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Submission + - A Free and Open Replacement for Wireless LAN ( 3

dvdkhlng writes: Qi-Hardware, the community that brought us the Ben NanoNote handheld computer, have just released their next piece of all-out free and open hardware: the AtBEN+AtUSB wireless dongles. Aiming for a solution that works without proprietary firmware blobs, WLAN compatability was abandoned. Instead the project went for simpler, yet more open 6LowPAN technology.

The first batch of AtBen+AtUSB dongles is now ready for shipment trough Tuxbrain. Designs and source code are available under GPL and CC licenses.

Comment Re:it's an entire system (Score 1) 99

I do not make any special effort to sound negative here, but honestly that SoC did not really work on anything. Most of the stuff posted to Opencores is in fact half-finished, buggy projects, and Milkymist SoC does not use any other Opencores stuff than Wishbone (and still, this was because of LM32) for this very reason. Even the OpenRISC GCC/glibc toolchain was crippled with various major problems until recently. The OpenRISC RTL still is, but I can see things moving in the right direction. Maybe Milkymist SoC will integrate OpenRISC at some point, if those technical improvements happen. OpenSPARC and LEON were also considered, but they are very heavy resource-wise.

Comment Re:Nope. (Score 1) 99

We considered this option, but OpenSPARC is very resource hungry. It is a good design for a stand alone ASIC microprocessor, but in our case it is better to use a small and resource efficient CPU and leave the bulk of the calculations to dedicated accelerators.

Comment Re:Meh. (Score 1) 99

To answer your question about spare gates, we are using about 44% of the FPGA resources at the moment. I would also question your remark about the compared "grunt" of a netbook, as many non-tech people I have shown the device to have spontaneously praised it for its reactivity and fluidity. Finally, some people are working on a MMU and even though it is of little use for my intended video synthesis application, you are most welcome to join them.

Comment Re:Meh. (Score 1) 99

Price mainly has to do with volume. Also, VGA is still widely used today, and does not mean low resolution as the Milkymist One can do 1280x1024. We are planning to add a connector to drive HDMI displays at some point, which consists merely in wiring it directly to the FPGA as the Spartan-6 we use has the TMDS stuff built in, but unless we have the time and the development resources to get it done fast in the FPGA design, it is not a priority. (I work on Milkymist One)

Comment Re:The elephant in the room (Score 2) 99

First, we are working on this, and your patches are welcome. FPGA companies are not as evil as you make them out to be. As a matter of fact, a large part of Xilinx's motivation about closing the bitstream is not to be evil, but to limit the damage that can be done from their (stupid and large) customers misusing the FPGAs. They still publish a lot and you might be surprised to learn, for example, that the ISE software has options to dump the complete routing graph of all Xilinx FPGAs as well as some raw timing characterization numbers. The information is there, but it takes more work to go looking for it than to sit on your ass bashing the FPGA companies - as most free software activists do whenever the topic of FPGAs arises. No wonder why so little open source FPGA and EDA stuff gets done. Finally, Milkymist SoC and FPGAs lie at two different levels of abstraction. When you are using a traditional CPU, both the logic design (HDL) and the physical implementation system (ASIC cells, P&R tools, ...) are closed. When you are using Milkymist SoC, the logic design is open and the physical implementation system is closed. The logic design is portable, and ported, to other technologies. I think we all agree this represents a progress.

Submission + - Consumer device with open CPU out of beta soon (

lekernel writes: "After years of passionate and engaging development, the video synthesizer from the Milkymist project is expected to go out of beta in August.
Dubbed "Milkymist One", it features as central component a system-on-chip made exclusively of IP cores licensed under the open source principles, and is aimed at use by a general audience of video performance artists, clubs and musicians. It is one of the first consumer electronics products putting forward open source semiconductor IP, open PCB design and open source software at the same time.
The full source code is available for download from Github, and a few hardware kits are available from specialized electronics distributors."

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