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Thread: It Looks Unlikely The Improv ARM Mer-Running Board Will Ship

  1. #1
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    Default It Looks Unlikely The Improv ARM Mer-Running Board Will Ship

    Phoronix: It Looks Unlikely The Improv ARM Mer-Running Board Will Ship

    Back in the middle of April I wrote about the Improv ARM development board not yet shipping and many of the early pre-order customers being frustrated that the open-source-friendly hardware still isn't shipping months past its original ship date. Since then, there's still been no official update and it looks like one of their suppliers isn't even working with them anymore...

    http://www.phoronix.com/vr.php?view=MTY4NDA

  2. #2
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    Unfortunately all this is starting to look like vaporware. Vivaldi project especially. Falling behind schedule a few times can happen, but when it takes years and years - most users just lose hope.

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    Whatever! Chinese manufacturers already filled gap - there is ton of cheap boards at about $50, coming with at least Allwinner A20 (1.2GHz, 2 core, SATA + giga ethernet) and 1Gb RAM and ton of I/O expansion. This can be CPU module, dev-bord like thing or ready computer-like thing. I do think it rather pointless to compete with China in manufacturing cheap stuff. They overtook this market. And yeah, its pretty possible to boot usual Linux on such boards (Debian/xubuntu/etc are common).

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    Quote Originally Posted by 0xBADCODE View Post
    I do think it rather pointless to compete with China in manufacturing cheap stuff. They overtook this market.
    It is a matter of time. Chinese workers are starting to complain and boycott the manufacturers to increase their salaries. The richer China gets the costlier it is to keep prices down. Short term they're the leaders, long term it's going to shift to India or the African continent.

  5. #5
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    Default Is anybody really surprised?

    I took one look at their web site a year or so ago and left in a hurry because it was obvious there was no business sense to be found. Beyond that the whole idea of putting your CPU on a plug in board is completely bogus.

  6. #6
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    Default People at times get all worked up over trivial difference in costs.

    Quote Originally Posted by 0xBADCODE View Post
    Whatever! Chinese manufacturers already filled gap - there is ton of cheap boards at about $50, coming with at least Allwinner A20 (1.2GHz, 2 core, SATA + giga ethernet) and 1Gb RAM and ton of I/O expansion.
    True there are interesting offerings out there. The problem is how long will the companies be around and how long will the actual designs be around. A cheap board that only exists for six months to a year is useless for the embedded market. Being cheap really isn't an advantage if you can't set life spans for the boards. The boards may be good as a toy, an educational platform or even a limited production application but would be useless for a product with an extended life. Sadly extended life these days seems to be anything beyond a year. I'd like to see at least one of these low cost manufactures demonstrate a five year plan to keep a board supported. Yes five years is a long time but the alternative is pretty ugly for many potential users.
    This can be CPU module, dev-bord like thing or ready computer-like thing. I do think it rather pointless to compete with China in manufacturing cheap stuff. They overtook this market.
    Not in all stuff. Many manufactures have returned to US production especially for non electronics. The problem with electronics manufacture in the US is one of legacy systems not competing with advanced Chinese factories. Well that an the extremely high overhead in the US from taxes, insurance and other evils instituted recently. There are a number of things, electronically speaking, made in the US that compete well with Chinese products.
    And yeah, its pretty possible to boot usual Linux on such boards (Debian/xubuntu/etc are common).
    This is possibly the most important aspect of these boards, you get a usable Linux platform dirt cheap. This provides for many possibilities use case wise. Further it makes the attempts to recycle old power hungry hardware look a bit foolish. This especially the case if you want to embed something and have it running 24/7, you can run some of these boards all year on the amount of power a traditional refactored PC will use in a week.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BSDude View Post
    It is a matter of time. Chinese workers are starting to complain and boycott the manufacturers to increase their salaries.
    Get the idea: deals are conducted here and now. Either I'm getting acceptable terms and complete deal, or I'm getting off. Should market conditions change, market would adapt. And there was unexpectedly large demand on these cheap ARM boards as they're great for low power home automations, all kinds of kiosks, various embedded computers/controllers and somesuch. So they even frequently happen to be "sold out", etc. To great surprise of everyone. Since there is demand, more and more fabs are getting idea and starting to manufacture these things. And have you ever heard about fully automated factories? Have you ever seen how pick and place machine puts SMD things on board much faster than any human can ever dream? Have you seem how the whole PCB being soldered in one shot in fully automated way? There is no real need for monotonous repetetive human labour. Over time, fully automated manufacturing will be cheaper. And then machines are okay with working 24/7, demand no salary and do not ask for holidays. For that reason they're likely to replace manual labour. Just as it already happened zillion times in industry. Machines are getting smarter. So my bet is: at the end of day there will be no monotonous manual labour at all in the world. Machines are better at that and they do not ask for salary at all. For this reason I think these with little brains will be seriously out of luck at this point. If you can be replaced with robot, I have really bad news for you: robots are coming and about to replace you.

    Quote Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post
    True there are interesting offerings out there. The problem is how long will the companies be around and how long will the actual designs be around. A cheap board that only exists for six months to a year is useless for the embedded market.
    Really depends. For relatively small-scale deployments its not a big deal. If you care, you can buy some extra stock to ensure availability/replaceability. And some "less critical" applications like home automation/kiosks/etc are both popular and not really hard to refit to "similar" board, should you really need that and board gone totally unobtainable. So it turned out not everyone needs super-available boards at super-high prices. Low-cost boards got unexpectedly broad markets. Orders of magnitude bigger than initial batches of boards expected after looking on embedded markets you refer to.

    I'd like to see at least one of these low cost manufactures demonstrate a five year plan to keep a board supported.
    I do not really care about that. If you really need it, go for Texas Instruments and somesuch. But they have crappy hardware at very bad prices. Also, TI OMAP is overengineered to the hell and very complicated IC while it price to performance ratio suxx really bad. So availability in future is virtually the only advantage they have. But only few application really neeed such availability. Far more applications are okay without it.

    Not in all stuff. Many manufactures have returned to US production especially for non electronics.
    As for me, USA goods are usually horribly overpriced. And for me price is a deal breaker, no matter what. I can find two zillion uses for $15 low power and smart modules. I can find some reasonable uses for $50 modules. At $75 it would get hard. At $100... just forget about it. Its just dev toy and much uses are just getting not feasible at this price level. Price matters, $15 module haves much more uses than $150 module.

    you can run some of these boards all year on the amount of power a traditional refactored PC will use in a week.
    Exactly. Not to mention that if some system is valuable (e.g. home automation controller) - small board is easy to provide with uninterruptable supply for a looooooong time, many hours to days of autonomous run time. Power hugry PC would exhaust even large and powerful UPS in mater of hours. And even notebook would exhaust it battery in active modes in few hours. Boards like this can last for literally several days using batteries equivalent to those used in notebooks.

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