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

Joshua Boyd jdboyd at ohno.mrbill.net
Wed Nov 12 17:33:54 CST 2003

On Wed, Nov 12, 2003 at 03:16:31PM -0800, Francisco Javier Mesa-Martinez wrote:

> I guess they may have differnt price levels, the quote I got from Xilinx
> for their larger part Spartan3 is about 100.00, which is quite remarkable
> since the previous XC4000 series chip we were using was a $1500+ part. We
> are moving towards altera though since they seem to be more accomodating
> with the educational market.

I doubt we are talking about the largest Spartan3 here, since I don't
believe that we are using the largest of SpartanIIEs (although, I do
believe it is one of the larger ones). 

I couldn't say who we buy from though.

> > That we are moving away from the wirewrap home-etched days of yore is
> > all the more reason why we need good free software tools.  We may not be
> > able to sit down and actually build it ourselves any more, but
> > considering the prices of some service bureaus, it doesn't seem out of
> > the question to design it one's self and have them assemble the hard
> > part.
> I know, I have been loking for such a tool myself. Some of the foundries
> seem to have pretty reasonable first tape prices ($300+). The problem is
> that I am old school and I still enjoy the ocassional home edtched design
> :), just wish I had more free time.

We've talked to some companies that do it quite a lot cheaper, but I
suspect that a) we aren't doing things quite as complex as you, and b)
we might get a discount from some of them because they want more future
business on a larger scale.

> For those kind of purposes, i.e. implementing a simple RISC CPU, I would
> recommend you go the PIC route. The RISC CPU is already there, and most of
> them come with socket pin parts, so you can get them into a normal design.
> They are also very selfcontained some of them with their own clock and
> ROM.

I have a ton of projects in various stages on the drawing board.  When
it comes to projects to actually be built, most of them are in fairly
early stages.

Some of them don't involve digital electronics at all.  We weren't
talking about those.  Most of them have no reason to try and use a
custom CPU for, and while we got off on this side line, I believe I was
mostly just argueing for custom boards using something like say a H8,
StrongARM, or whatever.

That said, I do want to build my own workstation at some point based
around one or more FPGAs.  I want it to have SCSI, FastEthernet, a
relatively high resolution display (1024x768) in true color, with a
written myself video accelerator.  I want it to use off the shelf ram
and disks.  And I want it to be reconfigurable (thus the FPGAs) between
different CPU ideas.  Probably some generic 32bit risc will be tried,
but more particularly, I'm interested in pursueing ideas for a dedicate
lisp machine and smalltalk (or some other objected oriented system)
machine.  Obviously, there would only be minimal market for such a
device since I'm sure I'll never be sophisticated enough to use highend
FPGAs for it, and any PC would probably whip my machines butt.  But, if
I actually built it, if I could keep the costs low, I may be able to
sell a few to dedicated hackers, but I would really only be doing it for

> > I was kinda thinking (for the purposes being argued here) of a 20-40mhz
> > risc core, using part of the floor space for a graphics accelerator.
> You'll need a very big part, a RISC core may take up most of the
> floorspace even in larger parts.

That didn't seem to be what Altera was saying when they had a rep here,
with reguard to their non-open risc core.

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