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Re: Mips SOC, Linux

Subject: Re: Mips SOC, Linux
From: David Goodenough <>
Date: Sun, 11 Mar 2007 16:04:18 +0000
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Organization: Linkchoose Ltd
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On Sunday 11 March 2007 13:56, Ralf Baechle wrote:
> On Sun, Mar 11, 2007 at 11:59:11AM +0530, PhilipS wrote:
> > Hello All,
> > I am looking for MIPS Development boards for my hobby projects like Linux
> > Porting and Development, I am here by looking for an Expert suggestion to
> > buy a MIPS custom boards, so far on Google I could come across
> > vendor selling MIPS Evaluation target boards which is Obviously expensive
> > which ,I cannot afford to buy. I hope I am asking this question at the
> > right place, else please suggest me where I can post my request if one
> > knows about it.
> You're touch a big problem here, so I'm going to use this opportunity to
> post a rant ...
> Most of the eval boards are have very high price tags due to low volume and
> esotheric components such as very large and fast FPGAs or pricey matched
> impedance connectors for logic analyzers.  Another factor is that the
> vendors making these boards usually target their commercial customers and
> factor in a fairly generous markup for the post-sale support into the sales
> price of the board.
> From a Free Software perspective this is a bloody disaster.  Even if for a
> moment I put on my dot com hat again, it's one.  Over the past years the
> commercial contributions have primarily focused on hardware support.  In
> many cases I received large code drops of lousy to medicore quality and
> no maintenance at all after the initial code drop.  I won't go into the
> reasons here nor do I think I need to name companies here - but it's a big
> problem.
> As usual exceptions proof the rule and also as usual there are alot of
> grey shades between white and black.  Some companies seem to have
> tremendous difficulty to be good open source citizens - but they throw some
> free hardware into the crowd.  Not enough to satisfy the demand and usually
> only a few key people are really able to take advantage of that.
> Otoh many if not most important and highest quality contributions over the
> years have come from hobby hackers, so in the end the lack availability of
> modern hardware is making everybody suffer.  Meanwhile the importance of
> Linux as OS for MIPS is continuing to rise ...
> I hear similar complaints from other, mostly embedded architectures such as
> ARM.  But that's not an excuse - this problem wants some remedy.
> But let's also look at the options you have right now:
>  o Eval boards end on ebay relativly rarely, but you can try anyway.
>    Another option is something like a surplus MIPS workstation.
>  o A bunch of wireless routers and other devices such as some the Linksys
>    WRT54 models have been recycled for hacking use with good success.
>  o Routerboard which is not yet supported out of tree (working in cleaing
>    the patches) would be another reasonably priced option.  Generally you
Which of their boards are you working on patches for?

The RB532 seems to be working OK now with a 2.6 kernel on OpenWrt, but I tried
to migrate some patches for the 1xx series (the ADM5120 based cards) and I 
could not get them boot beyond the dnode and inode table initialisations.  If
you have anything better that would work with current kernels I would be very
interested to have a look.

>    may want to look at the list of platforms supported by
> - many of their platforms have friendly price tags.
>    Of course alot of those are purpose built hw so may be a bit quirky to
>    use.
>  o Apparently AMD Alchemy boards used to be fairly cheap, on the order of
>    $100.  I have not idea this is true or still true for the new owner of
>    Alchemy Raza Microelectronics.
>  o For the meager investment of a few megabytes of disk space Qemu is a
>    really nice and well performing system which also is rapidly improving.
>   Ralf

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