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Re: If you really want Free firmware...

On Mon, Dec 13, 2004 at 07:50:02PM +0000, Andrew Suffield wrote:
> On Mon, Dec 13, 2004 at 11:21:54AM -0800, Bruce Perens wrote:
> > My surmise is that we'd need an effort like that, raising $250K, to 
> > design and go to full-custom fabrication of an FPLA with fully-open 
> > design.
> Mine is that one can get useful things done without having to spend
> ridiculous amounts of money, or even any money at all. Yours is that
> you can't. Debian proves you wrong every day.
> There is absolutely no reason why any money is needed for this. Design
> the damn thing. Somebody will want to produce it. Manufacturing
> companies would *leap* at the opportunity to make widely desireable
> chips with zero royalty costs.

I think what you're forgetting (or at least ignoring) is that designing
hardware is not exactly like designing software.  The process is
similar, yes, but it's not an apples-to-apples comparison.  At the
least, this is because testing your hardware "implementation" is not
"free" (as in beer).   Nor am I aware of many free (or even cheap)
hardware development tools or "environments".

Besides that, I don't personally know of any real "open source"-style
movement within the hardware community from which to draw talent.  And,
even if there were one, I honestly don't see most manufacturing
companies "leaping" at the chance to spend their own money testing
prototype hardware from an unproven source.

I'm not trying to be pessimistic here, just realistic.  I think that you
should be careful not to underestimate these fairly significant
differences between hardware and software.   I'm not a hardware expert
myself, other than my general electrical engineering background.  Are
you perhaps speaking from hardware design/implementation experience that
I don't know about?

Anyway, I tend to agree with Bruce that money will likely be required to
get some of this done.  I'm not claiming any opinion on the rest of this
thread, because I haven't been following it.


Kenneth J. Pronovici <pronovic@debian.org>

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