Mill Computing, Inc. Forums The Mill Architecture A suggested market for the Mill…

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  • JonathanThompson
    Post count: 11
    #3025 |

    I’ve had a 2018 Subaru Outback for about 40 days now, and it has (as far as I know) 27 computers/microcontrollers of some form in it. I’ve read about people that have their car batteries run down due to all the power used while the car just sits, waiting for people to use it: I’m sure this is a common issue amongst many modern cars with the keyless entry and their infotainment systems.

    I’ve observed that after I turn off the car, and I’m listening to the entertainment system just play my music from my iPhone, after a minute or so, I hear the whirring down of a cooling fan shutting off: wait, now we’re driving around with computers in our dashboard that need to have a cooling fan work for the lifespan of the car??? The infotainment system/nav has 50 pages of copyright/license notices: I’ve checked! It’s a full-blown Linux distribution with a GUI. Gone are the days when only micro controllers were used under the hood of cars.

    In addition to that, there’s also the EyeSight functionality, which I’m not 100% certain how that’s implemented.

    What all this has in common is there’s a need for quite a bit of computational capacity and, ideally, something that wouldn’t need cooling fans (all cooling fans eventually die: why worry about having one, when you don’t need one?) and nobody that doesn’t work on the car itself knows or cares about which CPUs/micro controllers are used: as long as it works reliably, and never needs to be replaced, that’s an implementation detail everyone is more than happy to be blissfully unaware of.

    With the scalability of the architecture, frankly, for the infotainment system which includes the backup camera, it likely can go with the cheapest, lowest-end member, but perhaps you’d want the top-of-the-line system for handling autonomous functionality. There’s also the factor of the secure nature of the chip with its architecture for IPC, etc. that puts it in good stead, even with lousy programmers 🙂

  • Ivan Godard
    Post count: 689

    I agree that automotive is a suitable home for the Mill. Unfortunately, “suitable” and “saleable” are not synonyms, and we would need to partner with a vendor already in that space. It’s one path we are exploring.

  • Validark
    Post count: 21

    A well-placed tweet woofe (is that what sound doge’s make?) at Elon Musk might be enough to get it in Teslas, haha.

    I think another great market would be e-ink devices (e-readers and note takers). Elimisteve remarked in the forum that phones and tablets spend most of their battery on screens and that a more efficient CPU wouldn’t necessarily give massive gains. Although I’d still prefer to have a Mill-backed phone, e-ink devices are an interesting, niche market where screens generally take a lot less power. Battery life is typically measured in weeks, not hours or days. From what I can surmise, power consumption of the CPU is difficult to balance against the ideal high performance chips that ideally would be in these devices. I follow what devices come out and what companies are in this space and I have seen a lot of marketing materials for high-end devices where the beefier CPU is the second selling point, behind the screen type, of course. These devices all want to reduce input latency (and improve speeds in general) but none of them can compete with the dedicated monitors from Dasung due to CPU/power limitations (Boox has standalone monitors too but aren’t able to squeeze the same performance out of an identical panel). This is also a space where a lot of devices have custom Linux OS’s, although many do use Android, for those who want to “side-load” Android apps to get more functionality outside of what the device ships with by default. Could this be an opportunity for the Mill?

    Companies include SuperNote, Onyx Boox, ReMarkable, Kobo, Pocketbook, BigMe, of course Kindle and Nook, Sony, Huawei, Fujitsu Quaderno, Bookeen/Vivlio (just learned of this one just now), Lenovo, and if you check goodereader you’ll find there are even more companies that cater exclusively or at least mainly to the Chinese market. Dasung has released some non-monitors too but thus far they are known for not investing in good software.

    I’d be surprised if all of these companies passed on the Mill. I think the Mill should be a good fit for these devices that want more horsepower but better power efficiency.

    • Ivan Godard
      Post count: 689

      Mill is a general purpose architecture. The business model is for us to sell to the companies that build such products, not to build such products our self. Some of your listed companies might indeed be customers eventually; whether any would find a compelling reason to invest in building their own processor capability is questionable. Yes, Apple did- but CPUs are a competitive point for Apple. Most others have little competitive reason to innovate in something that is not a selling point, unless and until some of their competitors already have. They will wait until Mill reaches COTS status.

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