Group:Hardware/Processors

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Introduction

The purpose of this page is to allow CPUs to be evaluated for suitability for use in FSF-endorsed hardware. Presence or otherwise of a CPU on this page DOES NOT imply that it is an exhaustive list, nor does it imply that each and every CPU is or is not FSF-endorsed. Certain CPUs for example require proprietary libraries for their 3D Graphics, but over time a Free Software compliant alternative may become available, or may be reverse-engineered, in which case CPUs that previously did not qualify suddenly would.

So to be clear: this page is for the PURPOSES of evaluating CPUs, to store research about their present status, NOT to specifically or categorically state "this CPU is endorsed, period".

Processors, types and pricing (appx)

Manufacturer Model Type Speed Price Availability
Creative ZMS-08 ARM Cortex A8 1ghz n/a
Samsung S5PV210 ARM Cortex A8 1ghz $14 sort-of
Samsung Orion ARM Cortex A9 1ghz ?$45? no
TI AM3715 ARM Cortex A8 1ghz $24 yes
TI AM3703 ARM Cortex A8 1ghz $17 yes
TI AM3892 ARM Cortex A8 1.5ghz n/a not yet
TI AM3894 ARM Cortex A8 1.5ghz $43 yes
TI OMAP4400 ARM Cortex A9 1.5ghz ?$45? maybe.
Ingenix jz4760 MIPS32 (x1) 700mhz $7 still trying
NXP PNX8490 ARM Cortex A9 800mhz n/a no
NXP PNX8491 ARM Cortex A9 800mhz n/a no
TI DM3730 ARM Cortex A8 1ghz $30 yes
TI DM3725 ARM Cortex A8 1ghz $27 yes
NEC Emma EV1 ARM Cortex A9 (single) 533mhz $50 TBC

still to be analysed:

  • PMC and Broadcom MIPS CPUs. however, these are all from 2006, and so will be using 65nm, but worse will be using 20 masks instead of 32. power consumption in the BCM Quad-Core part is therefore 20 watts, and the PMC Single-Core part 4.5 watts!
  • also the SMC8656
  • and the SiS 9561.
  • and the Freescale PowerPC range MPC85xx although these are *horrendously* expensive!
  • netlogic au1300 - 800mhz, MIPS32
  • RDC's IAD100HV - 1ghz x86 embedded SoC.
  • XCore86 - again, 1ghz x86 embedded SoC, ended up in the norhtec gecko "edubook".

regarding "Availability" criteria: this is a rather wooly guide to how easily the CPU can be obtained. some CPUs can simply be ordered direct from Distributors (typically T.I "consumer-grade" parts). Others are a pain to get hold of, require NDAs or are restricted to certain market segments. Some CPUs are only available "if the supplier likes you"! CPUs which require NDAs are, obviously, not up for consideration for FSF-endorsed products.

Processor, Compiler, Links, Status

Model Links 3D Treacherous DVI or HDMI Max LCD
ZMS-08 product page Vector Processor TBD HDMI TBD (1366x768 confirmed)
S5PV210 datasheet PowerVR e-fuse (*1) HDMI WXGA (133x768 *6)
Orion PowerVR TBD HDMI not known
AM3715 PowerVR No (*2) neither (*4) 2048x2048 (*5)
AM3703 SIMD (NEON) No (*2) neither (*4) 2048x2048 (*5)
AM3892 SIMD (NEON) No (*2) neither (*4) 2048x2048 (*5)
AM3894 PowerVR No (*2) neither (*4) 2048x2048 (*5)
OMAP4400 PowerVR No (*2) HDMI (*3) 2048x2048 (*5)
jz4760 linux-mips SIMD FPU (XBurst) No neither 1280x720
PNX8490 product brief SIMD (NEON) TBD HDMI (*3) none!
PNX8491 product brief PowerVR TBD HDMI (*3) none!
DM3730 datasheet PowerVR No neither (*4) 2048x2048 (*5)
DM3725 datasheet none No neither (*4) 2048x2048 (*5)
Emma EV1 SEMC-EV1 none No neither TBC

Please note that on the 3D section, NEON and X-Burst can be *used* to implement at least some form of accelerated 3D.

Notes

  • (*1) It is possible to effectively disable any opportunity for the S5PC110 and S5PV210 from being "Treacherous", by blowing an e-fuse. Once "normal booting" has been selected, it is not possible to enable "secure" (Treacherous) booting:
     6.1 OVERVIEW OF BOOTING SEQUENCE
     S5PC110 consists of 64KB ROM and 96KB SRAM as internal memory. For booting, internal 64KB ROM and
     internal 96KB SRAM regions can be used. S5PC110 boots from internal ROM to enable secure booting, which
     ensures that the image cannot be altered by unauthorized users. To select secure booting or normal booting,
     S5PC110 should use e-fuse information. This information cannot be altered after being programmed.
  • (*2) TI CPUs with hardware motherboard configuration, to prevent Treachery. discussion here
  • (*3) HDMI contains HDCP (encrypted HD content protection). This is Bad (tm).
  • (*4) The AM37xx, AM38xx and DM37xx series can all have an external DVI-D IC added which provides at least a way to connect a Digital Monitor.
  • (*5) The AM and DM series can all support 2048x2048 but only at really quite low refresh rates. Some more "standard" sizes include 1280x800 (60hz), 1400x1050 (50hz) and 1280x720 (60hz) etc. etc.
  • (*6) The OFFICIAL resolution of the S5PC110 and S5PV210 is 1024x768. However, hardkernel.com have shown that it's possible to get up to 1366x768, as long as you ignore two lines so that the amount of memory used is just under 1mbyte. Additional caveat: these CPUs were not designed to run up to 1366x768 - it's just that they can - so the signal quality at these increased rates is not massively stable. Perhaps stability would be achieved again by bringing the refresh rate down to 45hz, which some LCD panels can (unofficially) do, perfectly well.

About Treacherous Computing

Treacherous Computing starts with the processor, by making it impossible, right from the startup of the CPU, to gain control over what is run on the device. This practice is lauded and loved by the Industry, as once you are running "secure" bootloader code, especially when blown into an on-board ROM, regaining control of the device that you have purchased is somewhat challenging.

Should any device with a Treacherous-capable CPU seek FSF Hardware Endorsement, it would be... unfortunate if that device was then purchased for the purposes of reprogramming the secure bootloader area (if the CPU had one), thus preventing and prohibiting users from being able to use that FSF Hardware-endorsed device! Thus, logically, it makes sense to ensure that the device can at least always have its Operating System replaced at any time, starting by ensuring that any Treacherous "Secure bootloader" capability is non-existent, impossible or can be permanently disabled.

At least, then, if the OS on that FSF Hardware Endorsed device is ever replaced with a Treacherous OS and the device re-sold, at least the OS can, again, be replaced with a Free Software Compliant OS of the new owner's choice.

About HDMI, HDCP and DVI

HDCP stands for "High-bandwith Digital Content Protection" (as if your "contentment" needs "protection" at high bandwidth...) This article gives a good layman's overview whilst also making it bluntly clear that it's a complete pain and that it is entirely driven by greed. Your inconvenience - and your useless purchase costing thousands - is not the problem or the concern of the Copyright Cartels.

The Wikipedia Page on HDCP shows that HDCP is completely pointless, with the master key having been cracked, based on flaws that were shown to exist as far back as 2001. HDCP is about control (failed attempts thereof) and its only effect has been to cause people to spend more money.

Supporting HDCP outputs, such as DVI and HDMI, on a FSF Hardware-endorsed device, is therefore acceptable because it's been cracked.