pigsy
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Re: Cancelling my order

Thu May 10, 2012 12:33 pm

OK well after reading a lot of user reviews and blogs from folk who have recieved thier Pi I have decided to cancel my order. It seems its not for non Linux users and beginners. I want to use it for a media centre but the openelec system isnt yet end user ready or friendly and the Pi doesnt support flash so useless for bbc i player etc, also there seems to be some slowness issues with the GUI. I will wait until its had a bit more development and all these optimizations have been made, after all I have already waited 2 months since placing my order and frankly the excitement has worn off.

woodinblack
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Re: Cancelling my order

Thu May 10, 2012 12:38 pm

Yes, makes sense. There are better things if what you need is a media player

jamesh
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Re: Cancelling my order

Thu May 10, 2012 1:01 pm

I was using iPlayer on OpenELEC on a Raspi a couple of days ago....

Yes, the menus are a bit slow, but the picture quality once running was really good.
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Re: Cancelling my order

Thu May 10, 2012 1:24 pm

This is as I predicted when I was able to get remote access to a Pi and see the slow GUI response.  It further points out how critical getting X accelerated by the GPU really is, and ought to be the number one priority for the Foundation before the Pi is promoted any more.  Kids are even more impatient than adults, and they're not going to put up with laggy GUI performance.  The geekiest of the geeky will be able to focus on the command line, but, the rest are just going to find something more interesting for them to do.
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Re: Cancelling my order

Thu May 10, 2012 1:34 pm

Well, since the Foundation is about 6 people who all have day jobs, and an X driver is a full time bit of work for one person, it's really going to be down to the Pi community to put  lot of effort in to that. Of course, the foundation could employ a good contractor for 3-6 months (£25->50k?), but that rather knackers any chance of making cases, or anything else that needs money, which would in turn put the educational stuff behind.
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hzrnbgy
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Re: Cancelling my order

Thu May 10, 2012 1:40 pm

How is the Pi community going to do anything without a properly documented GPU?

rmm200
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Re: Cancelling my order

Thu May 10, 2012 2:32 pm

The Broadcom Blob is the GPU from the user's point of view. All you need is API documentation on that. Other GPU features, like DSI support, simply don't exist for you until / if Broadcom chooses to expose them through an API.

Others are much more optimistic about the advantage of accelerating X than I am. I predict no more than a 10 percent performance improvement. Make the best use of the device as it is - it will never be great at browsing.

welshblob
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Re: Cancelling my order

Thu May 10, 2012 3:00 pm

pigsy said:


.... Pi doesnt support flash so useless for bbc i player etc ....


As far as I'm aware the streams are just wrappered x264 which xbmc supports natively and why James was able to use iplayer i.e. you don't need flash.

Going to have a play with one of the newer openelec builds tonight to see if the stability has improved.

Rob

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Re: Cancelling my order

Thu May 10, 2012 3:22 pm

hzrnbgy said:


How is the Pi community going to do anything without a properly documented GPU?


When are you going to stop complaining about the lack of documentation for the internals of the GPU, when it has been explained time and time again how useless it would be to you? (You don't have the compiler, assembler or experience to use it).

What you do have is the full documentation for OpenVG, OpenGL, and EGL, which give access to all the relevant graphics acceleration on the chip.
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Re: Cancelling my order

Thu May 10, 2012 3:28 pm

rmm200 said:


The Broadcom Blob is the GPU from the user's point of view. All you need is API documentation on that. Other GPU features, like DSI support, simply don't exist for you until / if Broadcom chooses to expose them through an API.

Others are much more optimistic about the advantage of accelerating X than I am. I predict no more than a 10 percent performance improvement. Make the best use of the device as it is - it will never be great at browsing.


I'm wondering about that. Let's say 50% of the operations you need are offloaded to the GPU. That means they run in parallel to the GPU, and run much faster (it's a 16way vector core, so best case equivalent of 16*250MHz, excluding help from HW blocks). If we say that the graphics takes 50% of the CPU (maybe an underestimation there), we are saving 25%, so we immediately have a 25% faster system from the CPU point of view. In addition, the graphics are appearing faster, and in parallel.

Add to that a boost to the CPU by overclocking (you can get 1GHz out of it), and we are talking perhaps more than twice as fast as it is now. Most mobile browsers get away with less oomph.

All guess work of course.
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Re: Cancelling my order

Thu May 10, 2012 3:40 pm

I don't have my Pi yet and I am not going to muck about with Virtual Machines but I have been wondering about instruction set for the Broadcom chip.  From what JamesH says in his post he infers that this is not available.  Is it worth exploring the Broadcom web site?  I thought it may be a cut down from the i386.  Does the Pi in any of its software forms run the Bless Hex editor?

Cheers

Roy

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ArborealSeer
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Re: Cancelling my order

Thu May 10, 2012 3:53 pm

its arm, not x86. its even at the top of this page.

there are some discussions elsewhere on here.. possibly in the beginners bit about how to get into doing asm on arm
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Re: Cancelling my order

Thu May 10, 2012 4:01 pm

usrbinroy said:


I don't have my Pi yet and I am not going to muck about with Virtual Machines but I have been wondering about instruction set for the Broadcom chip.  From what JamesH says in his post he infers that this is not available.  Is it worth exploring the Broadcom web site?  I thought it may be a cut down from the i386.  Does the Pi in any of its software forms run the Bless Hex editor?

Cheers

Roy


Although it's just one chip on the device, it actually has two 'chips' inside, an apps processor (the Arm) and the GPU (custom). Linux runs on the Arm, and that's where everyone will do their programming. You can ignore the GPU.
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Re: Cancelling my order

Thu May 10, 2012 4:28 pm

usrbinroy said:


I don't have my Pi yet and I am not going to muck about with Virtual Machines but I have been wondering about instruction set for the Broadcom chip.  From what JamesH says in his post he infers that this is not available.  Is it worth exploring the Broadcom web site?  I thought it may be a cut down from the i386.  Does the Pi in any of its software forms run the Bless Hex editor?


The Pi's Broadcom chip is basically a GPU with an attached ARM core. ARM, not x86. You'll find plenty of information about the ARM assembler language in the ARM architecture reference manual (ARM ARM), in books, online, etc.

However, you will not find public information about the GPU, a Broadcom Videocore IV, partly designed by Eben himself. To access that kind of information you'd have to have deep pockets and be willing to sign an NDA.

Reverse engineering may be possible, but you'd rather be really experienced in that kind of stuff and in GPU coding in general to do so.

What Broadcom does is make the binary blob available. It's a compiled piece of software that serves as an interface between the GPU and the system. The blob does the all the magic stuff to make sure some high level graphics stuff is actually offloaded to the powerful GPU. Stuff like 3D graphics using OpenGL ES 2.0, stuff like 2D graphics using OpenVG 1.1.

Those are open standards that are widely used by virtually everyone – because nobody wants to reinvent the wheel every time he writes a 3D or 2D application. You'll find tons of books on OpenGL and even OpenGL ES, the latter getting popular because it's the version that runs all that cool 3D stuff on your Android or Apple smartphone or tablet.

Those are industry standards and I just read today that Eben is chair of the Khronos OpenVG group. Khronos is the consortium where the vendors meet and agree upon common graphics / GPGPU standards (OpenGL, OpenGL ES, OpenVG, OpenCL, …).

So, though I would have liked to get into low level GPU stuff on the Pi myself, it won't be, because BCM has a vital interest to not make all their implementation details on the GPU available to everyone for free.

But we have the standards we can use and that are accelerated and we have the ARM CPU core.

I'm probably going to buy me a PC to play around with OpenCL instead and keep the Pis for other stuff

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Re: Cancelling my order

Thu May 10, 2012 4:47 pm

JamesH said:


Although it's just one chip on the device, it actually has two 'chips' inside, an apps processor (the Arm) and the GPU (custom). Linux runs on the Arm, and that's where everyone will do their programming. You can ignore the GPU.


As I wrote before when I first joined this forum, one of my projects is to make a simple O.S. for the RASPI written in ASM.

It won't have all the "fancy" stuff that a Linux distro would include but I think it will be a nice exercise to not only learn ARM ASM but more on the nitty-gritty of the RASPI.

Only the basics will be coded for example simple text/graphics, GPIO access and other bits and bobs.

I'm certainly not going to be coding ethernet support or be implementing a TCP/IP stack.

I might look at USB at a later stage but initially I will emulate a PS2 style port on the GPIO for rudimentary keyboard support.

My thinking being that I can use the GPU/blob to do most of the dirty work, after all why re-invent the wheel but  up to now I have not been able to find any useful info on the API calls between the apps processor and the GPU.

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Re: Cancelling my order

Thu May 10, 2012 5:05 pm

For what you want to do - really ignore the GPU and HDMI.  The GPU does not do any of the "dirty" work for you, other than handling the frame buffer. Use a simple serial or SPI LCD display and get that working with just ARM code. Come back when you have a basic operating system going; by then there should be more documentation on the Broadcom Blob API. Then you can add HDMI support if the Blob is loadable by your OS.

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Re: Cancelling my order

Thu May 10, 2012 5:17 pm

i posted this using my Raspberry Pi.

It took a consderable amount of patience.

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Re: Cancelling my order

Thu May 10, 2012 5:17 pm

rmm200 said:


For what you want to do – really ignore the GPU and HDMI.  The GPU does not do any of the "dirty" work for you, other than handling the frame buffer.


Exactly why I can"t ignore the GPU, got any ideas as how to get a display otherwise?

You also wrote:


Then you can add HDMI support if the Blob is loadable by your OS.


My OS does not have to load anything.

The GPU reads the config.txt file at boot time and sets the display resolution and the port (HDMI or Composite) accordingly.

Then one can access the video "memory" directly or do it via the GPU API.

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Re: Cancelling my order

Thu May 10, 2012 5:55 pm

I think there is perception amongst potential buyers of the PI that you are getting a 'mini desktop'. This board contains relatively low spec ARM chip along with 256Mb of RAM which is shared among the CPU and GPU. You're not going to get the same desktop experience on such a low spec device with limited memory using an SDHC card as the main file system. In my opinon the PI is better suited to applications that require I/O interfacing to external system rather than multi-media related. To put this in perpective there are a lot of smartphones which currently have better CPUs and memory compared to the PI but server a different purpose.

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Re: Cancelling my order

Thu May 10, 2012 6:09 pm

@mtx512

Spot on.

Exactly why I want to make a simple OS just for GPIO access and basic video display.

I can't help thinking that a small OS is better suited for some applications as opposed to Linux that can do much more and is obviously much more taxing on the hardware.

For example, if one wants to just read in a couple of switches and display the result on the screen or drive a handful of LEDs then Linux is a total overkill.

A simple OS would get beginners just as excited about reading and controlling devices using a computer whether it has Linux, Windows or anything else.

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Re: Cancelling my order

Thu May 10, 2012 6:17 pm

mtx512 said:


I think there is perception amongst potential buyers of the PI that you are getting a 'mini desktop'. This board contains relatively low spec ARM chip along with 256Mb of RAM which is shared among the CPU and GPU. You're not going to get the same desktop experience on such a low spec device with limited memory using an SDHC card as the main file system. In my opinon the PI is better suited to applications that require I/O interfacing to external system rather than multi-media related. To put this in perpective there are a lot of smartphones which currently have better CPUs and memory compared to the PI but server a different purpose.



This perception comes from the way that it has been marketed. The FAQ pages says: "The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It’s a capable little PC which can be used for many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word-processing and games. It also plays high-definition video. We want to see it being used by kids all over the world to learn programming."

I have not yet received my order, but my expectations are as your's. I intend to use mine headless. I don't have a specific use for it, other than playing, but may try interfacing with external hardware - I've done similar with Arduino and PIC and have a rough idea what I'm doing with resistors and BFY51s

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Re: Cancelling my order

Thu May 10, 2012 6:38 pm

timn said


This perception comes from the way that it has been marketed. The FAQ pages says: "The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It’s a capable little PC which can be used for many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word-processing and games. It also plays high-definition video. We want to see it being used by kids all over the world to learn programming.


Totally agree the marketing of the PI is slightly distorted. Lately I've being coding on a TI RF SOC which has 4k RAM,32K flash+ GPIO may be I can promote it as a  'capable little PC'.

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Re: Cancelling my order

Thu May 10, 2012 7:10 pm

How is it distorted? It does all of those things described. Just a bit slowly in some cases. Unlike your TI SoC, which doesn't do them at all.
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Re: Cancelling my order

Thu May 10, 2012 7:34 pm

JamesH said:


How is it distorted? It does all of those things described. Just a bit slowly in some cases. Unlike your TI SoC, which doesn't do them at all.


Well a 'capable PC' if you compared to todays world would a tablet or smartphone. My daughter used the PI and found it 'too slow' thats her words not mine.  I guessing this is the target audience for such devices unfortunately their expectations are set by the current range of PC, tablets or smartphones. My daughters not expecting to open a command shell to use such a device!

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Re: Cancelling my order

Thu May 10, 2012 7:49 pm

My current laptop has just died so I am writing this on a Compaq Armada 7400 which has a 300Mhz CPU and 256MB of RAM so very similar to to the performance of the raspberry pi.

I'm running Slitaz linux with the Midori browser. It is a little slow. Loading a Forum page takes around 5 seconds and has the CPU maxed out for the duration. But its quite workable.

Back in the late 90s I would have used this laptop for work writing 20 page reports in Word 97 and reasonably complex spreadsheets in Excel 97. It was probably quite impressive at the time!

Compared to a Core i7 box the raspberry pi will be a little slow but it should be perfectly adequate to do some real work.

yertiz

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