Author Topic: Intel Atom Single Board Computer / Embedded Computer  (Read 10247 times)

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Offline Chendy

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Intel Atom Single Board Computer / Embedded Computer
« on: November 19, 2015, 11:46:43 am »
Hi guys,

Does anybody have any idea how much it would cost to get a custom single board computer designed. Say something like the 'Intel Compute Stick' STCK1A8LFC, same specification, but doesn't have to be so compact a pcb. 

Does anybody here do this?

Can anybody recommend a company that can do this?

Cheers
 

Online dr.diesel

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Re: Intel Atom Single Board Computer / Embedded Computer
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2015, 12:06:41 pm »
What is your overall goal, lots of variables here?  There are lots of SBCs out there, can't use one already on the market?

If you only want one designed, it will cost you.  But if you need 10 million units, some OEM will design it for you, at no cost via buying contract.


Offline Chendy

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Re: Intel Atom Single Board Computer / Embedded Computer
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2015, 12:36:04 pm »
For sake of a reference, the cost to recreate the 'Intel Compute Stick' STCK1A8LFC specification, but changing the placement of some ports (not asking cost to clone!)

Yes could use ready solution, but interested in cost to have custom design.

Unfortunately, not going to order 10 million. How much $$$ to design, roughly?

 

Offline iampoor

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Re: Intel Atom Single Board Computer / Embedded Computer
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2015, 02:21:38 am »
Isnt this a classic "If you have to ask" you cant afford it scenario?  :-DD
 

Offline blueskull

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Re: Intel Atom Single Board Computer / Embedded Computer
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2015, 03:49:33 am »
1. You need to sign an NDA with Intel to get documents.
2. If you chose to use PoP packages, you won't have significant cost savings, but it will be a lot easier.
3. If you chose the hard way, using traditional BGA package, prepare to route DDR3, good luck.
4. There are compact Atom modules for niche market, usually more expensive than a cheap PC, that reflects how many efforts were put into the design process.
 

Offline Chendy

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Re: Intel Atom Single Board Computer / Embedded Computer
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2015, 11:00:17 am »
@ iampoor

no its not. Just because one can afford, doesn't mean it makes sense.

@ blueskull

Thanks for this. I'm interested in the cheapest model in the new series with proper graphics drivers (openGL), seemingly the  Intel® Atom™ x5-Z8300 Processor. There doesn't seem to be PoP package (that I can find at least). Anyway, I would want the proper board design using BGA and DDR3 for lowest cost. Yes, this is way too scary for me currently, hence I'm reaching out here to get a gauge of how much should I expect to pay, additionally if anybody here who could do this. Yes sure, there will be the NDA stuff, but we would do this properly, probably ordering 30k units first run.

cheers
 

Offline Soundwave

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Re: Intel Atom Single Board Computer / Embedded Computer
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2015, 12:07:01 pm »
Ballpark €500k if you want to stick to the reference design, and manufacture in China. Maybe a year from start to finish, if you really push it.

It would probably be much cheaper and quicker to find a Chinese OEM who is already making an Atom based board and asking them to customize. It will still be expensive but there is less risk involved, as they have a proven product and experience that they can adapt, and all the manufacturing in place etc. Look on Alibaba for leads.
 

Offline Chendy

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Re: Intel Atom Single Board Computer / Embedded Computer
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2015, 03:14:26 pm »
@ Soundwave

Thanks, £500k for just the design?!

Regarding Chinese OEM's, exactly. I have seen a decent number of low cost Chinese Intel Atom based boards, which makes me wonder what the development costs must be.

Cheers
 

Offline nctnico

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Re: Intel Atom Single Board Computer / Embedded Computer
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2015, 04:05:25 pm »
1. You need to sign an NDA with Intel to get documents.
2. If you chose to use PoP packages, you won't have significant cost savings, but it will be a lot easier.
3. If you chose the hard way, using traditional BGA package, prepare to route DDR3, good luck.
4. There are compact Atom modules for niche market, usually more expensive than a cheap PC, that reflects how many efforts were put into the design process.
Don't be overly dramatic. If you have a good insight in impedance matching and RF (GHz) and power distribution on a PCB it is certainly doable. These chips have been designed to work on an actual PCB with real components otherwise there would be no use in making them.  Also if the design doesn't need to be compact the routing will be much easier and quicker to do. With a production run of over 150 pieces it is generally speaking cheaper to go full custom than buying a module. Also modules come with their own problems regarding long and short term availability. With your own design you are only subjected to the life cycle of the components.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2015, 04:07:17 pm by nctnico »
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Offline awallin

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Re: Intel Atom Single Board Computer / Embedded Computer
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2015, 08:25:33 pm »
Does anybody have any idea how much it would cost to get a custom single board computer designed. Say something like the 'Intel Compute Stick' STCK1A8LFC, same specification, but doesn't have to be so compact a pcb. 

I recently installed some pfsense SG-4860 routers/firewalls. when opening the case it looks like they are ADI Engineering RCC-VE boards:
http://www.adiengineering.com/products/rcc-ve-desktop-appliance/

is that roughly what you are looking for? or smaller?

see also the thread on the Turris Omnia crowdfunded open hardware router. Those people must know how to layout a PCB. Or one of the many olimex designs (eagle files available?).
 

Offline Chendy

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Re: Intel Atom Single Board Computer / Embedded Computer
« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2015, 10:31:12 am »
@ awallin

Yes, smaller than that need. Single board computer size, say raspberry pi size. Thanks for the tips

 

Offline m98

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Re: Intel Atom Single Board Computer / Embedded Computer
« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2015, 12:17:14 pm »
Ballpark €500k if you want to stick to the reference design, and manufacture in China. Maybe a year from start to finish, if you really push it.
€500k? That would be more than 5 senior-EEs working full-time over a whole year. Aren't you a bit exaggerating?
 

Offline blueskull

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Re: Intel Atom Single Board Computer / Embedded Computer
« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2015, 01:11:04 pm »
500k GBP is mind blowing. If you can live with illegal IP (not licensed Intel datasheet), you can hire a guy who is experienced with Intel Atom boards, pay him $100/hr and get this done in 100 hrs. Totally $10k.
 

Offline Chendy

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Re: Intel Atom Single Board Computer / Embedded Computer
« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2016, 12:19:45 pm »
Hey gang,

Thanks for the above, the costs for the hardware design / layout seem sensible.

The area of uncertainty is related to drivers and BIOS licences:

Assuming this to be a Intel Compute Stick - Ubuntu Version (STCK1A8LFC), I don't really understand why drivers would have to be licensed, as I have a working Ubuntu version Stick in front of me now.

Bios licensing I assume is another matter, assuming there isn't an open source Bios. Does anybody know about other considerations beyond the hardware design / layout related costs? ... Bios? Drivers?

I have been told to "expect about 100K$ for just drivers and BIOS licencees."

Also, wouldn't Intel provide datasheet if we are serious about buying a decent volume of chips?

Cheers
 

Offline nctnico

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Re: Intel Atom Single Board Computer / Embedded Computer
« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2016, 01:00:29 pm »
Maybe if you are starting with a 100k volume but even then you may need to show credentials in the form of annual turnover, multi-million dollar deals, etc. Sometimes manufacturers throw up so many barriers that it is obvious they don't want to sell anything to you. If you want to use Linux wouldn't it make more sense to use an ARM SoC from TI or Freescale? The latter are easy to obtain and there is a huge support community.
BTW: did you look at Coreboot? It is an open source BIOS which seems to be able to work on an Intel Atom based system.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline blueskull

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Re: Intel Atom Single Board Computer / Embedded Computer
« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2016, 04:34:59 pm »
There is an ended kickstarter project which is a rpi form factor z8300 board, accepting production order now. The price is next to nothing if compared to commercial embedded modules.

Minnow is another choice, though larger and more power hungry and lower performance, but it is designed for industrial use and oshw.
 

Offline Chendy

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Re: Intel Atom Single Board Computer / Embedded Computer
« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2016, 04:49:22 pm »
Quote
Maybe if you are starting with a 100k volume but even then you may need to show credentials in the form of annual turnover, multi-million dollar deals, etc. Sometimes manufacturers throw up so many barriers that it is obvious they don't want to sell anything to you.

ah cool.

Quote
If you want to use Linux wouldn't it make more sense to use an ARM SoC from TI or Freescale? The latter are easy to obtain and there is a huge support community.

We want decent performance, with working graphics drivers for linux (openGL). The new quadcore Allwinner etc type chips are fast enough, but none of them have openGL only OpenGL-ES as they are android target chips. Hence the new low cost Intel Atom chips are interesting, as graphics drivers are supplied and seemingly of good quality (and I assume have decent support form Intel).

Quote
BTW: did you look at Coreboot? It is an open source BIOS which seems to be able to work on an Intel Atom based system.

couldn't find any info suggesting cherry trail support in coreboot... will dig in 
 

Offline nctnico

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Re: Intel Atom Single Board Computer / Embedded Computer
« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2016, 06:21:16 pm »
IIRC Nvidia Tegra K1 is an ARM SoC which supports OpenGL. I have no clue about availability though.
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Online Ice-Tea

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Re: Intel Atom Single Board Computer / Embedded Computer
« Reply #18 on: January 06, 2016, 06:35:30 pm »
500k GBP is mind blowing. If you can live with illegal IP (not licensed Intel datasheet), you can hire a guy who is experienced with Intel Atom boards, pay him $100/hr and get this done in 100 hrs. Totally $10k.

100 hours? To develop a custom schematic, component selection, layout, production preparation, documentation, bring it live, debug, get the bios and drivers working, do stress testing and probably spin a second revision to clean up?

I'm hiring this guy.
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Offline free_electron

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Re: Intel Atom Single Board Computer / Embedded Computer
« Reply #19 on: January 06, 2016, 06:42:04 pm »
Approach a company like Phytec in germany. they will do the custom board for you. they have experience with single board machines (PC104 style) . They can probably take an existing known-good design , strip it , rerun layout and manufacture it for you.
Cheaper than you can manage, and less 'risk'. These guys know how to create the BIOS and have known-good base designs they can easily strip. Safer than starting from scratch.

www.phytec.com
www.bcmcom.com

are companies specialising in this. you tell them what you want / need , give em the form factor and connector placment/pinout , they do the rest. no worrying about licensing , layout , bios creation. they deliver you turnkey boards. they control the BOM and also guarantee long-term availability. ( 7+ years )
« Last Edit: January 06, 2016, 06:48:24 pm by free_electron »
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Offline miguelvp

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Re: Intel Atom Single Board Computer / Embedded Computer
« Reply #20 on: January 06, 2016, 06:51:01 pm »
IIRC Nvidia Tegra K1 is an ARM SoC which supports OpenGL. I have no clue about availability though.

That and the Tegra X1 does support full OpenGL 4.5, I think Nvidia sells modules in 1K units, but they are not cheap at $299 a pop just for the module.

http://www.cnx-software.com/2015/11/11/nvidia-jetson-tx1/

The Tegra K1 chip just by itself was around $90 as I recall.

Funny thing is that you can but a Shield TV with a Tegra X1 and 3GB of ram for less than that module alone, so maybe you can make a deal with Nvidia.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2016, 06:53:42 pm by miguelvp »
 

Offline blueskull

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Re: Intel Atom Single Board Computer / Embedded Computer
« Reply #21 on: January 06, 2016, 06:52:25 pm »
500k GBP is mind blowing. If you can live with illegal IP (not licensed Intel datasheet), you can hire a guy who is experienced with Intel Atom boards, pay him $100/hr and get this done in 100 hrs. Totally $10k.

100 hours? To develop a custom schematic, component selection, layout, production preparation, documentation, bring it live, debug, get the bios and drivers working, do stress testing and probably spin a second revision to clean up?

I'm hiring this guy.

100 hrs to do only layout. Schematics for user circuitry should be provided by employer, and schematics for CPU can be reconstructed from datasheets and appnotes, if you can get access to them, legally or not.
 

Online Ice-Tea

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Re: Intel Atom Single Board Computer / Embedded Computer
« Reply #22 on: January 06, 2016, 07:55:03 pm »
500k GBP is mind blowing. If you can live with illegal IP (not licensed Intel datasheet), you can hire a guy who is experienced with Intel Atom boards, pay him $100/hr and get this done in 100 hrs. Totally $10k.

100 hours? To develop a custom schematic, component selection, layout, production preparation, documentation, bring it live, debug, get the bios and drivers working, do stress testing and probably spin a second revision to clean up?

I'm hiring this guy.

100 hrs to do only layout. Schematics for user circuitry should be provided by employer, and schematics for CPU can be reconstructed from datasheets and appnotes, if you can get access to them, legally or not.

Oh, obsolutely. That's part of the job, part of the 500k budget. That might be a bit much, but I'm pretty sure the entire budget will be closer to that rather than to the 10k you mention.
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Offline Alexei.Polkhanov

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Re: Intel Atom Single Board Computer / Embedded Computer
« Reply #23 on: January 06, 2016, 09:13:45 pm »
Oh, obsolutely. That's part of the job, part of the 500k budget. That might be a bit much, but I'm pretty sure the entire budget will be closer to that rather than to the 10k you mention.

This guy mentioned in one of his videos that he charges $50 US/hour for layout and design verification:
https://www.youtube.com/user/matarofe/videos

He also mentioned total cost in range of $25K USD for average board from start to finish. Assuming that most of design (memory, power, some standard I/O like Ethernet, USB etc.) can be lifted off the reference design provided by manufacturer I think it is reasonable. There must be plenty of contractors who provide similar services and have experience with few common CPUs in their portfolio. I spoke with a guy who used to work for Nortel here in Canada - he mentioned similar rates since he is freelancing now. Key to success is in finding right guy/girl for the job, checking references and good portfolio of course.

I think $10K for no-frills embedded controller board does not sound unreasonable especially since most of freelancers already have few base designs to start from.

 

Online Ice-Tea

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Re: Intel Atom Single Board Computer / Embedded Computer
« Reply #24 on: January 07, 2016, 09:26:29 am »
I think $10K for no-frills embedded controller board does not sound unreasonable especially since most of freelancers already have few base designs to start from.

Define "embedded controller"? Because an Atom with DDR3 and the whole Shazam is a bit more than an "embedded controller" in my books... Also depends on how you want to design the stuff. There's approach A) "Oh, hey, I put power on it and it works! OK, moving on..." And approach B) "Ok, it works. Now let's see if it starts at -20, put a stress test on it, see if the display interface works up to max resolution, measure DC/DC margins under no and stress load over the temp range. See if USB and Ethernet Qualifies. Measure SI on the DDR interface. Check ripple current in caps. Measure temp. Vibration test. .... " You can easily make a 100 page testplan for this that will easily eat a 10 or even 25k$ budget on it's own.
eBay shop with all the gear you need!
FS: Agilent 54825A, R&S CMU200, CRTU, SMIQ06L, Marconi 6201B, Lecroy WP 950, 9354TM, 9354M, 9374L LC584A, Tek THS720P, TDS7154B, Anritsu MG3671A 2.75G I/Q RF gen, Keithley 238 SMU, HP 8642B, 8903A, 8110A, 8156A
 


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