[Arm-netbook] proyect easy pc

lkcl luke luke.leighton at gmail.com
Sun Mar 25 09:41:35 BST 2012

On Sun, Mar 25, 2012 at 8:04 AM, Tsvetan Usunov - OLIMEX Ltd
<usunov at olimex.com> wrote:
>> Sooner or later the spec of A10 will be public, it's not public because
>> it's not carefully checked, the spec we use internally is very bad, some
>> part is missing, some is wrong or misleading. We are moving fast, the
>> documents fall behind.
> Tom,
> I hope you understand that releasing documentation for your product is
> essential to attract developers to use it. I bet in 6-9 or 12 months there
> will be newer, faster, cheaper alternative for A10 and nobody will consider
> A10 for new design, if you release the documentation after 12 months it will
> be useless.


 the situation in china is very different from what you might be
expecting.  here are some insights that i have been able to ascertain:

 * the scale of units sold dwarfs all other world markets by at least
a factor of 10.

 * china factories do not give a flying f*** about software.

 * the number of software developers in china is very very limited.

 * the large and mass-volume china factories do not even give a flying
f*** about hardware design.  some of them have a little bit of time
and money to experiment with hardware design but they quickly learn
not to bother

 * this places some rather extreme decisions to make on the SoC
vendors.  they are forced to supply complete designs, becoming not
just a SoC company but also a PCB design company, product (casework)
design company *and* a software engineering company.

 * if they succeed in becoming a software+design+pcb+casework+SoC
company, they can make ungodly amounts of money.

 * many of them do not succeed in this (all aspects)

 * some of them instead work with ODMs who take over some of this work

 * many of the ODMs do not give a flying f*** about the GPL.

 * the costs have been sufficiently prohibitive
(software+design+pcb+casework *and* SoC) that the PRC Govt has, we are
led to believe, stepped in with some rather large grants.

 * the size of these grants is probably sufficient to cover the
*entire* NREs of the SoC, *and* the software+design+pcb NREs.

 * the PRC Govt is not stupid and has split things up across multiple
companies, coordinating things at a level *above* that which you would
normally see happening in a "western" style.

 * taking this approach has meant that, with practically zero NREs,
the allwinner A10 CPU can go straight into massive profitability *and*
a complete Reference Board *and* ready-to-go Tablet designs.

 * the success of this approach, however, has meant that all
competition has been practically wiped out, causing a major recession
in Guangdong this christmas as the sale of products was concentrated
through a few lucky companies that managed to get in early enough.

 * there has prooobbbably been *another* PRC Grant scheme to help
revive the damage caused by the success of the A10, and cash has
proooobbably come online fairly recently (in the past couple of weeks)

 * there is proooobbbably now an overwhelming demand for the A10 CPU,
which is proooobbbably causing them to have to ratchet up supply

 * if that is hypothetically happening, they have a bit of a problem
in that TSMC requires at least 3 months notice for increase in orders.

 * this would hypothetically explain why the price has been increased.

now.  in amongst all that, can you see that the last fucking thing
that is going to be on the minds of the developers at allwinner tech
is to write some documentation that would help a bunch of westerners
to increase market share by a paltry 0.1 to 2%?  they simply haven't
got time; it's *not* what they got given the PRC Grant for, and their
main focus is on the far larger domestic market which has totally
different characteristics from what the west is used to.

so the purpose of the EOMA initiative is to make it so that
documentation is *not* needed.  as far as everyone is concerned, the
CPU cards "just work".  *we* will do the documentation, and that
documentation is "16 pins of GPIO, plus SATA, plus Ethernet, plus
USB-2, plus RGB-TTL, plus I2C" and a bit more.  *we* will cover, for
each SoC manufacturer, the software, through rhombus-tech, expanding
it beyond the "BSP" stage.

this is a little bit difficult to fully explain on the front page of
the web sites :)


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