[coreboot] Expo report from embedded world 2009

Peter Stuge peter at stuge.se
Sun Mar 8 22:21:37 CET 2009

Hi all!

Myself, Stefan Reinauer and Rudolf Marek made a visit at
embedded world 2009 in Nürnberg this week and I would like
to tell you a little about what we did there.


As always it was nice to meet in person, especially Rudolf whom
neither me nor Stefan had met before, although he has been quite
active in the project for several years.

Overall I consider the visit quite successful. Perhaps even more
successful than if coreboot would have been an exhibitor, because
we would not have been able to move around so much if we had a
booth to attend to.

A great number of interesting companies both for hardware and
software were represented at the expo and some of the ones we spoke
with were IEI, AXIOMTEK, MSC, Advantech, congatec, LIPPERT, Toradex,

I would estimate that 85% of the displayed boards used Atom. There
were also Geode LX, C7/Nano and some Core2 boards, but for every
one non-Atom I still saw two or three Atoms.

I quickly learned one thing which was maybe not so surprising, the
asian hardware companies do all BIOS development at headquarters.
Axiomtek, MSI, JET-WAY and VIA did have representatives from HQ at
the expo, but no engineers and no firmware experts. We still tried
to establish as many contacts as possible, and everyone we met was
quite helpful and promised to forward information and contacts to
the appropriate people within their organizations.

Some highlights:
* Discussing firmware with Mr. Lippert himself
* Ad-hoc coreboot demo, twice!, at the SYSGO (Rudolf's job) booth party
* VIA 855 chipset - H.264 playback and die still at 45 C with no cooling!
* Free beer at the Microsoft booth talking to the owner of XP Embedded
* Learning that the QNX bootloader is a clean 32-bit ELF built with gcc

Earlier this year Konsult Stuge and coresystems GmbH joined an
industry consortium which has already established the next generation
CPU module standard. The other members are mostly companies in the
hardware sector so we gave a short coreboot presentation at the
consortium meeting during the expo in order to shine a light on the
benefits and possibilities which coreboot brings to the embedded segment.

For me as an open source enthousiast and evangelist it was really a
great pleasure to attend the consortium meeting. Attitude and
proceedings were much like in any open source project - with the small
difference that just about everyone in the room wore suit and tie and
was a heavyweight industry representative! I have never seen anything
like it but I believe the modus operandi is completely unbeatable.
We are very happy and proud to parttake in this venture!

The response was quite positive, as always the demo is highly
appreciated, and we are happy to bridge the two communities. I believe
there will be very valuable discussion on both sides, and that everyone
will see good things come out of this!

Back at the expo QNX presented a nice fast boot demo on Atom. From
reset to GL graphics in under two seconds. They have developed their
own fastboot code (maybe using some reference code from Intel) but
right now it is available only for Atom. Of course they were excited
to learn that coreboot allows them to achieve the same performance on
a large number of other platforms. We can use the bootloader (startup
module in QNX terms) directly as a payload. Startup module + QNX kernel
+ QNX libc slimmed down is 400-600KB and a full version is 1.2MB.
Doable on any board today. Pretty exciting! And QNX is freely available.

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