OMAP and DaVinci Software For Dummies - THE book for beginners:
Since a couple of weeks (or probably more), www.beagleboard.org has had a mention about a book called "OMAP and DaVinci Software For Dummies". The companion website was pretty impressive too. Especially since Me was an absolute novice when it came to OMAP or any of TI's products, excepting the recent experiences with Beagle. Proceeded to order it thru myTI, expecting that it might cost me, that too in dollars. Was pleasantly surprised to see that the order went through without a mention of any charge at all.
A couple of weeks later, this nice little book dropped into my mail box. About 106 pages in all, it was written for absolute novices - who knew nothing about OMAP or DaVinci. And that, precisely, is what Me needed at this juncture.
The reading experience was a cruise. Took about a couple of hours of my train journey from Bangalore to Hyderabad. Apart from covering all major aspects of OMAP and DaVinci, this book also featured a good set of cartoons at few places - my fav one being "The 5th Wave" by Rich Tennant - "Oh come on... how fatal can it be?". Here's a copy of the cartoon - all credits to Rich Tennant. The authors - Steve Blonstein and Alan Campbell - did a pretty good job at striking a right balance between keeping the language simple and yet driving home the point about how sophisticated this stuff is. Worthy of mention are the icons that draw the attention of reader to some specific tit bits of information. There are a lot of TLA's dispersed around in the book - but are just right in volume - atleast Me didn't get driven away mad. ;-)
The book has three parts:
The first part starts with a good discussion about how multi-core architectures have come to be of such prominence in today's world, introduces the OMAP and DaVinci platforms, discusses the operating systems and kernels available, the various standards that TI had come up with to make the lives of developers easy and the software frameworks in place for these platforms.
The second part walks the reader through a hands-on. If followed through, the reader can end up with software that utilizes the video and audio parts of OMAP processor.
The last part - gather that this is a standard feature of all For Dummies books - gives very useful information - TI's recommendations for Codecs and pointers to resources that will help developers.
OMAP and DaVinci Platforms:
OMAP and DaVinci SOCs are hybrid in nature - they typically contain a GPP (General Purpose Processor) and a DSP (Digital Signal Processor). The task scheduler for the DSP is a lightweight scheduler called DSP/ BIOS. The For the GPP the SOC leverages the wonderful world of Linux (other operating systems can also be ported though.)
DSP/BIOS - there is apparently a perennial discussion about if this is actually an operating system or if it is a scheduling kernel - is ideal for the real time DSP task scheduling due to its key attributes - high scalability, high speed and low latency. The book prescribes Linux - community based or the commercial ones - as the right platform that can leverage the GPP in these SOCs to the best possible extent.
TI seems to have done tremendous work in the world of Codecs and addressed a lot of problems related to inter-operability, packaging and deploying quite efficiently. XDAIS, XDM, RTSC etc., seem to give a system integrator the freedom to try various Codecs and the scalability to switch between platforms easily.
TI apparently also has a whole lot of supporting software for these platforms - various VISA codecs, DVSDKs, Code Composer Studio, QualiTI, packaging tools - that make the lives of a system integrator far easier that what it was before. The best part, most of these software are available free for the community. The platform specific packages, Me gathers, leverage the potential of open source communities to a good extent.
All in all, a wonderful book for beginners. A perfect ten on ten for the way the material is presented - simple and interesting. Gave me a good list of things to try on Beagle. A must for everyone starting off on OMAP or DaVinci platforms.
Me's never bothered to check, so far, what TI has been upto with its products, in detail. The more Me learns about their products and their passion towards keeping things open - Me's becoming quite a fan of TI.
Dummies Book online: www.ti.com/dummiesbook