Svartalf
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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Fri Sep 02, 2011 5:21 pm

Quote from ubergeek63 on September 2, 2011, 17:52
Actually the problem is only indirectly the chip makers, though it is indeed related to the almighty dollar.

Heh...


The problem is that the million plus unit phone and tablet makers do not want it. They want to sell a new unit to every user every year or two. The only way that they can do that is if you can NOT upgrade your phone.


Yep. Now, in my case, if I'm ever doing the million plus rollout, it'll be with something that I and my potential customers *don't* want to be changing out every two years- I want the things to last as much as 5-20 years, in fact, because changing the stuff in question out is HIGHLY problematic for all parties involved. But then, that's the difference between a services oriented company making enabling devices versus someone like those phone and tablet vendors.


Even the object of the cider suckers' worship is doing the same thing - my daughter is on her fourth IPhone (5th if you count the one she dropped in the ocean) , her 2nd IPad, and her 3rd IPod.

There IS a reason I don't own any Apple stuff right at the moment... ;)

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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Fri Sep 02, 2011 5:29 pm

Quote from ubergeek63 on September 2, 2011, 18:18
:) I would hope not. Actually the point was that the big boys want you to view your hardware more like a happy meal and as such want the GPU closed even more than Broadcom does so that they can blame Broadcom.


Depends on the specific big-boys, really. Some don't want/need that sort of churn- and actually want something validateable and auditable for security reasons. Some don't want/need that sort of churn because it's problematic to rip this stuff out every 2 or so years and want up to a decade or more of service life in the gear in question, along with a clear simple migration path to next gen stuff when it dies so that it's mostly drop in. Some of the consumer gear players also see this 2-year stuff being a source of the problem as much as a source of their revenues and are trying to change up a bit. In the end, it's just the consumer gear vendors that seek to turn up churn so they can get you to buy that next new item, regardless of whether you need it or not.

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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Fri Sep 02, 2011 5:42 pm

Quote from Svartalf on September 2, 2011, 18:29
In the end, it's just the consumer gear vendors that seek to turn up churn so they can get you to buy that next new item, regardless of whether you need it or not.

Very true... and it is these same vendors that Broadcom caters to almost exclusively. I know this for a fact having had to switch vendors for a WIFI chip that they laughed at me over the few thousand a year that was all that my customer was interested in.

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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Fri Sep 02, 2011 8:40 pm

Quote from ubergeek63 on September 2, 2011, 18:42
Quote from Svartalf on September 2, 2011, 18:29
In the end, it's just the consumer gear vendors that seek to turn up churn so they can get you to buy that next new item, regardless of whether you need it or not.

Very true... and it is these same vendors that Broadcom caters to almost exclusively. I know this for a fact having had to switch vendors for a WIFI chip that they laughed at me over the few thousand a year that was all that my customer was interested in.

And always have done. Selling chips in large numbers means you make more money. Selling in small numbers means you make none at all.

It's the complexity of the chips nowadays. When chips were simple thing (if they ever were), it took one or two tech support calls to get them going. Nowadays companies like Samsung, Apple etc expect multiple engineers on site for support because of the complexity. You need to sell a lot of chips to pay for a couple of engineers to fly out to South Korea every few weeks, and that doesn't even include the dev costs of the chips! Which is astronomical.

Lets say it costs $100,000 to support a customer building a new chip in to a product. Let's say the chip manufacturer makes $10 per chip. You need to sell 10,000 just to break even on the support costs! Never mind actually designing the chip in the first place ($20mill+ for a complex chip?).

Hope that helps!
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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Fri Sep 02, 2011 8:50 pm

Quote from liz on September 2, 2011, 17:57
I think we can safely say that that particular scenario is not going to play out with Raspberry Pi - you probably will have to buy a new one if you drop it in the sea, though.

Based on what evidence , liz ? Has Broadcom promised you 5 years of support ? ... 10 years of support ? Have you signed an NDA ? Can you tell us what kid of agreement you have with Broadcom ? Being a non-profit does not mean you will operate any different than a for-profit.... Do you have a code of ethics you plan to live by ? If so, what is it ? Transparency is always a great ethical behaviour. I wonder how ethical RaspberryPi will be ? How much of this is about money ?

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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Fri Sep 02, 2011 8:54 pm

Quote from Gert van Loo on September 2, 2011, 10:15
Even the 50 prototype boards are 100% ROHS compliant. I could provide you with the ROHS certificate of every component if so required.

ROHS is a shell game and another big government make work program. If you are buddies with a regulator you get an exemption. ROHS is a nice theoretical idea ... in actual practice ==> another example of slavemasters pulling the wool over the eyes of slaves. ( Lots of slaves ... like to know nothing )

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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:01 pm

Quote from 99guspuppet on September 2, 2011, 21:50
Quote from liz on September 2, 2011, 17:57
I think we can safely say that that particular scenario is not going to play out with Raspberry Pi - you probably will have to buy a new one if you drop it in the sea, though.

Based on what evidence , liz ? Has Broadcom promised you 5 years of support ? ... 10 years of support ? Have you signed an NDA ? Can you tell us what kid of agreement you have with Broadcom ? Being a non-profit does not mean you will operate any different than a for-profit.... Do you have a code of ethics you plan to live by ? If so, what is it ? Transparency is always a great ethical behaviour. I wonder how ethical RaspberryPi will be ? How much of this is about money ?

You can find answers to all your questions elsewhere on the forum. If you don't want to get plonked, I suggest you moderate your tone a bit.
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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:09 pm

Quote from jamesh on September 2, 2011, 21:40
And always have done. Selling chips in large numbers means you make more money. Selling in small numbers means you make none at all.


Heh... Tell that to Xilinx... ;)

While they do sell a lot of chips, they sell nowhere near what you guys and other players do. They seem to manage... :D

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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:43 pm

Quote from Svartalf on September 2, 2011, 22:09
Quote from jamesh on September 2, 2011, 21:40
And always have done. Selling chips in large numbers means you make more money. Selling in small numbers means you make none at all.


Heh... Tell that to Xilinx... ;)

While they do sell a lot of chips, they sell nowhere near what you guys and other players do. They seem to manage... :D

Different horses, different courses. They still need to sell a lot of chips, and they do. Not as complex as some of Broadcoms SoC's and GPU's , so easier to support and create in the first place.

Another example - a company has a number of apps engineers for supporting customers. They can do a finite amount of work. Do you target them at the project that sells 1M chips or the project that sells 10M chips..? Or do you take time off from the 10M projects to help out the 1M project, risking the 10M project. Or do you hire in extra engineers for the 1M project, upping your head count and outgoings, which the stock market may not like. It's quite a juggling act.
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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Fri Sep 02, 2011 10:13 pm

I think it's time to realize Raspberry Pi has no impact whatsoever on Broadcom's decisions, so let's stop beating a dead horse and arguing for the sake of arguing.
We all want high-performance, inexpensive stuff, with top-notch support and quality, and open everything so we can do whatever we want with it for an open-ended amount of time. In the real world, this rarely happens.
Raspberry has put together a combo focused on low price for OK performance. If you don't like that deal, go find a different one somewhere else, there's quite a wide range of vaguely similar stuff on offer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L.....e_projects. But please stop gratuitously hassling the team about stuff they can't do anything about, even though I'm sure they'd love to.
kthxbye.

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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Fri Sep 02, 2011 10:41 pm

Quote from jamesh on September 2, 2011, 22:43
Different horses, different courses. They still need to sell a lot of chips, and they do. Not as complex as some of Broadcoms SoC's and GPU's , so easier to support and create in the first place.


Heh... Ever try to do VHDL definitions of things into an FPGA? The point I was making was that they're making a decent enough profit all the same- just not with anything resembling the margins you're getting over there at your employer... ;)

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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Sat Sep 03, 2011 11:12 am

Wow, I have just waded through all that lot.. I think that this discussion has lost the plot. As I understand it, Raspberry Pi is about providing hardware for education along similar, although vastly cheaper lines, to the BBC micro. It is not about providing hardware for experts to prove their ability with. So you have hidden firmware that may, or may not, stop you doing something very clever, get over it. This does not stop you from helping beginners discover the thrill of developing their own software and hardware. It is not all about me me me.

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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Tue Sep 06, 2011 10:37 am

Another example - a company has a number of apps engineers for supporting customers. They can do a finite amount of work. Do you target them at the project that sells 1M chips or the project that sells 10M chips..? Or do you take time off from the 10M projects to help out the 1M project, risking the 10M project. Or do you hire in extra engineers for the 1M project, upping your head count and outgoings, which the stock market may not like. It's quite a juggling act.
Sorry but this comment is just gagging for a smart ass remark:

Or the could simply put what they learned in the collection of app notes...oh wait, I forgot...they refuse to give you more than a damn sales flyer without your signing the NDA, which it just so happens they will not send you to sign unless you have a project with a million unit requirement!

As I said I have dealt directly with Broadcomm and similar companies. It is an unfortunate fact that they would have their own mothers drawn and quartered if they even suspected they knew even a single detail of their Precious IP.

I also think that you will have great difficulty keeping up with demand since you are actually selling at what things are worth instead of inflating the price to pay for CEOs, BODs, advertising, and anything else I might have missed.

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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Tue Sep 06, 2011 10:50 am

Quote from Svartalf on September 2, 2011, 22:09
Quote from jamesh on September 2, 2011, 21:40
And always have done. Selling chips in large numbers means you make more money. Selling in small numbers means you make none at all.


Heh... Tell that to Xilinx... ;)

While they do sell a lot of chips, they sell nowhere near what you guys and other players do. They seem to manage... :D
Actually you need to compare apples to apples... you can probably find a transistor count from Xilinx and from a comparable TI CPU as well as the Xilinx sales figures and the Broadcomm sales figures on those specific ICs.

I suspect that you will find that the sales on the Broadcomm part to be 10x qty and 1/100 the price at a given transistor count.

Even better compare it to Actel parts since they do not require a RAM cell for every switch. (their architecture uses the flash transistor as the actual hardware switch instead of a RAM cell controlling the switch)

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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Tue Sep 06, 2011 3:30 pm

Quote from 99guspuppet on September 2, 2011, 21:50
Quote from liz on September 2, 2011, 17:57
I think we can safely say that that particular scenario is not going to play out with Raspberry Pi - you probably will have to buy a new one if you drop it in the sea, though.

Based on what evidence , liz ? Has Broadcom promised you 5 years of support ? ... 10 years of support ? Have you signed an NDA ? Can you tell us what kid of agreement you have with Broadcom ? Being a non-profit does not mean you will operate any different than a for-profit.... Do you have a code of ethics you plan to live by ? If so, what is it ? Transparency is always a great ethical behaviour. I wonder how ethical RaspberryPi will be ? How much of this is about money ?

And what are your ethics and qualifications?

They are making available a platform that the closest competitor is double the price (that I know of there is an Italian and an Israeli supplier that has that sort of graphics performance at $60-$80) and the closest well known one (beagleXM for $125) is quadruple the price. Their association with Broadcom means they are getting the 10M/yr pricing and making that available to everyone. The fact is that for that level of performance you will pay [email protected] to get that kind of performance in a chip that you can not solder to (it is still not unheard of for assy houses to not be able to solder BGAs)

Perhaps you should shut your mouth and turn your eyes away from the horse's!

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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Tue Sep 06, 2011 3:48 pm

Quote from ubergeek63 on September 6, 2011, 11:37
Sorry but this comment is just gagging for a smart ass remark:

Or the could simply put what they learned in the collection of app notes...oh wait, I forgot...they refuse to give you more than a damn sales flyer without your signing the NDA, which it just so happens they will not send you to sign unless you have a project with a million unit requirement!

As I said I have dealt directly with Broadcomm and similar companies. It is an unfortunate fact that they would have their own mothers drawn and quartered if they even suspected they knew even a single detail of their Precious IP.

I also think that you will have great difficulty keeping up with demand since you are actually selling at what things are worth instead of inflating the price to pay for CEOs, BODs, advertising, and anything else I might have missed.

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.

This situation is actually getting better - as more people move to Linux and the libraries become better, and SoC are used more, its becoming easier to get product working. Less custom code is required for example. Should mean lower volumes are required, and that million item threshold should lower.

Interesting you put "Broadcom and similar companies". Broadcom are not the only semi maker who work this way, or keep their IP close to their chest - it's vital to maintain their income. After all, they are a business who by law are required to ensure shareholders get their monies worth. Giving IP away means competitors take it, reuse it and you lose out on your investment. And when that investments is in the $100M region, believe me, you don't want to waste it.
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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Tue Sep 06, 2011 10:26 pm

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 couple of web sites state that, but the pictures of an XS "teardown" show a different part number.

I would be willing to buy a "sacrifitial" Roku 2 as a (may be not) experimental platform until the Raspberry Pi is available.
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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:33 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.

This situation is actually getting better - as more people move to Linux and the libraries become better, and SoC are used more, its becoming easier to get product working. Less custom code is required for example. Should mean lower volumes are required, and that million item threshold should lower.

Interesting you put "Broadcom and similar companies". Broadcom are not the only semi maker who work this way, or keep their IP close to their chest - it's vital to maintain their income. After all, they are a business who by law are required to ensure shareholders get their monies worth. Giving IP away means competitors take it, reuse it and you lose out on your investment. And when that investments is in the $100M region, believe me, you don't want to waste it.
Actually you are missing the point.

HOW you USE it does NOT reveal a lot and IS common in all but the most egotistical outdated companies.

Do you really believe that the Broadcom parts are that much more advanced than TI's or Freescale's both of which are dual core chips with graphics and video acceleration on chip? BOTH of these companies have all the information that you need to write OSs and drivers available online and are readily available in low quantities.

While you have put together a great powerhouse at a great price, it still does your credibility no good to play the part of Broadcom fanboy. It is, after all, quite acceptable to admit that you have an in at an otherwise inaccessible company and are able to provide this service because you are able to get the chip at half the price the rest of us would be able to get a comparable part at.

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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Wed Sep 07, 2011 8:22 am

This is a polite and friendly forum. Please let's keep it that way. If this thread keeps going around in circles and if people keep insulting each other, I'm going to have to shut it down - consider this a final warning.
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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Wed Sep 07, 2011 8:52 am

Quote from ubergeek63 on September 7, 2011, 02:33

Actually you are missing the point.

HOW you USE it does NOT reveal a lot and IS common in all but the most egotistical outdated companies.

Do you really believe that the Broadcom parts are that much more advanced than TI's or Freescale's both of which are dual core chips with graphics and video acceleration on chip? BOTH of these companies have all the information that you need to write OSs and drivers available online and are readily available in low quantities.

While you have put together a great powerhouse at a great price, it still does your credibility no good to play the part of Broadcom fanboy. It is, after all, quite acceptable to admit that you have an in at an otherwise inaccessible company and are able to provide this service because you are able to get the chip at half the price the rest of us would be able to get a comparable part at.

I'm not a Broadcom fanboy, I am a Broadcom employee giving his spare time and knowledge up for this project. I am also a realist - I've spent 30 years working in various parts of the software industry, and in that time have come to realise that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Someone, somewhere, has to pay for that lunch. Different companies do it in different ways. Broadcom keep their IP close to their chest, and they are perfectly entitled to do so. IT'S THEIR IP! I actually hope they become less secretive and produce more OSS, and did in fact once ask Henry Samueli about it (Yes, THAT Henry Samueli). Twice.

As for comparing Broadcom chips with other manufacturers, whilst this SoC doesn't have twin cores, and run at x sqillion Mhzflopmips, I am of the belief that the GPU part is in fact considerable more advanced than those supplied by the companies you mention. Which is why it produces more performance at much less power than those chips.

Finally I would suggest that if you don't like the way the drivers are open or closed source, or the way that Broadcom does business then you make your feelings known by not buying product with Broadcom chips in. There are plenty out there. (Just avoid Apple products, Nokia, HTC, Roku, most bluetooth devices, many Wifi devices, some set top boxes, lots of bluray players)

There's no point in having a go here since we can't do anything about it. Vote with your feet.
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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Wed Sep 07, 2011 8:59 am

Indeed.

As it happens, Eben's giving a talk this afternoon at the Transfer Summit which will cover some of this debate. I'll do my best to get it recorded and posted here. James is, incidentally, giving us a phenomenal amount of his time and expertise for free because he is a good guy who believes we are doing a good thing - I'd much sooner see you thank him for what he's doing than being so combative.
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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:52 am

Quote from liz on September 7, 2011, 09:22
This is a polite and friendly forum. Please let's keep it that way. If this thread keeps going around in circles and if people keep insulting each other, I'm going to have to shut it down - consider this a final warning.

I'm sorry, I forget myself..

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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Wed Sep 07, 2011 10:01 am

Thanks. I know this a subject a lot of us are very passionate about, and we really do welcome debate. Just keep it friendly!
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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Wed Sep 07, 2011 10:14 am


There's no point in having a go here since we can't do anything about it. Vote with your feet.

Sorry about my ranting...

The thing is it would not be revealing their IP to publish an actual data sheet. Even publishing the register set is not really. Legally these two things should, in my opinion, be grouped in with APIs which have been found, in court, to not be patentable.

The only thing restricting their access does is to prevent people from using it and encourages a company controlled monopoly on it's use. It limits individuals to the realm of users and prevents them from being creators. Even small companies with exceptional software groups are forced to use bug ridden OS, driver, and compiler software without a chance of working around it.

Frankly, if the chips are really that good publishing the instruction sets would help broadcom, not hinder them, even if they continued refusing to sell to the little guy. If they are really that good the competition would either bow to the tech or waste billions trying to duplicate it. And, in the mean time, talented people like myself could pull cycle accurate interrupt routines out of their asses as I do now on the ARM chips!

EDIT: remembered after saving that it is an ARM chip... point is the same though not as potent. If someone wants the best performance, having access to run only what is needed when it is needed. Even open sourcing the drivers would not hurt their IP if it is that much better, unless you call pointing out to potential customers how far behind the competition is hurting!

Now leaking the masks would of course hurt them tremendously!

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Re: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:04 am

As you put in your edit, the Arm is a completely standard device - you can do whatever you like with it - register sets available. It's the GPU that is 'hidden' behind libraries. And its not as simple as 'registers sets' for that. The GPU is interfaced mostly via message passing, not register accesses. the code that translates Linux api calls to the messages is in libraries - I an not sure about there open source state but I don't see why not. There is a kernel driver that gets the messages from Linux space to the GPU, where they are acted upon.

The instruction set of the GPU would give away how a lot of the speed is achieved if it were published, and since no-one (outside Broadcom) has access to the compiler and assembler (they are commercial and cost a lot of money), there seems little point in publishing it anyway. And to be honest, the only people who really understand some of the more esoteric instruction sets of some of the more esoteric cores on the chip are the people who designed them. I seriously doubt you or anyone else could do any better than them (without training - who pays for that again?).

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.
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