[Soekris] Cost effective embedded solutions

Chuck Yerkes chuck+soekris at 2003.snew.com
Tue Jul 22 01:14:04 UTC 2003

Quoting Soren Kristensen (soren at soekris.com):
> A couple of words on future directions....
> Info Account wrote:
> >PPC would be nice, also nice is the Alchemy au1500 line - MIPS core,
> >400 Mhz, about $9 each in quantity, super low power consumption, two
> >Ethernet PHYs.  I've got a Linux distribution up and running on the
> >Cogent au1500 SBC, you could easily spin a sub $50.00 400 Mhz SBC
> >with PC card support, USB, and two 10/100 ports.
> PPC, MIPS, Arm, even SH.... There's plenty of nice chips but which one 
> to choose ? A even better comes out next month, using a different 
> processor than last month's.
> So I'm doing x86, that's my core compentency and I like the smooth
> upgrade path. Show me any other architecture where a single well tested 
> binary runs on anything from a 16 Mhz 386 made 17 years ago to today's 3 
> Ghz P4....

Well, that's been part of the x86 problem - shedding the crap that
was hacked into the Z80...

That said, I can still run ORIGINAL (68k) mac software on my PPC7500.
Sometimes the color is funky, some stuff just fails, but....

That also said, the Intel model is a huge power sucking monster,
it's got memory models from hell (segment are for worms).  I used
68k and 68008 (8 bit buss) early on because, while I only had 1MB
of RAM, they could address 4MB.  Internally, they were all using
32 bit registers.  So the 68020 ran unaltered 68k code and let
me see TONS of RAM.  With no bankswitching or segments.

PPC was designed for control systems (after the 88k failure).
Many PPC chips are intended to run cars - low power, lots of
IO, high integration.

The ARM was a glorious chip.  No FPU, but more MIPS/watt than anything
still made.

When you're powering something over little tiny wires or with a solar
panel+battery, being able to use half as many panels is an immediate
cost savings.

x86 is around purely because IBM made a decision (they shoulda
waited 5 months for the 68k <sigh>).  It's faster due to higher
density waters.  I've got P4's that suck 2-3 times the power per
compute cycle than anything but the Alpha.  Power becomes heat.

> I'm considering doing a low cost wireless boards because I can, it's
> easy as I already have everything in my CAD system, the BIOS is done, I 
> have the test setup and I already have flow of all the parts.

Good, then that's a bonus and an easy win.

> And the stocking standard version will be stripped down to become low 
> cost, if somebody need something bigger, we're still going to have all 
> the current products.

Want bigger RAM still.  SO-DIMM and a C800 perhaps.

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