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Re: Are/will BCM2835s be available for hobbyists?

Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 1:21 pm
by garyamort
I look at the Pi as a great device to play with and try out a lot of neat stuff.

On the other hand, if it turns out I work out a project[such as my open source mypal], it would be great if after prototyping on the Pi, it was possible to order the processor in micro small batches[10-100] if that particular use case only ends up using such a small amount of the board function, that it\'s cheaper to buy chips and diy.

Unfortunately, because of the Raspberry Pi\'s popularity, any google search fo BCM2835 just turns up almost all links to articles about the Pi[and a very very few Roku 2 articles]. :-) So while I\'m assuming it\'s not available, I figured I\'d ask if anyone knew if it was or would be at some point.

Re: Are/will BCM2835s be available for hobbyists?

Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 1:37 pm
by Bacan
If the Hobbyists demand is there, then someone/business will bulk buy and start reselling the chips. I just wouldn\'t expect a lot of end user technical support. IMO

From what I\'ve learned on other forum threads, start practicing SMT work and skills for making your product. The size of these chips and traces blows my mind.

Re: Are/will BCM2835s be available for hobbyists?

Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 1:40 pm
by Scribe
Well if the Pi receives receives CE certification etc it\'ll be safe to use it as an end product but I can see some situations where you\'d want a custom or limited functionality board and so would be nice.

I don\'t see why Broadcom shouldn\'t simply allow RaspberryPi to resell these through the same channel as the Pi board. Sending them a few more chips doesn\'t incur any further overheads.

Re: Are/will BCM2835s be available for hobbyists?

Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 2:09 pm
by Chris
[quote]Quote from Scribe on October 21, 2011, 14:40
Well if the Pi receives receives CE certification etc it\'ll be safe to use it as an end product but I can see some situations where you\'d want a custom or limited functionality board and so would be nice.

I don\'t see why Broadcom shouldn\'t simply allow RaspberryPi to resell these through the same channel as the Pi board. Sending them a few more chips doesn\'t incur any further overheads.[/quote]

It does encour abuse though, why whould broadcom allow R-PI to in effect become a reseller and undercut the actual pricing by passing on at cost. Thats just bad business.

Re: Are/will BCM2835s be available for hobbyists?

Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 2:16 pm
by liz
Obviously, it\'s out of our hands, but I think I can give you a categorical NO on that one: it\'s not going to happen. As we\'ve said before, the business models of semiconductor companies depend on massive volumes; they\'re doing us a favour in selling us the chips in small (for them) numbers, and I don\'t think there\'s any business reason for them to go any further than they are doing already. (Also, I\'m not really interested in becoming a chip reseller; we\'ve plenty on our hands with the Raspi and accompanying bits and bobs as it is!)

Re: Are/will BCM2835s be available for hobbyists?

Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 2:46 pm
by Scribe
[quote]Quote from liz on October 21, 2011, 15:16
Obviously, it\'s out of our hands, but I think I can give you a categorical NO on that one: it\'s not going to happen. As we\'ve said before, the business models of semiconductor companies depend on massive volumes; they\'re doing us a favour in selling us the chips in small (for them) numbers, and I don\'t think there\'s any business reason for them to go any further than they are doing already. (Also, I\'m not really interested in becoming a chip reseller; we\'ve plenty on our hands with the Raspi and accompanying bits and bobs as it is!)[/quote]

I brought up the matter as I believe previously someone asked if the design files for the boards will be released as there\'s an interest in custom revisions.

Obviously unless a reseller who buys in extreme bulk picks this chip up, none of this will be possible and would heavily limit scope for anything developed on the board being distributed as a custom product or configuration.

I get that chip manufacturers deal in bulk, but if they\'re already supply it doesn\'t really make a big difference to them and I\'m not suggesting that they\'d be sold at less than cost.

Anyways oh well.

Re: Are/will BCM2835s be available for hobbyists?

Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 3:00 pm
by nullstring
TI Sells their OMAP3530 and DM3730 which are in the same class as the broadcom. I am sure there are other examples.

The benefits are clear- Allow developers and hobbyists the ability to get familiar with their chips without much investment.

When it comes time for smaller companies to decide which chip to use, they may just choose the one with which their developers are already familiar with.

One thing is clear-
With small volume, if one were to build a custom raspberry pi, it would probably end up costing closer to $100 than $25.

Re: Are/will BCM2835s be available for hobbyists?

Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 3:11 pm
by nullstring
[quote]Quote from Scribe on October 21, 2011, 15:46
I get that chip manufacturers deal in bulk, but if they\'re already supply it doesn\'t really make a big difference to them and I\'m not suggesting that they\'d be sold at less than cost.[/quote]

Well, it kind of does... We might be on the same page, but just to be explicit:

Traditionally when a manufacture orders these chips, they aren\'t even made yet. Therefore, there is less risk for the manufacture. All the chips they sell are already sold before they are even made (minus eval chips).

Digikey would do the same. They order chips before the chips are even made... but probably not in the same quantities. This could force broadcom to make more chips than they have sold because they can\'t make money when they only make ~300 chips at a time.

Now, if the chip is in active production for whatever reason, they could simply add digikey\'s 300 chips to another larger order. This would work out fine.

Re: Are/will BCM2835s be available for hobbyists?

Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 3:20 pm
by Scribe
@nullstring I agree on most of what you\'ve said but it\'s not so much about cost, as form factor, extra i/o requirements, a design that is compatible with X test etc.

Re: Are/will BCM2835s be available for hobbyists?

Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 3:49 pm
by jamesh
If developers want to get familiar with the chip - buy a Raspberry Pi....easily the cheapest approach - someone has done ALL the hard work for you.

If you want to make you own board with a BCM2835 on it it will be very expensive (ignoring the cost of the chip itself) - you cannot knock these up in your bedroom. The Raspi is a 6 layer board with some very fine pitch components on that really would require pick and place hardware to make.

As to the cost of the chip itself, the chip is made in a foundary, then sent in large batches straight to the factory making the board. To sell individual items (or even batches in the hundreds) would require a whole new way of selling for Broadcom - who currently don\'t sell direct or via reseller (AFAIK). They sell straight to manufacturers. Other semiconductor companies work in a different way - TI for example who already sell to resellers so seller their SoC in small numbers doesn\'t involve a new selling mechanism.

Re: Are/will BCM2835s be available for hobbyists?

Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 3:53 pm
by Gert van Loo
People underestimate the complexity of soldering down such a small pitch chip additionally with a PoP memory on top. We have used a very professional assembly house and they had to run a good number of boards through before they were happy. (And still I have 1 board of my 50 failing SDRAM).

Re: Are/will BCM2835s be available for hobbyists?

Posted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 10:51 am
by Blars
If you need the HDMI, embedding the R-pi in your product would be the easiest/cheapest. Otherwise, I would recomend looking at another arm chip from a vendor more freindly to small quantity devices.
(and in something other than bga and pop unless you know how to deal with bga chips)

Re: Are/will BCM2835s be available for hobbyists?

Posted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 5:15 pm
by Lob0426
The only way the current BCM2835 could easily be used by hobbyist is if it was mounted to a board that had one sort of breakout system or another. I guess if it was produced in a larger pitch it could be used also. I do not see Broadcom or any other manufacturer going out of their way to produce either solution. It would take someone in the industry to decide there would either be advantage or profit to be made, to have a solution for us hobbyist. I think the market is out there but I do not have the cash or the knowledge to bring it to market to find out if I am right. I think a SoC of the type that is in RasPi could open up just like arduino, nerdkits, picaxe and such have.

Man would it be nice to have the ability to custom produce a single or small batch of custom boards. How about a cluster of SoC\'s on one board that can be individually configured. A single board Bramble. Or maybe build your own smart router. Right now these type of components are just not available to us.

Re: Are/will BCM2835s be available for hobbyists?

Posted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 5:48 pm
by Scribe
The brings it all back to what I said earlier which is sadly it looks like the scope of systems built using the broadcom chip will be forever limited as it\'s a case of either use the Pi, which isn\'t always appropriate, or build in very large volume; and so anything in-between isn\'t really possible.

This wont stop me using the Pi, it just means if I ever intend to build something unique I\'ll have to avoid using any custom APIs and non-standard features and port to another device.

Re: Are/will BCM2835s be available for hobbyists?

Posted: Mon Oct 24, 2011 10:56 am
by garyamort
Well, bummer...though it\'s always possible Sparkfun or some other group might do something.

In the meantime, the Pi is still the best, fastest way I can see to start hacking around with a decent ARM system. The only downside is that we\'re limited to whatever pins they manage to route out to the edge...and naturally the components that actually get used by the pi itself take precedence.

Still, anything done on the Pi can be migrated to another system on processor...maybe not as good as Broadcoms, but there are choices.