[rescue] Bigger Iron at Home (was: SNMP, Baby!)

Joshua Boyd jdboyd at ohno.mrbill.net
Wed Nov 12 10:00:57 CST 2003

On Wed, Nov 12, 2003 at 12:04:11AM +0200, Geoffrey S. Mendelson wrote:

> I don't know much about the Spartan 3, could you elaborate?

The spartan 3 is an FPGA.  I'm told that in small quantities it costs
about $15-20.  I'm by no means an FPGA expert, but it seems to be to be a
fairly powerfull one.  Certainly far larger than what was used for early
macs or early risc machines, except unlike those it can easily be
clocked much higher.
> There are already many of them. Most use a form factor similar to a 3 1/2"
> disk drive. 

Yeah, but how cool would it be to have made it yourself?  I suspect
that in lots of 100 that might be practical, but for less than that,
buying an off the shelf package might be more afordable (but with a much
lower cool factor).

However, I hear that there would be quite a market for a more afforable
central house/business wide music system.

> I've been doing the design of such devices to write a business plan for
> about 4 months now. You could get the board with chips except the
> processor for about $5-$10 in quantities of a million, and under $50 for
> 10,000. For less than that it would be cheaper to buy an off the shelf
> board. 
> If you really wanted your own board, it may cost $100-$200 because the
> cost of the chips go up enormously in small quantities. Board costs are
> high for single boards, and go down quickly as once the machine is set
> up, it just runs.......

Well, there are different projects being talked about here.  The
streaming audio one doesn't require a complex board and could easily be
soldered by hand by me.  I'm pretty sure that designing it myself rather
than using an off the shelf board would be extremely cost effective,
especially if I wanted to start selling it as a household music system
to others (or more likely pitch it to dealers/installers, who would do
the actual selling to end users).

The other project is the kitchen terminal.  Here, it certainly wouldn't
be cost effective to do it myself.  But, proceding to do it myself would
certainly have major cool points.

> Almost anything yuo buy these days will do an audio only MP3, or ogg
> file, though streaming ogg uses a lot less bandwidth. I'm listening to
> WCPE (classical music from North Carolina) via streaming ogg as I write
> this and it uses 40-60k bytes per second, less than half of an MP3
> stream.

No, I want numerous streams.  If using mp3, they would be 384k streams,
perhaps I'd go with FLAC though, or even uncompressed PCM.  In theory,
every terminal in a building should be able to play at once.  In my
parents house, that would mean needing a bandwidth of something like 5
megabits, plus any additional control signalling.  Now, I know that some
home wireless gear claims as much as 11 megabits, but can it actually
handle that with reasonable QOS between so many devices? 

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