Raspberry Pi Linux Computer Will Have Fast GPU For The Price

Subject: General Tech, Systems | January 26, 2012 - 11:45 AM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, linux, htpc, hd, gpu, broadcom

As reported earlier, the Raspberry Pi is a small computer intended to run Linux and is made to be portable and able to be powered by USB. The small board is based on the Broadcom BCM2835 chipset, which includes an ARM 11 CPU and a dual core VideoCore IV graphics card co processor. The Raspberry Pi further includes connections for HDMI, component output, and USB ports. The higher tier $35 model will further feature an Ethernet jack and twice the RAM (512 MB).

Raspberry Pi.jpg

The Raspberry Pi will soon be available for sale and if the company behind the device- The Raspberry Pi Foundation- is to be believed, the GPU in the little Linux computer will pack quite a punch for its size (and cost). In a recent Digital Foundry interview with Raspberry Pi Executive Director Eben Upton reported on by Eurogamer, Upton made several claims about the Raspberry Pi’s graphics capabilities. He explained that the Broadcom BCM2835’s VideoCore IV GPU is a tile mode architecture that has been configured with an emphasis on shader performance. Upton said “it does very well on compute-intensive benchmarks, and should double iPhone 4S performance across a range of content."

The comparison to the iPhone 4S relates to his further claims that the Raspberry Pi GPU is the best on the market and can best both the iPhone 4S’s PowerVR (Imagination Technologies) based graphics and even the mighty Tegra 2 in fill rate performance. Rather large claims for sure; however, we do have some independent indication that his claims may not be wholly inflated. The coders behind XBMC, open source media center software that allows users to play a variety of media formats, have demonstrated their XBMC software running on the Raspberry Pi. They showed the Raspberry Pi playing a 1080p blu ray movie at a smooth frame rate thanks to the Broadcom GPU being capable of 1080p 30 FPS H.264 hardware accelerated decoding. You can see the Raspberry Pi in action in the video below.

The little Raspberry Pi is starting to look quite promising for HTPC (and even light gaming) use, especially for the price!  At $25 and $35 respectively, the Raspberry Pi should see quite the following in the modding, enthusiast, and education community.

Source: Eurogamer

Raspberry Pi's ARM Powered Linux Computer Enters Manufacturing

Subject: General Tech | January 12, 2012 - 08:15 AM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, linux, computer, arm

The UK based charity behind the Raspberry Pi Linux computer, the Raspberry Pi Foundation, announced in a blog post that the two ARM 11 powered Linux computers have entered the manufacturing stage and are that much closer to going on sale. The two models, Raspberry Pi A and B, will be $35 and $25 respectively. The difference between the tow models is that the cheaper model A board has half the RAM at 128 MB and lacks an Ethernet port. Both models have an HDMI and analog RCA video output along with a USB port to attach a mouse and keyboard.

Raspberry Pi.jpg

The charity elaborated that while they tried to find a manufacturing partner in the UK, they ran into cost and logistical issues. Specifically, tax and import laws in the UK requires any electronic components to be subject to import tax, making importing components into the UK and manufacturing it from within an expensive proposition. The Raspberry Pi Foundation was able to find a manufacturing plant that could produce computers for them at or above break even prices; however, they would not be able to produce enough units to meet demand- only a few hundred instead of the estimated 10,000 units the charity wanted. Further, because the manufacturing plants could only produce a few hundred units a month the release date would be months away instead of the 3 to 4 week turnaround offered by Chinese and Taiwanese manufacturing plants.

In the end, the charity chose to produce the Raspberry Pi computers outside of the UK in order to keep costs down and meet the release and quantity expectations. They will then use the savings to invest in further research and development and expanding the organization.

Are you guys going to purchase the Raspberry Pi computer when it comes out?

Source: Raspberry Pi

How the performance under Linux has changed for Intel's integral GPU

Subject: Processors | January 5, 2012 - 05:12 PM |
Tagged: westmere, linux, ironlake, Arrandale

It has been a busy year for Phoronix as not only have they had a lot of hardware to review, also Linux developers have been quite busy this year updating drivers and the base kernel.  They decided that the beginning of 2012 was a perfect time to reflect on the effects of these changes, specifically the graphics driver that powers the Intel Core i3-330M.  The results are mixed, with one driver version excelling in a single task but lagging in others.  On the plus side, the performance never stays consistent which gives hope that there is still room for improvement and the performance has not plateaued.

ph_330M.jpg

"Back in December I posted historical Intel Sandy Bridge benchmarks looking at the graphics performance over the course of 2011 that this latest-generation of Intel hardware has been supported under Linux. In this article are some similar Intel OpenGL benchmarks of each quarter going back to the end of 2010, but this time it is for the previous-generation Intel Ironlake hardware."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

 

Source: Phoronix

Linux powered Sandy Bridge notebook from ZaReason

Subject: Mobile | December 2, 2011 - 02:55 PM |
Tagged: linux, ZaReason, Strata 6880

The stats on the ZaReason Strata 6880 are quite nice, a Core i7 2630QM, 8GB of DDR3, a 128GB Super Talent SSD and a GeForce GT 540M to power the 15.6"1920 x 1080 display.  The real shocker is the price, $850 which is in part thanks to the lack of a Windows OS license as well as the hidden cost of the crapware that notebook vendors love to shove onto all of their products.  You might want to pick up an external drive to go with the laptop as 128GB is not a huge amount of space, though it certainly will be fast.  Head to Phoronix for a look at this laptop, which they have been benchmarking for quite a while now as you can see from the links on the last page of this short overview.

pho_zareason.jpg

"You may have noticed several Phoronix articles in recent weeks using a ZaReason notebook built around Intel's "Sandy Bridge" processor. This is one of the new notebooks from ZaReason that had been in our labs for testing. Here is a last look at the Strata 6880 notebook from this Linux-focused PC vendor."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

 

Source: Phoronix

Linux Mint Rising In Popularity And Surpassing Ubuntu For Top Spot

Subject: General Tech | November 26, 2011 - 04:53 AM |
Tagged: Unity, ubuntu, mint, linux, katya

Linux Mint Is On The Rise

Ubuntu has long been the popular choice when it comes to Linux distributions. The open source operating system even managed to be picked by large computer OEM Dell for the company’s netbooks and select desktop computers at one time. As far as free alternative operating systems go, Ubuntu was the top choice of many Linux users. Lately; however, the distro seems to be declining in popularity. According to ZDNet, Pingdom has gathered Linux market share data from the past few years and found that the once popular Ubuntu OS has given up a great deal of ground to competing distributions. In particular, Linux Mint has risen to the 11% usage level that Ubuntu held at its prime versus Ubuntu’s current 4% market usage in 2011.

linux-mint-11.png

Linux Mint 11's desktop.

Interestingly, Linux mint started at 0% adoption in 2005 versus Ubuntu’s 11% in that same year where it would grow to 4% in 2007 and grow slowly to 5% in 2010. From there, the adoption grows rapidly to it’s current 11% market usage as of November 23rd 2011 (based on DistroWatch ranking data).

Linux Mint 11 is a very respectable and speedy distribution and is comparatively very media friendly and easy to use out of the box for newcomers. These qualities likely have contributed to the operating system’s place on the Top 5 Linux Distribution list.

24-11-2011-14-39-03.png

Wait- What Happened To Ubuntu?

Ubuntu gained fame due to its friendliness to newcomers, casual users, and enthusiasts/power users alike. Adrian Kingsley-Hughes over at ZDnet notes that the operating system’s popularity is wavering. Linux Fans have cited Ubuntu’s recent interface overhaul-dubbed Unity- as a possible source of the decline in popularity. Kingsley-Hughes believes; however, that in the latest iteration(s) Ubuntu has spread itself too thin by attempting to appeal to too many people at once.

Install_8.png

The Ubuntu 11.10 installation.  One of several slides on everything that is packed in tight in Ubuntu.

On that point I think he is correct. Ubuntu has been attempting to become the Windows equivalent of the Linux space. This goal in and of itself is a noble one; however, it also goes against the grain of the “ideal Linux OS” (meaning the OS that users want to use). Linux itself is (by comparison) a niche operating system, and within that general term spawns numerous Linux distributions that are even further niche and highly specialized products and user experiences.

I have to concur with Mr. Kingsley-Hughes on this one, even with my own personal lackluster (or “meh” in less technical terms ;) ) opinion of Ubuntu’s Unity it’s not bad or difficult enough to get rid of to cause such a drop in usage. The inherent purpose and goal of a Linux distro is to be a highly specialized and customizable user experience that is easily tailored to a specific users’ wants and needs. Ubuntu is falling out of favor with many Linux fans due to it trying too hard to appeal to everyone in a “jack of all trades, master of none” method instead of the perfect distribution for each individual aspect that makes Linux so appealing to users to begin with. Many design and under the hood changes have taken place in Ubuntu to accommodate the mainstream Linux goal(s) and in doing so a lot of users and configurations aren’t as easily obtained with Ubuntu anymore. There’s now more programs included by default and more programs running to maintain the something for everyone system, and that is not what many Linux fans want out of their distributions. They want a distro that only does what they want with as minimal of resources as possible while still being productive for example.

What are your thoughts? Is there a reason for Ubuntu’s decline or is the distro’s time in the spotlight simply over (for now at least)? Have you moved on from Ubuntu? You can read more about the Linux usage data here.

Source: ZDnet

Running Cool 'n' Quiet under Linux with AMD

Subject: Processors | November 23, 2011 - 01:47 PM |
Tagged: amd, bulldozer, cool 'n' quiet, Turbo Core, linux, fx-8150

AMD's Cool'n'Quiet feature, which lowers your CPU core frequencies when they are not under heavy usage has been around for a while, but Phoronix though it was time to revisit the Linux support for this feature and Turbo Core as we have a brand new architecture to test.  They fired up the FX-8150 again, running under Ubuntu 11.10 with the Linux 3.1 kernel and started benchmarking.  Their results show that AMD's power saving features are still working well under Linux, better when using single threaded applications than with multi-threaded but still worth enabling for those who want lower heat production and energy consumption.  It is hard to say how much you will save on power though, as the software Phoronix used to measure, fam15h_power, never budged from the 125W mark even when the system was pulling less power from the wall.

phoronix_cnq.jpg

"For those wondering about the impact that AMD's Cool 'n' Quiet and Turbo Core technologies have under Linux for the latest-generation Bulldozer processors, here are some tests illustrating the changes in performance, power consumption, and operating temperature."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

 

Source: Phoronix

NVIDIA driver support on Linux

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 18, 2011 - 02:15 PM |
Tagged: linux, nvidia

We have seen benchmarks of the graphical performance of the GPU portion of Sandy Bridge as well as Llano for Linux users but NVIDIA has been quiet as of late.  That changes with this huge round up from Phoronix which assembles more than a dozen NVIDIA GPUs and associated drivers, the open-source Nouveau driver and the official NVIDIA Linux driver.  This is more than just a comparison of pure performance, there are a variety of features that are unavailable on the Nouveau driver that are present in NVIDIA's.  That can make a big difference to someone looking to transcode video or optimize certain tasks.  It is 24 pages of dense information, consider yourself warned.

phoronixfest.jpg

"Back in September I provided the most comprehensive AMD Radeon Linux graphics comparison that took 28 graphics cards from all supported ATI/AMD Radeon product families and tested them under Linux using the latest Catalyst driver as well as the open-source Mesa/Gallium3D driver. In this article is a similar comparison on the NVIDIA side as I take most of the GeForce graphics cards at my disposal and try them under the NVIDIA binary Linux driver and the community-developed open-source "Nouveau" driver. Not only is the OpenGL performance looked at for multiple generations of NVIDIA hardware, but the thermal and power consumption is compared too. In certain OpenGL workloads, the open-source Linux driver is now faster than NVIDIA's own driver for select graphics cards in a fair comparison, but overall the NVIDIA blob still reigns supreme."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

 

Source: Phoronix

A sub $200 AMD FirePro benchmarked on Linux

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 3, 2011 - 01:17 PM |
Tagged: amd, firepro, V4900, linux, turks

Workstation graphics cards tend to be significantly more expensive than their desktop counterparts, something the new AMD FirePro V4900 seeks to overcome.  The card is available for less than $200 but still comes with the advantages of the FirePro series, workstation application certification, a three-year hardware warranty and greater technical support than with a desktop GPU.  Performance wise, the benchmarks that Phoronix ran showed the card to be nicely between the V4800 and V5800 so perhaps not worth immediately running out and upgrading from the previous low end model but definitely worth considering for new machines.

fireprov4900.jpg

"AMD is announcing today a new FirePro workstation graphics card. What is being announced is not a new ultra high-end creation, but instead it's a new entry-level graphics card to fit in between the FirePro V4800 and FirePro V5800 / V5900: it's the AMD FirePro V4900. The FirePro V4900 will retail for less than $200 USD while offering up some nice capabilities for the price. Here is a launch-day look at the FirePro V4900 along with the first Linux benchmarks of this latest AMD workstation graphics creation."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

 

Source: Phoronix

Bulldozing through Linux benchmarks

Subject: General Tech | October 26, 2011 - 12:15 PM |
Tagged: amd, bulldozer, FX 8150, linux

With the lacklustre performance we saw from AMD's new Bulldozer CPUs on Windows except in seriously multi-threaded applications; it is with a hopeful heart that Phoronix tests the performance of the FX-8150 under Ubuntu 11.04.  There are a lot of benchmarks to go through, from general performance to specific AMD-centric tests to those focusing specifically on multi-threaded performance and even a look at the bundled watercooler.  Read through the benchmarks they've run themselves as well as user submitted test and then realize that this is only the first of a series of articles they are working on ... so for now they hold judgment on AMD's newest product.

phoronix_8150.jpg

"Two weeks ago AMD introduced the Bulldozer FX-Series CPUs to much excitement, although many were letdown by the initial results, and it was months after showing the first Linux benchmarks of an AMD Dual-Interlagos pre-production system. In the days that followed I delivered some initial AMD FX-4100 Linux benchmarks when securing remote access to a low-end Bulldozer system running Ubuntu 11.04 (and there were also some Linux benchmarks from independent Phoronix readers), but then last week a Bulldozer kit arrived from AMD. The centerpiece of this kit is an eight-core AMD FX-8150 CPU, which is now being used to conduct a plethora of AMD Bulldozer benchmarks on Linux."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

 

Source: Phoronix

Ivy Bridge will power three headed Linux powered monsters

Subject: General Tech | October 6, 2011 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: Ivy Bridge, linux, multi monitor

Intel's Linux graphics driver is open source and the developers who work on it ensure that their code is publicly available which results in findings such as the one Phoronix is reporting on this morning.  While examining the Direct Rendering Manager kernel driver they discovered more information on the triple video output support that Ivy Bridge is supposed to support.  It seems that some Ivy Bridge motherboard will sport three DisplayPort outputs which can all be used simultaneously and others a pair of HDMI ports with a D-SUB connector making up the third output.  More importantly, because this was found in the Linux driver it becomes obvious that Intel intends to support multi-monitor output on Linux.  Watch out AMD.

ivy_bridge.jpg

"Patches were made public by Intel yesterday for their Linux graphics driver that enable "Ivy Bridge" hardware to simultaneously drive three monitors. Thanks to Intel's Linux driver being open-source and their OSTC developers doing the hardware enablement work in public, there's some new details about this triple monitor support for the next-generation Ivy Bridge hardware."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Phoronix