lca2013 – Day 4 – Keynote

Bunnie – Linux in the Flesh: Adventures Embedding Linux in Hardware 

As CPU speeds growth has stall mobile CPUs have caught up with Desktop CPUs

Cost of Mobile CPUs $20 on intro vs $X00 on intro for desktop CPUs

Time spend making a product

  • 11% on Hardware design – schematic and PCB layout
  • 20% on product and software dev
  • 33% in mass production ramp

Giving Linux a body

  • Consumers don’t like bare boards
  • Comprehensive 3D models
  • Build injection molds – Steel cut, EDM tidy, Hand polish
  • Around $20k to create tool
  • People like Apple will start multiple tool runs and keep the best
  • General rule – $99 product you want to sell wholesale for $30
  • Magic prices products sell at $99, $149, $199
  • 90% of hardware sales between Black Friday and Christmas. Can’t ship just after Christmas

Chellenges of Embedding Linux

  • Embedded CPUs have lots of weird bugs
  • Bootloaders
    • CPU-Specific media loaders
    • Firmware has raw Iron – NO MMU, No DRAM, etc
  • Small memory footprint
    • Linux runs just a few MB of memory
    • Every $ counts, lots of time fixing code
  • Flash File Systems
    • Few 1000 read/write cycles
    • No write g’teed to succeed
    • Power-down corruption is a fact of life, need backup or read-only copies
  • Power Management
    • Reduce frequency and voltage when CPU is lightly loaded
    • Need to adjust for high and low load
    • Rouge processes can chew CPU/Power
    • Lots of auditing needed
    • User apps are hard
  • Suspended / Sleep hard
    • Drivers might be written with this in mind
  • Huge number of devices that can be plugged in, lots of drivers to verify
  • Dev community
    • Smaller pop that desktop
  • Updates and patches and rollout and distribution hard to do, must do yourself
  • Software is the major bottleneck – cause it is easy, you can do anything
  • System architect must create a useful cage for the software dev

Case Study: Robot Vision

  • Kovan
  • Needs to do image processing
  • Lots of choices
    • Using FPGA on PCIe uses up all of memory bandwidth in small systems
    • Connect via USB means it is just a “camera driver”
    • Connect between Soc and the Screen
    • Or between SoC and the DRAM
  • Ended up between SoC and LCD
  • Ends up as /dev/fpga
  • Handle multiple types by probing

Case: NeTV

  • Goes between device and screen
  • Overlay stuff over video
  • But signal is all encrypted
  • Sync Pixels and replace one by one using Man-in-the-middle attack on encrypted signal!!!
  • Very hard to get timing, drift of 100s of pixels per frame
  • Source clock from the incoming signal
  • A few other tricks

Dev Enviroment

  • Created Amazon AMI to help people get up and going
  • But hardware devs not used to using these
  • Not a 100% fit to normal dev model