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Open Source Hardware

Linaro Launches an Open-Source Spec For ARM SBCs 35

DeviceGuru writes: Not content to just standardize ARM-based Linux and Android software, Linaro has just launched 96Boards, an open-source spec for ARM-based single board computers. Along with the spec's rollout, Linaro also announced a $129 HiKey SBC based on a HiSilicon 64-bit, octa-core Kirin 620 SoC, and compatible with the 96Boards Consumer Edition (CE) spec's 85 x 54mm 'standard' form factor option. The 96Boards initiative plans to offer a series of specs for small-footprint 32- and 64-bit Cortex-A boards, including an Enterprise Edition (EE) of its spec in Q2.
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Linaro Launches an Open-Source Spec For ARM SBCs

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  • Does this give us anything Raspberry Pi didn't? Just wondering, even if not more choice of open boards is obviously better
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Performance, connectivity (PCIe).

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This board gives more CPU power, at least if the workload utilizes SMP and/or the 64 bit instruction set. Otherwise it is just a expensive PI 2, with the ethernet jack being replaced with wifi. Perhaps this has its users, just as the PI has. Competition is good as it keeps the prices reasonable.

    • Does this give us anything Raspberry Pi didn't?

      If successful, it would give the ARM world a PC-like, vendor-neutral standard architecture, and so it would counteract the horrible balkanization of ARM communities by every manufacturer's boards being different.

      Even if this doesn't succeed, standardization is a very worthwhile goal for ARM (just as it was for x86 PCs), and it's quite important that a broadly funded organization has recognized the need. It will also usher in the days of ARM64, at last.

      There is

    • Yes, it does. This is not so much about the specific HiKey board, but about the standard specification it uses. Think of it similarly to how ATX works in the x86 world. There is nothing similar for ARM systems. This is an attempt to change that. It’s for singleboard computers only, but it standardizes things like the physical size of the board and the placement of its connectors, power supply, expansion buses and interfaces, and minimum external connectivity options.
    • if nothing else, it provides a ARMv8 (64bit and 8 cores) dev board that doesn't cost multiple internal organs.

    • by Enry ( 630 )

      64-bit CPU, 8 cores, and 10x the speed (in Dhrystone VAX MIPS) for about 3x the cost. The more players in this space the better is my thought.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by gweihir ( 88907 )

      An actually sane design, non-faked USB, for starters. The people that designed the RPi, including the model B+, are incompetent hacks. Yes, I have both a B and a B+, but that is it. I am not financing them learning EE 101 any further.

    • multiple manufacturers and clones. raspberry had just one clone company and they only managed to buy chips for one test run... raspberry doesn't really like competition and broadcomm is working with them to that end.

      raspberry pi(2) is really engineered to be manufactured by one company to make money for one company.

      more expansion pins as well, it seems. how many of them are usable as gpio pins, I don't know and possibly remains to be seen(there's several dedicated to that use but if the i2c pins etc can be

  • And of course it would fail, because every OEM claiming to support the spec, in cost-cutting attempts, would cripple their implementations.

    ARM is all about being cheap. And Linux is cheap too. Sadly that also attracts manufacturers who are cheap too. With all the consequences.

  • by YuppieScum ( 1096 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2015 @08:11AM (#49024935) Journal
    xkcd.com/927/ [xkcd.com]
  • by lkcl ( 517947 ) <lkcl@lkcl.net> on Tuesday February 10, 2015 @09:29AM (#49025467) Homepage

    i'm the author of the EOMA standards, including EOMA68, so i have spent something like two years developing and refining hardware standards that will not confuse end-users. http://elinux.org/Embedded_Ope... [elinux.org]

    the 1.0 (i.e. final and absolute unchangeable) version of the 96boards "consumer" standard from 96boards will be going on the list of alternative standards, as, sadly, another example of a standard that will result in end-user confusion, annoyance, product returns and, ultimately, failure.

    the reason is incredibly simple: an end-user standard MUST NOT have optional interfaces. i do not understand why people developing standards do not understand this. page 7 of the 27 page v1.0 specification states, clearly, "1 OR 2 MIPI CSI-2 ports MAY be provided on the expansion bus interface" and "From 1-2 lanes MAY be implemented on the CSI1 port interface". now whilst the latter is absolutely fine (because negotiation takes place at the hardware-level, so either host or client will correctly negotiate 1 or 2 lanes), the former most definitely is NOT.

    let's think it through. here's a simple scenario. an end-user buys a 2-lane box, and a lot of expensive camera equipment. they then find that the box is too slow, and need to upgrade. so they go out and buy another box, and, BY MISTAKE, when they get it home, they discover that they only bought a 1-lane box. as there is NOTHING WRONG with it, they may NOT return it as faulty under warranty.

    additional confusion results from page 8, over the options that the 3rd USB port MAY be a USB-OTG port. again, people will buy a system and a set of peripherals, relying on the USB-OTG capabilities... and then upgrade at a later date and make the mistake of not knowing what the hell is going on until it's too late. they investigate further and find "whoops, i bought the wrong system: this one doesn't have USB-OTG power damnit".

    DC power requirements, page 8: again, more confusion when upgrading.

    2nd (optional) UART, page 9: more confusion results.

    a summary is given on page 12, where the moment you see the word "optional", count them. that becomes a permutation of the number of possible things that an end-user has to check when first selecting and then double-checking on upgrading the device. i count (if you include the USB confusion and the power options) at least *SEVEN* possible "options", giving... someone else can do the math here, it's what... over a hundred different permutations at least.

    and then, when you get to the end of page 12 only then do you discover that the expansion board connections may be used as GPIO!

    *sigh* i have to say that this really does not look like a very well-thought-out standard, at all.

  • NB: I'm not expecting Core i7 performance nor Windows compatibility.

    I recently replaced a noisy home desktop with a fanless Intel NUC - which based on energy usage, should save me around $AU65 a year on power bills, with a payback within Intel's 3 warranty, assuming I don't trade-in for the latest NUC or Brix in the meantime. (NB, I'm not a fan of laptops, having gone through 3 in 6 years - broken screen connectors and power supplies plus preferring full size keyboards and multi-monitors)

    Some have mentioned

  • Hopefully it has SATA and Gigabit Ethernet.
    I need something decent to replace my Cubietruck board.

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