[Arm-netbook] [fedora-arm] 1ghz ARM Laptop (12in 1280x800 LCD)

Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton luke.leighton at gmail.com
Tue Feb 1 17:18:42 GMT 2011

On Tue, Feb 1, 2011 at 3:29 PM, Gordan Bobic <gordan at bobich.net> wrote:

> I suspect (it's just a guess, but an educated one) the panel they use is an
> AUO (AU Optronics) B156HW01 or B156HW02. There are almost certainly several
> interchangeable variants of each, with possibly slightly different LVDS plug
> locations.
> Here is a spec sheet for one of the variants:
> www.yslcd.com.tw/docs/product/B156HW01%20V.3.pdf

 leeme check.. ok, 7-20 volt LED power, that's good: that's quite a
common standard.  and it's a "double" LVDS, hmm, looks quite
straightforward, just double up the LVDS ICs: SN75LVDS83b quantity 2
should do the job.  even needs two separate LVDS clocks.  so, yeah.

>> support as well as the high pricing.  the second is that the OMAP4's
>> DSP speed and capability has hit some sort of threshold which has
>> resulted in a BXPA "weapons" classification being slapped on it.
>> thus, even to get samples shipped outside of the U.S. or Europe now
>> requires permission - and a license - on an individual case-by-case
>> basis, from the U.S. or U.K government.
> Really? I had no idea. So how does the Pandaboard get around the issue?

 presumably by being designed in the EU or USA and only sold *to*
people in the EU or USA.  wouldn't it be a hoot if someone forgot to
tell the sales teams that the CPU was export-restricted, and TI got
prosecuted :)

>>  so, yes, you _could_ base a design around the (vanilla) BBxM or even
>> the Pandaboard, but... yyeah :)
> I don't see any downsides of basing it on the Pandaboard, except:
> 1) Low RAM amount
> 2) Lack of LVDS module for the next month or three

 yes.  and you'll need a double-LVDS channel for that 1920x1080 LCD.

>>  now i _have_ been advised of another two CPUs - one is the nusmart
>> 2816 and the other is the ziilabs ZMS-08.  the nice thing about the
>> ZMS-08 is that it is *already* available in a "system-on-module"
>> format:
>> http://www.ziilabs.com/products/platforms/zms08som.aspx
>>  use of this module would mean zero SO-DIMM development costs, meaning
>> that all that would be required would be a motherboard, and that's
>> only about $2k-$3k!
> What is the CPU on that? Cortex could mean anything from Cortex M0 to Cortex
> A9.


> And how would the RAM on that get expanded? How much RAM will the CPU
> support?

 1gb (A8s support 1gb).  the SoM (as it stands) can take 4 micron
2gbit x16 ICs (hynix don't do a 2gbit x16 mobile DDR part).

> I don't see anything about a cell vector processor listed in the spec.

 no - and the reason for that is precisely because they DO NOT want
people ringing up even _asking_ for "free" support as they believe it
is a total waste of their time.

 their primary customers have been companies who are basically
incompetent at software development, and expect to be spoon-fed full
solutions, or they will go elsewhere.  so creativelabs have developed
ready-made (proprietary) OpenGL and MPEG proprietary libraries, and
that keeps these drone-clone companies happy.

> If it
> does have it, then that may well be a BAD thing - more transistors means
> more watts, and the chances of any ARM Linux software using it any time soon
> is pretty close to 0 (look how much uses SSE properly on x86, and that's
> been around for over a decade, GCC still can't generate useful SSE code).
> I'd stick with the _simplest_ possible Cortex A9 / PowerVR combo available.

 there's the pandaboard, and that's... it.

> And I only say PowerVR because I'm not aware of more supportable
> alternatives at the moment.

 it's non-free, and... yes, hm.

you're aiming for a market segment a bit higher than i have been
planning.  not that that rules out covering both, but i have some
other markets that can be covered, and if the BOM comes to $300 that
means a $600 to $800 price-tag, which is wayy outside of the consumer
mass-market price range i'm also looking at.

>>> Pandaboard: 1GB
>>  POP - this will be eeexpensiiive.
> $175/board doesn't sound that expensive in the grand scheme of things,
> unless you are referring to other potential issues (e.g. import/export
> licencing you mentioned).

 i'm thinking and have been planning along the lines of a BOM *under*
that cost of $175/board - just for that board!

> Just out of interest (forgive me if the question is daft, I'm not all that
> familiar how this segment of the market works) - is there a standard for the
> way SODIMMs SoC modules are wired up?

 noooo *sigh* :)

> i.e. would you then be able to replace
> the SODIMM on this custom mobo with another SODIMM SoC and expect it to
> "just work" provided all the features are present? I'm guessing the chances
> of this are less than 0.

 _some_ designers have managed it.  cogcomp.com's SoMs are all
inter-compatible for example, and directinsight have an AM37xx board
that's pin-compatible with their DM37xx board.

> I'm all for a project like this, but I suspect the volume will be quite low.
> That means high unit cost, and in that case it makes more sense to aim for
> the high end, since there is a higher chance of being competitive there. It
> will be easier to come up with a very low power and adequate performance
> 15.6in 1920x1080 laptop with 20 hours battery life for $1500 than a slightly
> better 10in 1280x720 laptop that has to be competitive against the $350
> offerings.
> Having said all that, it may be worthwhile having a word with Genesi. They
> are probably already working on the next gen of Efika MX.

 i already asked.  they already told me they had made their decisions
(for the next generation) and were not in the slightest bit interested
in changing their minds to expand the market opportunities for the new

> If you can stir up
> enough interest in something like this (and I would definitely be interested
> in something like what I've described unless the cost per unit ends up being
> eyewateringly outrageous), then it would make a some sense to try to get an
> established manufacturer on-board. Unless you have a very
> commercial/competitive venture in mind.

 i do.

 also - an established manufacturer is the absolute last thing that's
needed.  they will add a large markup/premium, apart from anything
else.  but think about this: ARM CPUs capable of running laptops have
been available since early 2009 (and one or two even before that).
you'd think that, by now, one of the "established" manufacturers would
come up with the goods, neh?  it doesn't take 6 months to put a design
together if you've got the money, and they've got the money.  so where
_are_ these magic low-power, lower-cost high-end ARM and MIPS laptops,
from the established manufacturers?

 look up the pegatron netbook, and also look up IBM's ARM-based
"smartbook" (both have that looovely 1024x600 screen).  and
freescale's smartbook reference design.  and several qualcomm-based
1ghz smartbooks.  etc. etc. etc. etc.  they _just_ aren't delivering
the goods, are usually GPL-violating (esp if from S.Asia), and are too
expensive.  oh, and usually have crap amounts of RAM or crap screen
resolutions.  dead from the neck up, in other words :)

> Gordan
> P.S.
> I think we should take this off the list, unless a lot of others here want
> to partake, since by my reckoning the Fedora related content in this is
> becoming pretty close to 0.

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