apologies for the wide distribution of this message, reasons will
become clear: please do subscribe to arm-netbooks(a)lists.phcomp.co.uk
and respond there (subscription required) rather than to all these
the short version of the story is that Rhombus Tech (a CIC company -
not a not-for-profit or a Ltd Company) is now taking preorder
committments - pledges - to buy EOMA-PCMCIA-compliant CPU cards using
a low-cost but feature-rich ARM Cortex A8 CPU called the Allwinner
* this initiative is similar to the openpandora, the openmoko, ben
nanonote etc. except that the lessons have been learned from these
projects, to keep it very very simple, low-risk and modular, but still
functional and useful (to Software Libre Developers) as a module. the
goal is also different in that the plan is to leverage mass-volume
pricing and opportunities, to the direct benefit of the Software
(Libre) Community. more info on http://rhombus-tech.net
* the A10 has (at least) HDMI, SATA-II, 10/100 Ethernet, takes up to
1gb of 800mhz DDR3 RAM, has a superb 32-bit-wide 8-way concurrent
DMA-driven NAND Flash interface, MALI 400MP 3D Graphics, does 2160p
(2x 1080p) Video, has 4 SD 3.0 Ultra-High-Speed interfaces, 2x 24-pin
RGB/TTL LCD interfaces, IDE (PATA)... i'm repeating what's on the
rhombus tech web site so will stop here (link below)
* the price of the allwinner CPU is so low in mass-volume ($USD 7)
that in mass-volume (100k pricing) a PCB that is comparable to the
raspberrypi would only be $USD 15 instead of $25, yet the A10 would be
3x faster processing speed (the rbpi's CPU is only a 700mhz ARM11 yet
is more expensive).
* the CPU card will be able to operate as a stand-alone (USB-OTG
powered) computer, with HDMI output, boot from Micro-SD, and stereo
headphones/mic, yet due to EOMA-PCMCIA compliance it will plug into a
wide range of future devices.
* unlike the beagleboard, origen, IMX53QSB etc. this is not a
SoC-fabless-semiconductor-company-driven or a Linaro-driven
initiative, it is a commercial initiative with an absolute top
priority focus on GPL compliance and involving Software (Libre)
Developers every step of the way, hence the reason for using a CIC not
a Ltd Company.
* GPL Kernel Source code has been obtained from allwinner: RHT has the
full support of allwinner's Board of Directors, and the Reference
Platform source code is available on alioth.debian.org
* as the primary focus of this initiative is, at this stage, to invite
Software (Libre) Developers to be involved, it has not been widely
announced. this is therefore the 1st reason why these lists are
specifically being contacted.
* as the CPU cards are designed to be in legacy PCMCIA form-factor,
motherboards and devices such as tablets, laptops, plug computers, NAS
boxes, IPTVs, are all possible, including embedded and other
the only other thing is that we are actively seeking "Admins" for the
Rhombus Tech web site, from a wide range of different communities.
the responsibilities are very small - they're a bit like those of
slashdot meta-moderation. primarily we need people to be able to vet
sponsorship for receipt of developer boards, using the profits raised
by the CIC, for the direct strategic benefit of the Software (Libre)
Community. this is similar in effect to the beagleboard sponsorship
programme, but unlike the beagleboard sponsorship programme, if
sufficient profits are raised by the CIC it will be possible for
Admins to decide to donate boards taking up the entire years'
remaining profits in one go, to worthwhile causes.
clearly, to find such people it is necessary to reach an appropriate
audience, hence the 2nd reason why this message is going specifically
to ARM lists in each of the major gnu/linux distros. there are at
present 4 people who have agreed to be Admins, including phil hands,
alain williams, wookey and james vasile, each in "unofficial"
capacities with no relation to any other duties or roles that they
fulfil. ideally we could do with one or two more from each of the
other gnu/linux distros.
lastly: there *is* the possibility of adapting something like the
beaglebone, which would, if the AM3357 was used, mean that the
resultant hardware could potentially be FSF-Hardware-Endorsed: if this
is something of interest to you please do speak up (on the
arm-netbook(a)lists.phcomp.co.uk list) or likewise if you would prefer
any other "Open Schematics" board such as IMX53QSB, pandaboard etc. to
be adapted please do say so.
ok i'll leave it at that. it's worth repeating - discussion please
contact me either privately, directly, or subscribe to
arm-netbook(a)lists.phcomp.co.uk, list instructions below.
allwinner page: http://http://rhombus-tech.net//allwinner_a10/
preorders page: http://http://rhombus-tech.net//allwinner_a10/orders/
accidental slashdot article: http://goo.gl/M7YQH
rhombus-tech web site: http://rhombus-tech.net
am335x page: http://rhombus-tech.net/am335x
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