>that can't possibly work if you are selling an embedded CPU that is going to be used in thousands of different systems. You cannot possibly imagine all the possible system designs that engineers are going to want to put your CPU into.
Again, you're not producing CPUs but SoCs. They are different - a SoC includes not only CPU but also RAM controller, various IO controllers, video chip, etc.
You can't realistically take a chip designed for WiFi routers and use it to develop a media device. So you need to provide multiple variants with different SoCs and different peripheral devices.
> In any case, needing to buy a >$1K board to mimic the board that will be installed in a <$100 retail product is still wrong.
The first pre-production versions of cars cost literally millions of dollars, even if the final versions are sub-$30k. That's the same idea - mass production lowers the price.