Tag Archives: neuros

Open platform but not free tools

As I suspected and guessed in my blog post yesterday, Jason Kridner of Texas Instruments responded to the mailing list and confirmed that the “open platform” currently doesn’t even have a free-to-use assembler for the DSP in the DaVinci (which thus has less free tools available than the DM320 series!) and the gcc port seem to be mostly an idea so far:

I’m not aware of any solid plans on a gcc port yet, but I can confirm that TI plans to offer C64x+ C compiler and assembler tools similar to the way we provide the C54x tools for the current OSD. The restrictions and registration might not be exactly the same, but my view is that the important thing is to get something out there that any hobbyist can use for free. It doesn’t make a lot of sense for someone doing coding for use in their own living room to need to pay $3000+ for a full set of development tools when all they need is a C compiler they can run on their Linux box.

I acknowledge that Neuros really seem to make efforts to make things truly open and free, but TI’s ways are often far from straight-forward and obvious. Jason refers to his presentation from Lugradio live, but I don’t see how that clarifies anything on the openness front.

TI and Neuros but is it open?

Neuros put out a press release yesterday saying that
Neuros and Texas Instruments create new bounty program for next-gen Open Internet Television Platform“, and Joe Born of Neuros said on their mailing list that “it will be a complete open platform that will allow developers of all levels to contribute and port applications.”. You can also read some additional thoughts and ideas in the ARS Technica article called “TI and Neuros team up to build open source media platform“. It is basically a hardware platform based on TI’s TMS320DM644x DSP system-on-a-chip line, also called DaVinci. There’s no coincidence of course that the Neuros OSD 2.0 will feature that.

Personally, I’m not convinced when I see TI speak of Open Source since I’m fully aware of their history and I even believe that this brand new “open” platform still requires TI’s restricted-but-free compiler for the DSP. Of course it is more open than many other platforms, but I dislike when someone tries to sound all fine and dandy while at the same time they’re trying to hide some of their better cards behind their back.

A truly open platform would not give TI an advantage. It would offer anyone wanting to do anything with it the same chance. This platform does not. After all, having it built around one of SoC flagships should be enough for them and should be a motivator for them to make this as successful (and thus as open) as possible.

I think it is sad that Neuros repeatedly does this kind of statements. Their original “open source” player was never open source (to any degree). Their OSD player is largely open source but huge chunks of it is not. Now they try to announce even more openness for an entire platform and yet again they fail to actually deliver a truly open product. Neuros shall forever be known as the company who seems to want to do right, but always fails to in the end nonetheless.

Update: Joe replied on the list to my question about the DSP tool(s) and it certainly sounds as if TI may in fact release a more open tool and/or even a gcc port!? If that turns out true it will of course squash most of my complaints here!

Neuros OSD 2.0

For you who are into things like open source hardware for your videos, it can be interesting to note Neuros‘ recent posting of their planned specs for their upcoming OSD 2.0 player that I guess then will replace the current Neuros OSD model.Neuros OSD 2.0

In hard techy interesting terms: they plan to upgrade to Texas Instruments Davinci 6446 chipset, which is a 300MHz ARM9 with a C64x DSP core embedded. Pretty much like the existing DM320 one, but it seems with a great deal of more horse power under the hood. Given their specs paper, it will support a lot of formats and at least partially up to HD resolutions. It’ll also support internal harddrive and offer 256MB RAM and 256MB internal NAND flash.

Personally I don’t care that much as I don’t even have analogue TV and don’t download/have many movies to watch and my existing DVB-T box has fine recording abilities and my DVD is good enough for my kids to repeatedly watch the same animated films over and over and over…

Oh btw, if this sounds like your kind of backyard and other things combine well, Neuros is hiring Linux developers for what I believe is this hardware.

(sorry for the crappy quality of the pic but I nicked it from the PDF)