Re: EHLO, board designers
- From: "Joel Kolstad" <JKolstad71HatesSpam@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 18 Jul 2005 14:58:27 -0700
"Brannon" <brannonking@xxxxxxxxx> wrote in message
> Why can I not purchase a PCI board with a Spartan3, some SRAM, and a
> DRAM slot for $200?
Because, given the low demands for boards like that, it costs a lot more than
$200 once you factor in the time needed for someone to design & debug that
board. You might expect Xilinx to do this -- many semiconductor sell
evaluation boards at what's effectively "giveaway" prices in that they lose
money on the sale, but figure they'll make it up in sales of the actual
part -- but unfortunately Xilinx doesn't (at present).
> That's way more than the cost of the parts.
Costs of parts is an incredibly small factor in determining sales price in
> simple Spartan3-based board for coprocessing could change the world.
> Video game companies could ship neural net modules, math companies
> could ship libraries that use it for acceleration, CAD and imaging
> companies could take advantage of it for acceleration, etc; for that to
> happen, everybody needs one.
You need a lot more than a simple evaluation board to get all those companies
to adopt your co-processing model -- you also need large, sophisticated
libraries that help programmers make use of the co-processing features. And
keep in mind some of the main downfalls of any hardware based co-processor:
It's a given that Intel, AMD, etc. will crack out faster and faster processors
every year, so your specialized hardware ends up having to be re-designed
regularly to continue to keep its "edge" -- this is an on-going expense
(Patterson & Hennessy, in their Computer Architecture book, talk about how IBM
once had a hard drive with a specialized co-processor to perform text string
searches, but that over time as CPUs became faster and the specialized
hardware remained the same, eventually it became slower to use that
specialized hardware than to just burn CPUs cycles to perform the search.
Similarly, by the time the Commodore Amiga computers were running 25MHz 68030
CPUs, it had become faster to use the CPU to perform some graphical functions
such as text scrolling than to use the old Blitter graphics co-processor
running at 7.14MHz). If your application really DOES catch on, it'll just be
designed into a custom chip or made part of a CPU anyway -- witness Intel's
MMX instructions and the proponderence of WinModems today, look at how
graphics cards now have "GPUs" that are often on par in sophistication with
general purpose CPUs, notice how the better sound cards have on-board ASICs
containing lots of DSP hardware, etc.
So... all I'm really saying is that, while there certainly are applications
for "general purpose" co-processing, any application of such technology that's
particularly successful will just be moved into an ASIC where far more people
will benefit from lower price, lower power consumption, etc. anyway.
> How are we going to
> get there and why are we not there already?
How about if you put in your own time and effort to design such a card and its
corresponding software (as an "open source" hardware project) and they start
selling the boards for $200? Many people here would probably buy one! :-)
- EHLO, board designers
- From: Brannon
- EHLO, board designers
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