Does anyone know when the Librem 5 Batch Fir will be available for purchase or pre-order?
Now. Has been for a long time - but I think you may have to place the order first and then manually make contact with Purism to specify that you want ‘Fir’.
That’s for pre-order however.
As to when it might exist and be available simply to purchase, I could only speculate.
You can preorder Fir right now, but it really hard to predict when Fir will be released.
When I first looked at the i.MX 8M Plus processor that will be used in Fir, I wasn’t very impressed because its GC7000UltraLite GPU has half the cores of the GC7000Lite GPU in the i.MX 8M Quad in Evergreen, and I didn’t think that Fir would be able to take advantage of the new features that it offers. However, I now think that the Plus will be a substantial upgrade over the Quad, because it will improve the two biggest weaknesses in the Librem 5: poor battery life and poor camera performance.
From what I can tell, the i.MX 8M Plus is actually designed for mobile devices and energy efficient operation (hence the weaker GPU and smaller L2 cache). It changes from TSMC 28nm HPC in the Quad to Samsung 14nm LPC FinFET in the Plus, which is a process node designed for energy efficiency. Having a 20% faster CPU (1.5 -> 1.8 GHz) means Fir can get done with tasks quicker and spend more time idling and the smaller process node means that it will use less energy to do the same task as Evergreen.
The i.MX 8M Quad currently has two outstanding silicon bugs in power management:
e11174: CA53: Cannot enter WAIT mode
Description: CA53 platform cannot enter WAIT mode if there is a pending interrupt. If the chip enters WAIT(WFI) mode, the chip requires a reboot to recover.
Workaround: No workarounds. SW should not use WAIT mode.Impact: This mode turns off the power to the SCU (Snoop Control Unit) and the L2 cache. Not having this mode affects only 1 mode of core power savings.
e11171: CA53: Cannot support single-core runtime wakeup
Description: According to the GIC500 specification and the Arm Trusted Firmware design, when a CPUcore enters the deepest CPU idle state (power-down), it must disable the GIC500 CPU interface and set the Redistributor register to indicate that this CPU is in sleep state. In such case, if the CPU core is in WFI or power-down with CPU interface disabled, another core cannot wake-up the powered-down core using SGI interrupt.
Workaround: One workaround is to use another A53 core for the IRQ0 which is controlled by the IOMUXGPR to generate an external interrupt to wake-up the powered-down core.The SW workaround is implemented into default BSP release. The workaround commit tag is “MLK-16804-04 driver: irqchip: Add IPI SW workaround for imx8mq".
One of the big problems with the Quad is that it doesn’t have hardware video encoding, so the best it can encode video is 1080p at 30fps in software. The Plus will have hardware video encoding and there is an example camera kit for it that is capable of recording 4K video at 30fps, so there is hope for much faster image/video processing in Fir and it will be a lot more energy efficient than encoding in software. Since there are mainline Linux drivers for the Hantro H1 video encoder in the RK3288, I hope that we will also get FOSS drivers for the Hantro H1/H2 video encoders in the i.MX 8M Plus. However, I have no idea how quickly the new image signal processor in the Plus will be supported.
Purism will have a strong incentive to switch to the Plus, because it will improve battery life and the cameras. However, I’m not optimistic that it will be able to switch quickly to the Plus for these reasons:
- NXP hasn’t yet released a data sheet or application notes for the Plus.
- The Plus’s volume production was scheduled to start in Q3 2020, but it hasn’t yet started (as far as I know).
- The Plus adds a new neural processing unit, image signal processor, digital signal processor, advance audio and hardware video encoding which need to be added to the mainline Linux driver.
Unlike companies like Intel, NXP does not have a history of quickly supporting its new processors in mainline Linux. It started volume production of the i.MX 8M Quad in Jan. 2018, yet its mainline driver still doesn’t support critical features like the MIPI CSI2 camera interface and suspend to RAM, and it just got DCSS support.
On the other hand, Fir doesn’t need to use many of the new features in the i.MX 8M Plus like the NPU, DSP and advanced audio, so it doesn’t have to wait till these features are added to the mainline driver. Purism probably will want to wait until good power management, the ISP and Hantro H1/H2 video encoders are supported in the mainline driver before it releases Fir, but it might decide to release Fir before there is support for those features.
Another issue is that the i.MX 8M Plus removes DisplayPort (which is supported in the i.MX 8M Quad), and only provides HDMI, which currently requires a binary blob. I assume that the DRM support being implemented in the mainline driver will be able to eliminate the need for that HDMI binary blob, but it is unclear when that will come. If the blob can be eliminated, then Fir can add an extra chip to convert from HDMI to DisplayPort alt-mode. Otherwise, it will have to add a chip to convert from LVDS to DisplayPort alt-mode.
Given the fact that NXP has been slow to add support for i.MX 8M in mainline Linux, I think that late 2021 is probably the soonest that we can expect Fir, but that is just a wild guess on my part. Another factor is the finances at Purism, and how much the company can invest in designing a new board. Fir might get delayed for financial reasons.
I wonder what tree name they are going to use for the “G” batch? (It may have been mentioned somewhere, if so I didn’t notice.)
As far as I know, it hasn’t been mentioned.
There are countless resources on the internet available to suggest trees whose name starts with G.
My suggestion would be Gum or Ginkgo or Gordonia or Gardenia or Grevillea.
But maybe we should have a product before worrying about the name. …
Well anything but the Ginkgo. Remember the berries of the female tree emit a bad smell and it came from China. That would be poor marketing in these times.
But it’s the only genus in phylum Ginkophyta! That’s awesome!
In making my suggestions above, I assumed that it needs to be filtered down to single word names of limited complexity e.g. Giant Sequoia, Gymnanthes, Glyptostrobus don’t really cut it.
I think “gumbo-limbo” is the perfect name when the development becomes a sticky mess and your dev team is in limbo. Then, it can be renamed as “gum” when the project get stuck or “ginko” when it becomes putrid and stinky. Of course, in the end the project becomes “guava” when everything thing turns out sweet in the end.
It is probably best to skip G all together and go straight to H, because the poisonous “hemlock” is so much better!
Don’t go NATO on us like they did for Soviet airplanes. One syllable for propeller driven, two if it was a jet. How would that work for phones? One syllable if a U.S. modem, two if international?
My 2 cents:
My impression of the initial announcement was that batch Fir should really be interpreted more like Librem 5 v2, rather than just another batch. I wouldn’t expect Fir before late 2021or even 2022.
I’m also not sure to what degree they will continue the batch release model for future revisions. It seems to me like they will probably have gotten most of the experience they need from the Librem 5 v1 to be able to skip the fanfare of the different test batches. Though I suppose if people still wanted to buy the test batches for future revisions, then maybe they would still sell them.