[Gta04-owner] Modem firmware update

Dr. H. Nikolaus Schaller hns at goldelico.com
Tue Jan 8 13:33:44 CET 2013

Hi Bob,

Am 08.01.2013 um 12:52 schrieb Bob Ham:

> On Tue, 8 Jan 2013 11:14:03 +0100, "Dr. H. Nikolaus Schaller"
> <hns at goldelico.com> wrote:
>>> Can I remind you again? :-)  Is there any word from Option on a modem
>>> firmware update?
>> Since there have been no major problems and the kernel driver patch
>> appears to work or other workarounds have been found
> I was under the impression that one of the problems was that the modem
> requires polling which drains the battery unnecessarily.  To me this is a
> big issue.  In my eyes, the manufacturer is liable for the problem and
> responsible for fixing it.

AFAIK, this has already been optimized in QtMoko and FSO. And polling
was if I remember correctly only *during* a call to get the status ASAP. I am
not sure if this polling adds any significant battery drain because the CPU
is awake anyways to allow for GUI operation of the phone call.

During sleep mode there is a wakeup from the modem to the CPU each time
someone is ringing or has sent an SMS. This IMHO works as expected.

>> I have not asked
>> any more.
> I'm not clear about your relationship with Option, could you expand a
> little?  You used the phrase "any more", which implies that you've asked

We buy through a distributor who buys at OPTION (or may be even more indirect).

> before and more than once.  Have you asked before?  Have Option responded? 

Our contact point is the distributor and they forward questions forth and back. This
is because we are a "small project" for OPTION i.e. do not qualify for a direct contact.

Look, we have bought approx. 250 modules worth the value of a small car. This
isn't much revenue for 2 years. I.e. we are *not* a big customer.

> If so, what was their response?

They don't have seen the problems we have...

>> And since we still have only a very small number of units, it is
> difficult
>> to move them to do anything special for us.
> What is it that we need Option to do that is special?  I would have
> thought distributing firmware upgrades would be a normal operation.  Do
> Option consider an upgrade to be a special operation?

They have upgrade packages - for some reasons under NDA. And that is
something I can't change. I.e. I can't give away the package to someone
and say: please try what you find.

Technically there is a big issue. To do the upgrade the modem must be
connected to a Windows machine so that the binary upgrader.exe can
access it through a COM port.

There is also an ARM binary variant (named 'android updater'), but that
segfaults on our kernels.

Next, it is no clear what the upgrades really fix. In the documentation they
don't mention a modem-resetting-fixed or no-more-polling-required-fix. In
most cases it appears that Qualcomm has provided them with some changes
in their network stack. But that is my interpretation. Especially for the
polling thing, we think there should be some more automatic status
messages. But that is not a bug it may be seen as a missing feature.
Since it was not promised to anybody to exist, it is not even a missing feature...

There is also another aspect to consider: the latest firmware is called
'major upgrade' to 2.x and I remember that it was mentioned somewhere
that it will remove some features related to some US standards.

Finally, there is no way back from 2.x to which we have. I.e. we
have to risk to break a device if the improvements are not what we
expect. And that where we are already short of devices.

>> It may become a little different if we get enough orders to start
>> production
>> of the A5 boards, because then we most likely get modules with a newer
>> firmware. Then, we can ask for help to field upgrade the older boards to
>> the same level.
> I don't understand why it is necessary to order newer modems in order to
> get support upgrading existing modems.  Isn't the support justified by the
> fact that the existing modems need an upgrade to fix a problem?

That is always a matter of view: they do not know our bug, i.e. they don't
see a need to do any fix. Only if we say: we will buy more, but only if you
help us to fix this and that bug, the *may* do something.

> I appreciate any clarification you can give on this issue.  At the moment,
> it seems like the manufacturer isn't supporting my hardware but it isn't
> clear to me why that is.

Well, it is not only OPTION to blame, it is also me. Looking at the NDA,
seeing that it is very unclear what a firmware modification solves or
does not solve, bigger obstacles for really doing an upgrade (maybe
you would have to send it to me because I am not allowed to give
away an firmware image) and questionable benefit, I simply see it as
a probably unsolvable issue and on low priority. Especially because
we have had a lot of problems with production to solve.

Finally it was clear right from the beginning of the GTA04 project that
OPTION does not provide open documentation etc. to everyone. But
that was the price to get an UMTS module that is thin enough to fit under
the speakers of the GTA02 case. We had to choose between speaker(s),
UMTS and very open documentation.

I do not expect that you agree with everything, but that is the situation.
As open as I can talk about it.


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