Precursor

Mobile, Open Hardware, RISC-V System-on-Chip (SoC) Development Kit

Apr 22, 2022

Xous Book, Stocking Forecast, and Xous 0.9.8 Release Notes

by bunnie

In the first weeks since units shipped to backers, there has been a whirlwind of activity in firmware development. We’re delighted to see such a vibrant community come together — thank you to everyone who has shared their experiences so far with us and the Internet. It really means a lot to us that people are using and enjoying their devices!

True to its name, the Precursor is, well, a precursor to your applications. And we’re already starting to see some applications come together. Already, we’ve seen a lightweight IRC client on the device (thanks gsora!), as well as QR code rendering in modals (thanks nworbnhoj!) as well as on-going efforts to port Signal and TLS to the platform. Because we’re trying to build everything from the ground-up in Precursor, sometimes it feels like we’re boiling the ocean one pot at a time, but we’re also finding that many hands make light work. Thank you to all the developers out there who have already engaged with us and created demos, pull requests, and contributed documentation, and to everyone who has shared warm and fuzzy vibes on social media!

Xous Book

In addition to the wiki, we’re starting to gel documentation into the Xous Book. The book now contains examples of message passing, graphical toolkit elements, as well as some improved introductory material. Documentation is hard but essential work, so thank you to everyone who has contributed material and suggestions on what to cover first. Please keep the feedback coming!

Stocking Forecast

The good news is that units are selling briskly. The bad news is that we’re on trajectory to sell out of the current stock in about a month. The even worse news, as you might expect is supply chain problems. We’re working to try and get a restocking shipment in ASAP, which may give us another couple of months of inventory runway, but demand is high enough that probably sometime in the summer we will be sold out and will continue to be until early next year. This is because orders we placed for key parts last September are currently on track for delivery next Feburary — some parts are 70+ week lead time and the vendors are continuing to push out delivery dates.

In addition to the factory orders we already placed, we’ve been checking the "spot market" (distributors, brokers, gray market) regularly to see if there aren’t opportunities to pull in the lead times. Unfortunately, spot pricing on parts like the FPGA have almost doubled, and we’ve seen 10x increases on some of our power regulators. While the current pricing on Crowd Supply reflects some allowance for price increases, we think most users would rather wait longer than pay multiples on the current pricing, so trying to put together an entire device using gray market parts is out of the question (unless you really want to pay over $1k for a device built out of gray market stock!). Thus, we all have to sit tight until the global electronics supply chain straightens itself out and folks like TI and Xilinx can get around to honoring the standing orders we placed many months ago. This will probably happen sometime after we achieve some combination of peace in Europe, more factories built, tariffs/trade barriers reduced, and/or open borders within most of Asia. So…"not this year."

0.9.8 Release

Here are the release notes for version 0.9.8. We’ve just stabilized it and pushed it to the servers. If you are going to update to it, please remember to do a git pull for xous-core, and make sure you’re on the main branch before running the update scripts. There have been some improvements to the scripts to hopefully increase their reliability for applying the updates.


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