Thursday, May 10, 2007

My newest toy

I'm a very happy boy today. I had just received this in the mail. This is a useful FPGA development kit that I can use to test my future chip designs. This is my new toy that I will be playing with for a while.

The development kit was bought by the US company that is using my processor in their product. As I had gained a lot from using open source technology, I felt that I should give something back. Therefore, I had chosen to release my various chip designs under a liberal license. I also decided not to charge anything for the device. However, people who used the designs were welcome to send me any donations to support my work. [I openly solicit donations by placing a PayPal button on the webpage - Me!]

I know that there are many people out there who are using my design as the downloads number in the ten thousands. However, only some have chosen to contribute anything back. Previously, I had only received small sums of money through PayPal. Some chose to contribute back in kind, by submitting design patches and porting my design to other languages. This is the first time that someone actually bought me something useful. With this development board, I can run a whole gamut of hardware tests on my future designs.

The board comes with many cool features. It has a built in LCD display, external VGA output, audio ports, serial port, 10/100 ethernet port and a whole bunch of custom differential I/O pins (which can be used for USB and firewire and many other communications protocols). It also has 32Mb of SDRAM and more than 4Mb of flash memory on board for various applications. Essentially, I can prototype a full single board computer on the board. I might just build such a demo application, running Linux, in the future. [Remember that it wasn't so long ago that full fledged desktops had less resources than this little board - Me].

The most important thing isn't the board actually. It's the fact that there are people who have benefited from my designs and are willing to show their appreciation by sending me something useful. I've learned to ignore people who only bug me for help. [I'm not here to do your homework for you! - Me]. So, this will serve as a motivation to me to actually further improve my designs. I'm planning to build up an ecosystem around my processor designs. I've already taken the first step by setting up the appropriate project pages. I will later populate the documentation pages. Hopefully, this will result in more people adopting my design [and sending me more cool stuff! - Me].

UPDATE: Maybe I can build a tiny web-server application on the board or maybe an MP3 player that plays shoutcast streams. Both very fun and cool ideas. Of course, I'll only do this when I get the time to. Currently too busy with my work.

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