Follow

Wikipedia mentions that ARM is proprietary. I don't have much knowledge about hardware, but why is this so popular in free software communities.

@shakil_tcs

There are open hardware chips using the arm design.You can get documentation from manufacturers of the rockchip, allwinner etc.

groups.google.com/g/linux-sunx

@coolbsd Thanks, but what does open hardware mean? Does it mean that I know all about the design and components and the firmware? Also, what does it mean for ARM to be proprietary, then? Is the firmware proprietary? Is it ONLY the design that is proprietary?

@shakil_tcs

Each manufacturer is different. Ras pi has closed off bits about it. But my Librecomputer Renegade has complete open hardware as in the majority of the device has openly available hardware documentation to write drivers. It has an available board schematic, etc. As opposed to something like Apple which would not have these available maybe, or you have to pay for one and or sign an NDA. You can use uboot and ARM trusted firmware which are both open source.

github.com/ARM-software/arm-tr

@shakil_tcs

As far as know only the gpu and maybe the sound chip had to be reversed engineered. I just know that the manufacturer (which is small team headed by one guy) said that some chips had to be reverse engineered and my guess would be the mali gpu.

@shakil_tcs

So the benefit of having open hardware is for the developers. If you don't have freely, open documentation, it becomes very difficult or sometimes impossible to write drivers. Especially good drivers. Some companies will make you pay for documentation, and or sign a non-disclosure agreement. This is why OpenBSD has a much more limited hardware support because they refuse NDAs and don't have the corporate backers that Linux and FreeBSD do to sign deals with Chinese manufacturers.

@shakil_tcs

And they are a small team. So sometimes what you get is a reverse engineering effort to get drivers and software working on closed hardware like the M1. With a truly open hardware design the process is easy and the drivers, kernels will run better in the long run I think. Now if you want a 3D printable hardware design without copyrights that's a different story. That's not very common yet.

@shakil_tcs

"With ARM you can license the ISA and build your own ARM from scratch or you can license one of their complete SoC designs, which are already tried, tested."

That is why certain ARM chips (like the rockchip) can release documentation for writing drivers and porting code to run on that CPU.

Sign in to participate in the conversation
DistroToot

A mastodon instance created by Derek Taylor, creator of the DistroTube channels on YouTube and LBRY. Derek is an advocate for free and open source software.