[Arm-netbook] [review] SoC proposal

lkcl luke luke.leighton at gmail.com
Thu Feb 9 16:37:55 GMT 2012

On Thu, Feb 9, 2012 at 3:13 PM, Gordan Bobic <gordan at bobich.net> wrote:
> lkcl luke wrote:
>> On Thu, Feb 9, 2012 at 11:41 AM, Gordan Bobic <gordan at bobich.net> wrote:
>>> lkcl luke wrote:
>>>> On Thu, Feb 9, 2012 at 7:41 AM, Vladimir Pantelic <vladoman at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>>>   we evaluated the possibility of coping with 1080p30 video decode, and
>>>>>> worked out that after one of the cores has been forced to deal with
>>>>>> CABAC decode all on its own, the cores could then carry out the
>>>>>> remaining parts of 1080p30 decode in parallel, at about 1ghz, quantity
>>>>>> 4.
>>>>> I would not recommend fully loading the cpu while decoding video, HD
>>>>> video is becoming a commodity and people might soon use it as an "animated"
>>>>> wallpaper while doing other CPU intensive stuff
>>>>  last year the target speed was 1.5ghz, 4 cores.  this time we
>>>> envisage 8 cores at over 1.2ghz, and the cores can be made to support
>>>> VLIW which can result in 3x the effective clock-rate.  so i don't
>>>> think that CPU horsepower is something to worry about.  the only thing
>>>> that's of concern is to not put too _much_ horsepower down so that it
>>>> goes beyond the gate-count budget.
>>> I think you need to look at this from the practical standpoint.
>>> Specifically:
>>> 1) Is there GCC support for this SoC's instruction set,
>>  yes.
>>> including VLIW,
>>  don't know.  tensilica have a proprietary "pre-processor" compiler
>> that turns c and c++ into VLIW-capable c and c++.
> That sounds like another one of those hare-brained solutions like the
> JZ4760. If it's going to be mainstream, it needs to be done cleanly,
> i.e. a proper GCC back-end - preferably one that delivers decent
> performance unlike the current vectorization efforts.
>>> SSE,
>>  what is SSE?
> Sorry, s/SSE/SIMD/

 ahh.  yes i believe so.

>>  already done. http://linux-xtensa.org/
> Good to see. Is there a dev kit availble? Rebuilding a distro in qemu is
> going to take years.

 apparently there are 2

>>> How many man-hours will that take before it is
>>> sufficiently tested and stable for an actual product that the end
>>> consumers can use?
>>  don't know.  tensilica have proprietary software libraries for audio
>> and video CODECs already (obviously)
> Proprietary as in closed-source?

 yyyep.  good enough for commercial mass-volume purposes though.

>>> 3) How long will it take to add support for this SoC to all important
>>> packages that use assembly in places?
>>  don't know, but to do so would not be smart unless it's _really_
>> critical, simple and has a big pay-off.
> The problem is that some packages won't build/work without it, and you
> probably know just how hairy some of the dependencies can get in a
> modern Linux distro.

 yyep :)

>>> You might have the hardware out in 18 months' time, but I would be
>>> pretty amazed if you managed to get the OSS community enthusiastic
>>> enough about this to get the whole software stack ported in an amount of
>>> time that is less than years - by which time the SoC will be thoroughly
>>> deprecated.
>>  98% of what's needed is already in place.
>>  the goal is: to design the architecture in such a way that the
>> remaining 2% can be done quickly and simply.
>>  there's enough examples of how _not_ to do this out there such that i
>> think it would be possible to find a fast route to market in amongst
>> them.
> OK, OK, I'm convinced. You have pushed it into the realm of plausible in
> my mind. :)


>>> Look at the rate of progress Linaro is making, and they have a
>>> multi-million $ budget to pay people to push things along, and an OSS
>>> community that already has ARM well boot-strapped and supported.
>>  yes.  that just adds to the cost of the CPUs, which is unacceptable.
>>  i'd like to apply a leeetle bit more intelligence to the task, namely
>> for example to add instruction extensions that will help optimise 3D,
>> and to say... find out how much effort it would take to port llvm and
>> to evaluate whether gallium3d on llvmpipe would be "good enough" if
>> optimised to use the 3D-accelerating instructions etc. etc.
> Don't put too much stock in that yet. Writing a good optimizing compiler
> that produces beneficial SIMD/VLIW binary code is _hard_.

 well, tensilica seem to have done a decent job.

> So hard that
> only Intel have so far managed to do a decent job of SIMD (SSE).

 add tensilica to the list [proprietary compiler of course... *sigh*].

> See the difference between AMD and Nvidia GPUs, for example. Radeon has
> always had much, much higher theoretical throughput, but has always
> lagged behind GeForce in practice. Unified shaders are generic so even a
> relatively crap compiler can do something sensible.

 i still don't fully grok what the heck shaders are all about.  so i
have no idea if optimising instruction sets to help _will_ help!
*wandering aimlessly*....

More information about the arm-netbook mailing list