Project: Spectrum | Firmware Update

fubv2

Hi community,

Over the past weeks, we’ve put a lot of effort into showing you how Spectrum physically comes together. From tooling to assembly, we’ve given you a look behind the scenes in factories and a close-up of the components that make up a monitor. But putting together the right parts is only part of the equation. So to start off the new year, we’ll have a look at firmware: the built-in software that lets the various chips and circuits inside the monitor do their job.

The road ahead

With the hardware in an advanced state, much of the work ahead is in firmware (FW) development. It’s not very glorious; there’s not really anything to see, and if the firmware works as it should, then you’d never even notice it’s there. One of our primary focuses between now and the shipping date is making sure it does indeed work as it should!

What it is

Receiving data- and video signals from the ports, scaling, tuning, adjusting the backlight, and many more such features are controlled by firmware in one way or another. And on top of that, the on-screen display (OSD), both its visual elements and its actual function, is part of the firmware.

Many of the integrated circuits within Spectrum have their own firmware, and because of our unique combination of features, we also have a unique blend of circuitry under the hood. Getting all of these chips to play together nicely is a massive task, and especially considering we are using brand-new chips to enable cutting-edge features like HDMI 2.1, a large portion the development has to be done from the ground up.

firmwareupdatekit
Before any of the USB ports worked, updating Spectrum’s firmware required special equipment.

Where we’re at

Even though we are making good progress, there are still many things that don’t work – as intended, or at all. As mentioned, we are focused on growing the list of working features and shrinking the list of known issues! Things we are currently working on include:

Signals

  • Spectrum can’t detect a signal from all compatible devices yet. We keep testing with different source devices such as graphics cards and consoles from different generations and vendors to make sure you won’t have any compatibility issues with your devices when Spectrum ships.
  • The USB Type-B port does not yet work with the built-in hub.
  • HDMI 2.1 is also not yet active. Though all the components in Spectrum support it, getting the standard implemented seems to be a challenge that not just Eve but all manufacturers face at this time.

Power

  • Power regulation is not yet tuned, meaning most components work at full power all the time. This produces extra heat and increases the power draw. As functionality is locked down, their power consumption can be reduced to only what they actually need.
  • The USB Type-C port does not yet allow other devices to charge appropriately.
  • Spectrum does not go into standby mode just yet. Once you plug it in, it’s Spectrum, all the time!

Performance

  • Calibration is not yet implemented, so the color performance is good, but not yet great. Changing certain OSD settings may cause the color or contrast to behave abnormally, which throws color accuracy off significantly and will also need to be addressed.
  • Brightness cannot yet be properly adjusted.
  • Refresh rates cannot yet be set, and variable refresh rate (VRR) is not available yet.

OSD

  • The OSD does not open when there is no signal on the currently active input, and the OSD may fail to open or freeze after a period of use.
  • Many OSD functions are yet to be implemented.
  • The look and feel of OSD are based on the reference design from the chip supplier; no custom design has been implemented yet.

osdcomparison
The manufacturer’s default OSD design on the left, our target design on the right.

So, what is it like to use?

Having used a Spectrum prototype as a daily driver for some time now, I can attest that there is still a lot of work to be done. Any oddities (sudden black flickering across the screen during a gameplay session comes to mind) are immediately documented and forwarded to the firmware developers. Most of the time, the monitor is reasonably well-behaved and a joy to use.

What to expect?

We are aware that the time is limited and will do our best to ensure the final product works flawlessly with all the advertised features. On the positive side, as the firmware is not implemented until the production line, we have until the day of mass production to get these issues sorted and are working tirelessly to do so!

There are now some third-party first impressions out there so you can see what other people think of our progress so far, and of course, we’ll keep you updated on our progress here.

nlbanner

27 Likes

Looks great, can’t wait to use it myself! Just wondering: is ‘the day of mass production’ a set day, or is it flexible depending on what suits EVE?

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It (the day of mass production) is a set day that we are working hard to hit to meet the 26th Feb deadline. In the meantime, we will evaluate if this estimate needs to be revised based on the current firmware status.

12 Likes

Good luck! let’s hope you make it. If not, just keep the flow of communication going like it is now and it’ll probably be fine :slight_smile:

12 Likes

The new OSD looks great compared with the monitor. Looks very clean and organized. Hope you guys address all the issues and I look forward to use this monitor as my primary for gaming and creative work. I appreciate all the hard work you guys put into this monitor and hope it succeeds! #EVEteam

8 Likes

Thanks for this update, I hope any bugs/kinks get all ironed out, good luck Eve team.

6 Likes

Thanks for the update. It does sounds like there is a lot of work ahead. Hopefully it won’t be released prematurely if it’s not ready. Hopefully the QA team is ready for when these updates are complete.

4 Likes

I don’t think OSD look and feel is important, in most cases its a set-once-and-forget scenario

4 Likes

Important question:
Will the firmware be easily user-upgradeable?
Like putting the firmware file on an usb-stick and then flashing it like with a motherboard.
And if it is I hope you implement something that prevents the monitor from being bricked, like a backup firmware which is able to update the firmware even if the previous one installed was corrupted or something like that.

7 Likes

Thanks for this update. From what you describe the task is huge to meet a Mid-February production deadline (if shipping starts 26th Feb). So I will not be surprised if a three weeks delay is announced soon.
Especially the HDMI 2.1 features seem to be depend on a future firmware update. I only hope that you do not implement the faulty HDMI chips (as bultin in 2020 Yamaha and Denon/Marantz AV receivers).

5 Likes

Hey, @Kralle! Welcome!

We are looking into the possibility of letting the end-user upgrade the FW easily as well as open-source FW support. Both of these have been heavily requested in our community.

Putting the FW on a USB stick is one of the methods we consider. The backup FW sounds like a great suggestion, which I will bring to our FW team. :+1:

8 Likes

How many people at eve are currently working on firmware? There seems to be a lot of things to be done + bug fixes. Will these people be working excessive overtime?

4 Likes

Is pixel-perfect integer-ratio scaling (integer scaling) already implemented? How well does it work? Thx.

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Thanks for the update. There appears to be a significant list of issues still to work through which makes me doubt a deadline date of 26th February is possible. If you need to push this date back I wouldn’t mind at all. I would much rather wait and give you guys a chance to get it in perfect operating condition👍

12 Likes

I also agree let’s make this project perfect, not rush it. If your team thinks it’s best to extend the shipping date, then do it. We all want this monitor to be promising and prove what a small company can achieve. It’s ok to delay the shipping date; I would prefer a product that’s not rushed and feels sloppy right outside the box, and I hope everyone can agree with me on this.

If the shipping date needs to get delayed, tell us why and show us what you’re doing during this delay as you are already doing :slight_smile: if it doesn’t get delayed, but it should’ve got delayed, then I believe everyone else would be more troubled at you shipping it in a rush then it being delayed and hopefully more refined because we want this project to be outstanding and if more time is needed to make it even better then what it is right now.
DO IT!!!

Go EVE Team!!! I believe in you guys/gals. We all want this monitor to turn out stupendous!

23 Likes

Please just remember; if it needs more time, give it more time

10 Likes

How can I get involved in development? I have 6 years of experience developing firmware and features for displays and video distribution equipment.

7 Likes

Ability to upgrade / downgrade the firmware would be great!

If you guys make it open source. I have ~10 years of software development experience. Would love to help shape the firmware when I can!

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I would also like to help, I don’t know If i have the right skills, but anyways im a CS-student :slight_smile:

5 Likes

Can the firmware not be updated post production over USB? If not this should be implemented.

2 Likes