping it closed. Maybe you and I can't do anything with it directly, there are certainly people that can learn from it. It can be used as study object in universities, for example (where students routinely design and bake their own microchips, too).

Re:not however the gpu. (1)

queazocotal (915608) | about 2 years ago | (#41980075)

I should have stated it was copy-pasta.
(But I am the original author).
Is it useful - certainly - and lightly modifying an existing design without touching the core can give you considerable confidence that the design will work.
Also, it can mean that you need limited or no software mods to get it booting, and confirm at least basic functionality, at which point you can start hacking on the drivers for your integrated cheeseboard.

Re:not however the gpu. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41981159)

TL;DR: Hardware design requires a different skill set, specialized equipment, and some kind of budget. Therefore, your opinion is that it is completely useless to have "open source" hardware in the world.

Except... you're wrong. There are many compelling reasons why open hardware is good for the community, these are just a few:

1) It makes porting and writing open source software for the platform easier when everything is described and documented.

2) It's easier to hack the platform, to add functionality that the designers never imagined. Or to fix/change the hardware for a given application.

3) Other companies which manufacture hardware can take the design (and optionally improve it) and use it to manufacture their own version. They can compete on price by sourcing cheaper parts or labor (lowering the cost for everybody), or add features and provide a premium product.

Re:not however the gpu. (1)

Malvineous (1459757) | about 2 years ago | (#41985481)

These are all similar problems that existed in the early days of software development. It was very tedious to write on punch cards, it could take days before your program was run and all you got out of it was an error, the equipment needed was prohibitively expensive for all but the largest organisations, debugging required dozens of manuals, etc, etc.

All these issues have been solved for software, and the open hardware movement is starting to help with these issues for hardware. Give it time, and running off a new hardware revision won't be much more effort than compiling the latest revision of your software code.

Or Get The Finished Product (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41979659)

Or you could just get the completeAndroid Mini PC [ebay.com] package for $36.
  It's complete, smaller, cheaper, been available for a year or two...

Mali 400 GPU (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41979697)

Does that mean Allwinner finally opened the code to the Mali 400 GPU?

Re:Mali 400 GPU (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41979813)

Not to my knowledge; however, there is an open source driver being developed via reverse-engineering:

http://limadriver.org/ [limadriver.org]

Re:Mali 400 GPU (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#41979857)

It would be nice; but I'd be surprised. The Mali 400 is straight from ARM, and for what Allwinner charges for A13s, it would be impressive if they managed to cram the cost of building their own driver or buying the right to open ARM's driver into the budget.

Re:Mali 400 GPU (4, Insightful)

scorp1us (235526) | about 2 years ago | (#41979867)

Yes, but it sucks.

I got a Mali 400 tablet based off what I read on the internet (must be true, right?) and came to find out there is NO working driver for it. There are two open source drivers - one official and one reverse engineered but neither work. The only way to get a Mali-400 functional device is to run android and use that driver. It seems that all other platforms (X, etc) were afterthoughts.

I was excited to read about the board, but then my heart sank. Whoever did the research and selection for the Mali 400 on this board did exactly what I did, and now they and their customers are going to be very disappointed. The Mali-400 is a good chip, but lacks non-android support.

Re:Mali 400 GPU (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41979937)

This. Exactly.

Stay away from mali400 if you want Linux video acceleration.

Re:Mali 400 GPU (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41979997)

The only way to get a Mali-400 functional device is to run android and use that driver.

Why can't that driver be ported to vanilla Linux?

I was excited to read about the board, but then my heart sank.

Me too. No native XBMC means no sale. I will keep my x86 HTPC with open source ATI video drivers in service then.

Re:Mali 400 GPU (2)

Andy Dodd (701) | about 2 years ago | (#41980217)

There are massive architectural differences between Android's graphics subsystem and X.

Same reason Samsung's "open source friendliness" in terms of claiming "Hey we have a DRI driver" is kind of pointless when 99% of their Exynos4 chips are in Android devices. (Exynos5 is a bit more even thanks to Chromebook.)

Re: NO XBMC (1)

cant_get_a_good_nick (172131) | about 2 years ago | (#41980519)

Me too. No native XBMC means no sale. I will keep my x86 HTPC with open source ATI video drivers in service then.

I only clicked the comments to check on XBMC support. This too makes it a non-starter for me.

Re: NO XBMC (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#41982007)

You seem to care about some of the same things I do, do you know if there's anything out there with 1080p, XBMC, and properly-working Netflix? I personally want it to run Android, but anything Linux-based would be OK.

PIVOS XIOS DS (1)

Chirs (87576) | about 2 years ago | (#41982623)

Comes stock with Android, but they have a pure XBMC build. The company sponsors developers to work on XMBC for Android.

It's in what I would call beta stage at this point. Not perfect, but pretty decent. It is supposed to run Netflix, but I haven't actually tried yet.

I use it mostly for watching TV shows and movies stored on my NAS, and my wife/kids watch streaming video from websites via an addon.

Re:PIVOS XIOS DS (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#41984751)

I actually managed to find that before you posted, but thanks anyway, I couldn't find any reputable reviews of how well it actually works. I'm a little hesitant to spend $120. There's also this UG802 thing, but people say it won't actually decode 1080p in realtime. There's 1.2, 1.5 and 1.6 GHz clocks, and people say the faster-than-1.2 GHz ones like to overheat. It is fifty bucks, though.

Re: NO XBMC (1)

drachensun (2766139) | about 2 years ago | (#41985007)

There is XBMC support with hardware decoding for Allwinner, its been around for a month or so. Check the tail end of this forum http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=126995 [xbmc.org] . This is the github with the source https://github.com/empatzero/xbmca10 [github.com] . Here are some build instructions http://linux-sunxi.org/XBMC [linux-sunxi.org] . And there is this project that plans to put everything like this into a distribution for Allwinner devices http://www.indiegogo.com/pengpod [indiegogo.com] .

Re:Mali 400 GPU (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41984765)

Have you tried looking for linux binaries for mali-400, or are you just making baseless statements?

https://github.com/linux-sunxi/mali-libs

-- The developer of the REed lima driver.

Re:Mali 400 GPU (1)

Microlith (54737) | about 2 years ago | (#41980943)

I was excited to read about the board, but then my heart sank. Whoever did the research and selection for the Mali 400 on this board did exactly what I did, and now they and their customers are going to be very disappointed. The Mali-400 is a good chip, but lacks non-android support.

It's because all of these open source projects go gaga over the Allwinner A10 despite the fact that it's at least 2 generations behind in the CPU and no usable open source driver exists for the Mali GPU.

This is why I'm actually hopeful Intel is successful in shrinking x86 and their in-house GPU down. Then you could actually get a fully open software stack with full hardware support.

Re:Mali 400 GPU (1)

Narishma (822073) | about 2 years ago | (#41981985)

It's not theirs to open. Mali is made by ARM.

No Ethernet, no HDMI, no internal Flash (3, Insightful)

doragasu (2717547) | about 2 years ago | (#41979835)

Comparing it with the RPi, this one has more memory, a faster processor, a lot of GPIO pins, etc. But the lack of an Ethernet port, an HDMI output, an internal and an internal flash makes it less attractive for me.

Re:No Ethernet, no HDMI, no internal Flash (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41980077)

Comparing it with the RPi, this one has more memory, a faster processor, a lot of GPIO pins, etc. But the lack of an Ethernet port, an HDMI output, an internal and an internal flash makes it less attractive for me.

The iMX233-OLinuXino-MAXI appears to have an ethernet port. The A13-OLinuXino-WIFI might work for those who want wireless.

I would like to se a version without external connectors that I can use to add a linux system as a module to my own PCB's until then both this and the RPi are less interesting to me.

Re:No Ethernet, no HDMI, no internal Flash (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41980903)

this one has more memory

The RPi actually has 512M memory in its B model nowadays

Re:No Ethernet, no HDMI, no internal Flash (2)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 2 years ago | (#41982471)

V2 of RPi has 512Mb. You can overclock it offcially now. And it has four extra GPIO pins.

I'd rather have a VGA port instead of HDMI. Lack of Ethernet is a killer, and lack of firewire is a dissappointment.

cubieboard (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41979897)

Found this relatively interesting board in rpi price range.

Official site: http://cubieboard.org/ [cubieboard.org]
They sold small numbers last month and are now trying to fund a 1k+ run via indiegogo: http://www.indiegogo.com/cubieboard [indiegogo.com]

Some difference highlights from specs:
        1G ARMv7 cortex-A8 processor (2x as fast per clock), NEON, VFPv3, 256KB L2 cache vs 700MHz ARMv6
        Mali400, OpenGL ES GPU (lima reverse-engineered drivers) vs VideoCoreIV (free "shim")
        1GB DDR3 @480MHz vs 512MB DDR2
        10/100M Ethernet MAC built in the SoC vs USB 10/100M ethernet
        4GB Nand Flash vs nothing
        SATA2 port vs none
        2 USB Host vs 2 USB + ethernet from 1 USB via builtin hub
        MicroSD vs SD
        Costs $59, shipping included.

There is Also the Cubieboard for $49 (5, Informative)

LuxuryYacht (229372) | about 2 years ago | (#41979951)

http://cubieboard.org/ [cubieboard.org] and also on http://www.indiegogo.com/cubieboard [indiegogo.com]

It uses the A10 and has more features. The A10 is a full featured version of the A13

1G ARM cortex-A8 processor, NEON, VFPv3, 256KB L2 cache
Mali400, OpenGL ES GPU
512M/1GB DDR3 @480MHz
HDMI 1080p Output
10/100M Ethernet
4Gb Nand Flash
2 USB Host, 1 micro SD slot, 1 SATA, 1 ir
96 extend pin including I2C, SPI, RGB/LVDS, CSI/TS, FM-IN, ADC, CVBS, VGA, SPDIF-OUT, R-TP..
Android, Ubuntu and other Linux distributions

Re:There is Also the Cubieboard for $49 (3, Interesting)

lobiusmoop (305328) | about 2 years ago | (#41980121)

Yet another option is the Hackberry [miniand.com] , which is a few dollars more but has wifi built in.

Re:There is Also the Cubieboard for $49^H^H $59 (1)

higuita (129722) | about 2 years ago | (#41980435)

not $49 , its $59 now and has been for some time .

when the indiegogo started, it costed only $19

Anything with Mali-400 is a problem (1)

scorp1us (235526) | about 2 years ago | (#41981907)

There are only Android drivers for it. The Android graphics stack is not reusable in Linux. Stay away.
The linux drivers that are for mali-400 are rudimentary. That is to say, they don't work in general. You can get them to work under very limited functions, but you can't just run OpenGl on it and expect it to work. They won't.

Re:Anything with Mali-400 is a problem (1)

vovin (12759) | about 2 years ago | (#41984739)

It seems that Mali is trying to open up:

http://www.malideveloper.com/developer-resources/drivers/open-source-mali-gpus-linux-kernel-device-drivers.php [malideveloper.com]

... provides the low-level access to the Mali-200 or Mali-400 GPU. An important, secondary component is the Unified Memory Provider (UMP) which can be used in a variety of ways to facilitate zero-copy operations within the driver stack. An additional component, the Mali Direct Rendering Manager (DRM), is provided to integrate the Mali DDKs into the X11 environment and for enabling the Direct Rendering Interface (DRI2).

Disclaimer: I don't have a Mali to play with so I can't say how well the driver works.

Re:Anything with Mali-400 is a problem (1)

scorp1us (235526) | about 2 years ago | (#41984905)

Well I was going to put Active Plasma 2 (Linix/X/KDE stack) on my Mali-400 tablet, and basically, it was a no-go. That was last month. We'll see in a few months then the tablet is out of date.

Yes, I was aware of the above link.

Re:Anything with Mali-400 is a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41985059)

I wish you had taken some time to actually read up on what ARM provides. This is the kernel driver, as ARM had to comply with the GPL. Nothing more.

--libv

The board layout isn't the problem (2)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about 2 years ago | (#41979955)

No ARM system can be truly "open", because no one who produces these SoCs is releasing full specifications. The GPUs are a particular problem, since almost all of them rely upon binary blobs. With more and more functionality being moved to GPU hardware, this is an area where Open Source is really falling behind.

Having Linux or Android running on a cheap ARM board is nice, but if all you get is non-accelerated 2D graphics, you won't be able to be competitive with closed commercial products.

What for email? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41979979)

Come January I was going to use a Raspberry Pi as a personal ( sorry can't remember the name now ) mail server.
Now I'm confused about what board to use.

Re:What for email? (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 2 years ago | (#41980397)

The Raspberry Pi is cheaper and it comes with Ethernet. So maybe that. Either way, running a simple mail server does not require anything fancy, so both should be OK.

Re:What for email? (2)

DrXym (126579) | about 2 years ago | (#41981343)

You can buy small gumstick type PCs running Allwinner A10 chips that come with 4-8GB flash, 512MB-1GB RAM, a 1.5Ghz CPU, a plastic housing and wifi built-in. Android or Google TV preloaded. Alibaba is full of such devices and they cost about the same price as the Raspberry Pi.

Re:What for email? (1)

higuita (129722) | about 2 years ago | (#41980451)

raspberry pi!

It have good support and will have it for long time (unlike most of this "clones" ).
For a mail server it's powerful enough

Caveat Emptor (0)

Almost-Retired (637760) | about 2 years ago | (#41980155)

I'll have to plead guilty to associating any outfit labeled 'A'nything as somehow connected to the A7 people, who let dozens of small kitchen table folks design products around their bluetooth offerings, shipping a dozen or more of the finished product, only to have them lock the door, disconnect the phones and disappear forever without notice to anyone, leaving the producers of the finished product who had paid the one time costs for the PCB's etc hung out to dry. Some paid in advance, and are still due refunds or product.

Neither will ever happen, those A7 guys covered seem to have covered their exit tracks quite well.

I believe the operative phrase is Caveat Emptor?

Cheers, Gene

Re:Caveat Emptor (2)

WrecklessSandwich (1000139) | about 2 years ago | (#41980425)

I take it you don't own a smartphone then. Apple's in-house chip is called the A6. Most ARM SoC's are based on ARM Cortex A-series cores (A8, soon A15, etc). Never mind that Olimex is a well-known company, let's all be paranoid about anything that starts with the letter A.

Re:Caveat Emptor (1)

AwesomeMcgee (2437070) | about 2 years ago | (#41983477)

I wasn't paranoid about A words, but now that you mention apple's chip is called the A6 I am growing seriously concerned... I think 25 letter lphbet wouldn't be tht bd.

Wrong temp range (1)

saveferrousoxide (2566033) | about 2 years ago | (#41980243)

Largely irrelevant, but the actual temp range according to their FAQ [olimex.com] is:
What is the operating temperature range of A13-OLinuXino-WIFI?
The board works in the commercial temeprature range 0+70C

Apply for FSF Endorsement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41980579)

An endorsement from the FSF can't hurt. It would convince a lot more people that this is absolutely "fully open" (that claim is thrown around a lot today).

Re:Apply for FSF Endorsement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41980751)

You mean it would convince the paranoid 2% of Linux users who give a shit about what the FSF has to say.

Allwiner - failed platform (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41981285)

Some experience http://forum.doozan.com/read.php?6,10012 [doozan.com]

"Open" using proprietary file formats (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41981611)

Again, another "open hardware" project using Eagle, which is definitely not free for commercial use - so if I want to modify the board and use this commercially, I have to buy a (quite expensive) Eagle license. Please, why can't they use any of the open-source EDA tools available?

Re:"Open" using proprietary file formats (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41982443)

Because none exist that can do a fraction of what Eagle does. And if you're developing a commercial board, you ought to buy the design software.

Being that it's an OPEN design, you are free to translate the layout to your free file format of choice.

Cubbieboard (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41983169)

It's important to remember that A13 is actually cut down ($5 cheaper) A10 present in Cubbieboard. Most interestingly Cubbieboard offers double the RAM and SATA port for the same price.

Re:Cubbieboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41983201)

Actually OLIMEX board is more expensive if you factor $17 shipping to US.

No-one here has done their homework. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41985011)

The allwinner A10 currently ranks as one of the most hackable and open platforms, thanks to the freenode #arm-netbook and http://linux-sunxi.org communities, communities where Olimex has actually contributed.

As the developer of the lima driver, i have finally found a Mali based SoC with a proper linux, one that is affordable and hackable. Heck, i even have Q3A running on ARM Mali binaries (check my the linux-sunxi and my github if you do not buy it).

How can everybody here just be spewing baseless bullshit about the RPi being better and freer, while it clearly is not.

-- libv

Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41985027)

So, you take an A10/A13 dev board / MK802 rip-off (depending on the company) and label it open platform. Congrats...

Re:Wow (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41985105)

Yeah! Olimex only provide full board schematics and actually help the linux-sunxi.org community, and even explain to their customers how to fix the few errors in the first run of boards that they produced! What a total rip-off!

-- libv

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?