ubergeek63
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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:06 am

Quote from jamesh on September 6, 2011, 16:48
You cannot possible get all the information in an app note that is required to get some of these chips working in a product. You have to have engineers working on it. For example, I spent some weeks in Korea working with Samsung, along with a number of other Apps engineers. There is no way that the knowledge we used to get that product out could have been put down on paper in a useful fashion.

Hmm... software guy...I think it might be time for a helpful analogy, even if you are familiar with it others will not be:

comparing software with hardware assuming VHDL or some other hardware definition language (almost a given these days)...

the program gets compiled into source code for most languages for loading into the hardware (even hardware definition languages in the case of FPGAs) or into a mask sets for mass produced ICs such as these processors to the tune of probably $100K each and 3-5 tries before getting something good enough for production. This is actually cut down quite a bit these days by loading stuff into FPGAs for functional logic testing before going to mask sets and fighting with the inevitable timing and tolerance issues.

The register set is the API for the chip which in software is not patentable per US case law. It is how you talk to the chip the same as an API is how the programs you write talk to the OS.

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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:40 am

Quote from jamesh on September 7, 2011, 12:04
And frankly, yes, the chips really are that good.

As an aside, do you complain to Ford (insert car company of choice) that you cannot get the blueprints of the engine in your car, even though you wouldn't be able to do anything anyway to make the engine better? The engine is like the GPU - a black box, that works, works well, but would be too complicated for most people (apart from Ford's) to improve. The API (throttle etc) is standard, but 100% of people *using* it have no need of the blueprints. They use the API.
Point taken, and I just have to take your word for it about the chips as on a quick look I could not find power and performance specs, only a brag sheet.

Actually that IS apples and oranges. With time and effort anyone could talk to the GPU manually in binary. Less time with ANY compiler. And of course less with the custom software normally used to talk to it that was most likely written by cross discipline HW/SW guys with the aid of the HW designers.

A car engine by comparison IS hardware and can not be changed it that manner requiring a complete rebuild perhaps boring out the cylinders to goose the horse power. This has changed a bit in recent years with the computer ignition systems that you might be able to command different things to happen but that is really just an API.

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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Wed Sep 07, 2011 12:54 pm

Quote from liz on September 7, 2011, 11:01
Thanks. I know this a subject a lot of us are very passionate about, and we really do welcome debate. Just keep it friendly!
I actually see two conflicting problems here.

one is my customers who have asked five years ago, after having it explained to them that we can not produce their custom hardware for them at Walmart prices, if we could not just reprogram a media frame to run their tread mills a display the treadmill animations and control interface.

My reasonable assumptions that you are getting the normal 1M/yr price on the chips, not getting an abnormal discount on the PCB mfg, and that the chip accounts for 1/2 the components cost, puts your cost for the chip at $6 if your team are doing it all for free and $3 if you are getting modest salaries. I would need to pay $12-15 for that type of performance for the chip or $70-125 for a module...

Which brings me to your problem. Unless otherwise restricted, many companies like the one I work for (at least 4 customers would average 1500 units a year each), would simply integrate the R-Pi onto their interface hardware. As such you would need to either clamp down on them or preferably make it a buy one give two to undeveloped nations.

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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:06 pm

Like I said earlier - Eben's talking about this in a conference in about 15 minutes. I'll post a video when I can.
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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:39 pm

Quote from liz on September 7, 2011, 14:06
Like I said earlier - Eben's talking about this in a conference in about 15 minutes. I'll post a video when I can.
Thanks... let me know if I was in the ballpark...I have surprised people in the passed with my estimates

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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Wed Sep 07, 2011 2:05 pm

Quote from ubergeek63 on September 7, 2011, 13:54
Which brings me to your problem. Unless otherwise restricted, many companies like the one I work for (at least 4 customers would average 1500 units a year each), would simply integrate the R-Pi onto their interface hardware. As such you would need to either clamp down on them or preferably make it a buy one give two to undeveloped nations.

I'm not on the Raspi board - just a helper, so I don't know what their thoughts on this are, but personally I see no reason why someone could NOT buy a whole batch of Raspi's and build them in to their own equipment.

In fact, I would encourage it! The more that get sold, the more money comes in to provide the charity work, and to produce more and better Raspi's.

It might not be possible straight away - I think just putting quantity : 1500 on a webpage order might not work...it would need a custom ordering process (ie talk to Liz), and a delay while a custom batch was made. But again, I don't see why not.

And for that your customers get a pre-designed pre-tested module, with performance to spare, for less than the cost of a chip that they wouldn't be able to buy anyway.

Given the order quantities are still pretty low, I can't see Broadcom being too bothered.

As I said at the top - this is all my personal opinion which doesn't have much clout!
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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Wed Sep 07, 2011 2:12 pm

We are actually big cheerleaders for people who want to integrate the board into their own products. The world runs on innovation and entrepreneurship, and if we can facilitate that, so much the better. And it raises money for the charity - so there's really no conflict there at all.

On another note altogether, I'm afraid I got 1.10 mins into the recording of the talk, when my camera announced that its SD card was corrupted. Bollocks. I'll get Eben to do the same talk to camera again when we're back in Cambridge and stick it on the website later, but I'm afraid that'll have to be in a few days' time.
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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Wed Sep 07, 2011 2:41 pm

Quote from jamesh on September 7, 2011, 15:05
It might not be possible straight away - I think just putting quantity : 1500 on a webpage order might not work...it would need a custom ordering process (ie talk to Liz), and a delay while a custom batch was made. But again, I don't see why not.

And for that your customers get a pre-designed pre-tested module, with performance to spare, for less than the cost of a chip that they wouldn't be able to buy anyway.

Given the order quantities are still pretty low, I can't see Broadcom being too bothered.

That was 1500 each... 10 companies like this one would put your quantities up to 100K/yr before you got to the hobbyists and undeveloped countries. It would be easy to see you getting to 200K/year without even thinking about it. While BC may or may not care, you are getting up to the point that their other customers would start noticing and consider it unfair competition.

This is something you would have to discuss with BC before agreeing to supply small MFGs since it would make it feasible for them to compete with the big boys, and the big boys dislike any competition that they are not giving to others.

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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Wed Sep 07, 2011 3:46 pm

My personal thought again, but I don't think Broadcom would be too worried until we were selling more than 500k a year. And since that would be to all different customers, its very unlikely to step on any other customer toes anyway.

If we were selling 500k to a single customer, it would actually start to be cost effective for the customer to buy direct from Broadcom anyway - they could build a better targeted board for one, and would get better customer support.

Also, buyng the Pi board at $25 to get hold of the chip would still be considerably more than a Broadcom customer buying the SoC by itself, so lower volume sellers are still at a disadvantage. Sadly.
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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Wed Sep 07, 2011 4:06 pm

Quote from liz on September 7, 2011, 15:12
On another note altogether, I'm afraid I got 1.10 mins into the recording of the talk, when my camera announced that its SD card was corrupted. Bollocks. I'll get Eben to do the same talk to camera again when we're back in Cambridge and stick it on the website later, but I'm afraid that'll have to be in a few days' time.


Good grief. I've never heard such bad language. Think of the children!
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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Wed Sep 07, 2011 4:18 pm

Quote from ubergeek63 on September 7, 2011, 15:41
That was 1500 each... 10 companies like this one would put your quantities up to 100K/yr before you got to the hobbyists and undeveloped countries. It would be easy to see you getting to 200K/year without even thinking about it. While BC may or may not care, you are getting up to the point that their other customers would start noticing and consider it unfair competition.

Depends on the players in question. If you're talking media engine customers, yeah. If you're talking smartphone ones...I don't think they're interested in this part for that, even if it was designed for it initially. They're going to be more interested in the A9 core based design that's not fully announced yet.


This is something you would have to discuss with BC before agreeing to supply small MFGs since it would make it feasible for them to compete with the big boys, and the big boys dislike any competition that they are not giving to others.

I think, since they're in on this, BC's aware of what might be happening. I'm thinking it's more akin to the thinking TI had with the Beagle and PandaBoard designs. Similar situation with the same potential- and they're doing it anyhow.

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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Wed Sep 07, 2011 4:52 pm

Quote from rwaltman on September 6, 2011, 23:26
Can somebody confirm or deny that the SOC used by the RP is the same one used in the Roku 2 XS media streamer?
A bit late to this one, but I think I can answer.

Liz stated a while back on this thread (Page 1 or 2, I believe, before everyone started talking about whether or not the software part of the chip was going to be fully open-source) the RasPi and the Roku 2 share the same SoC. The interesting question here is, obviously, can we hack away at the Roku 2 firmware and get Linux in there?

Also, Liz, two questions, if I may, regarding this SoC:

1) Has a final speed been set yet? Or are you still testing it?
2) If I understand it correctly from what you've said, if I were to develop a RasPi-derived appliance, using the RasPi board and adding to it, maybe even customizing the OS, and sell it for a profit, would it be OK? Not that I can actually do it (though I have a couple ideas, I'm just not proficient enough on electronics - or Linux customization, for that matter - to do it), but still...

Cheers.

Miguel

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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:34 pm

Quote from __Miguel_ on September 7, 2011, 17:52
Quote from rwaltman on September 6, 2011, 23:26
Can somebody confirm or deny that the SOC used by the RP is the same one used in the Roku 2 XS media streamer?
A bit late to this one, but I think I can answer.

Liz stated a while back on this thread (Page 1 or 2, I believe, before everyone started talking about whether or not the software part of the chip was going to be fully open-source) the RasPi and the Roku 2 share the same SoC. The interesting question here is, obviously, can we hack away at the Roku 2 firmware and get Linux in there?

Also, Liz, two questions, if I may, regarding this SoC:

1) Has a final speed been set yet? Or are you still testing it?
2) If I understand it correctly from what you've said, if I were to develop a RasPi-derived appliance, using the RasPi board and adding to it, maybe even customizing the OS, and sell it for a profit, would it be OK? Not that I can actually do it (though I have a couple ideas, I'm just not proficient enough on electronics - or Linux customization, for that matter - to do it), but still...

Cheers.

Miguel

I'm sure hacking the Roku2 could be done - but I have no idea how, so don't ask.

1) Final speed is 700Mhz AFAIK.
2) Once you have bought the board, it's yours to do with as you want.
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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:34 pm

Quote from __Miguel_ on September 7, 2011, 17:52
Quote from rwaltman on September 6, 2011, 23:26
Can somebody confirm or deny that the SOC used by the RP is the same one used in the Roku 2 XS media streamer?
A bit late to this one, but I think I can answer.

Liz stated a while back on this thread (Page 1 or 2, I believe, before everyone started talking about whether or not the software part of the chip was going to be fully open-source) the RasPi and the Roku 2 share the same SoC. The interesting question here is, obviously, can we hack away at the Roku 2 firmware and get Linux in there?

Also, Liz, two questions, if I may, regarding this SoC:

1) Has a final speed been set yet? Or are you still testing it?
2) If I understand it correctly from what you've said, if I were to develop a RasPi-derived appliance, using the RasPi board and adding to it, maybe even customizing the OS, and sell it for a profit, would it be OK? Not that I can actually do it (though I have a couple ideas, I'm just not proficient enough on electronics - or Linux customization, for that matter - to do it), but still...

Cheers.

Miguel

I'm sure hacking the Roku2 could be done - but I have no idea how, so don't ask.

1) Final speed is 700Mhz AFAIK.
2) Once you have bought the board, it's yours to do with as you want.
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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:09 pm

Quote from Svartalf on September 7, 2011, 17:18
Depends on the players in question. If you're talking media engine customers, yeah. If you're talking smartphone ones...I don't think they're interested in this part for that, even if it was designed for it initially. They're going to be more interested in the A9 core based design that's not fully announced yet.
Interesting you should mention the A9. One of the parts I was looking at was a dual A9 core at over a GHz with an LCD driver, 3D graphics accelerator, and a 1080P@60FPS DIVX CODEC that could encode and decode that rate simultaneously and scale at both ends if need be. (if memory serves I have looked at so many)

the pricing was similar to what you are implying the BCM2835 is at but as I believe the low end module I was able to find on that one was $150

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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:19 pm

Quote from ubergeek63 on September 8, 2011, 00:09
Interesting you should mention the A9. One of the parts I was looking at was a dual A9 core at over a GHz with an LCD driver, 3D graphics accelerator, and a 1080P@60FPS DIVX CODEC that could encode and decode that rate simultaneously and scale at both ends if need be. (if memory serves I have looked at so many)

Sounds about like each and every A9 based part out there. ;)

the pricing was similar to what you are implying the BCM2835 is at but as I believe the low end module I was able to find on that one was $150

If it's $150-ish, then it's likely to not have quite the same pricing per unit. Don't forget, though, that the price of the module has all the varying markups in the mix- so when you find an SoC for $20-ish, it could very well end up being a board that's $150-200 retail unless it's made in rather large quantities.

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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:29 am


Interesting you should mention the A9. One of the parts I was looking at was a dual A9 core at over a GHz with an LCD driver, 3D graphics accelerator, and a 1080P@60FPS DIVX CODEC that could encode and decode that rate simultaneously and scale at both ends if need be. (if memory serves I have looked at so many)

the pricing was similar to what you are implying the BCM2835 is at but as I believe the low end module I was able to find on that one was $150

Can you remember which device that is? I'm not aware of any SoC that can do 1080P*60* encode/decode at the same time. And certainly not for the price of the BCM2853, or at similar power levels.
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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Thu Sep 08, 2011 11:20 am

Quote from jamesh on September 8, 2011, 09:29

Interesting you should mention the A9. One of the parts I was looking at was a dual A9 core at over a GHz with an LCD driver, 3D graphics accelerator, and a 1080P@60FPS DIVX CODEC that could encode and decode that rate simultaneously and scale at both ends if need be. (if memory serves I have looked at so many)

the pricing was similar to what you are implying the BCM2835 is at but as I believe the low end module I was able to find on that one was $150

Can you remember which device that is? I'm not aware of any SoC that can do 1080P*60* encode/decode at the same time. And certainly not for the price of the BCM2853, or at similar power levels.

well thats what i get for going from memory... off hand I am only seeing the TI and freescale offhand and the current parts are 720decode/1080encode. On the horizon there is at least one full 1080 part: freescale has a quad gig A9 coming out.

Seems TI is dropping the DaVinci parts in favor of an asymmetrical video system. At the higher bus speeds they could have done it.

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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Thu Sep 08, 2011 12:10 pm

Quote from jamesh on September 8, 2011, 09:29
Can you remember which device that is? I'm not aware of any SoC that can do 1080P*60* encode/decode at the same time. And certainly not for the price of the BCM2853, or at similar power levels.

looks like TIs OMAP4430

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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Thu Sep 08, 2011 1:46 pm

Quote from ubergeek63 on September 8, 2011, 12:20

Seems TI is dropping the DaVinci parts in favor of an asymmetrical video system. At the higher bus speeds they could have done it.

It's not really asymmetric. It's got dedicated hardware codecs combined with a high-end DSP- pretty much like the DaVinci stuff. Purportedly it's capable of encoding a 1080p stream.

OMAP5's adding dual pipes driven by an ARM M3 core so that you can idle back the A15 cores when you're doing more media-centric stuff. Or, so they claim. Depends on when the rubber meets the pavement- and nobody seems to have any designs using it yet...

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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Thu Sep 08, 2011 1:51 pm

Don't think they even have sample silicon yet.....
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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Thu Sep 08, 2011 1:54 pm

Quote from Svartalf on September 8, 2011, 14:46
It's not really asymmetric. It's got dedicated hardware codecs combined with a high-end DSP- pretty much like the DaVinci stuff. Purportedly it's capable of encoding a 1080p stream.

OMAP5's adding dual pipes driven by an ARM M3 core so that you can idle back the A15 cores when you're doing more media-centric stuff. Or, so they claim. Depends on when the rubber meets the pavement- and nobody seems to have any designs using it yet...
So I see....
wikipedia appears to have gotten some inside info:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T.....ments_OMAP

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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Fri Sep 09, 2011 9:46 pm

Quote from eben on August 1, 2011, 23:19
The GPU interface is via a closed-source userland module, which communicates via a proprietary (but GPL'd) stream interface in the kernel to a RISC core on the GPU side. No AES coprocessor I'm afraid; wouldn't want RP to be a munition, would we?

Oh dear. This is highly disappointing. We can only use this device if we accept proprietary drivers? I fail to see how this would meet your goals for education. It seems counter-productive.

I created an account to try and figure out how much of the drivers needed for this were included in the mainline kernel or mainstream distributions, but it appears that the answer is very near "none". This does not bode well for your non-profit aims, I fear.

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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Fri Sep 09, 2011 9:56 pm

Quote from willjcroz on September 1, 2011, 17:51
As things stand at some point in not so distant the future some kid is going to try upgrading her Raspberry Pi to the latest Ubuntu (or whatever distro) release and find that their GPU support is broken because some ABI changed and Broadcom or Imagination Technologies or whoever do not consider it economically viable to continue developing and releasing updated userspace drivers for that hardware. Said kid is forced to either stick with old (and possibly insecure) distro release, or upgrade hardware.

People look at new hardware and say 'not open source, so what? oh well look its shiny, lets use it' and then a few years down the line it goes to landfill as distros are not able to support the hardware due to inevitable ABI changes and SoC vendors cutting support. Linux graphics is undergoing large changes these days, this is a problem for the useful lifespan of embedded GPUs with closed drivers.


To everyone who shrugs off the proprietary nature of the drivers, this point needs emphasis. It's not that each user of the rpi will somehow become a firmware developer. The source isn't useless because you don't understand GPUs. Once the community of users is no longer kept helpless by dog-in-the-manger secrecy, any one user can help all users.

Why does no one run OS/2 any more, even when it had so many fans? Because the community of users was kept helpless by licensing and trade secrecy. Had OS/2 been open source/free software, a community of enthusiast developers could have kept a community of non-programmer users happy for much longer.

This proprietary driver situation keeps users of the raspberry pi helpless, and I find it disheartening.

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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Fri Sep 09, 2011 9:58 pm

Thing is, we simply can't produce something this cheap, power-efficient and small (and cheapness, power-efficiency and smallness are key for our educational and developing world goals - it means we can outfit a whole school in one small box, and that users can power the thing with solar or batteries in hard-to-reach areas) without using a mobile SoC, and they've all got closed GPUs. When the open source community starts taping comparable chips out, we'll be happy to use one; as it is, our schematics will be available so you can make your own if you can get the relevant bits.

There's a really unfortunate tension between openness (in hardware) and price. We just can't produce the Raspberry Pi for the price it needs to be to get to the people we need it to get to with an open SoC that does the things we need (because such a chip doesn't exist).

I'd take (enormous) issue with your statement that all this bodes ill for our non-profit aims. We're very supportive of the open source community, and we hope that we'll have support from them too. But ultimately, if the device as it is really offends your philosophical values, you can simply walk away and not buy it.
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