ARM netbook based on Beagleboard

Hello,

I'm Gregoire Gentil, the founder of Always Innovating and we have
unveiled earlier this week an ARM-based netbook:
http://www.alwaysinnovating.com

We got very interesting coverage on the web:
http://www.alwaysinnovating.com/touchbook/buzz.htm
and I wanted to share the praise with the community as the Touch Book is
heavily based on the Beagleboard. I have numerously stated my gratitude
to the work accomplished both by TI and the open source community
http://www.alwaysinnovating.com/company/thankyou.htm.

You may recognize the Beagleboard on the Gizmodo article photo:
http://i.gizmodo.com/5162584/always-innovating-touch-book-is-part
+netbook-part+tablet-open-source-frankenstein
the center of the board (which is our previous revision) is a
"duplication" of the Beagleboard. We have actually started our design
from rev. B5, we have added a 8.9'' LCD support as well as touchscreen,
accelerometer and USB hub. The device has 256MB too, so we are somewhat
equivalent to the coming rev. C.

Though it's very similar to the work accomplished by Gerald and the
hardware team, the schematics of our prototype is available here:
http://www.alwaysinnovating.com/company/opensource.htm

In terms of software, we are very close from Koen's Angstrom though we
will have a different front-end. We will release in the coming weeks
some interesting (I think) patches we are working on.

You should consider the Touch Book as a Beagleboard with a very nice
case - designer is Fred Bould. The plan is to start shipping in June and
we currently accept pre-orders for the US only. First batch will be
limited. I know that the Beagleboard community is spread all over the
world so we will accept international orders very soon. That's
definitely the plan.

I hope that the Touch Book will be beneficial to the Beagleboard
echosystem. If you are a Beagleboard hacker and would love that your
friends or relatives use a system based on OMAP3, I think that the Touch
Book will be a very good fit,

Gregoire

I’m pretty excited about this coming out. I’ve been waiting for an ARM netbook for a while, and this seems like an excellent little laptop to hack on. It’s very difficult to wait for the spring!

Gregoire, the netbook looks very very nice, but the major thing I am
missing is that there is no video out.
If it doesn't fit into the case it would be nice to have a connector
and an external dongle for those wanting it.

Frans (who thinks that with a touch screen this would be a nice thing
for a digital media player if only it had video out).

I’m pretty excited too … :wink: no video out… it’s not a problem for me.

ps : suite à mes lectures sur le sujet, je sais que vous êtes français … alors j’espère que ce projet va faire un carton en europe :wink:

2009/3/7 Frans Meulenbroeks <fransmeulenbroeks@gmail.com>

Thanks for the messages. I appreciate.

Removing video out has certainly been a mistake but we were in the
same situation as rev-B=>rev-C: very little room on the board and a
nightmare of lines around the OMAP. I don't know if we will have time
to add it back for our first Touch Book revision.

Note that you still have some options of the USBtoVGA dongle (which is
supported by the kernel) and starts to work very well. But it's an
additional cost for the user which is unfortunate,

Gregoire

Gregoire the issue with a USB to VGA adapter is that it is probably
too slow for HD video.
I'd like to connect it to a TV via HDMI/DVI so I can display internet
content on my tv and use the touch screen for controlling things.

(actually it might be interesting to couple it with an external
wireless HDMI link, but that is probably going to be expensive).

FM

I already have a mediacenter [1] . I use my Nokia770 [2] for controlling things. I have a netbook (acer aspire one)
But I think that “Touch” can simply replace both … :slight_smile:

David [a.k.a] ADcomp

[1] http://www.ad-comp.be/index.php?pages/Linux-Media-Center
[2] http://www.ad-comp.be/index.php?pages/AD-Keyb

2009/3/8 Frans Meulenbroeks <fransmeulenbroeks@gmail.com>

Gregoire,

Which USBtoVGA dongles are supported? Do you know which chips they
use?

Thanks,
John

Thomas Winischhofer did an amazing job when he developed back to 2005
"sisusb - usb kernel driver for SiS315(E) based USB2VGA dongles" which
is in the kernel. I did some tests a while ago and it can work very
nicely. To reply to Frans above, HD will be borderline and will
probably be very intense on the OMAP itself - though if you do your
video stuff in DSP, you starts almost at zero CPU on the cortex side
before doing the heavy USB task.

I know that not all dongles work but I bought one at Amazon which
worked (the Tritton works I think),

Grégoire

Gregoire, when I mentioned HD, I actually meant 720p, not full HD. I
know full HD (1080p) will be a very tough cookie, but 720p apparently
is feasible.

Frans Meulenbroeks <fransmeulenbroeks@gmail.com> writes:

720p is impossible over USB. Even at 16bpp and 24 fps you'd need
about 350 Mbps. USB simply doesn't go that fast.

Without starting a great discussion on USB bandwidths, just a minor
clarification. The USB2.0 specification gives the possibility to transfer
data using bulk out endpoints at a rate up to ~57MB/s = ~456Mbps (as well
dependent on actual data content).

The overhead added by the USB2.0-protocol (electrical as well as SW) is
actually much lower than anticipated by most persons. If the IP-blocks - not
to mention the SW - can handle this transfer rate is a complete other topic.
But as such the USB2.0 standard itself allows the 350Mbps transfer rate with
no problem... :slight_smile:

I totally agree, that it will - from a system perspective - be very doubtful
if you can get an actual RAW data throughput rate of 350Mbps for most
systems - OMAP3 included...
Last example we have seen on this is the ongoing thread with respect to HDD
transfer speed, where top speed currently is around 6MB/s = 50Mbps, which is
really far from the actual USB limitation... :slight_smile:

Best regards - I hope this clarified more than it confused :slight_smile:
  Søren

Søren Steen Christensen <sorenschristensen@stofanet.dk> writes:

720p is impossible over USB. Even at 16bpp and 24 fps you'd need
about 350 Mbps. USB simply doesn't go that fast.

Without starting a great discussion on USB bandwidths, just a minor
clarification. The USB2.0 specification gives the possibility to
transfer data using bulk out endpoints at a rate up to ~57MB/s =
~456Mbps (as well dependent on actual data content).

The overhead added by the USB2.0-protocol (electrical as well as SW)
is actually much lower than anticipated by most persons. If the
IP-blocks - not to mention the SW - can handle this transfer rate is
a complete other topic. But as such the USB2.0 standard itself
allows the 350Mbps transfer rate with no problem... :slight_smile:

I am aware of the theoretical capabilities. Nevertheless, I have
never seen anything manage to transfer more than about 250 Mbps over
USB2.0.