But what about a non-hardware reference design -- should this also come with a cost involved or -- if using the design involves your purchasing that vendor's components -- is it more appropriate for the reference design to be provided for free?
But they are available for free. Scroll down to the bottom of the Alameda page and you will find "Hardware files" for free download. You don't even have to register.
I realize that now. And, in fact, my question "should non-hardware reference designs be available for free" was not targeted at the Maxim folks.
The thing was that when I first saw their announcement, it wasn't obvious that there was a hardware component -- they just waffled on about schematics and layout files and then said "call to see howe much it is"
It was only when I really got into it that I realized that hardware was involved and that indeed the schematics could be downloaded for free -- but by then my mind was thinking about reference designs in general, so my question was more general in nature along the lines of "should any reference design from any vendor that does not have associated hardware be mnade available for free" -- my bad that I didn;t word this better.
Free reference designs are important because smaller clients are becoming bigger portion of revenue stream for bigger companies with each year. And most of them will be manufacturing products for themselves, rather tham OEMing.
I have usually found the opposite to be true. In particular, I've found Linear Technology has excellent reference designs and demo boards. Remember, the quicker a vendor can get a part working in a customer's design, the quicker orders for those parts start rolling in. It's to a vendor's advantage to make designing with the part as easy and reliable as possible.
I don't think "NEVER" is a fair comment, I have had a number of issues with various circuits from different manufacturers, but I have also had very good ones. Also condsider some integrators actually buy a bunch of OEM modules and stitch them together for an actual final product, so I'm inclined to disagree with you on a few fronts.
Me too -- I was building up to a very righteous indignation (and I'd almost finished the column) when I discovered the reference designs themselves were free -- it was the hardware that cost -- so I was left foaming at the mouth with nothing to foam at LOL
@Betajet: "I've found Linear Technology has excellent reference designs and demo boards"
I totally agree!! About 5 years ago I was involved in the design of an embedded Linux system and the deadline was in danger. I used Linear Technology components in the board power system design, despite the fact that some providers had offered me cheaper alternatives.
What was the point about doing this? My Linear's FAE sent me some specific linear reference design and associated dev kits and I just copied the main layout features. Zero-risk design and fast time-to-market worth the little BOM cost increase!!