Monthly Archives: May 2013

Advances of open hardware in the scientific community

Open Source Hardware logoEven since CERN launched the Open Hardware initiative in 2011, the idea of open hardware has been gaining momentum within the scientific community.

CERN has been a very strong supporter of open hardware design methodologies as a platform for sharing ideas and results with the rest of the scientific community. To this end, and recognizing that the existing open source licenses are pretty much software-oriented (and as such they cannot be easily applied to hardware designs, at least not without leaving room for ambiguities), they introduced the CERN OHL (Open Hardware License). Furthermore, they supported the creation of the Open Hardware Repository, a website dedicated to hosting open hardware projects.

Among the many interesting projects and tools hosted today at the Open Hardware Repository, our attention was drawn to the FMC projects page, a growing collection of mezzanine and carrier boards complying to the VITA 57 (aka. FMC) standard. The list of boards is impressive, as is their functionality. Many of those boards are designed for use in important scientific experiments.

Other notable projects include White Rabbit, a fully deterministic Ethernet-based network for general purpose data transfer and synchronization, whose developers claim that it can synchronize over 1000 nodes with sub-nanosecond accuracy over fiber lengths of up to 10 km, and HDL Core Lib, a collection of reusable generic HDL cores, such as memory and I/O interface controllers.

The value of this repository cannot be underestimated, either as a rich library of projects that can be re-used, adapted and improved, or as an excellent educational tool for aspiring electronic hardware designers. One can only hope that the collection of open hardware projects will keep growing and that the insight demonstrated by the scientific community will be followed by others as well.

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The state of open source Linux drivers for ARM SoC GPUs

Linux software glxgears runnning on ARM SoC GPUOne of the main hurdles in designing an embedded Linux computing solution based on one of the many available ARM System-on-Chip products is that of the (lack of) availability of a proper display device driver.

Indeed, there is still a lot left to be desired on the topic of Linux graphics support from the ARM SoC manufacturers. And while this might be acceptable for many “headless” embedded applications, it is definitely a big issue when there is a need for a responsive graphical user interface, particularly if the target application requires 3D accelerated graphics.

In order to address this problem, several open source projects have been initiated, each with the aim of providing an open source driver for a particular ARM SoC. Some of them are backed by their respective ARM SoC manufacturers, others are purely based on reverse engineering.

However, each of these projects is in some state of completeness, with different development roadmaps and priorities. As such, the answer to the question “which ARM SoC GPU is better supported in Linux right now?” is not not an easy one.

There is a very informative post over at Emmanuel Deloget’s Blog, regarding the state of open source linux drivers for SoC GPUs, such as those found within ARM SoCs. This topic is further discussed in an interesting follow-up interview with developers of various SoC GPU open source drivers.

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Welcome to Logikon Labs Blog

We would like to welcome you to Logikon Labs’ Blog about embedded electronics and software. We will be using this blog to talk about things that interest or intrigue us- and that is mainly embedded computing, Linux, programmable logic and free (as in speech) software and hardware in general.

The blog will be periodically updated with news, how-tos and opinion posts, depending on how much stuff we’ll be coming across that we think is worth blogging about.

That’s all for now, stay tuned for more posts!

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