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EOMA-68 Based KDE Vivaldi Tablet Engineering Boards Ship

Unknown Lamer posted about 9 months ago | from the better-living-through-modular-hardware dept.

KDE 33

sfcrazy writes "Aaron Seigo, a lead KDE developer, says that the ambitious KDE tablet Vivaldi is shipping to the team for quality testing. Seigo writes on his Google+ page, 'A great start to the week with a warm, sunny, quiet Monday. Well, almost quiet. The first Vivaldi tablets, new dual-core engineering boards and the custom EOMA68 developer workbenches we commissioned have all been shipped out. Don't get too excited: the tablets are pre-certification (EC/FCC) and are on their way to us so we can verify the Q/A targets we set out. Still ...'" It looks like long-time reader lkcl's EOMA-68 initiative is working out; in related news the first batch of Allwinner A10 EOMA-68 cards is shipping to the "...20 Free Software developers brave enough to take one of these at this very early phase." Update: 07/23 17:16 GMT by U L : Correction from lkcl: the first batch of EOMA-68 cards are actually using the Allwinner A20, a bit of an upgrade from the original design.

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33 comments

Wildly confusing subject line (5, Funny)

Bovius (1243040) | about 9 months ago | (#44356143)

In the international waters off the coast of Nigeria today, the scourge of modern technology struck again, as the malevolent tendrils of the EOMA-68 entity claimed another civilian freighter. Witnesses claimed they could hear the eerie sounds of Vivaldi's Four Seasons emanating from the amorphous ropes of wires and circuitry. Within hours, the ship's hull was cannibalized and added to EOMA-68's writhing mass. Officials are demanding a unilateral military response from the UN and neighboring allies.

Seriously, "Boards Ship" was not the best turn of phrase to use there. I got a kick out of it, though.

Re:Wildly confusing subject line (1)

steelfood (895457) | about 9 months ago | (#44356517)

Yeah, I was wondering why a bunch of tablet engineers decided to get on a ship. If anything, the lawyers, salespeople, and MBA's are supposed to be boarding first.

Re:Wildly confusing subject line (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 9 months ago | (#44358727)

Yeah, I was wondering why a bunch of tablet engineers decided to get on a ship. If anything, the lawyers, salespeople, and MBA's are supposed to be boarding first.

your usual ship has 500 tablets on the tables, or they might be smuggling some viagra tablets.

Re:Wildly confusing subject line (1)

mako1138 (837520) | about 9 months ago | (#44356563)

"Boards ship" sounds fine to me, but I'm a hardware guy.

The more serious problem is that EOMA-68 doesn't appear to have anything to with the Vivaldi hardware [liliputing.com] . I mean, does a tablet with a removable CPU card make any sense whatsoever?

Re: Wildly confusing subject line (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44357103)

Yes. It does make sense.

Tablets are great, right? You figure out what size you want, what extra features (dockable keyboard ala Asus Transformer, Wacom stylus, etc.), and you're set for years -- we've finally got good enough resolutions (1920x1200, 2048x1536, and higher) that future screen kicks aren't real compelling upgrade motivators. The only reason you'll upgrade is more CPU/GPU/RAM muscle, so it makes sense to let you buy a new CPU card when the next gen SoC comes out, and upgrade your existing tablet easily. So there's one use case that makes this a good thing for a consumer.

Now that was probably obvious -- the slightly less obvious thing is, it ALSO makes sense for the producers -- because while you're just buying a new CPU card instead of a new tablet, this leaves you with a spare old-but-usable CPU card. So you buy a lame tablet for your kid, and slot the old CPU card in there. Or you buy a dedicated ebook-reader, and slot it there. Or whatever; the point is, it doesn't hurt the manufacturers as much as you might think.

Moreover, it massively helps them, because instead of completely redesigning their tablet product line every 6-12 months with the arrival of a new SoC, they keep shipping the exact same hardware, except for the CPU card (ok, and maybe change the model number on the box) -- so they just order a batch of new CPU cards with the new SoC, and have an instant spec upgrade.

Or say you want to sell a range of tablets (say two price/performance points in each of ARM and x86), no problem -- instead of 4 SKUs meaning at least 2, probably 4 different boards, with 4 different BOMs (2 boards assumes you have two pin-compatible SOCs of each arch, as well as pin-compatible EMMCs and such), and redesigning the whole mess once a year, they get 4 SKUs from ONE board, with EVERY soldered-on component identical, and one pluggable element for all the differences -- and you still only need to redesign for changes of screen and integrated peripherals (e.g. WLAN or WWAN).

It really makes an amazing amount of sense, once you think it through -- you just have to get a transition through the chicken-or-egg problem from here to there somehow.

Re:Wildly confusing subject line (1)

Peter H.S. (38077) | about 9 months ago | (#44357265)

I mean, does a tablet with a removable CPU card make any sense whatsoever?

Perhaps not for the average consumer, but for the tinkerer it sounds fun; use a A10 ARM CPU card for long battery times (e-reader etc), or a AMD T40E 64-bit x86 dual-core CPU with on-board Radeon 3D graphics (r600) for maximum performance (serving video, ethernet sniffer, games).
A I understand it, the EOMA-68 CPU card standard means that the same board potentially can be used in different devices, NAS, tablet, netbook, PVR etc. So it can potentially cut costs when developing a new device, since a lot of the essential stuff is already designed and tested.

It is perhaps a pipe dream, but I would like to live in a world with more FOSS hardware for excellent Linux support. I like the idea of exchangeable hardware done by standard open interfaces.

Re:Wildly confusing subject line (1)

lkcl (517947) | about 9 months ago | (#44360617)

I mean, does a tablet with a removable CPU card make any sense whatsoever?

ah you've heard of the openmoko and the openpandora, then? how long did their designs take, and did the components go end-of-life in one case before they'd completed the design? :)

How timely! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44356231)

I was about to send $600 cashier's check to Mr. Shuttleworth.

Re:How timely! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44356437)

If I wanted a tablet with a shitty UI, I would have bought a Surface.

Mister grand fucking visionary Genius Shuttleworth has managed to do the impossible for mainstream Linux -- Create a UI even shittier and more useless than KDE's. Clap clap, bra-VO, mister Shittleworth.

-- Ethanol-fueled

To save you the bother of trolling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44356541)

Doesn't have X feeture :(

goddamn it, troll harder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44360957)

according to that unified code of slashdot trolling conventions, 2001 edition, the first troll of any hardware story should take the canonical form :

I know you don't attend every sub-plenary session, but this was ratified in 2002.

Vivaldi is no KDE project (2, Interesting)

KugelKurt (908765) | about 9 months ago | (#44356621)

A handful of KDE developers decided to found a startup together. Vivaldi is their personal for-profit project. And quite frankly: They suck at it.
Plasma Active works just fine on quite a few Android tablets already (eg. Nexus 7).
Since Win8 there are also quite a number of x86 tablets on the market. Plasma Active should also run on them with a regular Linux distribution.

Re:Vivaldi is no KDE project (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44357409)

Those are a lot of sour grapes you have there, KugeKunt. Sounds like someone wishes he was making money like the rest of the big boys.

One day, Kunt, one day. In the meantime keep appending K to as many words as you can because god knows that hasn't gotten fucking old already.

Re: Vivaldi is no KDE project (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44357649)

No, it's not a "KDE project", but it is a KDE tablet, i.e. a tablet running KDE. The summary's not really misrepresenting it at all.

  As to how poorly they're doing it, I can't say, but at least they're working with EOMA-68 project, which is awesome/geek-friendly/insert-preferred-adjective dream, and I'm glad to see ANYONE helping it become a reality.

Re: Vivaldi is no KDE project (1)

KugelKurt (908765) | about 9 months ago | (#44364909)

No, it's not a "KDE project", but it is a KDE tablet, i.e. a tablet running KDE.

Cool, then a Nexus 7 with Plasma Active is also a KDE tablet and my laptop is a KDE laptop, not a Samsung laptop...

Re:Vivaldi is no KDE project (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44359385)

A handful of KDE developers decided to found a startup together. Vivaldi is their personal for-profit project. And quite frankly: They suck at it.

They suck at it? Why? I've been following Vivaldi project since the beginning, and the project management seems nothing but excellent.

Re:Vivaldi is no KDE project (1)

KugelKurt (908765) | about 9 months ago | (#44364971)

They suck at it? Why? I've been following Vivaldi project since the beginning, and the project management seems nothing but excellent.

Excellent at producing vaporware. They announced the tablet (then called "Spark") 1.5 years ago and nothing ever shipped to consumers.
Considering that Plasma Active runs on off-the-shelf hardware, their project management is hardly good....

Umm... WHAT is this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44356637)

I mean... I get that its some type of "CPU card"... or something, and built on the PCMCIA form factor... but ...WHAT is this for? is it a prototyping board, is it meant to micro server clusterable, is it meant for home media pc??

Context would be wonderful. .. I don't know if I should care about this at all or not.

Whatever you want it to be (3, Informative)

caballew (2725281) | about 9 months ago | (#44357029)

It exposes most of the features of the SoC (currently Allwinner A10/A20) which will allow a developer to use it for a multitude of purposes without having to design, prototype and build a board for their specific purpose. It re-purposes the PCMCIA interface and form-factor which will reduce costs. http://linux.slashdot.org/story/11/12/17/1429221/pcmcia-computer-project-aims-even-higher-and-cheaper-than-raspberry-pi [slashdot.org] http://elinux.org/Embedded_Open_Modular_Architecture/EOMA-68 [elinux.org]

Re:Umm... WHAT is this? (3, Informative)

idunham (2852899) | about 9 months ago | (#44358675)

I mean... I get that its some type of "CPU card"... or something, and built on the PCMCIA form factor... but ...WHAT is this for? is it a prototyping board, is it meant to micro server clusterable, is it meant for home media pc?

Yes.
It's the main guts of a computer, stuck in something the size of a PCMCIA card, and you can stick that in whatever hardware project you want.
Prototyping board is one (probably the most obvious) potential use.
But that's partly because it's useable for so many uses.

Looks interesting (3, Insightful)

Peter H.S. (38077) | about 9 months ago | (#44357059)

I would certainly like a tablet with full Linux support, especially with KDE Plasma. Never heard of the "EOMA-68" standard before, but it looks intriguing . Not sure why they specced 10Mbit ethernet support as mandatory minimum for the CPU card. 10Mbit networks must be very rare these days, and the cheap misers who still operates them are unlikely to purchase a tablet. Am I missing something?

Anyway I like the CPU card concept, but I hope the tablet will have GPS, and accelerometer, gyroscope, (digital) compass, or else it has to be cheap.

Re:Looks interesting (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44357261)

I would certainly like a tablet with full Linux support, especially with KDE Plasma. Never heard of the "EOMA-68" standard before, but it looks intriguing . Not sure why they specced 10Mbit ethernet support as mandatory minimum for the CPU card. 10Mbit networks must be very rare these days, and the cheap misers who still operates them are unlikely to purchase a tablet. Am I missing something?

Well, the big philosophical idea is that ANY EOMA-68 CPU card slots in ANY EOMA-68 machine (note that EOMA is not entirely, or even primarily about tablets -- that's just the first hardware product using it), and works. That's why Luke (aka lkcl) is quite adamant there are no "optional" features in the spec -- the only exception is for interfaces (e.g. USB, 10/100/1000-BASE-T) that can fully autonegotiate in both directions, so that there's neither a slow-machine/fast-cpu-card, nor slow-cpu-card/fast-machine case where it becomes incompatible. So you can have 10-only (not likely, but hey, we'll allow it), 10/100 (likely on low-spec SoCs, or when an SoC has no ethernet, so we fulfill the ethernet requirement with a USB-NIC), or 10/100/1000 (high-spec SoCs).

As for specific machines that would be apt to need 10Mbit, and fail with a 100/1000 only CPU card -- think of a router for a domestic DSL connection (or a "plug-computer" like pogoplug serving this role. Most DSL modems over a certain age are strictly 10Mbit.... if the standard doesn't require every CPU cards to be able to negotiate down, you'll either need to:
[A] supply your own 10Mbit NIC (hanging off the USB interface like the Raspberry Pi)
[B] supply your own 10/100 autonegotiating switch
(either of those drives up BOM substantially) or
[C] break compatibility by making it work with only those EOMA-68 CPU cards that happen to support 10Mbit
(which inevitably frustrates users who try to swap a seemingly-compatible CPU card in, and find it mysteriously stops working...)
None of those is really winning, agreed? So we either split the standard for plug-computers and everything else (meaning when you upgrade your netbook or tablet, you can no longer slot the old one in a cheap plug-computer to run as e.g. "home server and router"), or we require 10 Mbit as the minimum -- which isn't really hard to meet, anyway...

Re:Looks interesting (1)

Peter H.S. (38077) | about 9 months ago | (#44357361)

Of course, old DSL routers and similar. I was thinking too much in traditional network wiring. I can see the reasoning now for speccing 10Mbit as a mandatory minimum, and it probably more or less free to implement if you are going for a 100/1000Mbit nic anyway, so why not be compatible with even corner cases.

I must say, I think EOMA-68 looks very intriguing, it would be exceedingly cool if more devices was made that way.

Re:Looks interesting (2)

lkcl (517947) | about 9 months ago | (#44358887)

Well, the big philosophical idea is that ANY EOMA-68 CPU card slots in ANY EOMA-68 machine (note that EOMA is not entirely, or even primarily about tablets -- that's just the first hardware product using it), and works. That's why Luke (aka lkcl) is quite adamant there are no "optional" features in the spec -- the only exception is for interfaces (e.g. USB, 10/100/1000-BASE-T) that can fully autonegotiate in both directions, so that there's neither a slow-machine/fast-cpu-card, nor slow-cpu-card/fast-machine case where it becomes incompatible.

yup. that's about the long and short of it. although it's at first consideration a complete pain for system designers on both sides of the interface - a nuisance for CPU Card designers because they have to substitute extra ICs such as USB-to-SATA in cases where they pick a SoC that doesn't have SATA - and bewilderment for I/O Board designers because why would they use a CPU Card in e.g. a tablet that has features they don't need such as Ethernet?? - the alternatives are absolute chaos.

the advantage: you can tell the average end-user "just buy one of these, it will work".

the alternative: think about this scenario as it is in many other standards such as Q-Seven , where you allow ethernet to be "optional" and you allow the I/O boards to "recreate" ethernet say using USB-to-Ethernet. how do you route that? well, if you think about it what you have to do is actually put down an Ethernet Hub IC on *every single I/O board*, and some sort of crazed switching, as well as put down a USB-to-Ethernet converter IC and probably a USB Hub IC as well... because the designers of the I/O board will never know if an end-user is going to plug in a CPU Card that has native Ethernet or is expecting it to be left up to the I/O Board using USB.

now expand that chaos out to SATA as well, as well as any other interfaces, and you can see immediately that a non-optional standard results in instant chaos. it's fine for Q-Seven (well... it's not. not really) where the expectation is that the Q-Seven Cards will never be removed from their carrier boards, but then why build a standard where the end-user is never expected to upgrade their system without needing a specialist degree in engineering in order to assess if the upgrade will even work?

the guiding principles behind the EOMA standards are: it must be SIMPLE, it must be OPEN, and it must work in HUGE volume.

Re:Looks interesting (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | about 9 months ago | (#44358145)

Right now EOMA-68 is trying to get off the ground with some basic low cost Allwinner based designs to build tablets, laptops etc around. Once those work (which is pretty close) we'll see some beefier cards. I can't wait for the tablets to become available, and then an A15 EOMA-68 board some time later.

oblig: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44357313)

Imagine a beowulf cluster of these!

Looks like a nice add on card... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44357973)

Looks like a nice add on I/O card. Has anyone hooked one of these to an arduino or raspberry pi?

Re:Looks like a nice add on card... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44360789)

I have successfully hooked a Teensy++ with libUSB, to the USB interface and emulated a keyboard. So yes, and it worked swimmingly.

"Boards Ship"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44358591)

What ship did the Tablet Engineering fellas board, and where are they going?

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