Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Week In Memes...

I think switch chips in wireless routers are going to be the bane of my existence.  I spent this weekend trying to document the Realtek RTL8366SR switching chip that is in my new Netgear WNDR3700 wireless router.  Basically I am documenting the chip's internal registers from the smattering of Open Source and datasheets that are related to the RTL8366SR.  Why am I doing this?  Well, I am not convinced that OpenWrt's driver for the chip is entirely correct. I found one or two issues with it already, and in looking at their documentation it is clear to me that they were also working from an extreme scarcity of documentation.  In fact, the OpenWrt folks didn't even realize that the chip is a RTL8366SR (they thought it was an 8366S, which has some significant differences).  What made me realize that we were dealing with that specific piece of hardware is that I can see from the traces on the PC board that the WAN port is connected to the switch chip, and it appeared that the second Ethernet port on the WNDR3700's SOC was connected to the switch chip.

It turns out that one of the features that the RTL8366SR is that it provides a 5th PHY (10/100/1000BaseT Ethernet port) that can be either used as a 5th switch port or connected to the CPU via a second RGMII port.  In this case, they route it to the second RGMII port (coming up as eth1 under Linux) which provides some measure of additional security and performance for the WAN port.  The first RGMII port on the switch chip is what the OpenWrt coders called the "CPU port" and is actually treated as the 6th port (p5 in zero-based nomenclature) on the switch.  The second RGMII port is ONLY available as an interface to port 5 (p4) if that port is configured out of the switch fabric (according to a preliminary spec sheet I was able to dig up on the Internet, for the exact purpose the router uses).

In any case, the driver developers didn't realize this and made a fair number of assumptions about the chip that are somewhat wrong.  My goal is to produce a document that accurately represents the chip registers like I would have gotten from the official Realtek datasheet if I could get my hands on one, and then fix the driver accordingly.  Despite some incorrect information in the driver source code, it was an excellent base for understanding enough about the chip to be able to extrapolate some of what I needed based on what I know.  I wonder how in the world they were able to get so much information without the actual datasheet.  Unfortunately, I am discovering that this router is suffering from the same lack of information than my previous router did.  Sigh.  Realtek and Broadcom:  WHY OH WHY do you require a non-disclosure agreement and be a "development partner" to get a datasheet?!  This makes no sense.  There is no IP in a datasheet - just the information that allows one to use the friggin' chip!

It has been hotter 'n hell down here in Texas for the past couple of months.  I don't mean like, "You live in Texas, you should expect it to be hot," kind of hot.  I mean day after day of 100 (or near-100) degree temperatures since May.  I think we had one day since then with any significant amount of rain (we had a sprinkle or two a few mornings back).  The drought is serious at this point where I anticipate some draconian water restrictions coming.

When it gets this hot outside, I really can't say I feel much like going anywhere outside of the air conditioned house.  Today I thought about going for a ride in the country in the car, but just driving around in this heat even with an air conditioned car seems kind of pointless.

I have been following the YouTube musings from a gal who calls herself "Bionic Dance" (her real name is Kate).  She has been trying to explain to people why babies are atheist.  This has prompted a series of responses from people who think etymology is the study of hearing one's self babble endlessly without thinking.  Kate has been trying to get people to understand that effectively people are born without a belief in a god, and therefore our default position in life is being atheist.  We must learn to have a belief in a god, and become a "theist" as that learning takes place.  The reason why is simple:  The word "atheist" means "without belief in a god" - in other words, not a theist.  This is important for two reasons:
  1. Getting people to understand that atheism is simply without belief in a god (and not satan worship or baby killers or some other such nonsense) is the first step toward all of us being able to coexist.
  2. It doesn't matter what you are talking about, if a person or thing or animal does not believe in a god for any reason whatsoever, then by definition they are atheist.  It doesn't have a negative, positive, or any other connotation.  It just is.  It's like saying, "I have blue eyes."  You know the definition of blue, and what eyes are, and when you look at the color of my eyes, you see blue.
The big controversy comes from religious people (and I think even a few dense atheists) who disagree with Kate that babies are born atheist.  Heaven help that when a baby comes out of a bible-thumping theist the little tyke is atheist.  But, really, there is nothing wrong with that.  As soon as the little spawn is old enough for same theist to indoctrinate him or her with their nonsense, the poor kid, not knowing that their parent is running on automatic, will probably believe it, and no longer be atheist.  However that isn't good enough.  That's because religious types want to believe that absent of any intervention that somehow their offspring will magically believe as they do, for to not do so would make them defective in some way.  Actually, the truth is that their offspring is more likely to believe in the monster under their bed or the evil monkey in the closet than their parents' god without the proper teaching.

The battle over religion vs. atheism seems to be coming to the forefront more and more lately, and more and more I see lots of misinformation being passed around (aside from the superstition making up religion itself).  Watching a show on PBS, I saw a country singer who recently "came out of the closet" declare that the USA is a "Christian nation."  Yet another person who paid no attention in history class and has never looked at the Constitution, or is simply spouting something they heard from someone else that they never verified.  It makes me wonder how long I can handle the ignorance and stupidity that is around me.  Yeah, folks, I'm not perfect and I don't know everything, but when I hear people fight with "Bionic Dance" over the meaning of "atheist" without a rational thought whatsoever, I have to wonder how in hell I ended up in this world.

For what it's worth, Kate, I'm with you!

(courtesy of memebase "Rage Builder")

In spite of all this, I've been listening to "K-Earth Classics" (oldies pop from the 1960s) from Los Angeles on my Roku, which is a great station.  I actually lost track of the time and need to get to sleep...since the alarm and my cat will be waking me up in the morning, and this time it really will be time for work!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This isn't what you wanted:

http://realtek.info/pdf/rtl8366s_8366sr_datasheet_vpre-1.4_20071022.pdf