The Neuros and Open Source: TI

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Update

A lot has changed in the time since this was originally written, and Neuros has played a part in that change. I was able to speak at the first open source presentation at the annual TI developer conference in Dallas this Feb and have been delighted to witness a host of new activity at TI surrounding open source, starting with davinci: "TI Davinci a good sign?" and continuing now with new developments you can see at opensource.ti.com. These are exciting times, not just for embedded free software, but for all FOSS since so many of these new devices have the potential to be more ubiquitous than even the PC. --JoeBorn 16:44, 12 March 2008 (EDT)

Intro

Our decision to go with TI chips was based on the simple assessment that we could build the best products using those chips. Because we wanted a very high performance device for both audio and video, we felt TI offered the best solution.

In addition, while it's true that TI has not historically been the most open chip manufacturer (TI Alternatives), we feel that we using this solution, we can gain a significant performance advantage with a vendor that is rapidly embracing free software.

Issues with TI devices

Although the primary toolchain for the TI SoC is still their proprietary code composer studio, we have been successful in getting TI to release a free c54x DSP compiler and we're expecting more and more development in this area over time.

The DM320 Chip we're using is a dual core processor, with A C54x DSP and an ARM9 running at up to 200MHz. The ARM9 is open, and our plan is initially to provide access to the DSP functions through an open API that can be accessed by ARM core. Over time, this can continue to be opened, and eventually open tools will developed to allow hackers to develop on the DSP side as well.

There are rapid developments happening and an idea that seemed wild in summer of '05 is virtually real today.

The Lack of Open Source Components

While it's true that there are not many open source codecs for the TI DSPs, this is mitigated by a couple of factors, one is the above APIs that are being developed to at least allow control over the DSP functions on a high level (and one which we plan to make more granular over time). Second the DM320 chip we're using has a 200MHz ARM9, so the ARM core is powerful enough to handle many of the major tasks, and has much greater availability of open components and modules.

Support from TI

Our approach since we started with TI in '02 was that you get more bees with honey than vinegar. We felt then that the best way to get support from any company is to show progress. We've seen that come true and today TI's support for open source is real and getting stronger by the day.

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