Cheap x86 MCU/SOC chips?

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Like anyone without a purchasing department, I'm having a royally
tough time getting pricing out of vendors for x86 chips. I'm really
interested in sample pricing for the following:

Geode 1200
Intel486
Intel386
80c186
SiS 550
Elan520

And possibly any other chip than can do DOS/WindowsCE/Win3.11.

Can anyone point me to a directory/repository to get pricing on these,
or a good vendor who carries most of them and show the pricing online?
If theres a central yellowpages type directory, even for pay, for
vendors and their pricing of such chips, I'd be really interested.

Re: Cheap x86 MCU/SOC chips?
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This is a bit of a schizophrenic question covering a huge performance
spread; is this for a single project? The 186 can't do Windows CE or
Windows 3.11 (the last version of Windows to support real mode was
3.0). Windows CE doesn't support the i386. RDC makes a 33MHz clone of
the 80C186, see jkmicro.com for boards that use it.

As a data point, SC1200 was ~$40 for high volume applications. GX1 by
itself was $25 in volume a year ago. The associated mandatory CS5530
companion IC added $15 to the cost, though. If you want the ability to
run any of those OSes you speced, then Geode and i486 are really the
only choices, because the SiS part is _really_ mavericky and oddball
(I think also expensive - because SBCs based on this part are
ferociously expensive). The Elan is really a bad choice for a new
design because AMD has been really evil about their x86 orphan policy,
and Geode is their x86 embedded future now.

You might be best off to consult one of the surplus vendors,
usbid.com, partminer.com, etc.

Re: Cheap x86 MCU/SOC chips?
Thanks for the reply it helped.

It would seem that the x86 SOC market is big enough, with the huge
binary base. National sold theirs, AMD has been drowning the Elan,
would be wonderful if they can guarantee the life of at least one
Elan. Do you have a rough idea of their bulk costs? I saw around $20
somewhere, which cant be bad for a slow chip.

These are for planning a collection of projects, some need low-power
so I'll look at Transmeta too, but the Elan or Geode would have been
cool. the 186 is for a much smaller and low volume project, a PC104
project with DOS applications, but price is the sticking point.

Arent there ANY other x86 SOCs or MCUs in the world? I heard China was
producing some but that was a while ago...

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Re: Cheap x86 MCU/SOC chips?
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This "huge binary base" is by and large a huge base of code for
enormous bloated operating systems like Windows and desktop Linux
though. Precious few embedded applications running on x86, compared to
its competitors. I don't really count Internet kiosks and
print-your-own-photos booths as being real embedded applications.

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I don't remember. We did look into this a few years ago, it's been too
long.

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Damn, if 186 performance is good enough, you can emulate the 186 and
DOS entirely in software on an XScale much faster than the 186, and
still get your price point down, plus a boatload of free peripherals
into the bargain.

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x86 isn't terribly popular for embedded applications, especially at
the higher performance levels. Any particular reason for being wedded
to x86? The field is much richer if you move to ARM, MIPS, PowerPC...
- and the parts are better - easier to program, tiny power
dissipation, physically small, ...

Of course, there is ST's STmicro series, which although not exactly
popular, is at least in production. Last time I checked this was a
couple of years ago, but the prices were in the $30-$35 range for the
midrange parts.

Via makes x86 processors that they call "embedded" (Eden, C3) but
really this is more a marketing spin on the size of Via's smaller PC
motherboards. But if you are looking at Transmeta then you're already
willing to consider non-"true SOC" devices.

There's the ZFlinux chip, which you may or may not still be able to
buy, but which would be silly to choose :)

Re: Cheap x86 MCU/SOC chips?
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That does make me wonder whats the highest MIPS-per-$$ SOC, I suspect
the ARM7.


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Yes. There are tonnes of older DOS-based games out there with cheaper
licenses since noone is buying them anymore. x86 will also appeal much
more to 'hacker' types who can install linux and boast to friends....
marketing!

I guess I'm not comfortable with the binary base for other
architectures, except I can run Linux/NetBSD/QNX and compile free
apps. For those I'd have to develop the software too, more $$$. For
x86,  you can get a few smart highschoolers in summer, at least to
install and test the software.

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I did see this and have been very interested in the STPC chips. I'm
keeping a close eye.

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Well, maybe a CPU with a single chipset, should increase my choices a
bit. The problem is both the cost of two chips and the footprint; but
if its below $20, it fixes some of the projects.

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In low volumes, I could lay my hands on older stocks of even Elan486
and the likes, so out-of-production chips are not too much of an
issue, if say 2000 pieces can be had.

Thanks for mentioning the names, I'm off to get pricing. I hate
hunting for pricing.

Re: Cheap x86 MCU/SOC chips?
snipped-for-privacy@ghazan.haider.name (Ghazan Haider) wrote :

[cut]

consider ARM7 or MIPS, I used Realtec SoC latelly.
They all run Linux, so the HUGE (and I mean HUUUGE, not that silly x86)
software base is not a problem. Realtec SoC comes as a total sollution
with case, wifi, serial, 2x rj45 and power supply for 100$.

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ancient


bloat


crap


look Asia, Taiwan/China.


Pozdrawiam.
--
RusH   //
 http://pulse.pdi.net/~rush/qv30 /
We've slightly trimmed the long signature. Click to see the full one.
Re: Cheap x86 MCU/SOC chips?
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I am considering ARM for other designs. The x86 requirement is for
running older DOS games. Emulating x86 in ARM takes more than simply
an ARM.

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Even if you do work for realtec, it still sounds great. I think I'll
get one for testing and development for other stuff. I'll continue the
struggle for cheap x86...

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Has an interesting binary base though. Try running DOOM, Heretic,
civilization, monkey island on any other cpu. Source code not
available.

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WindowsCE does sell however. Put a microsoft stamp, make it sound like
it works with windows xp and people will pay. I prefer Linux on my PDA
but 90% of the people I know prefer something that will look like
windows and work with it.
 
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OK, I'll look for a directory of their manufacturers. Thanks.

Re: Cheap x86 MCU/SOC chips?
snipped-for-privacy@ghazan.haider.name (Ghazan Haider) wrote in message

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AFAIK Asian Sources is the definitive directory/reference.
<http://www.asia.globalsources.com/gsol/HOMEPAGES/ASOL/HOME.jsp

Re: Cheap x86 MCU/SOC chips?
snipped-for-privacy@ghazan.haider.name (Ghazan Haider) wrote :

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Dos games ? hmmm dos games are obsolete, the fun one are ported to
linux anyway :)

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I wish I would.

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minitar
http://rtl8181.sourceforge.net/
actually they go for as low as 60$ in USA
80MHz afair 2MB flash, 16MB ram

I'm considering something bigger for the next project/hack, like Asus
WL500 b/g : 200MHz Mips, 32/64MB ram, USB, LPT, and if you remove the
wlan module you get a miniPCI - ideal for a graphic adapter.
 
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will run on 80MHz arm

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will run too

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too



Pozdrawiam.
--
RusH   //
 http://pulse.pdi.net/~rush/qv30 /
We've slightly trimmed the long signature. Click to see the full one.
Re: Cheap x86 MCU/SOC chips?

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When Windows NT4 supported the DEC Alpha processor, there was a
program called FX32! that enabled 32 bit Windows PE x86 executables to
be executed on the Alpha platform. The x86 was translated on the fly
to the native Alpha instruction set and stored on disk far later use.
The only thing the user observed was a slower execution the first time
some (untranslated) execution paths were executed.

Transmeta processors translate the x86 instructions to an internal
form and stores it into a RAM segment allocated from the main RAM and
after this executes the translated instructions from RAM.

Does the ARM7 or MIPS environments have this kind of support ?

If not, these hardware platforms are hardly worth considering for
those who need x86 support.
  
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How many of these (Unix) programs are available in binary format for
ARM7 and MIPS running, say some version of Linux ? If binary versions
are not available, how many can be installed by downloading the source
distribution and running "make" without touching the makefile or the
actual source file to fit it for the specific platform ? If this is
not possible, the program is unsuitable for a typical end user to use,
unless there is a trained support organisation.

Still some software is only available on a specific platform and the
quality of emulators is not sufficient in many cases.

Even if the sources for some 16 bit real mode x86 programs would be
available, porting these messy programs requires a lot of work, if you
have to do itself :-). The situation gets even more complicated if the
person who wants to use a specific program does not have a programming
background.

Paul
 

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