Subject: Re: [ppc-mobo] Re: GPL-like hardware design license?
From: Sven LUTHER <>
Date: Thu, 7 Oct 1999 11:44:10 +0200

On Thu, Oct 07, 1999 at 08:58:10AM +0200, Geert Uytterhoeven wrote:
> On Wed, 6 Oct 1999, John Metzger wrote:
> > Here's the deal Steve. You pay (what ever it costs) to produce a PowerPC
> > north bridge with the following specs and a new motherboard that can use it
> > (along with other improvements to the south bridge such as VIAs or SiS..)
> > and publish the designs so I can manufacture them and sell them. When you've
> > got that done let me know.
> > 
> > The north bridge has to support 4x AGP, PC133 RAM, either the 60X bus or MPX
> > bus (strap selectable), and has the following built-in the chip: an ATI Rage
> > Pro graphics controller, a 10/100 Ethernet controller, USB (including the
> > PHY), a 1394 (including the PHY), what the heck since your paying, throw in
> > a SCSI controller too. It also has to have power management functions, DMA
> > channels, an interrupt controller, a RTC and at least 4 way SMP support. It
> > has to support two independent PCI buses, one 32 bit/33Mhz, one 64
> > bit/66Mhz. It should only cost you $500,000 to $1,000,000 to do that. When
> > you have it done give all the design files to me so I can use them to build
> > the hardware.
> Currently building such a North Bridge is not possible due to various reasons:
> AFAIK there's no single company which has all above building blocks in its
> library. If you throw out the ATI RAGE PRO, IBM might be able to do it though
> (they have lots of things in their Blue Logic library).
> If all above building blocks would be available in a `open'/`free' version, it
> would be possible to do such a thing.
> So first we need to have `simple' `open' building blocks (one function/chip).
> Later we can combine the blocks to create truly `open' larger chips.

I think you have to remember that the Free software stuff was also not built in
one day, it took nearly 15 years or so (don't know for sure but it is a long
time) to make it what it is today. And in the first days, there was not
everything available to build a complete free OS. The same thing should apply
to hardware, today we have some kind of licence that will work on the
motherboard only. Its wiring and other such stuff. On that we strap proprietary
chips to have a first generation free motherboard. This one we sell to people
(a lot of people would buy it because it is free alone i think). Later we can
begin implementing chips and other such stuff and begin building a library with
it, and replacing bit by bit the stuff on the motherboard by free ones. This
will be a long range work, and it will be years before we attain this goal, and
open source hardware will be fully accpeted.