jamesh
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Re: Broadcom reaction to distructive entrepreneurship

Sat Dec 03, 2011 10:37 am

One of the bests reasons for leaving the chip and firmware alone and just using the libraries is forwards compatibility. If you stick to standard Linux and the provided libraries, the underlying chip is irrelevant, so people can upgrade their Raspi\'s to new devices and all their code still works. If you change any of the underlying code there is no guarantee that will work. In fact it won\'t.

Pc\'s have worked this way for years - the underlying HW changes, but the SW still works. It\'s only when you start messing with the firmware in peripherals that things break. (on the whole). I wonder how many people out there know the pin out of the processor in their PC? Or have ever needed a datasheet?
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bradburts
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Re: Broadcom reaction to distructive entrepreneurship

Sat Dec 03, 2011 10:58 am

[quote]Quote from jamesh on December 3, 2011, 10:37
One of the bests reasons for leaving the chip and firmware alone and just using the libraries is forwards compatibility. [/quote]

Agreed. Write applications using the OS API or better still use the API of a good language (which will have cross OS support) for portability sake.
Some one has to write the drivers though.....

Scribe
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Re: Broadcom reaction to distructive entrepreneurship

Sat Dec 03, 2011 11:49 am

[quote]Quote from asb on December 3, 2011, 09:55
Scribe: based on your requirements, it seems like TI\'s BeagleBoard/BeagleBone would be more appropriate. TI commit to parts availability (apparently the BeagleBoard key components will be available for 10 years) and you can buy the chips from distributors.[/quote]

Indeed I have two of these stuck in a US warehouse waiting for delivery authorisation to the UK! I\'ll be using these to go ahead with various projects. The big downer for me is no native camera interface. They may be expensive in comparison but £62 is a non-subsidised cost , the design is open (meaning you can reach something similar) and includes 2GB MicroSD and a USB cable.

I know I cited a certain industry as an example but there are other uses I would have for something like the RaspPi, for example with its camera interface.

I don\'t think these defensive as opposed to constructive replies these posts seem to be getting are helping anyone, as far as manufacturing a PCB/component is concerned, you can\'t assume what capability the client has, you can\'t assume how they\'re going to use the design, for example what OS they\'ll be running; it\'s rare to need direct support if you have a full programming guide available to you, I\'m sure it\'s more convenient, but not needed, however if it\'s something Broadcom feels it needs to offer then like any other company it can simply charge for it, that channel just has to be open and accessible, £5k a week is a pretty acceptable pricing in the grand scheme for many. For me for example, if I get the go ahead on a project, my budget may be anywhere up to £100k for a new electronics board.

Having said that, companies with similar markets such as TI have proven that it is possible to provide products and enough details for community use and community support and even reuse elements in their own reference software, they can sell to distributors in larger numbers than individual clients in order to keep costs reasonable, but again, anyone expecting to buy only 1000 chips expects a premium, I\'m not digging in at Broadcom for this, I\'m digging in that they don\'t offer the chip even at a premium, there\'s simply no choice.

Anyway I\'ll stop here, I think what I\'m trying to say is clear for those reading and people can just gather their own thoughts about it all, I\'m not writing to fight for anything, just to lay out what the concerns and difficulties may be in the hopes some solutions may be considered or offered in the future.

jamesh
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Re: Broadcom reaction to distructive entrepreneurship

Sat Dec 03, 2011 1:37 pm

[quote]Quote from bradburts on December 3, 2011, 10:58
[quote]Quote from jamesh on December 3, 2011, 10:37
One of the bests reasons for leaving the chip and firmware alone and just using the libraries is forwards compatibility. [/quote]

Agreed. Write applications using the OS API or better still use the API of a good language (which will have cross OS support) for portability sake.
Some one has to write the drivers though.....
[/quote]

And the drivers are already written (or in the process of being written) by the experts at Broadcom. It\'s not as if they sell these chips to the end user without them.....manufacturers are very demanding nowadays and need all this stuff up front and demonstrated.
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jamesh
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Re: Broadcom reaction to distructive entrepreneurship

Sat Dec 03, 2011 1:52 pm

[quote]Quote from Scribe on December 3, 2011, 11:49
[quote]Quote from asb on December 3, 2011, 09:55
Scribe: based on your requirements, it seems like TI\'s BeagleBoard/BeagleBone would be more appropriate. TI commit to parts availability (apparently the BeagleBoard key components will be available for 10 years) and you can buy the chips from distributors.[/quote]

Indeed I have two of these stuck in a US warehouse waiting for delivery authorisation to the UK! I\'ll be using these to go ahead with various projects. The big downer for me is no native camera interface. They may be expensive in comparison but £62 is a non-subsidised cost , the design is open (meaning you can reach something similar) and includes 2GB MicroSD and a USB cable.

I know I cited a certain industry as an example but there are other uses I would have for something like the RaspPi, for example with its camera interface.

I don\'t think these defensive as opposed to constructive replies these posts seem to be getting are helping anyone, as far as manufacturing a PCB/component is concerned, you can\'t assume what capability the client has, you can\'t assume how they\'re going to use the design, for example what OS they\'ll be running; it\'s rare to need direct support if you have a full programming guide available to you, I\'m sure it\'s more convenient, but not needed, however if it\'s something Broadcom feels it needs to offer then like any other company it can simply charge for it, that channel just has to be open and accessible, £5k a week is a pretty acceptable pricing in the grand scheme for many. For me for example, if I get the go ahead on a project, my budget may be anywhere up to £100k for a new electronics board.

Having said that, companies with similar markets such as TI have proven that it is possible to provide products and enough details for community use and community support and even reuse elements in their own reference software, they can sell to distributors in larger numbers than individual clients in order to keep costs reasonable, but again, anyone expecting to buy only 1000 chips expects a premium, I\'m not digging in at Broadcom for this, I\'m digging in that they don\'t offer the chip even at a premium, there\'s simply no choice.

Anyway I\'ll stop here, I think what I\'m trying to say is clear for those reading and people can just gather their own thoughts about it all, I\'m not writing to fight for anything, just to lay out what the concerns and difficulties may be in the hopes some solutions may be considered or offered in the future.[/quote]

TI have always used distributors. Broadcom have never used distributors. Putting in a distributor network would not be cost effective - would you spend $10M setting up a distie network to sell chips in quantities of 1000 at a time? I think that would be a real waste of money.

What you are asking is for Broadcom to completely change the way they do business. Brcm share price $30, TI shareprice $30 and BRCM have half the market cap. Why change a system that works?

Please take my figures above (£5k/wk) as probably grossly inaccurate. I don\'t do that stuff. Just remembered we have contractors at £1000/day so that 5k is probably woefully too small taking in account overheads etc.
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jamesh
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Re: Broadcom reaction to distructive entrepreneurship

Sat Dec 03, 2011 2:08 pm

[quote]Quote from Scribe on December 3, 2011, 11:49
.. it\'s rare to need direct support if you have a full programming guide available to you
[/quote]

Sorry, just re-read that middle phrase.

Made me laugh. If you think a programming guide is good enough to work on the internal of a chip like this, well, you are in for some disappointment.

To do a decent guide for the Videocore 4 (ignore the Arm), from designing it in to a circuit to being able to customise the firmware would be at least a 3000 page manual. Not only that but a programming guide is just not enough. There are aspects of controlling the chip that require experience. These are not simply devices that just giving a register set and number to plumb in to them is good enough to make work. Even now we are finding tweaks and issues in the VC4 that need experience in the chip to get round. Only yesterday I needed to get help from the ASIC designers of the VC4 to fix a weird issue. That sort of experience cannot be written down.

Having said that, I think things are improving. Going to SoC\'s from co-processors mean a large reduction in difficulty in the plumbing, but there are still problems always popping up. With the SoC we are able to provide standard Linux builds and libraries giving people access to the GPU features without a lot of the pain. Still work in progress but getting better. This should mean that less support is needed so quantities don\'t need to be so high to make money. The Raspi could well be a game changer here; if the libraries are good enough that Broadcom can sell chips with NO support, then there is no barrier to selling in very low quantities. Not there yet though.
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bradburts
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Re: Broadcom reaction to distructive entrepreneurship

Sat Dec 03, 2011 2:11 pm

That\'s great if drivers are available.
It would be even better if the drivers, datasheets etc were released.
I would imagine that this reference design will be released to OEMs.

I am sure that the experts at Broadcom will do their best. Bet there are bugs though.
When information is not available you may end up working to someone else\'s priorities or schedule. The beauty of open source is exactly that, its open source, you can make your own way.
Its hard to predict needs. What if a university wanted to create a MIMD array to find a cure for cancer. Would the existing API & documentation be good enough to properly harness the GPU? What about a new compression format? I dunno and guess that no-one else would.

It is indeed common that manufacturers provide drivers and that this software is not available to the ordinary man. Ask a sample of Linux driver writter what they would like for Christmas though :)
I am sure that we are in good hands. Just don\'t understand why stuff shouldn\'t be released.
PS
I used to write drivers, I wouldn\'t place too much faith in experts - X Spurt as they say ;)

Scribe
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Re: Broadcom reaction to distructive entrepreneurship

Sat Dec 03, 2011 2:12 pm

[quote]Quote from jamesh on December 3, 2011, 13:52
TI have always used distributors. Broadcom have never used distributors. Putting in a distributor network would not be cost effective - would you spend $10M setting up a distie network to sell chips in quantities of 1000 at a time? I think that would be a real waste of money.

What you are asking is for Broadcom to completely change the way they do business. Brcm share price $30, TI shareprice $30 and BRCM have half the market cap. Why change a system that works?

Please take my figures above (£5k/wk) as probably grossly inaccurate. I don\'t do that stuff. Just remembered we have contractors at £1000/day so that 5k is probably woefully too small taking in account overheads etc.[/quote]

If you think it costs $10million to set-up a relationship between a distributor that can ship world-wide then you\'re grossly mistaken. The idea of a distributor is that you ship to one location and they handle the rest including appropriate pricing from that point onwards, all you worry about is shipping to them at a single location with the relevant shipping certificates and classifications as you would any client, that\'s the whole idea. Yes of course there are overheads, but $10million? No way and you just simply adjust your unit price to reflect any typical overheads and I am not suggesting the set-up of an huge network of multiple distributors, there\'s simply no need for one.

Did RaspberryPi foundation just spend $10million arranging to deliver the RaspberryPi to people? Did Broadcom spend $10million arranging to deliver their chip to RaspberryPi\'s PCB assembler? Something tells me no. Why change a system that works? Well why bother doing so for the RaspberryPi? Somewhere, someone wants to help and it\'s not all about money, not that I\'m suggesting it\'s not possible to make money from distribution, because it is.

Regarding contractors, perhaps there are those who come from such lines of work on these very forums and interested in using the RaspberryPi? With TI there\'re many 3rd party firms you can seek support from at all stages in the pipeline, if these don\'t exist for Broadcom then all this does is go back to the issue of Broadcom not disclosing technical documentation or providing an initial training service for such firms - but then this would naturally come with a move to distributing products.

bradburts
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Re: Broadcom reaction to distructive entrepreneurship

Sat Dec 03, 2011 2:22 pm

[quote]Quote from jamesh on December 3, 2011, 13:52
[Please take my figures above (£5k/wk) as probably grossly inaccurate. I don\'t do that stuff. Just remembered we have contractors at £1000/day.[/quote]

What do you need doing for £1000 a day?
Its just that I might be able to save you some money ...... ;)

Bet its those RF types. What with the cost of small furry animals these days for the full moon sacrifices....

Scribe
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Re: Broadcom reaction to distructive entrepreneurship

Sat Dec 03, 2011 2:33 pm

[quote]Quote from jamesh on December 3, 2011, 14:08
[quote]Quote from Scribe on December 3, 2011, 11:49
.. it\'s rare to need direct support if you have a full programming guide available to you
[/quote]

Sorry, just re-read that middle phrase.

Made me laugh. If you think a programming guide is good enough to work on the internal of a chip like this, well, you are in for some disappointment.

To do a decent guide for the Videocore 4 (ignore the Arm), from designing it in to a circuit to being able to customise the firmware would be at least a 3000 page manual. Not only that but a programming guide is just not enough. There are aspects of controlling the chip that require experience. These are not simply devices that just giving a register set and number to plumb in to them is good enough to make work. Even now we are finding tweaks and issues in the VC4 that need experience in the chip to get round. Only yesterday I needed to get help from the ASIC designers of the VC4 to fix a weird issue. That sort of experience cannot be written down.

Having said that, I think things are improving. Going to SoC\'s from co-processors mean a large reduction in difficulty in the plumbing, but there are still problems always popping up. With the SoC we are able to provide standard Linux builds and libraries giving people access to the GPU features without a lot of the pain. Still work in progress but getting better. This should mean that less support is needed so quantities don\'t need to be so high to make money. The Raspi could well be a game changer here; if the libraries are good enough that Broadcom can sell chips with NO support, then there is no barrier to selling in very low quantities. Not there yet though.[/quote]

Having used technical guides of many thousands of pages myself (of which most tend to be register descriptions) and for ARM cortex processors with many external elements, I can say aside from minor issues that have typically been a silicon fix, you can indeed program a chip from the programming guide alone, that\'s why it\'s called a programming guide!

From what you\'re saying, moving to SoC and Linux is something fairly new for Broadcom and so I can understand that such an element is not ready yet, but again, if the Pi is to become a game changer, then as much detail as possible needs to be exposed, and again, assuming you know what a client needs is always a grave mistake. Generally I\'d say if it\'s information you supply to a current client, it\'s probably something you should supply to the RPi community in order to observe the growth you are hopeful for.

If a particular issue is found by those with experience, the idea is they write it down and update the guide... I\'m also not suggesting at this stage as to what depth of the SoC should be exposed or remain blackbox and modular. All I can say is many firms large or small have their own RnD department/team, usually with someone willing to dedicate a lot of time to a chip they may reuse several times over, however, without technical documents, that process of becoming experienced can not even begin. The same goes for the Open Source community, there are some serious hard workers who for no reason at all would probably love to work with and improve support for the Pi\'s SoC but they need information and details to work with.

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Re: Broadcom reaction to distructive entrepreneurship

Sat Dec 03, 2011 2:37 pm

[quote]Quote from bradburts on December 3, 2011, 14:22
[quote]Quote from jamesh on December 3, 2011, 13:52
[Please take my figures above (£5k/wk) as probably grossly inaccurate. I don\'t do that stuff. Just remembered we have contractors at £1000/day.[/quote]

What do you need doing for £1000 a day?
Its just that I might be able to save you some money ...... ;)

Bet its those RF types. What with the cost of small furry animals these days for the full moon sacrifices....[/quote]

Got to say it\'s a little steep, this is the thing, make information available, more people gain experience, support market saturates, prices drop.

bradburts
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Re: Broadcom reaction to distructive entrepreneurship

Sat Dec 03, 2011 2:50 pm

[quote]Quote from Scribe on December 3, 2011, 14:37
Got to say it\'s a little steep, this is the thing, make information available, more people gain experience, support market saturates, prices drop.[/quote]

Speaking as a developer I say NO! NEVER!
Don\'t tell them anything, keep contract rates high.
If they start to catch on then invent a new language or development process.
Contract rates haven\'t moved on from the 90\'s. Its not easy maintaining fast cars and the mistress in the flat you know.

Companys have a capital base, costs, depreciation etc & we don\'t expect them to share their money or tools do we? Well I have an intellectual base and the same goes for me.
Think my assets depreciated and became obsolete a few years ago
though.

jamesh
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Re: Broadcom reaction to distructive entrepreneurship

Sat Dec 03, 2011 4:10 pm

Sounds like you lot should be working for Broadcom if you find it all so easy. Send in your CV\'s - we are always on the lookout for good people. Prepare yourself for the 5 hour interview (which I will be in on if you are lucky - I\'m pretty easy going),and prepare to find out that a) you are not quite as good as you think you are, or b) that things are somewhat more complicated than you think they are. That\'s what happened to me. I\'m still behind where I would like to be knowledge wise after over three years.

Setting up a distie is more than sending them the chips when they need them. What about training? That would take months, and would have to be done by Broadcom. What about setting up all the accounting practices required to service the distributors? What about all the extra apps engineers that Broadcom would need to employ to service the distributors? C\'mon people - think about what you are saying/asking for. All these things cost a lot more money than many of you seem to think, and that money has to come from chip sales.

The GPU is not being open sourced and there is nothing you lot can do the change that. I don\'t know about the Linux side libraries - they may go open. Broadcom are NOT going to release technical information to all and sundry that may give competitors an advantage. I\'m not going to apologise for it, its Broadcom\'s choice to ensure shareholder value, and I\'ve tried to explain some of the reasoning.

And you know what, to 99.99% of the Raspberry Pi user case, that previous paragraph make no difference whatsoever. They don\'t give a damn whether the GPU code is OSS, they just want the machine to work. And it does.

Use the libraries. They work and provide users with all they will need. OSS won\'t hurry them up, or get them out of the door any faster. They will be released when they are finished, they may have bugs, which will get fixed (remember, Raspi are not the only customer - there are MUCH more important ones who need bugs fixed asap). Chill people, you don\'t need to do anything - it will all get done for you. Patience is a virtue.
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Scribe
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Re: Broadcom reaction to distructive entrepreneurship

Sat Dec 03, 2011 4:31 pm

[quote]Quote from jamesh on December 3, 2011, 16:10
Sounds like you lot should be working for Broadcom if you find it all so easy. Send in your CV\'s - we are always on the lookout for good people. Prepare yourself for the 5 hour interview (which I will be in on if you are lucky - I\'m pretty easy going),and prepare to find out that a) you are not quite as good as you think you are, or b) that things are somewhat more complicated than you think they are. That\'s what happened to me. I\'m still behind where I would like to be knowledge wise after over three years.

Setting up a distie is more than sending them the chips when they need them. What about training? That would take months, and would have to be done by Broadcom. What about setting up all the accounting practices required to service the distributors? What about all the extra apps engineers that Broadcom would need to employ to service the distributors? C\'mon people - think about what you are saying/asking for. All these things cost a lot more money than many of you seem to think, and that money has to come from chip sales.

The GPU is not being open sourced and there is nothing you lot can do the change that. I don\'t know about the Linux side libraries - they may go open. Broadcom are NOT going to release technical information to all and sundry that may give competitors an advantage. I\'m not going to apologise for it, its Broadcom\'s choice to ensure shareholder value, and I\'ve tried to explain some of the reasoning.

And you know what, to 99.99% of the Raspberry Pi user case, that previous paragraph make no difference whatsoever. They don\'t give a damn whether the GPU code is OSS, they just want the machine to work. And it does.

Use the libraries. They work and provide users with all they will need. OSS won\'t hurry them up, or get them out of the door any faster. They will be released when they are finished, they may have bugs, which will get fixed (remember, Raspi are not the only customer - there are MUCH more important ones who need bugs fixed asap). Chill people, you don\'t need to do anything - it will all get done for you. Patience is a virtue.
[/quote]

Do you even know what a distributor is?! Distributors don\'t provide support or need engineers =S and again, distribution is not a complex accounting exercise, especially for a single distributor, my clients do have distributors and they certainly didn\'t pay much for dealing with them otherwise what\'s the point in them existing! As I\'ve explained already, if there are still smaller overheads, compensate chip sales for unit cost like everyone else in the world.

I think you\'re under the impression that somehow Broadcom will have to do something if it made products available via distribution, as history has shown, all that will happen is 3rd parties will capitalise on any gaps in the market and quickly fill the support and development gaps provided you release the standard level of documents and perhaps offer a for-profit training service.

And who\'s been talking about the GPU at any point here? Certainly not me, I\'m talking about basic operation of the SoC, GPU can be a black box for all I care, if it works it works. I\'m sure some would be interested but that\'s not a first step to wider availability of the product.

bradburts
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Re: Broadcom reaction to distructive entrepreneurship

Sat Dec 03, 2011 6:00 pm

[quote]Quote from jamesh on December 3, 2011, 16:10
Sounds like you lot should be working for Broadcom if you find it all so easy. Send in your CV\'s - we are always on the lookout for good people. Prepare yourself for the 5 hour interview (which I will be in on if you are lucky - I\'m pretty easy going),and prepare to find out that a) you are not quite as good as you think you are, or b) that things are somewhat more complicated than you think they are. That\'s what happened to me. I\'m still behind where I would like to be knowledge wise after over three years.
[/quote]

I don\'t think anyone said that it was easy, I am sure that the technical challenges are very hard indeed.
Wouldn\'t be fun otherwise would it?

The view is simply that sharing driver source etc helps move the thing forward quicker. You would then be allowed to use copy left source within your drivers which may help save costs?

Its fun to look at how things are put together, so put it all down to envy if you like.

Neil
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Re: Broadcom reaction to distructive entrepreneurship

Sat Dec 03, 2011 9:13 pm

[quote]Quote from bradburts
The view is simply that sharing driver source etc helps move the thing forward quicker.[/quote]

I thought all ARM-side drivers are going to be open source:

http://www.raspberrypi.org/forum?mingle ... opic&t=569

Or am I misreading that?

As far as I understand it the only closed source components are the GPU firmware, and the userland OpenGL library of which there are already open-source equivalents if you wish to study such things.

Anyway, this is veering wildly off the original topic and back onto the old dead horse of open-source yadda yadda yadda whine whine yadda itsnotfair blaa blaa itssoooounfair etc etc. That horse was boiled down to Sugru a long time ago...

bradburts
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Re: Broadcom reaction to distructive entrepreneurship

Sat Dec 03, 2011 9:57 pm

Thanks for the link, that explains it all well.

Unfair got nuffing to do with it. If I am going to select a platform for a product then open has certain advantages.
The dealership & chips issue issue is a shame - it would seem to make it a lot harder for a small developer with an idea to get started, I may be misreading that point.

jamesh
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Re: Broadcom reaction to distructive entrepreneurship

Sun Dec 04, 2011 8:56 am

[quote]Quote from Scribe on December 3, 2011, 16:31
Do you even know what a distributor is?! Distributors don\'t provide support or need engineers =S and again, distribution is not a complex accounting exercise, especially for a single distributor, my clients do have distributors and they certainly didn\'t pay much for dealing with them otherwise what\'s the point in them existing! As I\'ve explained already, if there are still smaller overheads, compensate chip sales for unit cost like everyone else in the world.

I think you\'re under the impression that somehow Broadcom will have to do something if it made products available via distribution, as history has shown, all that will happen is 3rd parties will capitalise on any gaps in the market and quickly fill the support and development gaps provided you release the standard level of documents and perhaps offer a for-profit training service.
[/quote]

The point is that if you distribute chips, you have to support them. Who has all those engineers with all the required skills? If the distributor is untrained, that just leaves Broadcom, so Broadcom would need to do the support. Which isn\'t cost effective for low volumes. A third party is unable to come to the rescue because there simply isn\'t the knowledge outside of Broadcom. Which is the whole point I\'ve been trying to get across, that if Broadcom used distributors, Broadcom would need to do the support because there isn\'t anyone else. Also, if all a distributor did was take Broadcom chips, add a markup and sell them on with no support, why have them? Broadcom may as well sell direct and take the markup themselves.

On the subject of third party support, these chips have a shelf live of, I dunno, 3 or 4 years? So there is constant turnover of knowledge (a lot moves from generation to generation of course). That a lot of knowledge for a third party to keep up to date on. They of course need training from Broadcom. More money. Let\'s say a third party needs a team of 10 to support a single complex SoC (Broadcom have many different chips so that needs multiplying up depending on which chips you support). That\'s say $1M a year in salary. Let\'s say you make $10 per chip profit (made up figure - I do not know how much profit could be made). You need to sell 100k chips a year just to break even on salaries! I just cannot see the numbers adding up.

Anyway, as Neil said, it\'s all been and done before. I\'m signing off on this one.
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Scribe
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Re: Broadcom reaction to distructive entrepreneurship

Sun Dec 04, 2011 1:17 pm

[quote]Quote from jamesh on December 4, 2011, 08:56
The point is that if you distribute chips, you have to support them. Who has all those engineers with all the required skills? If the distributor is untrained, that just leaves Broadcom, so Broadcom would need to do the support. Which isn\'t cost effective for low volumes. A third party is unable to come to the rescue because there simply isn\'t the knowledge outside of Broadcom. Which is the whole point I\'ve been trying to get across, that if Broadcom used distributors, Broadcom would need to do the support because there isn\'t anyone else. Also, if all a distributor did was take Broadcom chips, add a markup and sell them on with no support, why have them? Broadcom may as well sell direct and take the markup themselves.

On the subject of third party support, these chips have a shelf live of, I dunno, 3 or 4 years? So there is constant turnover of knowledge (a lot moves from generation to generation of course). That a lot of knowledge for a third party to keep up to date on. They of course need training from Broadcom. More money. Let\'s say a third party needs a team of 10 to support a single complex SoC (Broadcom have many different chips so that needs multiplying up depending on which chips you support). That\'s say $1M a year in salary. Let\'s say you make $10 per chip profit (made up figure - I do not know how much profit could be made). You need to sell 100k chips a year just to break even on salaries! I just cannot see the numbers adding up.

Anyway, as Neil said, it\'s all been and done before. I\'m signing off on this one.[/quote]

Again, everything you\'ve said assumes that Broadcom would be the ones absorbing the cost, which is not the case. Dedicated support companies will, as you suggest, be intimate and experienced with various dedicated chip designs and certainly with ARM components which change less often and so there\'s less to learn and they can become intimate quickly. Such companies will likely not limit their knowledge base to Broadcom only or only one or two chips, they may have specialists for certain areas of course, perhaps a specialist in bus protocols for example. I also wouldn\'t suggest that they follow the same working structure or salary rate as Broadcom, especially if the team is in-house and not contracted, truthfully we can\'t put numbers on other companies salaries very easily but there are many skilled individuals who will work for different levels of pay.

These companies will PAY to learn, what\'s in it for them is knowledge to support a larger client base, improve their brand etc and they can recuperate costs, for example, by offering group training sessions in the basics and support of many chips types, allowing them to forge company level, not silicon level support relationships with greater value to them.

Currently, the wording you use suggests that Broadcom somehow loses out from the support its customers, that it\'s included in the costing. By having third party approaches available, Broadcom would not have to make such a loss, though of course it may wish to include support on a per client basis as it deems appropriate for good business just like any other company.

Distributors do NOT support the products they distribute, yes people may look to Broadcom if Broadcom have not seeded third party support or especially opened up any documentation, naturally, someone buying a product would expect the documentation to be available or obtainable but no one expects an instant right to support, it is the job of a company to evaluate suitability themselves, determine if they have capacity to develop in-house support, third party solutions, what level of knowledge is required for their implementation etc, with the RaspberryPi as an example being an appropriate eval platform.

Why use distributors if they mark-up? Because clearly distributors can do the job of distribution for a lot less, mark-up much less and still keep the product commercially viable, which with the kind of numbers you\'ve supplied, Broadcom clearly can not.

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abishur
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Re: Broadcom reaction to distructive entrepreneurship

Sun Dec 04, 2011 2:20 pm

And since Scribe is surely speaking as the head as a multi-national corporation, and clearly broadcom has their head up their bum for *never* have done a cost analysis of this issue (or else they *obviously* would have the same opinion as scribe) I think we all need to bow to the superiority of scribes first hand knowledge
Dear forum: Play nice ;-)

bradburts
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Re: Broadcom reaction to distructive entrepreneurship

Sun Dec 04, 2011 2:45 pm

Even though views differs we should still keep it polite.
I don\'t know if there are any heads of multi-national corporations here nor that if there were that their view would automatically be more valid (EDIT: valid to the company of course, but perpetually the best route?). There is an increased chance perhaps. I think though that a defining characteristic of the corp head would be inquisitiveness, looking for a new opening, a new edge (EDIT: and Scribe\'s view may be or lead to it).
I used to buy Motorola PPC boards from distributers. Used to get good support from the distributer (at least until purchasing moved to the cheapest supplier to save a few $). I could not get hold of Motorola at any time, I always had to go through the supplier.
I don\'t see why the same could not apply.
Support is an important factor when making chip/board selections. Support can come from many sources. If chips are out there then someone will blog and it all helps.
Personnaly I think that the pins on these chips are way too small for me to play with.

If I were to take a guess then I would guess that Scribe has the experience, has a cool idea and is frustrated that he cannot get the chips.
Nothing wrong with that.

Scribe
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Re: Broadcom reaction to distructive entrepreneurship

Sun Dec 04, 2011 3:30 pm

[quote]Quote from abishur on December 4, 2011, 14:20
And since Scribe is surely speaking as the head as a multi-national corporation, and clearly broadcom has their head up their bum for *never* have done a cost analysis of this issue (or else they *obviously* would have the same opinion as scribe) I think we all need to bow to the superiority of scribes first hand knowledge[/quote]

I am not suggesting that somehow I know better, I don\'t need to, there are plenty of other multi-national firms out there that have *somehow* managed to come out with a profitable model or costing that involves the use of distribution in lower unit numbers. That\'s a fact.

If Broadcom did costing and wasn\'t happy with it, did they consider value added benefits? What had led to such high costs? Is it something that can be streamlined or adjusted to work with better costing, can it be done better? Are salaries appropriate to the job? Have all possible approaches been considered?

Clearly from replies received thus far the notion of how support can be offered, how unit costs can be adjusted, how to make a chip supply reach a distributor or client feels very fixed and inflexible. These are all signs that not all avenues for an efficient costing model have been considered.

If I were to look at this from a smaller scale, a distributor orders 3000 chips, it doesn\'t take anyone with special training to arrange a delivery to a location, likely there will be a procedure in place as it\'s now a known distributor relationship, certainly there will be an existing relationship with a delivery provider, likely able to ship at a low cost. As this is a distributor order, lead times can be flexible, giving chance to find the most appropriate and efficient manner of retrieving chips from the assembly line and shipping them cost effectively. Chips also have the advantage of being small and light and thus cheap to ship. There will be paperwork required, certificates etc, though these will be identified as a one off when a new product is introduced, not an in-depth task, there will already be a lot of this infrastructure/procedure in-place for current shipping direct to various clients. As chips are components they need not be warranted as an end-user product, only free from initial defect, an agreement with the distributor will allow for defective products to be returned and dealt with in an efficient and bulk manner if necessary.

If the issue is something like, how can this be accounted for cost-effectively? Then some questions relating to the ratio of overheads to actual running costs should perhaps be raised.

One of my current clients ships components world-wide and has relationships direct with clients and with both Chinese manufacturing and foreign distribution firms and I can safely say that the overheads of arranging this infrastructure were within the scope of one person\'s minimum wage salary for a brief period of time, along with standard auditing from their compliance department as with any new procedures. Changes to accounting were within the current accounting remit and thus negligible.

Ignoring the matter of product support, of which there are several possible routes, even though understanding that Broadcom is a large multi-national firm, how is it possible to go from this simple paradigm to millions of dollars without claiming to have either inefficient procedures, overpaid staff or some kind of self-created corporate wall preventing the company from moving or adapting at the pace seen from many other firms?

I don\'t know, I don\'t work from Broadcom, but there\'s an element of common sense and a feeling of inflexibility in the responses received that suggests there\'s something up.

obarthelemy
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Re: Broadcom reaction to distructive entrepreneurship

Sun Dec 04, 2011 3:54 pm

@scribe: I think you\'re overlooking the fact the Broadcom think their architecture, both hardware and software (the 2 can\'t really be split apart at that low a level) gives them a competitive advantage. They don\'t want to make that info public in anyway, for fear of being copied (or spotted copying someone ^^). NDAs, non-competes and confidentiality agreements only go so far and are very hard to enforce / follow up on anyway, so I can understand them.
So, support has to be in-house. As Jamesh said, Broadcom will be very happy to set that up for you in exchange for commensurate remuneration/sales. Sorry they\'re not interested in low-volume, end-user markets. Few chipmakers are, especially for bleeding-edge tech, like the VideoCore4.
I personally feel lucky they\'re OK with working with the piddling Pi Foundation (no offense :-p ), and receptive to some opening up. I\'m counting my blessings, let\'s not spoil a good thing by endlessly bitching to poor Pi guys caught in the middle about openness / features / prices / whatever ?

Since I\'m not working with Pi nor Broadcom, let me spell it out:
- Broadcom controls the info, and want to keep it in-houser. For good or bad reasons is immaterial.
- The guys from Pi can\'t do anything about it, especially since Broadcom is already mighty nice to let them buy parts, use proprietary knowledge, experts, and expensive equipment. For Pi, pissing Broadcom off by endless whining can\'t achieve anything good. The message has been passed on, and I\'m sure Broadcom is, independently, aware of the issue.
- End users bitching to Pi achieves nothing, except spoiling the fun for the (volunteer) Pi guys (and gal). Bitching to Broadcom would be a bit more relevant, but probably more hurtful, they\'d probably dislike being pissed on when trying to do a Good Thing (tm).
- The deal regarding what\'s open or not has been discussed and documented to death. It\'s take it or leave it, it\'s not like Broadcom is a convicted monopoly ^^

jacklang
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Re: Broadcom reaction to distructive entrepreneurship

Sun Dec 04, 2011 3:57 pm

You can\'t ignore the question of support. These are complex chips, with complex interfaces
To get the best out of them the development team has to be extremely knowledgeable. That is where the cost lies.

Scribe
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Re: Broadcom reaction to distructive entrepreneurship

Sun Dec 04, 2011 4:10 pm

[quote]Quote from obarthelemy on December 4, 2011, 15:54
@scribe: I think you\'re overlooking the fact the Broadcom think their architecture, both hardware and software (the 2 can\'t really be split apart at that low a level) gives them a competitive advantage. They don\'t want to make that info public in anyway, for fear of being copied (or spotted copying someone ^^). NDAs, non-competes and confidentiality agreements only go so far and are very hard to enforce / follow up on anyway, so I can understand them.
So, support has to be in-house. As Jamesh said, Broadcom will be very happy to set that up for you in exchange for commensurate remuneration/sales. Sorry they\'re not interested in low-volume, end-user markets. Few chipmakers are, especially for bleeding-edge tech, like the VideoCore4.
I personally feel lucky they\'re OK with working with the piddling Pi Foundation (no offense :-p ), and receptive to some opening up. I\'m counting my blessings, let\'s not spoil a good thing by endlessly bitching to poor Pi guys caught in the middle about openness / features / prices / whatever ?

Since I\'m not working with Pi nor Broadcom, let me spell it out:
- Broadcom controls the info, and want to keep it in-houser. For good or bad reasons is immaterial.
- The guys from Pi can\'t do anything about it, especially since Broadcom is already mighty nice to let them buy parts, use proprietary knowledge, experts, and expensive equipment. For Pi, pissing Broadcom off by endless whining can\'t achieve anything good. The message has been passed on, and I\'m sure Broadcom is, independently, aware of the issue.
- End users bitching to Pi achieves nothing, except spoiling the fun for the (volunteer) Pi guys (and gal). Bitching to Broadcom would be a bit more relevant, but probably more hurtful, they\'d probably dislike being pissed on when trying to do a Good Thing (tm).
- The deal regarding what\'s open or not has been discussed and documented to death. It\'s take it or leave it, it\'s not like Broadcom is a convicted monopoly ^^[/quote]

I\'ll be clear, I\'m going to buy a Pi for personal use, I hold nothing against the team and thank them, I just think it\'s a shame that its use commercially is limited and for this reason am a little upset that when just wishing to discuss how and why, and incredibly over defensive posture and excuses relating to costing are the focus of discussion when deep down we all know, as you\'ve said, that this isn\'t the key motivation of not making datasheets available and chips in low-volume. I\'m not seeking a Broadcom response or action, only to highlight the matter which, again as you\'ve said, is not a practise only followed by Broadcom, but sadly has an impact on many smaller firms, markets and start-up projects.

I think however, that there\'s a key difference between exposing how to operate an SoC vs how it\'s put together and how each component functions internally and would implore for the sake of open development and the success of the Pi that Broadcom considers a datasheet and manual, that perhaps doesn\'t go into as much depth in areas as would be typical, so that the community can have something to work with.

[quote]Quote from jacklang on December 4, 2011, 15:57
You can\'t ignore the question of support. These are complex chips, with complex interfaces
To get the best out of them the development team has to be extremely knowledgeable. That is where the cost lies.
[/quote]

Sorry, I\'m not ignoring, only that I\'ve suggested approaches in previous posts that exist currently in the industry.

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