Long Term OLinuXino supply – How it works?


Screenshot from 2019-05-16 14-50-39

We got question from customer of ours: “We are using your A20-OLinuXino in our product and I’ve heard that you are going to stop the production soon, is this true?”

Most of our customers are industrial machine producers and they need long term supply from their vendors. They do certification for their machines which cost a lot and they can’t afford to spend more money every year because the Linux module is not produced or changed. We already wrote several post on our blog that we supply our boards until there is demand for them and that we have long term supply agreement with Allwinner, but some people spread rumors and I have to write it and make it clear again: We will produce OLinuXino boards until there is demand. It’s even included in our GTC.

When back in 2014 I posted that we can supply OLinuXino foreverย many people were skeptical (well yes it is exaggerated ๐Ÿ™‚ ) and wrote back – do not believe Chinese suppliers, they will let you down etc. etc.

Allwinner though is keeping their promise and we can buy all Allwinner SOCs we use without problem. Our volumes allow us to meet their MOQ.

For instance A13 SOC is very old and Allwinner discontinued it several years ago, it’s even not listed on their web as product, but we still keep buying it and producing A13 boards for our customers. We have also many customers which used our boards as template to make their own variants and now we supply them with A13 SOCs so they keep manufacturing them. You will not find A13 for sale anywhere even in China, but we are expecting next lot of 90Kpcs A13 to come from Allwinner in few weeks. Yes we have to order such quantities as Allwinner need 3 month to produce the SOCs from the order to shipment.

Many customers ask can you guarantee 10-15-20 years of supply? I doubt anyone in industry can see so long ahead. Allwinner is young company, founded September 2007, i.e. less 12 years old. Who knows what they will do after 20 years? We see that Western companies with much more history change owners every year and no one knows what the new owner will decide to do, so no one can give you 10-20 years prediction or will simply intentionally or unintentionally mislead you.

For A13 and A20 this agreement works well last 7 years. Both we at Olimex and Allwinner has no reason stop production, which brings money to both of us. We got visit from Allwinner sales manager in March this year and he said that they never though they can sell A13 and A20 for so long time. Most of other SOCs they sell target consumer market where lifetime is 1-2 years top.

Linux and Open Source Hardware works well for them and prolong their sales.

18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. James Chu
    May 16, 2019 @ 15:38:33

    I am also surprised for the long life of A13. In Chinese maker community we tend to use the new and mass product such as Hx, Rx serial Soc.

    Reply

  2. LIME-Fan
    May 17, 2019 @ 00:43:34

    Thumbs up! I am glad we chose the best hardware platform for our products! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply

  3. Nomen
    May 17, 2019 @ 09:26:14

    I hope, you told the salesperson, that some reason for sustained demand might be the chip’s useful featureset (e. g., many other cheap chips lack SATA or CAN) and the public availability of a reference manual. While Allwinner was busy with newer chips after A13 and A20, there is still no successor to either of them (A31 had problematic GPU, IIRC). The newer chips lacked SATA, and there is no flat-pin packaged chip after A13 with more modern core (e. g., Cortex-A7, because A8 lacks hardware virtualization). There are still no ARMv8 chips from Allwinner with the peripherals of the A20. I’m not sure, if they had a chip with large CPU cache after A31. And on and on. Allwinner could come up with new great chips, but has not delivered so far in my opinion. Well, at least, the old ones are still useful, but Allwinner really shouldn’t leave the space for newer designs to the competition. The bad thing is, that there does not seem to be the will to fully support the older models, although they might still be in demand. Testament to this is the recent refusal to provide you information about A20’s TrustZone implementation for chip age reasons.

    Reply

  4. Diego
    May 18, 2019 @ 21:10:08

    What is in general your MOQ for a custmized board or SOM? The background is, im trying to push our subcontractor into the correct direction while brainstorming startted for a new product.

    Reply

    • OLIMEX Ltd
      May 22, 2019 @ 12:23:57

      There is no MOQ, you can order 1 pce, but even for 1000 pcs to make custom board and all the setups for production and test will be more expensive than the ready made mass product, purchased in same quantity. The delivery time will be also longer.

      Reply

      • diego
        May 22, 2019 @ 19:40:15

        Thanks, so as always NRE kills the good ideas… And actually sets the economically sensible MOQ quite high.

        Will discuss it with our supplier.

  5. NGR
    May 21, 2019 @ 12:50:38

    It would be great if you could offer minor customisations to your boards for a tiny fee. Currently your customisation fees are too high for any new product ideas.
    As an example, if you could offer dual ethernet and ability to add NVMe SSD to your LIME boards, it will make an excellent use case in most industrial controller use cases. Volumes shall also increase to incentivise AllWinner to keep supplying the board.

    Reply

    • OLIMEX Ltd
      May 21, 2019 @ 13:05:09

      OLinuXino is OSHW if you think our services are expensive you can do the customizations yourself or hire someone else to do them for you

      Reply

      • NGR
        May 21, 2019 @ 15:02:28

        We have tried that approach. The problem is AllWinner did not provide required support to do the customisation – they sent a form asking for information and then never responded. It could be because of the low volumes. Also, I believe your LIME boards are not designed on KiCad? Hope I am wrong about this – if you can confirm the same, then we will be glad to pick up KiCad files and make required changes.

      • OLIMEX Ltd
        May 22, 2019 @ 08:36:22

        they are not designed in KiCad but KiCad can import Eagle files

      • pboddie
        May 27, 2019 @ 12:56:57

        On the subject of the LIME series board files, from what I have been told (by an expert Eagle user), KiCad can only import the XML output from Eagle. It doesn’t seem that the .brd files in the OLINUXINO repository are that kind of output.

        However, the A64 board designs, already in KiCad format, are useful to look at. Thanks for making those available!

      • OLIMEX Ltd
        May 27, 2019 @ 13:35:51

        the LIME design is made with Eagle 4.61 which we have license for and use, it generates binary files, which can’t be imported in KiCAD, but the freeware Eagle version can open these and once they are opened are automatically converted to XML without even notify you, so all you have to do is to install latest Eagle and open once the files from the GitHub then to import the XML files in KiCad.

    • SK
      May 21, 2019 @ 22:43:30

      NGR, the problem is that modularity/customizability and size are two concerns that will be fighting each other. Olimex could have produced a more modular board, with enough provisions for “minor customizations” without full board redesign (hence also lower cost of customized boards), but then this board would never have been with dimensions close to the LIME series. Also a modular board with whatever set of features (even the most common one) would always be more expensive than one more deeply integrated board, so every customer would need to pay the price of this better customizability (concerning only a fraction of the customers). So things are not that simple.
      I am not a hardware engineer (I am a software one, hah), but these are just some of the things that pop up in my mind. I am sure Olimex could share more concerns.

      Reply

      • OLIMEX Ltd
        May 22, 2019 @ 08:46:55

        Our customization fees are very reasonable and we are always booked for several months ahead for development work, but some people do have quite unrealistic expectations about how much the hardware development cost.

      • SK
        May 22, 2019 @ 23:02:39

        You need to hire more engineers then ๐Ÿ™‚
        Latetly you’ve been pretty quiet with the announcements (and there are quire a few work-in-progress items that we’ve not hear from in a while).
        Don’t restrain your growth ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • OLIMEX Ltd
        May 23, 2019 @ 08:01:16

        we like it as it’s now, more work is just more work and less fun ๐Ÿ™‚

      • SK
        May 23, 2019 @ 13:09:05

        Well, you would be able to do more aweSOM (and fun) things at the same time, no?
        One team to tackle IOT, one for OLinuXinos and SOMs, one for other coll stuff like laptops, FPGAs, etc

    • tkaiser
      May 28, 2019 @ 20:59:16

      You won’t get NVMe on designs that lack PCIe. And so far the only Allwinner SoC with PCIe is the H6 which is a challenge at least with mainline Linux.

      Reply

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