[coreboot] 486 Motherboard from scratch

Bari Ari bari at onelabs.com
Wed Nov 28 00:59:21 CET 2012

I've been designing motherboards for ~30 years and I'd recommend that 
you just learn VHDL, Verilog and also get familiar with Orcad Capture, 
Allegro, FPGA vendor tools, Altium and maybe PADS. Then you can spend 
all the time you want with IP blocks from opencores or wherever, as well 
as design your own.

Many ARM SOC's wil be easier for you to work with and also to access docs.

If you get a good understanding of these things you'll be able design 
just about anything. Either for vendors making reliable quality boards 
or most everything else.

If you're serious about becoming a PC hardware engineer another thing 
I'd recommend is learning about thermal management. Not that it would be 
used for building long lasting products but more so for being able to 
design boards that live just beyond the warranty period. Keep those 
components warm (but not too hot so the MTBF drops too low), and use 
cheap capacitors to insure that you'll have obsolete products just 
beyond the warranty periods. It's getting harder to find people that 
actually understand how to design good hardware anymore from the gate or 
even component level, or the vendors that want or value them.

You'll find hundreds of pages of app notes on high speed PCB design that 
seems to be ignored by many. You should also be able to find older board 
design guides from chipset vendors that go into details on proper 
4-layer PCB stackup, BGA breakout and general great info on routing 
clock lines, USB, high speed memory, hypertransport, high current low 
voltage power planes, etc, etc.

Most PC and consumer electronics products today are designed with the 
1000 monkeys approach or cut and paste (they just copy a reference 
design) vs a few knowledgeable engineers. The x86 chipset and CPU 
vendors provide board makers with reference sections of PCB layouts that 
are just cut and past into their board layouts for this reason.


On 11/27/2012 01:41 AM, Rex O'Regan wrote:
> Thanks for all the input... from what everyone on here is saying it
> seems to me like it will be another big, long project with lots for me
> to learn. :)
> The best implementation would be along the lines of a 486 chip connected
> to FPGA(?). Then implement all I/O in the FPGA. Is that what the
> consensus is?
> Cheers,
> Rex

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