recantha2 wrote:Epic post, Jim. The voice of well-thought-out reason as always. Thank you for posting it.
Good post, but I believe the comment about getting the Broadcom chip at cost may not be correct. Not that it's any of our business anyway, but I'm sure I've seen/heard Foundation members state somewhere in the forums that this is not the case. (And there's no reason why it has to be either).
My own understanding was that Broadcom allowed them to buy in much smaller volume than they would normally sell at (clearly not an issue now), I doubt it would have been near cost, probably a margin more than the higher volume prices.
The way I've heard the SoC described, it was a pure GPU chip which got a ARM core added to it later in development. The choice I expect came down to price and familiarity, they had a chance to get the chips for suitable price and they happened to know the chip back to front and inside out having worked with it for so long. The familiarity makes the choice much for cost effective as time is expensive (even for volunteering).
BBB Power Supply... The jack does appear to be an odd one, but I guess they are trying to side-step the low current rated PSU issues for USB chargers (is that how they determine the clocking speed), but still cutting costs by skipping the regulator (it was a hard call the RPi also made in the end). Also I wouldn't know what has been used before, I guess look up the older BBs.
Note that the TI Launchpad for $5 worldwide shipped (it was about 2 days to UK from Texas - if I did that shipping would cost me more than that), has been out well before the RPi, so TI were making near-at-cost development kits for a while. It is to get people using their tool-chain, become familiar with their product range and abilities, so TI is the top of the list when it comes to designing real products. It is a little like software, the cost of the item isn't the physical form, but the person-hours put into producing it, so beyond all the logistics of putting it together with everything else, TI will make the main money by selling chips in the 100,000s or millions, rather than a much smaller % of development boards. They can probably see the chips which have development boards end up selling more chips (and perhaps improve the quality of the tool-sets too), so probably treat it as advertising money.
Even ST have been doing it, with the STM-Circle unit a few years ago (another superb development unit). Unfortunately, they have moved up in price and power, rather than down (which I think was the wrong direction).
I still can't make my mind up about getting a BBB, as I always aim not to buy things which I may not use due to time (otherwise I'd have a few warehouses full of "shiny" things and a serious lack of money) - NOTE:I still fail at this. The time it would need to get up and running, I may wait for that killer application or perfect development set-up (where-ever that is). Shall have to see if it can do some cleaver stuff connected as a USB device if possible.
So far, I've been playing around with the RPi since I've had it and there is still a ton of stuff I have planned to try with it. The BBB probably isn't going to make any of those that much easier to do (Android support perhaps an exception IF that is available). I would be interested to hear if anyone has more information about if the BBB could be connected as a USB device, and also how it's GPU compares.
Also, seriously can't quite beat the superb people in the RPi Community. Which is immensely rewarding to be a part of (be it supplying information to or requesting information from).