Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

posted by martyb on Tuesday February 19 2019, @12:19PM   Printer-friendly
from the Good-Fast-Cheap...pick-two dept.

Let's say you've got something that needs to be computerised at a slightly higher level than an Arduino, with the computing part costing less than about $100-150, and ideally less than $50 (think Beaglebone, Odroid, PCEngine, Pi and clones, Pine, etc). It looks like the only choice is between ARM at the low end and x86 at the high end. Everything else has fallen by the wayside: The last MIPS-based product was the Ci20/Ci40 from 2015 and neither the hardware nor software have been updated since, PowerPC is out there but only as high-priced SBCs and good luck finding a distro that supports it, Sparc is left with Fujitsu working on it for mainframes, and RISC-V is still a glint in everyone's eye - the few SBCs based on it cost more than a low-end server, and despite various enthusiastic press releases I can't see any timeline where I can get a $50 RISC-V device that performs the same as a $50 ARM-based one. And then there's the software support, once you leave the x86 world you've got, outside of various specialised RTOSes, Linux. A very few systems have one or two of the BSDs, often in a hit-and-miss manner, but that's it.

Has Linux + ARM/x86 killed everything else?


Original Submission

 
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
  • (Score: 3, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 19 2019, @01:27PM (6 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 19 2019, @01:27PM (#803446)

    The C-SKY architecture was recently added to the mainline kernel:
    https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=C-SKY-Approved-Last-Arch [phoronix.com]
    Small dev board are very cheap:
    https://www.cnx-software.com/2018/12/23/c-sky-linux-board-review-benchmark/ [cnx-software.com]
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/PK-OrangePi-NanoPi-Raspberry-Pie-GX6605S-Development-Board-For-C-SKY-Linux-/192755718943 [ebay.com]
    I suppose if you are looking for multiple-gigahertz boards, you are probably out of luck. But if simplely supporting the linux kernel is what you are after, there are options. I believe there are MIPS-based chips out of Russia, as well as the Loongson chips best known for the Lemote laptop RMS used to use.

    Starting Score:    0  points
    Moderation   +3  
       Insightful=1, Informative=2, Total=3
    Extra 'Informative' Modifier   0  

    Total Score:   3  
  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday February 19 2019, @03:55PM (1 child)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday February 19 2019, @03:55PM (#803510)

    I was going to say, I don't think it's Linux that did the killing - more typical free market forces...

    Low end x86 is too costly for some applications, but high end x86 is powerful enough for all but the most esoteric high power applications.

    Low end ARM is cheap enough that anything cheaper would need to have production quantities in the millions for the price difference to matter, and high end ARM overlaps with low end x86.

    Off the top end of the scale, Linux does have some support for esoteric supercomputing, but unless you need that, you're not going to pay to go there.

    Off the bottom end of the scale, there's not enough power in the chips to warrant a Linux-like OS, so they're out there on their own with RTOS or less - but, again, production quantities in the tens of millions can support $500K in custom development work to shave $0.50 off the BOM.

    --
    My karma ran over your dogma.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 19 2019, @07:49PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 19 2019, @07:49PM (#803634)

      The x86 glue chips make for an expensive design.

      You don't need them with ARM or PowerPC.

      In many cases, you don't need a CPU/MCU if you use a FPGA, which will often have a hard or soft ARM core.

      PowerPC is still dominant for telecom, and single-core performance. It is harder to write good multi-core code (even threaded code can be tough, as it often gets run on a single core because of memory sharing between the threads).

  • (Score: 2) by driverless on Wednesday February 20 2019, @04:32AM (3 children)

    by driverless (4770) on Wednesday February 20 2019, @04:32AM (#803861)

    The C-Sky is kinda gutless, about the same as a cheap STM32 board, you're rather limited in terms of what you can do with it, the linked board has 64MB of RAM and 8MB of flash which is going to be painful if not impossible for self-hosted development. Loongson is also pretty hard to get hold of outside of China, and from what I've seen, outside of the Lemote, the ones available to outsiders are typically on multi-hundred-dollar server boards.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 20 2019, @06:04AM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 20 2019, @06:04AM (#803884)

      That is pretty much dead on. The Russian one mentioned is the Balkal T1 and is also several hundred dollars.
      https://www.cnx-software.com/2018/09/26/baikal-t1-last-mips-processor/ [cnx-software.com]
      There are also the MediaTek MIPS router boards that are sometimes configured like an SBC, but again you are limited to OpenWRT or similar. Not really any consumer level boards outside of x86 and ARM that would be good candidates for self hosted development.

      • (Score: 2) by driverless on Wednesday February 20 2019, @07:12AM

        by driverless (4770) on Wednesday February 20 2019, @07:12AM (#803908)

        The Baikal would be kinda cool, merely to say that you're running a Russian-sourced CPU that most people have never heard of. I looked at getting one via some Russian friends just for the coolness factor but they said you pretty much need to be a Russian speaker to work with it, in that all the tech info and support forums are Russian-only. Also, EUR500 is a lot to drop on something like that...

      • (Score: 2) by driverless on Wednesday February 20 2019, @07:14AM

        by driverless (4770) on Wednesday February 20 2019, @07:14AM (#803909)

        Also the fact that the RTC is powered by Po210 instead of a battery was a bit of a concern...