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Messages - Adarion

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Wow. But let me ask a noob question:
While it is highly impressive to see a UNIX implementation running in 128 K RAM - what would be the benefit of it putting in as the underlying layer into an EC? 512 / 128 K is still probably a bit more than average in a µC (well, at least for the relatively small things that I know) and you'll have then used all the memory already for RetroBSD. Now what would be the benefit? Will this facilitate programming for the fan control, charging, Super-I/O and so on? I guess the programming work would be quite similar, because e.g. the logic to charge a battery will still stay the same. But then, why add another layer?
But it is impressive either way. Looks like there was some efficient programming going on.

CPU Mainboard Modules / Re: First CPU Module Specs
« on: March 31, 2015, 03:30:01 AM »
The chipset is nice, however for me a few questions remain:
1. Is it suitable for a mobile use? (A88X is normally seen in desktop mainboards)
2. Will Carizzo already have something built in? E.g. Kabini is already quite a SOC and has built in an A68M (or something very similar) on the APU.
3. How many blobs are needed? E.g.: Is the USB3 AMD's own or is it Renesas? Could Renesas be persuaded to open a blob?

Cause I haven't heard about M.2 before maybe other are also interested:
It's a combination of SATA and PCIe, both in one small slot interface.

CPU Mainboard Modules / Re: Laptop vs Desktop APU
« on: March 31, 2015, 02:57:29 AM »
Is there anything very surprising about the benchmark? The mobile APU does quite well.

But then
a) Benchmarks are just benchmarks and can be misleading (type of benchmark vs. reality, compiler options and so on)
b) for a laptop one should always use a mobile APU that is meant for mobile -> power consumption / power saving functions, max. heat evolving etc.
The few examples of "desktop replacements" did not work out so well in the past.

Displays / Re: Which displays to support?
« on: March 17, 2015, 05:44:05 PM »
Might fit into this topic:

An open source / freedom light sensor. Sounds nice at first glance to me.

Wanted Features and Options / Re: battery indicator
« on: February 25, 2015, 12:36:41 PM »
That looks quite nice an comfortable.
Sometimes it is these small LEDs that add a lot of comfort. I was totally blow when I read that (iirc) Lenovo killed the HDD/SSD activity LED. This is really a cheap item but adds comfort and control for the user. Status LEDs are all good for me, just make sure they don't blind you while working at the device.

Polls / Re: Keyboards - Backlit vs key size
« on: February 25, 2015, 11:40:45 AM »
Hard decision. I'd love to have a backlit one, but I also have relatively large fingers. So still key size > backlight function.

Polls / Re: How water proof should the keyboard be?
« on: February 25, 2015, 11:39:30 AM »
I never spilled on a keyboard (yet, 25 years and counting ;) ) but once I had a keyboard severly smoked due to a laboratory fire. I could still clean it but it took a lot of time. And soot is a semiconductor so I had to be thorough.
So if it can withstand some minor spills, sand, dust or cookie crumbs it will be fine.

Keyboards / Re: What other keyboards do you want besides the T60 ?
« on: February 25, 2015, 11:36:49 AM »
I must admit that X30 keyboard looks pleasing. (I personally don't need Windows keys.) Backlit does have some advantages when you're working in darker areas. Should be switchable, though.
The T60 one still looks nice enough.
Both have real F-keys, separate set of cursor keys and a solid Ins/Del...PgUp/Dn block. Very nice.

Can SysRq (REISUB) be reached without the blue Fn-key?
Are they available in international layouts?

Peripherals and Ports / Re: Interfaces
« on: February 22, 2015, 04:53:07 AM »
> Probably cached entirely due to RAM size > CF card size.

No, RAM is 6 GB and CF cards are 8 GB and 16 GB (fully grown Gentoo systems). :)

Sadly RAM never really got cheaper. In old times I'd pay 200 "credits" for 8 MB of RAM for my 486 - and I would be happy and have enough. Today I would pay the same amount of credits to obtain much more memory - but I would also need much more memory. So situation is somehow still the same from that viewpoint. ;)

Yes, HDMI is evil, no doubt about it. Sadly a plethora of devices use it, especially a lot of screens that comes with 16:9 ratio. As long as they also have DVI or DP or VGA, well. But then, HDCP is also possible via DVI or DP, or it is a similar thing with a different name but still the same DRM crap.

> Blobs

Wow. Actually. I checked this

and wanted to cry. I never imagined there would be such an amount of blobs in there.
I had not yet noticed that. I mean, during kernel config I know that I have to include Radeon's UVD stuff and there is an option for CPU microcode. And in my old VIA based laptop was a softmodem that needed a blob. And Wifi besides Ath9k needs blobs. But this amount even on things that are core parts of a computer?

Why is everything today a programmable microcontroller of some sorts? I mean, okay, it does not all have to be hardwired silicon (which is less flexible), but then if you need porprietary firmware that has licensing issues, is insecure, buggy or backdooring... :(

But this also gave me new insight: So I thought AMD would do things on their own, since AMD should be capable of doing all sorts of chips. As they seemed to do in the past (iirc. they even had a few NICs of their own). But the need for a Renesas blob tells me AMD is either using a whole Renesas USB 3 silicon or at least a licensed "IP" in their SOCs or mainboard chipsets.

The question is: Can AMD give out specs? Can Renesas be asked for specs or code? Is there a generic Renesas USB 3 model that is used "everywhere", vendor-independent? So once somebody reverse engineers it we had a driver for all sorts of USB 3 controllers?
Or will we end up having multiple involved parties and nobody is really feeling responsible? Reminds me of my ITE SuperIO/EC problems or of intel's poulsbo desaster with the ImgTec chips.

And thanks for the hint on MiniPCIe. Never expected that parallel USB functionality there.

Peripherals and Ports / Re: Interfaces
« on: February 19, 2015, 04:18:42 AM »
Thanks for the informations.

>> old, obsolete interfaces
> Either in the form of a connector expension board (maybe a 30 pin connector that
> exports them outside the case or with a board that mounts inside the laptop
> instead of a battery pack or whatever).

I wouldn't really call them obsolete. Not all USB2something works, or you get a cheap series that uses different chips from charge to charge. And I actually did machine driving and microcontroller programming (horray for blinking LEDs!) with serial and parallel.
Such an addon board would be nice. So people who have no need for classic interfaces save the space and others can plug in a card (modularity ftw!) with native serial, parallel and whatsnot.

> CF an IDE to SATA or whatever bridge chip

This is maybe not such a problem, at least from my side. I used IDE2CF in thin clients and sometimes via these cheap adapter boards that you can attach to IDE. But for just reading CF cards a normal USB solution should be fine, too. It would have been nice to have CF directly but external USB card readers (offering all sorts of flash card formats) are available between 5 and 15 Euros (7-20 USD). This is what I normally use on the big boxes where I do not directly boot from CF.
I don't know about the difference in performance, though. When I chroot to a CF card to compile Gentoo for my small x86 machines (Geode LX, Transmeta) on my "big" Athlon II x4 there seems to be a bottleneck somewhere. Still it is faster than native compiling.

> VGA is a must and directly provided by the southbridge. If I recall correctly,
> the APU desktop chipsets support 6 displays (with DP daisy chaining).

Ah, so the SB contains some ADC. Yes, I think the Radeon Feature Matrix mentioned that newer chips might not offer native analog support anymore. But if there are affordable adapter chips that should be okay.

> There are DP to HDMI/DVI converters for everything else

I wonder about that. I was recently looking for HDMI to something else adapters and it was sheer terror. Somehow it seems the HDMI consortium forbid adapters at least in one direction.

> Addional cables will be needed in any case as connecting the HDD directly to
> laptop PCB would be very prone to breaking connectors in a moment of carelessness.

Wise decision. I guess I could still solder just cables to an interface but soldering on a board when multiple pins are to be desoldered at the same time, or even SMD stuff... uh-oh. And yes, 6 months ago I broke an external card reader and the MiniUSB cracked off the PCB and maybe the PCB even got microcracks.
It will be much better to have some pin header solution and just attach a cable to the very interface that is planted in the housing (like classic 486 where you would put every interface from pinheader to a bezel in the backside of the case).

> SATA vs. Molex

"native" SATA seems more comfortable but I saw these (quite complex by the way) SATA powers break off, while Molex seems more robust. That is, unless you manage to bend or dent the inner contact cylinders.

> That is what the external PCI-express is for!

Ex-Ternal PCI(e)? Oh, the tears of joy!
That was new to be that you had this planned. But is there also some level of protection - against dust and stuff that daily confronts a laptop from the outside?

> southbridge has 10 USB 2.0 and 4 USB 3 with blobs (have to figure out what to do here).

Yes, but that is a good number. I was glad that AMD was so nice to give even the older SB7xx chipsets a plethora of USB ports. I actually needed more and more over time.

Ehm. Blobs?

> There could be an internal USB hub and a seperate USB 3.0 controller that doesen't require blobs.

Do USB 3 controllers require blobs? I wasn't aware of that. So far I thought you did not even have specific drivers for USB controllers, regardless if the came from VIA, Renesas (NEC?), AMD, nvidia, intel or somebody else.
Blobs are evil. :)

> of those 10 a few will be used internally (one per each miniPCI-e slot, ...).

I am not a professional, how comes that PCIe and USB are correlated? I mean, attaching e.g. the trackpoint or touchpad via USB sounds reasonable (though the bandwidth is probably still overkill).

> marketing buzzwords.
All the way! :)

Could anybody explain me why people need 32 GB RAM? Actually, I had problems to fill my 6 GB on my main box. But maybe there are use cases where 32 GB would make sense? Does virtualisation eat much memory?

Oh really? A scarce sight. I thought they had dropped that from their memory controller and maybe only have it in server CPUs/APUs. I'd be interested in that when it comes to "real" mainboards, for file storage servers and such.

> Bolton
I guess this is A88X and such. Well, but this is a desktop chipset. Or was Bolton divided into desktop and mobile variants? It offers lots of native SATA and USB but I wonder if you can easily put this in a laptop without sacrificing a lot of battery runtime. Under normal conditions for a notebook we might be using only 2 of 6, 8 or 10+ SATAs. There is SATA power management but I don't know if that really switches off power to the unused ones completely or if it just puts them to a sleep state.
Also, aren't a lot of recent APUs "complete" SOCs? I'd say Kabini, even the socketed AM1, seems to contain the equivalent to an AMD A68 chipset with some USB3, more USB2 and 2 SATAs. Wouldn't something like this still be enough but more power efficient? Of course, the more integrated the stuff is, the less modularity you have. :/

>  "pop off" screen
Have you seen the Always Innovating Touchbook?

> PCI / PCIe
While I love PCI and slotted stuff, how could this be incorporated in a laptop? Okay, a some internal periphery is linked via PCI(e) bus. But open slots for the user? I mean, it sounds great, and I saw something like the small miniPCIe(??) in this PCengines thingy. But can a user actually put them to good use in the small enclosure of a laptop? And what cards are available in this small form factor. I admit that I have little experience with SFF PCI periphery. My experience relates mainly to ATX, miniITX and a few thin clients, the latter all with more or less proprietary non standard layouts.

Firmware BIOS/EFI / Re: coreboot
« on: February 17, 2015, 09:42:32 AM »
Just having read about "Equation Group" the importance of free as in freedom firmware cannot be stressed enough. Something hidden in firmware is always a problem, like the mentioned SMM. Transparent to the OS (and also any malware protection means) this can do things on the computer with more than root rights. Also, with the implementation of a network stack in UEFI it is able to send data and receive further commands remotely.

EC - Embedded Controller / Re: EC Firmware
« on: February 17, 2015, 09:19:50 AM »
I guess "embedded controller" means the same as Super-IO chip? Some chip responsible for low bandwidth communication, classic interfaces and so on?
Those have become a serious issue recently. Normally this was something that always worked. And for the last 2 years I stumbled over more and more mainboards with chips that were unsupported by kernel / lm_sensors. Thus no sensor readings, no flashrom and then no coreboot possibilities.
And no documentations, chip types that seemed to be custom tailored for a run of notebooks / mainboards and nobody would feel responsible (laptop vendor / chip maker).
It is a catastrophe.

If those chips are well documented and work with a free driver that would be a great opportunity. Is there any quick comparison of what functions are supported?
That also means the firmware that runs in this (ARM? AVR?) chip is written by the community and it does not contain any blobs that might trouble later?

Displays / Re: Which displays to support?
« on: February 17, 2015, 05:42:43 AM »
OMG. 3:2 exists? There is something besides 16:9? Awesome! (Okay, I know and use 16:10 but besides some freaking expensive Eizo dedicated screens with even classic 4:3 and 1:1 I didn't notice anything like that.) And there is resolution for laptops above 768 lines? OMG! It is even IPS! (I think I can't hold the tears! ;) ) Wouldn't that be "Shut up and take my money?"
Which prices are we looking at? This one is just 44 USD? Where is the caveat? There must be something wrong with it, right?

On the other hand, wow. A 12" with such a high resolution. But that would be a niiice note-book. With 12 inch the kdb might be a bit on the small side but I could imagine a nice lightweight typing machine with long battery lifetime for traveling and writing or reading.

Displays / Re: eDP and LVDS
« on: February 17, 2015, 05:34:51 AM »
I don't know since I do not have much insight into laptop panels. But what I know is that AMD APUs/GPUs won't have much support for LVDS in the future. I think they are already phasing out support for that so you would need an adapter chip if you still wanted to support the LVDS funtionality but go with e.g. a Carizzo build.

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