I am finally writing to follow-up on your MOD Duo X pre-order.
Since our last update, we have finally received the twice-delayed coreboards from the manufacturer. While this should actually be good news, the delivery of the coreboards came with an unpleasant surprise, which suddenly and at the very last minute put our production on hold.
Every coreboard manufacturer delivers a so-called Board Support Package. Contrary to advertised, the provided Board Support Package for our brand new coreboards turns out to be incomplete. The SPI infrastructure does not have a complete driver set yet.
We are currently doing all we can to not rely solely on the manufacturer, but instead, explore all options to solve the issue independently. Unfortunately, this means we will not yet be able to ship the Duo X in time with the holidays. We have feverishly tried to resolve the issue and at least ship the first few units before Christmas. We couldn’t, however, manage in the short time available and this renewed delay saddens us deeply.
Let me deviate to explain in more detail. Please bear with me, as this can get a bit geeky.
As with almost every modern device that features a computing processor, we are also using ARM CPUs. These units are called SOC - System On a Chip - because they integrate into a single chip all of the peripherals you find on PC motherboards - USB and other interfaces, Graphics Unit and others. In that sense, there is a myriad of different ARM CPUs, each one with a set of features that fits the use case of the product it will be in. As an example, mobile phones processors have a good GPU whereas Internet Routers processors have multiple network interfaces.
All of these features require a driver, a piece of low-level code provided by the manufacturer, that "explains" to the Operating System how to operate the feature.
One of the features we use is called SPI - Serial Peripheral Interface. It is a type of port used to communicate two separate chips and we use it to make the CV interfaces "talk" to the CPU. What we have discovered, once the boards were here, is that the SPI infrastructure does not have a complete driver set.
One of the things that the coreboard manufacturer must supply is a BSP - Board Support Package. This is a collection of all drivers and other tools that enable us to develop software for the board. Because our board is so new and also because some of the SPIs are used for a possible Touchscreen panel - which is officially not supported yet - the manufacturer has not published full SPI support. From our side, since we are doing full SPI usage, even without a Touchscreen we need the supplier to release the missing bit of drivers.
And where does that leave us?
This is blocking us from liberating our boards for production. We cannot risk shipping an entire batch of devices based solely on the hope that, once the software is in place, it will be fully functional. We need to test it thoroughly before kicking off production. At the same time, we cannot just sit and wait for the supplier to release the missing pieces of code so we’re trying to put in place a self-developed driver that will enable us to at least run severe validation tests.
That’s one of the aspects of innovation: navigating in uncharted territories might bring you upon places not explored so far. In our case, though the hardware is there, the driver for this function was not yet created. Since we’re not the coreboard designers, our means to get this done paint a rather tough quest. Yet, we are going through it.
We cannot thank you enough for your ongoing patience and understanding throughout the wild ride that launching the Duo X has been. We, just like you, are more than eager to finally start shipping and see what amazing results will emerge once the Duo X is in your hands. We can guarantee you that the final result will be well worth the wait. Until then, we’ll be back with another update in January.