[Arm-netbook] Single-Core Cortex A9 1ghz, ECC DDR3 RAM available soon

Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton lkcl at lkcl.net
Sat Aug 13 14:46:53 BST 2011

On Wed, Aug 10, 2011 at 7:37 PM, Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton
<lkcl at lkcl.net> wrote:

>> This sort of question should always be considered in the context of the lead
>> time, i.e. "in 9 months time when TI and NVidia and Freescale (etc.) have
>> announced their next generation chips and boards, would you still be interested
>> in a board with an 800 MHz Coretex A9, 512 MB RAM etc.?".

 ok, right.  continuing on the discussion of upcoming and/or available
Cortex A9 systems, i heard back from one of the CPU manufacturers
(can't say which one), and they are sampling a new CPU next month.
rough spec:

 * Single-Core Cortex A9, 1ghz
 * MALI 400MP 3D
 * 10/100 Ethernet
 * 32-bit-wide access to DDR2 and DDR3 ECC RAM, up to 2gb.
 * the usual interfaces - HDMI, SD/MMC, USB2, USB-OTG.

 whilst i don't know what the exact cost is, based on the popularity
of its predecessor and also the tiny size of the packaging it's not
going to be a $45 chip, it'll be more like a $20 chip, which would
make it a perfect freedombox-esque / SOHO / PVR / plug-computer

with the exception of Our Phil (Mr Endecott), who has confessed he is
a bit odd and wants something with all the bells and whistles
including PCI-e as well as Gigabit Ethernet _and_ armv7 (Cortex A9)
_and_ a cake with sparkly candles that relight when you blow them out,
would anybody else be interested to see a small panda-like board (4in
x 3in or so) or other type of board be brought into existence based
around this CPU?

 if so, what would you be prepared to do to make that happen and,
also, what retail price would you be prepared to pay for it?

 bear in mind that the CPU's manufacturer has:

* a full web site with a publicly accessible wiki
* full publicly accessible documentation with *no* NDAs or
incompatible Software License Agreements required to be signed in
order to access any information
* full linux kernel support (downloadable and in git repository form)
* full u-boot support (downloadable and in git repository form)
* full android support (downloadable and in git repository form)
* a general understanding of and respect for free software licenses
including the GPL.

they also have a "system library" for the on-board Video CODEC DSP,
which those who understand the subtleties of the GPL will appreciate
qualifies for an exemption under the GPL, even though it's
proprietary.  they've released an example application which utilises
libffmpeg (enhancements to use their "system library" have already
been made) and is a working video player.

for the freedombox to fulfil its sponsor commitments (bearing in mind,
as we know, the freedombox project is not a hardware project despite
the word "box" being in the name of the project but they still have to
deliver a number of actual physical boxes to the pledgeware sponsors),
i'd say that this CPU and the fact that its manufacturer respects the
GPL fits the requirements far better than the chosen marvell-based
plug computer.

perhaps the freedombox project might like, if nothing else, to use
this CPU as leverage to accelerate marvell out of their self-imposed
stupor by threatening to pull the plug (ha ha) if they don't get with
the C21st?

please bear in mind that there is a window of opportunity lasting a
couple of weeks in which i can potentially persuade the CPU designer
to come up with a demo / engineering board that would actually be a
useful saleable product in its own right...

... and that i can *only* do that if there is a demonstrable need for such.

so, if you would like an affordable 1ghz Cortex A9
panda/beagle/imx53qsb-esque/plug-computer board with 1 or even 2gb of
DDR3 ECC RAM, with SATA-II and 10/100 Ethernet as well as the usual
other interfaces including some GPIO pins, *and* where the usual
battle with the CPU manufacturer over GPL violations and NDAs has
completely gone, now is the time to speak up and say so.


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