The lowRISC project, based on Cambridge, is aiming to create an entirely open source hardware stack. This includes the SoC as well as the development board.
The design is based around RISC-V, a 64-bit RISC instruction set architecture. It supports GCC, LLVM and Linux, pairing the open source hardware with an open source software stack.
The lowRISC project is run as a non-profit organization. The team is built around a team with experiences from Cambridge University, UC Berkley, Raspberry Pi, Dreamwork, Radioscape, Google, OpenRISC and more.
This is exciting! The Raspberry Pi Foundation just announced that the Raspberry will be available in a new form factor – the SODIMM. The module will contain the BCM2835 SoC, 512MB of RAM and 4GB FLASH (eMMC). It will be available some time in June for about $30 in batches of a hundred units. For individual devices, the price will be slightly higher.
The target audience is producers of custom PCBs – which is great since there are a lot of hardware projects based on the Raspberry Pi – and at 200mA with video decoding and 3D graphics running, I bet there will be more.
In addition to all this, the foundation also announced the Compute Module IO Board. This is an open source breakout board providing access to HDMI, USB as well as large pin headers. It also provides a solution to power the board. The curious reader can have a peek at the schematics of the IO board, as well as the Compute Module.
For those of you who like to watch moving pictures, please enjoy the small preview below.
The EasyEDA project seems like an interesting project. They are developing a production quality EDA system, but with a different monitization model. The plan is to offer free, ad-supported, accounts, cheap, ad-free, accounts and premium accounts. The main revenue stream is not to come from these accounts, but from a prototyping service. So, if that service really flies, the tool might be free for everyone. One interesting part of the account plan is that one can upgrade the account not only by paying, but also by contributing howtos, schematic symbols, etc.
In addition to applying gamification and a different revenue model, they already have 75000+ schematic and 15000 spice libraries, so it looks as if the contents is growing.
I’m looking forward to seeing how this works out. It looks promising to me.
The Arduboy platform is heading for kickstarter. It is a creditcard shaped gaming platform featuring capacitive buttons, a small OLED screen, speakers, battery and a barebone Arduino (atmega).
I think that this looks great for gaming, but can think of a gazillion more applications. Just having access to a really low cost, customizable interface like this can revolutionize user interfaces to many low end embedded projects.
Over at schematics.com you can find designs and share your designs in an online community. This can be a handy resource for finding reference designs. An interesting detail is the contribution from semi-conductor manufacturers. For instance, NXP are contributing designs to the site.
I guess very few have missed the Internet phenomena Flappy Bird. It is a rare occasion when a game is retracted for being addictive.
There are a number of clones out there. According to arstechnica you can run it on your Pebble watch, Nintendo 3DS, basically and conceivable smartphone out there, and more.
More interestingly, according to boingboing, you can also have a go on your Atari 2600, ZX81, TI calculator or C64. This really shows that the gaming experience that you can get from a multicore gigahertz smartphone packing gigabytes of RAM and FLASH can be achieved using a few thousand bytes of ram, a couple of megaherts and an 8 bit CPU.