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'[EE:] Internet capable embedded development system'
2003\11\18@002454 by Russell McMahon

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Zilog are offering the "eZ80 Acclaim" development system for the processor
of the same name for the equivalent of about$US80 "for a limited period".

This provides web capability (10/100 Mbps Ethernet MAC, 8 kB frame buffer,
TCP/IP stack provided). Also includes a "free" ANSI compliant C. The 8 bit
processor, which is a Z80 superset,  has 256 kB Flash, 8 MB linear
addressing, 8 kB RAM and performance claimed to exceed that of any other 8
bit processor (Rabbit 3000, Motorola 332, AMD 188, HC11 etc) (has 50 Mhz
single cycle clock). EZ80F91 has JTAg interface, SPI, IIC, RTC, WDT, 2 x
UART.

Buying, or adopting, a processor on the basis of its development system can
be a great mistake, but this seems adequately capable and the "free" C and
available TCP.IP stack and the kit's MAC are attractive..


QUESTIONS:

If one wanted embedded internet capability at some stage:

- What are the alternative "foot in the water" "plug it in and go" web
capable options at anything like this price?

- What is the price?

- Why wouldn't one buy this to put on the shelf "against the day" (apart
from wasting $US80).

- Is this liable to be the price of things to come or a genuine bargain as
they claim (was $US550)


       Russell McMahon

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2003\11\18@022615 by William Chops Westfield

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On Monday, Nov 17, 2003, at 21:11 US/Pacific, Russell McMahon wrote:

> Zilog are offering the "eZ80 Acclaim" development system for the
> processor
> of the same name for the equivalent of about$US80 "for a limited
> period".

It's been available at a "special price of $99" in the states for quite
a
while now (at least as far back as the last ESC.  March?  Zilog seems to
regularly make available heavily discounted development systems.  I've
got
a couple sitting on shelves...

> Buying, or adopting, a processor on the basis of its development
> system can
> be a great mistake, but this seems adequately capable and the "free" C
> and
> available TCP.IP stack and the kit's MAC are attractive..

I listened to their talk at ESC.  My sort of overall impression was "ok,
it's pretty nice, but why would anyone risk fooling around with what is
essentially a proprietary architecture and tcp stack, when for similar
prices you can get something like a dragonball, "internet appliance" x86
clone, or commodity PC that will run several commercial operatings
systems,
plus several open source operating systems?"

> QUESTIONS:
>
> If one wanted embedded internet capability at some stage:
>
> - What are the alternative "foot in the water" "plug it in and go" web
> capable options at anything like this price?
embedded linux?  PalmOS?  WinCE? real linux (and etc)?  Real windows?
complete embedded internet products like the Rabbit semiconductor
system or
the things Scenix was pushing back in the boom days?  Dedicated
hardware?
External gateways like emWare (are they still around?)  And highly
tuned and
compacted software running directly on the microprocessor of your
choice?
Somewhat more traditional internet stacks running on the slightly larger
version of the processor of your choice?


> - What is the price?

Last time I looked, I was noticing that all technology types were
converging
on a price of about $100.  I found this very amusing.  And extensible.
Old
PC running linux?  About $100.  Low end palmtop?  About $100.  silicon
state
machine?  About $100 (of course, this was supposed to go down in
quantity,
but the "1st item" cost was "about $100.")  Licensed TCP stack for 8051?
About $100.  Port on a tcp terminal server?  About $100.  Amazing...
(note
that $100 is really ridiculous for the average embedded gadget with
maybe
$20 existing parts cost.)

I think that more recently, the software stacks are winning out.  once
you
get embedded SW engineers understanding enough about networking, or
network
sw geeks getting out of their 'can't we just add another 512M of
memory?'
mindset, it seems that it's not so hard to write an internet stack in
32k
or so.  One of those big AVRs with even more memory should be a piece
of cake.


> - Why wouldn't one buy this to put on the shelf "against the day"
> (apart
> from wasting $US80).

Sounds good to me.  I only bought the ez8 kit myself ($49, neat blinky
lights), myself.  I decided that QFP100s and similar were more than I
was likely do deal with in my semi-amateur interest level in
microcontrollers, and I wasn't looking for a TCP stack.

>
> - Is this liable to be the price of things to come or a genuine
> bargain as
> they claim (was $US550)

The development kit is likely to stay pretty cheap, but perhaps not
$80.  The
people charging $500 for some processor evaluation board are the ones
who
expect to recoup their costs.  Most companies at the low end seem to be
recognizing that a low-cost evaluation system is more of a sales tool.
The
Zilog kits are particularly spiffy for the price, and contain things
like
C compilers and power supplies that might be missing or "limitted
versions"
from another vendor, but I doubt that you'll see them selling for $500.

BillW  (all in my PERSONAL opinion, of course.)

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2003\11\18@124949 by Neil Cherry

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William Chops Westfield wrote:
> On Monday, Nov 17, 2003, at 21:11 US/Pacific, Russell McMahon wrote:
>
>> Zilog are offering the "eZ80 Acclaim" development system

> I listened to their talk at ESC.  My sort of overall impression was
> "ok, it's pretty nice, but why would anyone risk fooling around with
> what is essentially a proprietary architecture and tcp stack, when
> for similar prices you can get something like a dragonball,
> "internet appliance" x86 clone, or commodity PC that will run
> several commercial operatings systems, plus several open source
> operating systems?"

An open OS? I haven't really had a chance to work with it so I guess
I shouldn't really comment. But I do have the Comer Xinu book (sort of
open?).

>
>> QUESTIONS:
>>
>> If one wanted embedded internet capability at some stage:
>>
>> - What are the alternative "foot in the water" "plug it in and go" web
>> capable options at anything like this price?
>
> embedded linux?  PalmOS?  WinCE? real linux (and etc)?  Real
> windows?  complete embedded internet products like the Rabbit
> semiconductor system or the things Scenix was pushing back in the
> boom days?  Dedicated hardware?  External gateways like emWare (are
> they still around?)  And highly tuned and compacted software running
> directly on the microprocessor of your choice?  Somewhat more
> traditional internet stacks running on the slightly larger version
> of the processor of your choice?

I just went through this for my Open Source HCS project (Home
Automation controller, see links in my sig) but take it with a grain
of salt and realize I had special needs due to a lack of resources. I
chose ECOS because it was flexible, open, allowed others to use Open
Source tools (we needed free) and was RT and small. Though I love
using Linux I'm not so sure it's the right OS for my embedded
project. Windows was definitely out of the question.

Still I love all this 'stuff'! I can get PIC's & AVR's with 10/100
interfaces (check out http://www.edtp.com) or the Rabbit (probably other's I
can't remember). Though I am having trouble with soldering pins so
close together that I can't get a hair between them (need to upgrade
my 100W iron ;-).

Yes EmWare is still around.

>
>> - What is the price?
>
>
> Last time I looked, I was noticing that all technology types were
> converging on a price of about $100.

> I think that more recently, the software stacks are winning out.
> once you get embedded SW engineers understanding enough about
> networking, or network sw geeks getting out of their 'can't we just
> add another 512M of memory?'  mindset, it seems that it's not so
> hard to write an internet stack in 32k or so.  One of those big AVRs
> with even more memory should be a piece of cake.

I don't think it's the stack that's the source of the problem. Once
you get going with TCP/IP it's all the other features that spoil you.
NTP, filters, web server, cli, tftp, ... etc (IPV6 ;-). In my HA
controller I'm hoping to work with telnet/CLI, NTP, tftp, and a
web server for the initial phase. I figure that starting with 16M
(once you get past 1 or 2M might as well jump to 16M) of RAM and 16M
of flash. Right now I'm starting off with 1M of static RAM.

>> - Why wouldn't one buy this to put on the shelf "against the day"
>>   (apart from wasting $US80).

I bought it for nostalgia, I have a Z80 starter kit & an EM180 Z80
hardware emulator. Both still work and I can S1 dump Z80 code to make
the blinking lights display :-). I intend to put the ez80 next to it
and do the same thing.

>> - Is this liable to be the price of things to come or a genuine
>>   bargain as they claim (was $US550)
>
>
> The development kit is likely to stay pretty cheap, but perhaps not
> $80.  The people charging $500 for some processor evaluation board
> are the ones who expect to recoup their costs.

They used to sell them for $700! Yikes! One problem I've experienced
was that Zilog was promising embedded Linux and Open Source tools (I
really think they need these kinds of tools) but I don't think they'll
ever do it. The ez80 is a 8/16 bit processor so Linux will be tough.
But I'd still like to see the Open Source tools.

I'm very leery of XP but I have a WIN2K box to run my 'Windows' only
tools. I've heard that we're going to see more tools for Linux and I
hope it's true. I find the Linux environment much easier to work with
(I've been working with Unix for quite some time).

BTW, I don't see Linux as the only tool of the future and it's not the
answer to everything. So let's not get into that flame war. Everything
has it's place (even Windows) and each choice must be made on facts,
opinions and political winds (nasty thing I learned working in a big
company!).

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2003\11\19@042742 by William Chops Westfield

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On Tuesday, Nov 18, 2003, at 09:48 US/Pacific, Neil Cherry wrote:
> > for similar prices you can get something like a dragonball,
> > "internet appliance" x86 clone, or commodity PC that will run
> > several commercial operatings systems, plus several open source
> > operating systems?"
>
> An open OS? I haven't really had a chance to work with it so I guess
> I shouldn't really comment. But I do have the Comer Xinu book (sort of
> open?).
>
I mostly meant the assorted unix clones.

> I chose ECOS because it was flexible, open, allowed others to use Open
> Source tools (we needed free) and was RT and small.
Sounds like fine reasons to me.

> Though I love using Linux I'm not so sure it's the right OS for my
> embedded project. Windows was definitely out of the question.

Why?  For something like a "home automation controller", you don't
necessarily need something "tiny."  A brand new PC can be had for
about $300, and give you enough HW resources to run hugely inefficient
software :-)  true, windows is expensive just for the OS.  but you
probably already have it.  linux or freedos will work fine.  It's
REAL HARD to match the bang/buck of a commodity PC (and of course,
3-generation old PCs can be plucked from select trash cans...)
(available: 90Mhz Pentium I system, HDD, CD, 14inch SVGA monitor.
MSDOS6.22,
W3.1, W95 'update'. Works fine.  Free.  Buyer pays postage.  note that
it's probably not WORTH the postage...  Getting to the point where it's
not worth the space it's taking.  Sigh.)

BillW

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2003\11\19@074258 by Rafael Vidal Aroca
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   Well, i don't know if this will be of any help, but...

   I work on a GPL'ed project that connects a PIC 16F877 to an ISA NIC.
The total cost of the project is much less than US$ 30,00 because you
only need a crystal, a pic and an old nic.

   It implements icmp, ip, tcp, and a very simple web server that
stores pages on pic's flash memory. We're working in many improvements.

   If anyone is interested in helping development, or just using, here
is the url:

   http://picnic.sourceforge.net/

[]s Rafael.

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2003\11\19@105943 by Neil Cherry

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William Chops Westfield wrote:
> On Tuesday, Nov 18, 2003, at 09:48 US/Pacific, Neil Cherry wrote:

>> Though I love using Linux I'm not so sure it's the right OS for my
>> embedded project. Windows was definitely out of the question.

> Why?  For something like a "home automation controller", you don't
> necessarily need something "tiny."  A brand new PC can be had for
> about $300, and give you enough HW resources to run hugely inefficient
> software :-)  true, windows is expensive just for the OS.  but you
> probably already have it.  Linux or freedos will work fine.  It's
> REAL HARD to match the bang/buck of a commodity PC (and of course,
> 3-generation old PCs can be plucked from select trash cans...)
> (available: 90Mhz Pentium I system, HDD, CD, 14inch SVGA monitor.
> MSDOS6.22,
> W3.1, W95 'update'. Works fine.  Free.  Buyer pays postage.  note that
> it's probably not WORTH the postage...  Getting to the point where it's
> not worth the space it's taking.  Sigh.)

We thought of that too, the original HCS & HCS II were ucontroller
boards that were meant to run without the PC (1985 - 1992, at the time
a very expensive device for 1 time costs). Part of the goals for this
project are to have a device that runs without a PC running 7x24, run
a long time on backup power and be as reliable as is reasonable. The
biggest problem with PC's is it moving parts tend to wear out fast.
I've gone through a lot of drives (CD's, hard drives & floppies) over
the years

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2003\11\19@110524 by David P Harris

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Hi-
As per moving parts wearing out - there are quite a few cheap PC type
systems with flash drives, and no moving parts available now.  See
http://www.solarpc.com/, for example.
David

Neil Cherry wrote:

{Quote hidden}

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2003\11\19@110732 by D. Jay Newman

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> William Chops Westfield wrote:

> project are to have a device that runs without a PC running 7x24, run
> a long time on backup power and be as reliable as is reasonable. The
> biggest problem with PC's is it moving parts tend to wear out fast.
> I've gone through a lot of drives (CD's, hard drives & floppies) over
> the years

How about using one of the VIA Epia motherboards and a compact flash
card as a disk? No moving parts and they are inexpensive. Sure, they're
not as fast as a high-powered system, but they can be made so they don't
need a fan! Upload/Install software via a USB drive, disconnect it, and
the system should run fine.

A good source is http://www.solarpc.com/
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2003\11\19@120301 by Neil Cherry

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D. Jay Newman wrote:
>>William Chops Westfield wrote:

Uhm, I wrote this:

{Quote hidden}

David & D. Jay, I wonder how long a compact flash card would last
in a PC with Windows or Linux. You'd have to limit swaps & be careful
of writes. I guess you could take advantage of a RAM fs. It would
be difficult to run something like MisterHouse to accomplish this.
I'm not saying possible.

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2003\11\19@124013 by Herbert Graf

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> David & D. Jay, I wonder how long a compact flash card would last
> in a PC with Windows or Linux. You'd have to limit swaps & be careful
> of writes. I guess you could take advantage of a RAM fs. It would
> be difficult to run something like MisterHouse to accomplish this.
> I'm not saying possible.

       IIRC, Linux has a file system specifically designed for solid state memory
devices that need distributed writes to prolong life. TTYL


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2003\11\19@130129 by D. Jay Newman

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> D. Jay Newman wrote:
> >>William Chops Westfield wrote:
>
> Uhm, I wrote this:

Sorry.

> David & D. Jay, I wonder how long a compact flash card would last
> in a PC with Windows or Linux. You'd have to limit swaps & be careful
> of writes. I guess you could take advantage of a RAM fs. It would
> be difficult to run something like MisterHouse to accomplish this.
> I'm not saying possible.

There seems to be a lot of work in running Linux from embedded systems.

I believe there is a special flash filesystem to increase the longevity
of the flash.

I would use two flash cards: 1 for the read-only parts of the system,
and one for the read/write parts. To my mind that would simplify things
greatly.

Of course, I would probably would only optimize this *after* I got a
system working.  :)
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2003\11\19@144805 by Neil Cherry

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D. Jay Newman wrote:
>>D. Jay Newman wrote:

Your software seems to have a problem with attributes.

>>
>>>>William Chops Westfield wrote:
>>
>>Uhm, I wrote this:

Just pointing out the mistake. :-)
{Quote hidden}

I may give the flash cards a try as I have a PC104 set here. That is
when I get time. ;-) And yes I'd do the same having a hard drive for
testing and a flash card for the final runs.

Thanks for the info on the flash.

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2003\11\19@150047 by D. Jay Newman

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> D. Jay Newman wrote:
> >>D. Jay Newman wrote:
>
> Your software seems to have a problem with attributes.

I'm now copying it the same as it was (no deletions); I'm seeing if it's
the software or myself. I'm using "elm" if it matters.

> I may give the flash cards a try as I have a PC104 set here. That is
> when I get time. ;-) And yes I'd do the same having a hard drive for
> testing and a flash card for the final runs.
>
> Thanks for the info on the flash.

I like flash. No moving parts!  :)
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2003\11\19@152544 by Neil Cherry

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D. Jay Newman wrote:
>>D. Jay Newman wrote:
>>
>>>>D. Jay Newman wrote:
>>
>>Your software seems to have a problem with attributes.
>
>
> I'm now copying it the same as it was (no deletions); I'm seeing if it's
> the software or myself. I'm using "elm" if it matters.

Oh, it has something to do with elm. There may be an option for adding
the correct attributes but I can't remember it.

>>I may give the flash cards a try as I have a PC104 set here. That is
>>when I get time. ;-) And yes I'd do the same having a hard drive for
>>testing and a flash card for the final runs.
>>
>>Thanks for the info on the flash.
>
>
> I like flash. No moving parts!  :)

As long as I don't write it into oblivion I'm happy. Heck if I could
figure out a way to keep the drive and make it reliable (and reasonable
in cost) I'd go that route. :-)

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2003\11\20@002247 by William Chops Westfield

face picon face
On Wednesday, Nov 19, 2003, at 09:58 US/Pacific, D. Jay Newman wrote:
>
>> David & D. Jay, I wonder how long a compact flash card would last
>> in a PC with Windows or Linux. You'd have to limit swaps & be careful
>> of writes. I guess you could take advantage of a RAM fs. It would
>> be difficult to run something like MisterHouse to accomplish this.
>> I'm not saying possible.
>>
There are linux systems designed for things like disk repair or routers
that manage to put an awful lot of utility on a single floppy disk,
which
is uncompressed to a ramdisk where it actually runs from.  Requires
something
like 16M of ram to work, total.  Includes internet utils (but not a full
web browser or server.)

The implication is that you can fit an internet capable linux plus a
sizable
custom application in something like 2M of permanent storage an run it
on an
ancient PC. Shades of DOS, but a lot more modern.

The one I've played a with a bit is "tomsrtbt": http://www.toms.net/rb/

BillW

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2003\11\20@041720 by Alan B. Pearce

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> I like flash. No moving parts!  :)

Oh, you mean there is no raincoat opening and closing :)

Sorry couldn't resist :))

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2003\11\20@044453 by o-8859-1?Q?Tony_K=FCbek?=

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Hi,

Russell McMahon asked:
<snip>
>If one wanted embedded internet capability at some stage:
>
>- What are the alternative "foot in the water" "plug it in and go" web
>capable options at anything like this price?
>
>- What is the price?
>

I know of something quite promising :) (no *real* on hands experience though),

Look here:

http://www.commanderx.com/

Yes that is an complete net i/f, web server, tcp/ip stack housed inside
an RJ45 jacket ! With ttl rs232 output/inouts. Amazing little critter.

From what I gathered during my survey it would be quite trvivial to
use as an serial gateway.

As per march this year 2003 I received this 'price indication':

>The prices for a single XPort is at the moment 46 euros and price for the
>developement kit is 140 euros. Prices for quantities of 1000 and upwards
>will be around 40 euros.

Which is really good IMHO, the price is not very far from an standalone NIC.


/Tony

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2003\11\20@081535 by Vincent Vega

picon face
Thanks a lot for the link!
I've been searching for something like this for a while.
I ordered one right away, so I hope it will be comming
soon.
VV

Tony_K|bek <spamBeGonetony.kubekspamBeGonespamFLINTAB.COM> wrote:


{Quote hidden}

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