[Arm-netbook] "allwinner's A10" codenamed "sun4i crane", linux kernel v2.6.36 patch available

Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton luke.leighton at gmail.com
Sat Nov 12 13:51:48 GMT 2011

On Sat, Nov 12, 2011 at 10:47 AM, Gordan Bobic <gordan at bobich.net> wrote:
> On 11/12/2011 01:09 AM, Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton wrote:
>> right.  on the basis of future mass-volume production deals, allwinner
>> very graciously released the GPL source code to RH Technology, even
>> though they did not have to do so (even under the terms of the GPL).
>> the first cut of a diff/patch is here:
>> http://hands.com/~lkcl/sun3i_sun4i_crane_2.6.32.patch.bz2
>> linus is going to go ballistic at the 17mb size of the patch, but
> 17MB?! That's the first WTF. Does this include the Android patches or
> something?

 noo... it *sigh* includes hex-dumps of firmware for the on-board

> Also 2.6.32 is positively ancient nowdays.

 ahh, it's actually 2.6.36 :)  my mistake.

> What is the
> supportability/portability of this 17MB patch going to be going forward?

 my attitude is, "if it works, don't push your luck, work with it
until you can't".

 this really really is the core of the entire problem associated with
the platform-specific nature of ARM SoCs.... multiplied by tens to
hundreds of SoCs multiplied by tens to hundreds of devices *using*
those SoCs it's a complete nightmare, but we just have to push and
push until the top of somebody's head unspins.

 btw this is a situation that is only going to get worse, not better,
until linus gets his head out of the cloud called "x86 architecture
with a nice BIOS on top", accepts reality and accepts potential

 but yeah, in the meantime, you have to bear in mind that the
discrepancy between "developers" and "industry reality" is a time-lag
of potentially several years.  people were still using 2.4.19 and
2.4.20 in embedded systems up until about 3 years ago!

>> * it's a Cortex A8, it takes up to DDR3 800mhz RAM, its external
>> interface is 16gbits (2gbytes) but there appears to be a limitation
>> internally of the Cortex A8 memory-mapping which truncates that to a
>> max of 1gbyte of actual RAM... but bizarrely, the NAND Flash
>> Controller i've just learned can address DDR RAM 32-bit (??) as well
>> (what's _that_ about??)
> Now that IS interesting. So what would it take to put more RAM instead
> of NAND there (probably not 32GB, but multiple GB at least)?

 i have no idea - but given the multiple chip-select lines i think
it's a definite "wooow" option that would, of course, have a massive
power penalty.

> I guess given the form factor a SODIMM socket wired to it is out of the
> question.


>> * top priority: an EOMA-PCMCIA-compliant and stand-alone computer,
>> powerable via USB-OTG and having an HDMI interface and Micro-SD, with
>> at least 512mb RAM, 1gb NAND and this Cortex A8 which there are
>> reports that it's capable of running at up to 1.5ghz.
>> http://elinux.org/Embedded_Open_Modular_Architecture/PCMCIA
> Is an extra 512MB of RAM going to make THAT much difference to cost?

 we just won't know until we find out what karen can easily get hold
of.  it may turn out that there's a stock of 512mb ICs in a warehouse
being cleared out at discount prices; this price *might* be less than
what you can get the "absolute latest 1gb RAM ICs" at (due to volume
pricing) but next month, that's it, you're a gonner, you can't get
512mb RAM ICs except at 4x the price.

 welcome to "riding the wave"...

>> the other possible product is to jam as many of these as possible,
>> with 1gb of RAM each, running as fast as possible (1.5ghz?), into a
>> 19in rack-mount and call it "the world's first and smallest modern
>> ARM-based Blade Server" - yes, you may recall someone did an 8-way ARM
>> server oo gods know how long ago, it's somewhere on linuxdevices, but
>> that was... N to 1N years ago. ok the marketing sounds good, at least.
> That was ZT Systems, if you are thinking about the one I'm thinking
> about.

 that's another one.  this little product was a cube, dating back i
believe to 2006.

> The blade server is the product I'm personally most interested in.

 yeah :)

> For single-board products (e.g. for routers with dual ethernet) it would
> be quite handy to be able to power them via Power-over-Ethernet. What
> would that take?

 it'd be a special motherboard, probably single or double-layer, i.e.
very very easy to do, because it'd be a few discrete components
separating out the power lines, converting the 48v down to 5v.

>> * plug computer.  mass-volume target price: somewhere between $15 and
>> $20 is achievable.  early prototypes we have rough guide pricing
>> somewhere at 50% to 70% of any other Sheeva or Guru or
>> {Insertname}Board.  outstanding task: factory in china have the
>> Engineering Board, are evaluating BOMs.
> PoE?

 separate motherboard (probably 25x55mm).  we only get the 4 wires off
the PCMCIA 68-pin interface, there is only room on the PCMCIA CPU card
for so much, and adding it at this stage to the CPU card is going to
make karen's head twirl.

>> * blade-like server, up to 32 1.5ghz 1gb RAM hot-swappable machines on
>> a multi-gigabit "hub" backplane in a single 19in Rack-Mounted Server,
>> possibly even with a built-in load balancer just for laughs.  well,
>> why the heck not?  prototypes can be built out of putting 32
>> EOMA/PCMCIA-compliant plug computers, together with 32 minimalist
>> expansion headers to get at the 10/100 and the eSATA, and a 32-port
>> off-the-shelf Gigabit Switch for goodness sake.
> You won't get 32 of them into a 1U chassis if you also want 1 2.5" (or
> 1.8") SSD port, but this sort of thing sounds awesome.

 ok, make it 16 :)

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