[Tinkerphones] GTA04A5: good news and bad news

H. Nikolaus Schaller hns at goldelico.com
Wed Feb 22 15:49:53 CET 2017

let's start with the good news.

1. Yesterday GTA04A5 boards have been produced.

2. We have a Letux 4.10 kernel which is really good
and can be used as the basis for future OS development,
e.g. Replicant and QtMoko.

3. I managed to get a new GPS chip driver working, which
has a better chance to go upstream.

But now the bad news.

-1.: Only 12 out of 36 (*) GTA04A5 boards we
have produced, are booting to Linux. The others either have a
short circuit under the OMAP (which is the general PoP soldering
problem we already know since the first generations of the
GTA04) or the OMAP shows no response or does not recognise the
µSD card for unknown reasons.

Unfortunately this yield of ~33% is not enough to avoid a financial
fiasco, because we now have to pay for each good board approx.
three times as much as it was planned.

Hence we aborted production and it will not be continued.
It simply does not make sense to waste more money for getting
so much bad boards.

Instead we will try to repair some of the non-working boards
with using the components already bought.

Sadly, this also makes it really the last GTA04 batch which will
ever be built (making these GTA04A5 boards rare collectibles).
Unless someone spends us enough money to make more experiments
with OMAP3 PoP soldering.

This situation makes me assume a very high risk for the Neo900
project, since it uses exactly the same CPU and RAM/NAND PoP
chip as we have on the GTA04A5. And it was planned to use the
same production company and line. This means if we can't
get it soldered for the GTA04A5 by a company with >10
years experience and >150 projects per year, it is unlikely
that they will try again and be more successful for the
Neo900. They already nick-name this chip combination
"unsolderable chips". And it is also unlikely to find someone
else who can do it better without making ex(p+t)ensive experiments.
So the best for Neo900 would be to change the CPU/RAM chip.
But AFAIK, one of the key ideas is to use Maemo/Fremantle
which is closely tied to the OMAP3 architecture.

What will be the next steps for the GTA04A5?

1. I will test the boards we have and make 3 bins:
A) good (let's hope that the 12 do not have other bugs making them unuseable)
B) needs to try some repair
C) does not seem possible to repair

2. We will repair what can be done and then I know
how many good units we really have got

3. I will try to get as many pre-orders fulfilled
sorted by order date.

4. We hope that someone can help to fill the financial
gap. Well, this does not necessarily mean a donation
but if you know a project that is in need and can pay
an engineering team like we have, please contact me.

BR and sorry to have no better good news,

(*) The attached photo shows the 36 boards plus 4 produced in the
first runs end of last year

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