cellphone-sized X86 PC motherboard potential OpenMoko platform?

Matthew S. Hamrick mhamrick at cryptonomicon.net
Mon Jun 11 04:50:21 CEST 2007

There is currently not an ARM Linux library for Skype.

On Jun 10, 2007, at 1:37 PM, Thomas Gstädtner wrote:

> There are some things that are not true here.
> True is, that x86 is on the bottom of popularity, because of the  
> disadvantages.
> Also it's true, that linux runs on x86. Linux's also running on  
> SPARC - but nobody would use SPARC in a phone, so that is simply no  
> reason for using x86.
> But it is not true, that skype only runs on x86. There is skype for  
> Win Mobile devices [1] (I haven't ever seen a win mobile device  
> using x86) which mainly are ARM/XScale based. Skype is also working  
> on getting their software running on Symbian (Series60) - a  
> platform only used on ARM.
> It is also false that flash/shockwave only runs on x86. My Nokia  
> 7710 (ARM9 based) has opera mobile with flash-plugin and it works  
> perfectly.
> The Nokia 770/N800 - also ARM based - has a flash-player as well.
> So I still see no reason for having a energy comsuming x86-monster  
> in my phone. :)
> [1] http://www.skype.com/intl/en/download/skype/mobile/
> 2007/6/10, Matthew S. Hamrick <mhamrick at cryptonomicon.net>:
> Before we run off and predict that the sky is falling, let's consider
> a couple of things:
> 1. This is a prototype. This is not a product. This is a system that
> demonstrates how small you can make a device with the new C7-S
> processors. Also... take a look at how many discrete components are
> on the board. Now open up any of your mobile electronics and compare.
> It's doesn't completely destroy your BOM cost to have these
> components, but it does add a bit of manufacturing cost. Adding $12
> to the cost of the phone is pretty much a deal-killer for "mobile
> phones," but not for "smart phones" and "mobile terminals."
> 2. No. the only reason for an x86 cell phone is not to run windows.
> ARM is very popular for WinCE devices. Less popular is MIPS. And
> somewhere at the bottom of the popularity scale is x86. But... it is
> there. There's also an operating system called Linux that's been
> known to run on x86 devices. And... if you were wanting to build a
> mobile phone with the Skype libraries installed, right now, your only
> option is x86.
> 3. CDMA. I agree, it is odd that CDMA would be their first choice.
> Perhaps they were working closely with a customer that had a specific
> requirement for CDMA, or maybe they engineer they tasked with the job
> of building this thing was more familiar with CDMA. But the major
> manufacturers like Nokia, Sony-Ericsson, etc. all make both GSM and
> CDMA versions of their phones. I sorta got used to companies
> releasing GSM phones first, as there's a larger market. But CDMA is
> definitely an important player in China, South Korea and the US.
> So my guess is... somewhere out there in China is a group that wants
> to make a CDMA2000 phone for sale in the domestic market. They're
> trying to build a smart-phone or a "mobile terminal" like the
> blackberry or Treo. Market penetration of Linux phones in China is
> much better than it is here in the states or Europe. So maybe they're
> interested in using an x86-only library on a mobile device. My guess
> is Skype. Furthermore, my guess is they approached Via with the idea
> of using one of their processors. Via referred them to Epia who began
> designing a demo board. The deal fell through and now Via needs to
> find an application for these processors, so publicizing this
> prototype is a way of getting people to think about x86 embedded.
> IMHO, the only reason you would want to have an x86 based processor
> like the C7-S (which is still an order of magnitude worse in power
> consumption than ARM processors) is to run x86 specific code. So
> yeah... that could be XP/embedded, but it could also be some x86
> specific Linux library.
> Just my $0.02.
> -Cheers
> -Matt H.
> On Jun 10, 2007, at 12:16 PM, Robin Paulson wrote:
> >> When you look at the board you see that there is not much space  
> left.
> >> It seems there's no GSM, no WiFi, no other chip already.
> >
> > i've heard talk elsewhere of a built in cdma module. that's an odd
> > choice considering the number of operators switching to gsm, but i
> > would assume via will change/add to this down the track
> >
> >> And as I always say: The only reason for using x86 in small and
> >> embedded
> >> devices is running Windows.
> >> I really don't want to have Windows on my phone. No CE/Mobile,
> >> exceptionally
> >> no XP/Vista. Do you? :)
> >
> > hell no, i ditched win long since. but some people will
> > and there are a number of closed pieces of software only  
> available for
> > x86. flash is one of them, shockwave another. maybe skype, i'm not
> > sure what that runs on
> > add in things like a half decent fpu (compared to arm anyway) and  
> the
> > platform starts to approach desktop functionality for all sorts of
> > applications. as the oqo has partly shown, there's no reason a  
> mobile
> > (pc/phone) can't be a desktop as well with the addition of a proper
> > qwerty kb and monitor when the user gets to the office
> >
> > this is an awesome development, i'm in 2 minds myself whether to  
> buy a
> > pico itx or wait for this next year
> >
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