[Arm-netbook] Should we support libre.computer's efforts at promoting lima?

David Niklas doark at mail.com
Thu Oct 18 00:44:05 BST 2018

On Wed, 17 Oct 2018 16:30:17 +0100
Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton <lkcl at lkcl.net> wrote:
> ---
> crowd-funded eco-conscious hardware: https://www.crowdsupply.com/eoma68
> On Wed, Oct 17, 2018 at 2:58 PM David Niklas <doark at mail.com> wrote:
> >
> > On Wed, 17 Oct 2018 08:43:29 +0100
> > Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton <lkcl at lkcl.net> wrote:
> >  
> > > USD $1m would fund the Libre RISC-V 3D GPU effort through to 100%
> > > completion including quite likely actual test silicon in a smaller
> > > geometry like 65 / 55nm (700mhz or so, which for a GPU would be damn
> > > good).
> > >
> > > l.  
> >
> > Wait a sec! Last year you said:
> >
> > On Mon, 8 May 2017 16:43:07 +0100
> > Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton <lkcl at lkcl.net> wrote:  
> > > On Mon, May 8, 2017 at 4:27 PM,  <ronwirring at safe-mail.net> wrote:  
> > > > Best knowledge is, that new intel and amd processors cannot be
> > > > reverse engineered. What in regard of the latest mali gpus?
> > > > If you have the money, they can be reverse engineered?  
> > >
> > >  yes.  about $150k would do it.   but the question is, really: what
> > > would happen if you did?  and, what else could you do with the same
> > > money?
> > >
> > >  well, with the same money it would be possible to make our own
> > > libre processor, with enough extensions to be able to do 3D graphics
> > > *without* paying anyone a cent.  any company tries to claim patent
> > > royalties, all that happens is a search is made on their "claims",
> > > for anything similar that has prior art.
> > >
> > >  if it's another company, guess what?  we notify that other company
> > > and watch the fireworks...
> > >
> > > l.  
> >
> > 1M - 150k = 750K!!!
> > Therefore you're tripling your price estimate on us!  
>  it depends on what you take into account.  if someone else pays the
> NREs to the foundry, i.e. a university agrees to collaborate and is
> offered access to a foundry for either free or at reduced rates,
> $250k-$500k comes off that amount, straight away.

My statement was based on: 1M - (3 x 150K == 450K [for the HDL]) = 550K
for the silicon, and that's huge! What is the cost here? Silicon as an
element is inexpensive and even 32nm foundries should have their HW paid
for by now. It's been what? 8 years since 32nm and the half node, 28nm
started? And the big buyers (AMD, Intel, Nvidia) were on it for 3+ years.

It's not like an OSH project can purchase a license for closed source
HW something-or-another libraries, which I've read as being the main
expense from anandtech (No, I'm not in the field).

>  if only wanting to reach a target of say producing the design files
> (HDL), that's a different target entirely as well, and if someone else
> can take over at that point (and make the actual money selling
> product), then that's one way to ensure that the goal's reached [but
> not guarantee financial benefit from it].

I assumed at the time, you were talking HDL and with an FPGA for
hardware backing with basic OpenGL, OpenCL, and 2D driver. No video
encode/decode HW or Vulkan driver. Not mass produced, just a few
prototypes. At about the same speed as a good Intel GPU, say a high end
HD630 series. If you have a more concrete or different idea I'd be glad
to hear it.

> so it was a throwaway comment written in about 30 seconds with no
> strict analysis done.

Really? You sounded so serious! Contrary to popular belief, sound does
travel across the Internet, it's just that no body has managed to tie the
Internet into the speakers yet. ;-)

> last time i collaborated with an associate to
> come up with a proper figure it was around USD $5m (for a client) and
> it took us around five days to put that together. however that
> particular deal excluded certain resources and had specific
> requirements.

I was aiming for 2M minimum. And that is BIG to me.

> > Seriously, when I get BIG money (which will be a while),  
>  cool

Let me be frank, luke, I am under no delusions. No lottery. No gambling.
No get rich quick schemes. But it will take time, as in ~5 years.
Therefore, be excited about the OSH, not the money which may or may never
be there.

I don't always agree with you, but what you write I do pay attention to.
And I have a terrible tendency of believing you. :) I had assumed that
some company would opensource or support the OSS Mali drivers,
eventually. Google has android running off of Mali, Samsung and LG have
Smart TVs running off of Mali, the list goes on...
But when you wrote about creating an OSH GPU yourself I realized that
is spite of every Mali customer, Google et. al. would not support
opensourcing anything if they could help it. Chromium's binary blob
problems are even further proof.
This became painfully clear when RISC-V came out. I expected *at least*
the cache to be OSH... :CRY:

I decided that if I could, it was up to me to pull in the funds for OSH,
and "I think I can"(TM).

> > I'm planning on calling you on this one  
>  excellent.  well, when that happens, let's talk (on or off list), you
> let me know what you can raise and i'll put the time in - which will
> be several days not a few moments - to work out what can be done, and
> what side-deals will be needed, if necessary.
> l.

I will tell you, but keep in mind that there are other OSH products to be
developed that I have my eyes on.

Finally, I'm uncertain that I want to know, but what is a "side deal"?


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