[Community] GTA04A5 RAM + NAND size

H. Nikolaus Schaller hns at goldelico.com
Sat Nov 28 20:08:01 CET 2015

Hi Pavel,

Am 27.11.2015 um 19:50 schrieb Pavel Borecki <pavel.borecki at gmail.com>:

> Hi,
> will GTA04A5 have 512 MB or 1GB of RAM?
> In shop, there is 512 MB stated, but on order tracking, there is a
> message:
> "3. good news: we participated in the risk buy of Samsung 1GB RAM+512MB
> NAND chips (as planned for the Neo900). So you will get 1 GB RAM and
> faster NAND! Twice as much RAM as the GTA04A4 has. It has already been
> tested by reworking a BeagleBoard XM and modifying the OS."
> So, what amount of RAM will be soldered as PoP package?

Thanks for asking! This is one of the things I forgot to mention.

It is also something I am not really sure about yet, but we must decide in the next
couple of days. Chips of both types are available to us so we simply can choose
and have no sourcing problems.

The first issue is that the PoP RAMs with 1GB+512MB have only been tested on
a BB-XM yet. Not on a real GTA04 board. And we have no complete boot system
for it in our software setup. Just some partially manual tests have been done
(e.g write NAND, read back). This means we can't test the boards right after production
because we have no known good µSD card image, because that needs a GTA04
to develop and test the µSD card image first...

A second issue is that we can use OneNAND only with a more recent U-Boot than
we currently have. But this means porting our special U-Boot extensions to a
newer U-Boot and test and get it working first.

This isn't that easy as it looks because we have some 2009 U-Boot as the basis
and the latest is 2015.10 :) Bridging upstream developments of >5 years is a big
project. And the boot-loader should be rock solid. The old one is - except for
supporting the OneNAND of the 1G+512MB chips.

In other words: with 512MB+1GB this is not a risk area at all (because half of
the GTA04A4 boards have this configuration and run w/o any problems).

The 1GB + 512MB increases the project risks.

Another (probably easier to solve) issue for the 1GB + 512MB is that we want
to provide some default Linux+Debian+LXDE (or something else) in NAND for
all GTA04A5 boards we ship. So that you have something to boot into before
partitioning and even buying any µSD card.

Unfortunately we have not yet managed to squeeze Wheezy nor Jessie images
so that they fit into ~450 MB. They end up with ~800 MB.

Therefore they would easily fit into the 512MB + 1GB chips, but not in the 1GB + 512MB.

If someone has an idea how to strip it better down than this script, please let
me know:


(this script already strips unneeded kernel modules and most debian caches).

So we have to trade off between risk and having a working system installed
when you want to test your motherboard exchange results.

I guess everyone has his/her own preferences so that I would like to learn a little
about your opinions before we decide.

BR and thanks,

> Thanks
> Pavel
> H. Nikolaus Schaller píše v Čt 26. 11. 2015 v 18:35 +0100:
>> Hi,
>> waiting time is over. The GTA04 will be available again for a limited period!
>> We are happy to announce that we have organized everything to start preparation
>> of production next week (which means finally sourcing the remaining components, PCBs
>> and preparing everything else).
>> And, we have now been able to calculate a price that covers all cost (don't forget that
>> this project has no sponsor or investor who is willing to cover big losses).
>> For those who are already eagerly waiting, here is the link to the shop:
>> 	<http://shop.goldelico.com/wiki.php?page=GTA04>
>> For all others here a full and lengthy description:
>> === Products ===
>> GTA04A5:	the new motherboards
>> GTA04A4:	while preparing the GTA04A5 project we have found
>> 			a box with a handful fresh and unused GTA04A4 boards.
>> 			Most likely they were put aside for warranty handling and
>> 			then forgotten (because there weren't many warranty
>> 			cases). They are fully tested and working and immediately
>> 			available.
>> Letux 2804	we have collected a handful of used Neo Freerunner devices
>> 			where we can replace the motherboard and thanks to Ch. Pulster
>> 			we also got ~40 sets of plastic parts to build new Freerunner
>> 			cases. We also have enough spare displays so that we can
>> 			build "virtually new" devices from them.
>> Camera modules:	unfortunately we have not found a supplier of a 100%
>> 			compatible module. We did get some samples of more or less
>> 			similar looking ones from China but none works.
>> === Quantities ===
>> The quantities are really limited to 80-100 in total. The reason is that it
>> becomes almost impossible to source all components and for some of
>> them we can't get good replacements. Some others have been in stock
>> for a handful of years and may have weakened. The other important
>> limitation is availability of plastic cases or parts.
>> This means, we will produce ~100 GTA04A5 boards and expect to build
>> ~40 Letux 2804 complete devices and provide ~40 more GTA04A5 boards
>> which you can install in your existing Neo Freerunner.
>> Yes, this will definitively be the last chance to get a GTA04. We will not
>> be able to build more units. Even if you offer to pay twice the price.
>> Well, if demand is high enough and someone finds a good strategy
>> how to compete with the cheap (but yery closed) ~79 € devices with
>> Android inside, we could develop a GTA05 :)
>> === I did a preorder for a GTA04A5 a while ago ===
>> We have recorded it and updated your order for a GTA04A5 board
>> if your preorder was 100€ or more, i.e. counts as a reservation, we
>> have reserved a GTA04A5 for you (from the ~40). You will get a
>> personal "update" mail.
>> If you want to switch to a GTA04A4 or Letux 2804 please contact our
>> shop and we can change it.
>> Since the preorders/vouchers usually do not cover the final price of
>> a GTA04 or Letux 2804, there is an open balance which you can pay
>> by SEPA/IBAN bank transfer. Using Credit card is also possible but
>> needs a trick in our shop software so that you please contact us and
>> we will prepare a CC field for you.
>> === Price ===
>> Oops, why is it so expensive.
>> Yes, that is the price we have from being in a niche and in need of something
>> very exceptional to play with.
>> But if you look at the original preorder page, we were even able to reduce
>> the price below estimates: http://shop.goldelico.com/wiki.php?page=GTA04A5
>> How does this magic work? The main reason is that we have some common
>> components and suppliers with the Pyra <www.pyra-handheld.com> and use
>> the same production company. They are better in reducing cost than the
>> company who did build the GTA04A3 and GTA04A4.
>> You might still doubt and think that we want to rip you off. Therefore I have
>> decided to publish a coarse calculation (always for 1 unit):
>> a) GTA04A5
>> 280€		Component cost
>> +63€		Production cost
>> +52€		HW Development&Project management
>> +50€		Software maintenance funds (see below)
>> ===
>> 445 €
>> +85 €		German sales tax (19%)
>> ===
>> 529 €		price for GTA04A5
>> b) Letux 2804
>> 445 €		GTA04A5
>> +45 €		components for plastics case
>> +94 €		display, battery, box, assembly (time)
>> ===
>> 584 €
>> +111 €		German sales tax (19%)
>> ===
>> 695 €		price for Letux 2804
>> We are not getting rich. But we do something for open source and this community.
>> === Software ===
>> First of all we already have a lot of software available:
>> * boot system
>> * kernel 3.7, kernel 3.12, ongoing kernel 4.3, 4.4-rc2 and later
>> * Debian Wheezy / Jessie images (X11 w/o or with LXDE, XFCE or whatever you apt-get install)
>> * Replicant for GTA04 with access to the F-Droid App-Store
>> * QtMoko (may not run 100% on GTA04A5 because it needs adjustments)
>> * whatever you like to install
>> But we know from experience that especially the kernel is a very crucial component
>> and if the kernel is buggy and does not get fixes and updates it can easily make the
>> device practically unusable with sufficient reliability and operation time from battery.
>> Therefore we have added a software development funds in the price.
>> With this money we want to continue to work on kernel improvements, especially
>> power management, and fixing significant bugs.
>> Our ultimate goal is that this list becomes empty: <http://projects.goldelico.com/p/gta04-kernel/issues/>
>> And remains empty because everything for the GTA04 can be found at kernel.org
>> This is tough work and is not possible to get done by pure volunteers. Volunteers cherry-pick
>> what they see the biggest fun and are happy if it works for them. They usually do not
>> do the less funny bug fixes. Especially if they need a lot of tedious work (compile, test,
>> fix cycle) or review by kernel maintainers is involved.
>> Therefore we think it is the best way that you as the users of the hardware (and software)
>> pay a little amount that we can use to hire freelancers and tell them what has to be fixed asap.
>> Nevertheless, volunteer contributions are also very welcome.
>> === Timing ===
>> The shop has opened now and you can place your orders now.
>> Production is expected to need 6-8 weeks but depends a little on delivery
>> times of components and PCB production. And of course there are quite some
>> upcoming holidays (X-Mas in 4 weeks, N-Y in 5 weeks, Chinese N-Y beinning of Feb).
>> And, we have to test the devices and if anything is not working as expected, we have
>> to repair. So please do not expect that we can ship before end of Feb 2016.
>> === New Features ===
>> The new features of the GTA04A5 (compared to GTA04A4) are mainly:
>> * WL183x WLAN+BT module with 802.11a/b/g/n and BT4/BLE
>> * the GPS receiver can provide a 1 second impulse interrupt to the CPU
>> * the (different) infrared receiver can be independently powered off to save some more mA (it was alternatively powered with RS232 before) 
>> * some sensors have been upgraded to non-obsolete versions (e.g. BMA180 is out of production)
>> * WLAN/BT power controlled through a GPIO (so that VAUX4 is now free for other use)
>> * 10-pin FFC connector for external keyboard or other I2C devices
>> * the GPS antenna switch has been redesigned to switch more reliable
>> * improved headset detection hardware (GPIO instead of ADC)
>> * CPU will be always 1 GHz and Memory 512MB RAM / 1GB NAND
>> We will update the GTA04 manual to describe everything. Final Schematics will
>> also become available (this time as searchable PDF).
>> So again here is the link to the shop:	<http://shop.goldelico.com/wiki.php?page=GTA04>
>> Thats it. Did I forget anything important? If yes, please ask.
>> Finally, I would like to say thank you for your patience with this long-running project.
>> BR,
>> Nikolaus
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