October 2006

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Meeting Announcement

This meeting announcement went out to the SVHMPC Mailing List and was posted at telefono and on the HBMobile Blog.

Hey Everybody…

It’s time to announce the October meeting of the Silicon Valley Homebrew Mobile Phone Club. This month’s meeting will be at 6:30PM on October 11th at the TechShop in Menlo Park. Directions to the facility can be found at the TechShop’s web page at http://www.techshop.ws/. But for the impatient, the TechShop is at 120 Independence Dr., Menlo Park, CA 94025.

This month’s agenda will focus on things “slightly closer to the machine” than we’ve been talking about in the past. Whereas most of us are thinking about using off the shelf parts (Telit GSM modules, GumStix boards, etc.) there’s another route that’s challenging yet equally compelling… building your own processors and radio modules from IP cores and software defined radio modules. This month we’re welcoming Matt Ettus of Ettus Research ( http://www.ettus.com/ ). Matt will be talking to us about (and hopefully demonstrating) his Universal Software Radio Peripheral (USRP) system which acts as a test-bed for SDF applications. While we would never recommend anyone attempt to connect an uncertified GSM radio to a commercial network, Software Defined Radio may be an interesting option for people working with VoIP over unregulated spectrum data networks.

We also have a discussion about Sun’s new OpenSPARC ( http://www.opensparc.net ) initiative tentatively scheduled. The OpenSPARC initiative has opened the RTL source for Sun’s T1 architecture. While we’re probably a long way off from being able to simply download a processor design directly into a prototyping board and expecting it to “just work.” And let’s not forget that FPGA’s are generally horrible when it comes to processing capability per watt; but Sun claims the T1 design has the highest performance per watt of any mainstream processor when incorporated into an ASIC. What with Sun opening Solaris and OpenBoot, maybe there’s room out there for a PollFon to go along with the TuxPhone? (Poll is one of the OpenSolaris mascots.)

As usual, we’ll be having snacks before the official presentations and a discussion of the status of various projects afterwards.

So… Hope to see you there!

Meeting Minutes

(Note: meeting attendees are encouraged to add their own minutes)

The meeting started at around 6:30 with an informal "meet, greet and eat" session. Pizza and soda were provided and a good time was had by all.

At around 7:00 Matt Ettus gave his presentation on software defined radio and the Universal Software Radio Peripheral. Power consumption of the USRP is probably above what one would consider ideal for a mobile device, but for base station operations there are some clear advantages. Matt reminded us that during the development of the WCDMA standard, there were over 100 different revisions of the spec. If mobile phone vendors had to deploy new hardware for each minor revision of the spec, the cost would be astronomical. SDR is a technology that can increase system flexibility dramatically with marginal increases in cost. The USRP is a "standard" platform for building SDR applications. The USRP is intended to be used with the GNU Software Radio software. Matt is reachable at matt at ettus dot com.

Sometime around 7:45, Steve Rudinsky and Shrenik Mehta of Sun Microsystems began their talk about the OpenSPARC project. Sun has "opened" the RTL for the Niagra SPARC, allowing external entities to create derivative works based on their technology. Simply RISC is an Italian company that has taken parts of the OpenSPARC IP, combined it with cores from the OpenCores project to produce the design for a SoC suitable for use in embedded platforms.

I put up a post with my own summary. Not really minutes, but I figured someone might find them useful. - Miker

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