What’s It All About, Linaro? (And What About You, Yocto?)
Amid the lingo of open source software is a new-ish entrant: The Linaro Foundation, which dropped an intersection with cable in the May 29 formation of the “Linaro Digital Home Group,” abbreviated “LHG.”
What’s it all about? On the surface, it’s a way for chip makers, set-top/gateway manufacturers and service providers to manage the complexities involved with moving from one type of silicon chip architecture (“MIPS”), to another (“ARM”).
In at the get-go are Cisco Systems, Comcast, and STMicroelectronics (all active members of the RDK [Reference Design Kit]), as well as Allwinner, ARM, Fujitsu, and HiSilicon.
Lots of moving parts here, starting with why the shift to ARM-based silicon in the first place. Answer: Lower power, higher speeds, smaller form factors. Mobile devices use ARM-based chips, for instance; in-home devices like set-tops and gateways are likely next.
And yes, MIPs v. ARM is a religious architectural debate — not unlike Microsoft v. Apple, in the operating system battles of yore, and Apple v. Android, in today’s techno-landscape. “Going ARM,” for companies accustomed to building MIPs-based silicon (like Broadcom Corp., as one example) usually starts with at least one outburst of “over my dead body!”
What Linaro brings, in general, is “the rest of the story,” from a Linux perspective. Building software products isn’t just writing code — there are points in time where an actual build is required. A “compile.” Important in the lingo of software builds are “active users” — how many people are throwing code into how many “build slaves” in which “build farms.”
Part of every software build involves the best way to ingest what is a usually a torrent of code chunks, coming from all over the place. Thousands of drops, daily. Linaro, in general, manages the Linux distribution of software components for ARM; LHG will extend that into cable-oriented devices.
But wait, there’s more! The Yocto Project, which generally comes up in Linaro conversations as the open source tools software developers use to participate.
In a nutshell: LHG aims to steer the industry further into open source software, and specifically the software related to ARM-based chips, so that the industry can build in-home gear that runs cooler, faster and smaller. Yocto provides the development tools to get there. Off we go…
This column originally appeared in the Platforms section of Multichannel News.