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While Google's Ara Modular Phone Is Dead, Greybus Still Appears To Have A Future

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  • #21
    Originally posted by pal666 View Post
    i'm more worried by the problem that someone cares about iphone
    on topic, usb developers predicted that and introduced hubs
    Even if you had a powered hub with iPhone, could it charge the phone and the 3rd party devices at the same time while doing data transfers? I thought the hubs aren't allowed to push back power to the host.

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    • #22
      Originally posted by starshipeleven View Post
      Lol? Intel HD is in the chipset, fan pwm controllers are hardware-specific, USB are in the chipset, power converters are hardware-specific.
      Also Sata is in the chipset.
      The Gigabit lan added like that is near free and better as it is connected to a special chipset interface and not a pcie lane, and most people need it anyway.
      Also the audio is usually bolted on a dedicated chipset interface, "intel HD audio" usually offloads to some realtek integrated crap.

      Onboard wifi is just a minipcie slot with a laptop card in it, hardly integrated waah waah waah worthy.

      It's cheaper this way, you believe it or not.
      The chipset you talk about is the chip that's permanently installed on the motherboard. I meant in general, you could hook up these things in a standard bus to make the CPU independent. Just like you can have USB/audio/sata/lan/wifi via PCI express slots. Instead of a BIOS controlled fan PWM, you could easily connect it via USB. My systems use Arduino as fan controller. Why? Because the one in BIOS sucks. I also use USB DACs. The shit on the motherboard is just waste. It's also not only about the hardware. The new revisions of the USB/audio/sata/lan/wifi require a constant stream of new drivers. The USB connected stuff I have never gets old. Same drivers with each new mobo generation.

      Fun fact: most of the cost comes from the chipset and the engineering time needed to design the board itself around it, and also to develop the new bios for it.
      Hardware costs are irrelevant.
      I'm not talking about the cost of components. Of course the design work is more expensive than simple components. The thing is, if you had a modular motherboard with all the gaming stuff abstracted away behind a bus (e.g. PCI express / hypertransport / ...), you could focus on the relevant new stuff and only pay for what's changing (both component costs and design). But that's something that's not the mutual interest for the mobo manufacturer and you as a user. Of course they want as much integration as possible so they can charge more.

      For instance the cheapest Z170 motherboards (ASRock Z170A-X1) are 75% cheaper than EVGA Z170 Classified 4-Way, but the largest differences are the accessories, the CPU/memory/GPU side is nearly the same on a budget board and a hardcore gaming board. The HC board supports a bit faster memory, but I can easily find few % more expensive budget board that performs the same. If I update the CPU and memory every two years, I could reuse most of the other stuff. I don't need to use the latest PCI express bus to control my fans. Heck, even the 3rd party PCI express cards use lower bus width and older PCI express standards, not the very latest.

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      • #23
        Originally posted by caligula View Post
        Even if you had a powered hub with iPhone, could it charge the phone and the 3rd party devices at the same time while doing data transfers? I thought the hubs aren't allowed to push back power to the host.
        Actually most hubs just keep all power lines (upstream or downstream) connected to the same source as they are simple affairs.
        What you say above happens because the upstream usb port detects feedback voltage and shuts down its power lines (if it is done correctly, I've seen many powered usb hubs that were still powering the whole USB subsystem on a shut down motherboard).

        It's the device itself that must be able to switch the power lines in the upstream usb port from "powering devices" (and shut down power lines if it receives power through that) to "receiving power".

        Afaik all Android phones can theoretically do that with their OTG USB ports, as they can switch the whole port between host or guest already.
        SOME implement a partial switch in the kernel (software side) to allow the port to act as host for data and guest for power (allowing OTG while charging if connected to a powered usb hub), but it's not something widely known or used.

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        • #24
          stupid vbullettin unapproved post for caligula

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          • #25
            Originally posted by caligula View Post

            Even if you had a powered hub with iPhone, could it charge the phone and the 3rd party devices at the same time while doing data transfers? I thought the hubs aren't allowed to push back power to the host.
            i believe we are talking about usb3.1 type c hubs.
            nd i don't care about iphones

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            • #26
              Originally posted by caligula View Post
              Even if you had a powered hub with iPhone, could it charge the phone and the 3rd party devices at the same time while doing data transfers? I thought the hubs aren't allowed to push back power to the host.
              Officially: no.
              pre-"usb-3.1 type C" hubs, either charge the device (and the device can be accessed as a guest on some hubes), or act as a hub for the device-in host mode.

              some hubs have a third non-official setting where the hub both act as a hub for the device and put it in host mode *AND* can still charge the device while in host mode.
              (but that requires a phone which can charge and act as a host at the same time - according my hub's docs, some Samsung phone can pull this trick)

              Originally posted by starshipeleven View Post
              Afaik all Android phones can theoretically do that with their OTG USB ports, as they can switch the whole port between host or guest already.
              SOME implement a partial switch in the kernel (software side) to allow the port to act as host for data and guest for power (allowing OTG while charging if connected to a powered usb hub), but it's not something widely known or used.
              confirmed by my hubs' doc.

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              • #27
                Originally posted by DrYak View Post
                (but that requires a phone which can charge and act as a host at the same time - according my hub's docs, some Samsung phone can pull this trick)
                Also some Xperias could.
                http://www.xda-developers.com/simult...peria-devices/



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                • #28
                  Originally posted by starshipeleven View Post
                  Thanks for the pointer.


                  Originally posted by starshipeleven View Post
                  I'm a goddamn certified technician, I know the difference.
                  Whereas, I'm a goddamn certified doctor.

                  Cue in Leonard "Bones" McCoy's "I'm a Doctor, Jim, not a ..." catch phrase....


                  Originally posted by starshipeleven View Post
                  Ara was supposed to fit stuff on a standardized chassis that was only providing electrical contacts and a communication hub.
                  As long as you have electrical contacts for modules and the communication hub (and the chassis to make a solid device) you can connect whatever.
                  The only difference between ARA (that, again, doesn't exist yet) and Fairphone2/Jolla1/etc (which are on the market and in my actual pocket)
                  - is that ARA will eventually provide a separate hub, and absolutely the same bus and pinout everywhere (Greybus).
                  - whereas Fairphone2 doesn't have a central hub (every element is connected to another one) and the documented pinout and protocol vary by connection.
                  (I'm too lazy to dig the detail for every single module. But the back-cover is USB for the Fairphone 2)
                  (And the back-cover is I2C+NFC for the Jolla 1)

                  This because it is a MODULAR design. Can you add multiple screens, cameras, mics, storage, batteries on the Fairphone 2? NO, because it is a SERVICEABLE design. TWO DIFFERENT THINGS.
                  Actually, yes.
                  Not only *can*, but there are people playing with exactly that.
                  Screens: Connecting OLED mini-screens, e-ink screens, etc.
                  Extra charge: Wireless chargers (both HP/Palm and Qi standards)
                  (these are actual exemple of device that people are indeed wiring to the FP2 or Jolla1. Use your Google-Fu to find the websites).

                  Although not a FP2, but a Jolla1 example : when then Jolla 1 came out, only the NFC capacity of the back cover was used.
                  The I2C *WAS NOT USED*. The engineers didn't plan *ANYTHING* whit it. Instead, they decided to let *3rd party people* decide to do what the fuck they want to with the pogo pins.

                  I've got a slide out keyboard on a backcover, connecting over I2C. This thing was never designed by Jolla engineers initially.
                  This was designed after the fact by some other guys on a crowdsourcing platform. But because the pogopins use a well established standards (I2C) and are documented, it's possible.

                  I plan to connect, not a 2nd battery, but wireless charges for HP/Palm Touchstone - again the pogo pins are documented, to enable such extra capability that the engineers didn't bother to put in the initial device.

                  Though yes, the Fairphone 1 - the predecessor to the current flagship product - was only serviceable. You could buy new parts to replace the older one, but that was about it. Nothing left open with the sole purpose to allow you to connect 3 extra screens simultaneously to it.

                  They also state it clearly, they made a device that can be REPAIRED so you don't have to throw away everything when something breaks.
                  Yeah, that's the official mission that is mentionned on their official marketing material over all channels.

                  But if you pay attention (specially on the forums) :
                  - they plan the possibility to connect better/different parts as long as they follow the same pinout. (So they won't get stuck with the "this exact screen model is out of production" problem that the Fairphone 1 is having currently).
                  - the pins are documented. Specially the unused USB pogo-pins at the back-cover are currently unused on purpose, to allow 3rd party hacker to go crazy with their week-end projects.

                  These 2 points are the 2 main new differences introduced in the Fairphone 2.
                  Unlike it's predecessor, it goes beyond mere serviceability.

                  (And this was the whole marketing concept behind "The Other Half" by Jolla for the Jolla 1)

                  Irrelevant, it's not designed to add modules that weren't planned for at the design stage, it's only designed to let me replace components.
                  - the USB pogo pins at the backcover of Fairphone 2...
                  - the I2C pogo pins at the backcover of Jolla 1...
                  WERE NOT PLANNED FOR ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR at the design stage.

                  They where intentionally documented and left free for hacker to play with.
                  Invent you very own new modules that weren't planned at the design stage.

                  You can only add stuff that does not require additional drivers or connects to standard interfaces, and this limits the modules by a lot (unless I have full sources and also am a firmware developer with some spare time to add stuff and recompile)
                  Both Jolla and Fairphone provide as much source as they can.
                  (Basically Fairphone provides a complete AOSP + kernel sources + a few blobs for both Fairphone 1 and 2)
                  (Jolla provides basically provides more or less the same, except the base system is mer - a full-blown GNU/Linux successor to Maemo/Meego - and part of their interface doesn't come with an opensource license, though the files are human readable (and thus patchable) .QML + Javascript)

                  As a consequence, YOU DO FIND additional drivers made by 3rd party providers
                  (I have a driver for external slide-out keyboard on the backcover, WHICH WAS NOT made by the initial Jolla engineers)
                  that can adapt to even more interface (keyboard uses a I2C-to-keyboard-grid conversion).

                  Same for all the other various projects attempting to connect extra displays.

                  You can hack around the Fairphone the same as you can hack around a laptop PC, by using its internal interfaces to do different things, but that's a hack, and the laptop PC runs an OS, not a firmware, so you can install drivers easily.
                  Beside the fact that
                  - in the Fairphone2: the system runs a different userland (Android vs. full-blown GNU)
                  - and that in most current phones you're stuck with a specific LTS kernel release due to some blob driver
                  (...and there's even work to switch to mainline kernel as there's a lot of support in latest Linux for most chips found in FP2)

                  There's no difference in the Linux kernel running on your laptop and on your smartphone.


                  Originally posted by starshipeleven View Post
                  Yes, Point is, I don't want to hack serviceable stuff that at the end of the day is still closed down as fuck (is it receiving Android 7? No? Then nopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenope), I want to build a modular thing that is plug-and-play.

                  Meanwhile, I stay with whatever embedded device has full sources out and can receive new Android versions through Cyanogenmod.
                  Fairphone 2 can get installation from Cyanogen mod. It can even get OSes that aren't Android at all, but full blown GNU/Linux.
                  (Jolla's Sailfish OS Community Edition is usable on it. There's work underway to port Ubuntu too).

                  Currently the fixed version kernel is provided with blob drivers.
                  (and Jolla community is providing libhybris that enables your to use these blob drivers under a full blown GNU/Linux distro like Sailfish OS or Ubuntu).

                  Some community members are working toward bringing mainline linux kernel on it.
                  (So it might end up like the Raspberry Pi 2/3 that nowadays can run using latest versions of vanilla kernel).

                  Future CPU modules for the Fairphone2 could be designed with a different SoC that accepts a different kernel.

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                  • #29
                    Originally posted by DrYak View Post
                    Whereas, I'm a goddamn certified doctor.
                    Which means you aren't qualified in the field.
                    - is that ARA will eventually provide a separate hub, and absolutely the same bus and pinout everywhere (Greybus).
                    - whereas Fairphone2 doesn't have a central hub (every element is connected to another one) and the documented pinout and protocol vary by connection.
                    And that is a central part of the definition of "modular". Same bus and pinout = all standard slots can house anything.

                    All devices are made up of stuff connected over different interfaces, FairPhone 2 is unsoldered and provides docs about it, but it is not modular.

                    Actually, yes.
                    It has only one screen port. So actually, no. Replacing a screen does not make the device modular.
                    Adding auxiliary stuff over crappy i2C or USB protocols is meh for a screen.

                    The I2C *WAS NOT USED*.
                    OMG!!!!!! Most mobile devices have an *UNUSED* BLUETOOTH, and you can connect stuff to it too. Seriously, no. This is just another interface for expansion but NOT true modular design (bluetooth is more "modular" than it).

                    But if you pay attention (specially on the forums) :
                    - they plan the possibility to connect better/different parts as long as they follow the same pinout. (So they won't get stuck with the "this exact screen model is out of production" problem that the Fairphone 1 is having currently).
                    - the pins are documented. Specially the unused USB pogo-pins at the back-cover are currently unused on purpose, to allow 3rd party hacker to go crazy with their week-end projects.
                    Unused exposed interfaces, and documented pinouts. It's expandable, but still not truly modular.

                    As a consequence, YOU DO FIND additional drivers made by 3rd party providers
                    No duh, that's what I said. People adding a module need to come up with a driver.

                    Greybus needs no driver.

                    There's no difference in the Linux kernel running on your laptop and on your smartphone.
                    This is valid for all embedded devices.

                    Fairphone 2 can get installation from Cyanogen mod.
                    Not yet.
                    It can even get OSes that aren't Android at all, but full blown GNU/Linux.
                    Pointless, especially with blobbed drivers.

                    Future CPU modules for the Fairphone2 could be designed with a different SoC that accepts a different kernel.
                    Well, you could design a new mobo/SoC for most embedded devices too. You just need an engineer and a few hundred thousand dollars cash.

                    Comment


                    • #30
                      Originally posted by starshipeleven View Post
                      Which means you aren't qualified in the field.
                      Yup. I'm more qualified to hack your own guts than those of your phone... :-D

                      Originally posted by starshipeleven View Post
                      And that is a central part of the definition of "modular". Same bus and pinout = all standard slots can house anything.
                      Yup. From that point of view : indeed.

                      OpenMoko, Jolla, Fairphone 2, etc. :
                      all the hacker-friendly phones that up until now have been on the marked and in geeks' pocket have usually only offered *one* "house anything you could dream of" slot. (and in the case of the OpenMoko, given the sluggish interfaces back then, would severly restrict what you can realistically dream of).

                      Project Ara :
                      On the day when eventually the devices will finally start shipping, you could see more slots available in theory.
                      (Or even the whole device being a huge Greybus hub, where *any place* is "able to house anything", like on the artists' mockups.
                      But don't dream to see this anytime soon. There's simply no current market for that beyond a few hacker geeks like us on this forum.
                      Unless Apple decides to market it. But then you know they will call it "iBus" and it will be absolutely *IN*-compatible with anything else than some newer version of Lightningport protocole).

                      Originally posted by starshipeleven View Post
                      Adding auxiliary stuff over crappy i2C or USB protocols is meh for a screen.
                      Yup, fairphone 2 doesn't support MHL, so no way to get some high speed transfer from it.

                      Still, together with Jolla, they are the only device that are actually in people's pockets and are designed to enable you to do so.

                      Whereas Project Ara will probably be much better one day (GreyBus can embed a lots of more interesting signals than FP2's USB, Jolla's I2C or OpenMoko's ...gasp... UART), but no device currently available. The only device that happens to use GreyBus for something already only use it for some internal stuff.
                      Currently, there is no single hacker-friendly device *on the market* that exposes you even a single GreyBus slot for the sole purpose of enabling you to plug in whatever you can dream of.
                      And given the current market trends (extensibility isn't something that big brands use as a key bullet-point on their marketing campaigns to make you buy newer gizmos), I'm seriously doubting that we might see such devices anytime soon.

                      So, in the meantime : "thank you very much for playing, dear GreyBus, but in the meantime I'll stick to hack the extensions ports that actual real devices provide me rather than salivate in front of artists' renders of what GreyBus could perhaps do one day".
                      (Which was what I meant in the post that started this whole discussion).


                      Originally posted by starshipeleven View Post
                      OMG!!!!!! Most mobile devices have an *UNUSED* BLUETOOTH, and you can connect stuff to it too.
                      Well, on the other hand, you can't argue that Bluetooth played a huge role in increasing extensibility of PDAs and smartphones and helping them develop into generic multi-purpose pocket computers, instead of single-purpose gadgets.
                      Before Bluetooth, you got lucky if your device had a connector that was widespread enough (Palm PDA's connectors, iPod/iPhone 30-pin, etc.) for some maker to bother to design accessories that you can use.

                      But that's outside the scope of the discussion.

                      Originally posted by starshipeleven View Post
                      No duh, that's what I said. People adding a module need to come up with a driver.
                      Greybus needs no driver.
                      supporting *greybus* requires no drivers.
                      supporting yet un-planned devices that connects to the greybus could require drivers.

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