The Model A is new again thanks to Raspberry

Subject: Systems | November 23, 2018 - 02:40 PM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi 3, Model A+, Cortex A53, arm

The newest Raspberri Pi 3 is under review over at Phoronix, the Model A+ which brings new hardware at the same $25 price point as the last Model A did.  It is powered by the Broadcom BCM2837B0 SoC, with four Cortex-A53 cores running at 1.4GHz.  There is only 512MB of RAM compared to the 1GB of the $35 Model B, and there is no LAN port so make sure you know what your project's requirements are when choosing which one to purchase. 

As long as those limitations do not prevent you from using the Model A+, the performance results show this is a great deal.

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"I was able to snag a Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ for $25 with availability appearing to be better than some of the past Raspberry Pi releases. Here are some initial benchmarks of the RPi 3 Model A Plus compared to a few other ARM boards."

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Source: Phoronix

Going back for a third serving of Raspberry Pi

Subject: General Tech, Systems | March 22, 2018 - 04:10 PM |
Tagged: sbc, Raspberry Pi 3, Raspberry Pi, gigabit ethernet, dual band, bluetooth, 802.11ac

Tim did a great write up of the new hardware found in the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ which you should check out below if you missed.  Technical specifications are only the first step as we still need to see how the new 1.4GHz Cortex A53's perform in benchmarks and Phoronix have published just that.  They compared the Pi 3 to a variety of chips including the previous model, ASUS' Tinkerboard, the two Jetson boards, a few Celerons and even a Core i3.  Overall the chip showed an advantage over the previous model; not earth shattering but as the price remains at $35 for the Pi 3 that is still a good deal.

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"I've been spending the past few days putting the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ through its paces the past few days with an array of benchmarks while comparing the performance to other ARM SBCs as well as a few lower-end Intel x86 systems too. Here is all you need to know about the Raspberry Pi 3 B+ performance."

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Source: Phoronix

Pi Foundation Releases Refreshed $35 Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+

Subject: General Tech | March 21, 2018 - 11:48 PM |
Tagged: sbc, Raspberry Pi 3, Raspberry Pi, gigabit ethernet, dual band, bluetooth, 802.11ac

The Raspberry Pi Foundation recently released the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ with refreshed hardware. The new single board computer retains its predecessor's $35 price tag while including a tweaked SoC with faster clockspeeds and improved power management as well as moves to modern Gigabit Ethernet and dual band 802.11ac Wi-Fi networking. The Pi Foundation has further managed to shield the board such that it can be certified as a radio board under FCC rules which should make end product certification an easier process.

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+.jpg

On the outside, not much has changed as the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ has the same form factor and board layout and I/O options as previous models. Digging a bit deeper though, nestled under a new heatspreader lies the Broadcom BCM2837B0 which can run its four ARM Cortex A53 cores at up to 1.4 GHz or run at the same 1.2 GHz clocks as the Pi 3 Model B (BCM2837) while using less power. A MaxLinear MxL7704 power management IC regulates board power and processor clockspeeds to keep it from overheating. Below 70°C the SoC runs at 1.4 GHz, but if it heats up to above that it will reduce voltage and clocks to 1.2 GHz. If the chip continues to heat up past 80°C it trips the thermal throttle, and clockspeeds will be further reduced until temperatures fall. The Pi Foundation notes that the new heatspreader should help it run faster and for longer lengths of time than the Pi 3 Model B. On the networking side of things, the upgraded Wi-Fi is powered by a Cypress CYW4355 and a Proant PCB antenna (similar to the one used in the Pi Zero W) for 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 Low Energy while the Gigabit Ethernet is powered by a LAN7515 chipset.

Note than the wired networking is still limited by the USB 2.0 bus, and the board itself has not been upgraded with USB 3.0 support or any USB 3 ports unlike many of its competitors (which is unfortunate). According to the Pi Foundation, the new SBC can hit 102 Mbps over 5 GHz Wi-Fi and up to 315 Mbps over a wired connection which is a huge boost over the Pi 3 Model B's ~36 Mbps wireless and ~95 Mbps wired performance. Interestingly, the new board features PXE boot turned on by default and support for PoE (802.3af) using a POE HAT which has a switched power supply for converting the 37V DC from PoE sources to the 5V/2.5A needed by the Pi.

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ PoE HAT.jpg

The Raspberry Pi 3 with its POE HAT connected via the 40-pin GPIO header.

The Videocore IV GPU, HDMI 1.3, 1GB LPDDR2, USB 2.0, and other features of the small form factor PC remain unchanged. The Pi Foundation plans to produce this model until 2023 and hints at "+" model refreshes for the Pi 3 Model A and Pi CM3 and CM3L compute modules coming soon. The Pi 3 Model B+ is listed for $35 (the same as the non-plus model) and joins the existing lineup of Pi 3s of which the foundation has sold 9 million of so far!

What are your thoughts on the refreshed Pi 3?

BitScope Unveils Raspberry Pi Cluster With 2,880 CPU Cores For LANL HPC R&D

Subject: General Tech | November 30, 2017 - 12:48 AM |
Tagged: HPC, supercomputer, Raspberry Pi 3, cluster, research, LANL

The Raspberry Pi has been used to build cheap servers and small clusters before, but BitScope is taking the idea to the extreme with a professional enterprise solution. On display at SC17, the BitScope Raspberry Pi Cluster Module is a 6U rackable drawer that holds 144 Raspberry Pi 3 single board computers along with all of the power, networking, and air cooling needed to keep things running smoothly.

Each cluster module holds two and a half BitScope Blades with each BitScope Blade holding up to 60 Raspberry Pi PCs (or other SBCs like the ODROID C2). Enthusiasts can already purchase their own Quattro Pi boards as well as the cluster plate to assemble their own small clusters though the 6U Cluster Module drawer doesn’t appear to be for sale yet (heh). Specifically each Cluster Module has room for 144 active nodes, six spare nodes, and one cluster manager node.

Bitscope Raspberry Pi Cluster Module.jpg

For reference, the Raspberry Pi 3 features the Broadcom BCM2837 SoC with 4 ARM Cortex A53 cores at 1.2 GHz and a VideoCore IV GPU that is paired with 1 GB of LPDDR2 memory at 900 MHz, 100 Mbps Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The ODROID C2 has 4 Amlogic cores at 1.5 GHz, a Mali 450 GPU, 2 GB of DDR3 SDRAM, and Gigabit Ethernet. Interestingly, BitScope claims the Cluster Module uses a 10 Gigabit Ethernet SFP+ backbone which will help when communicating between Cluster Modules but speeds between individual nodes will be limited by at best one gigabit speeds (less in real world, and in the case of the Pi it is much less than the 100 Mbps port rating due to how it is wired to the SoC).

BitScope is currently building a platform for Los Alamos National Laboratory that will feature five Cluster Modules for a whopping 2,880 64-bit ARM cores, 720GB of RAM, and a 10GbE SFP+ fabric backbone. Fully expanded, a 42U server cabinet holds 7 modules (1008 active nodes / 4,032 active cores) and would consume up to 6KW of power. LANL expects their 5 module setup to use around 3000 W on average though.

What is the New Mexico Consortium and LANL planning to do with all these cores? Well, playing Crysis would prove tough even if they could SLI all those GPUs so instead they plan to use the Raspberry Pi-powered system to model much larger and prohibitively expensive supercomputers for R&D and software development. Building out a relatively low cost and low power system enables it to be powered on and accessed by more people including students, researchers, and programmers where they can learn and design software that runs as efficiently as possible on massive multiple core and multiple node systems. Getting software to scale out to hundreds and thousands of different nodes is tricky, especially if you want all the nodes working on the same problem(s) at once. Keeping each node fed with data, communicating amongst themselves, and returning accurate results while keeping latency low and utilization high is a huge undertaking. LANL is hoping that the Raspberry Pi based system will be the perfect testing ground for software and techniques they can then use on the big gun supercomputers like Trinity, Titan, Summit (ORNL, slated for 2018), and other smaller HPC clusters.

It is cool to see how far the Raspberry Pi has come and while I wish the GPU was more open so that the researchers could more easily work with heterogenous HPC coding rather than just working with the thousands of ARM cores, it is still impressive to see what is essentially a small supercomputer with a 1008 node cluster for under $25,000!

I am interested to see how the researchers at Los Alamos put it to work and the eventual improvements to HPC and supercomputing software that come from this budget cluster project!

Also read:

Source: BitScope

Raspberry Pi Foundation Updates Compute Module With Faster Processor

Subject: General Tech | January 22, 2017 - 12:11 AM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, compute module, Raspberry Pi 3, broadcom, iot

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is introducing an updated Compute Module that puts the single board computer for embedded devices more in line with the performance of the newest hobbyist Raspberry Pi 3.

The Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3 is a pin compatible successor to the Compute Module 1 (there is no CM2) that, according to the Raspberry Pi Foundation, offers twice the RAM and 10-times the CPU performance.

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Note that while the Compute Module 3 may be able to be a drop in upgrade / replacement for devices powered by the first generation CM1, it uses more power, puts out more heat, and is 1mm taller so while it is pin compatible it may not work in all devices if their module slot space, power supply, and airflow / heatsinks are not up to the task.

The Compute Module 3 is a small single board computer with a SO-DIMM connector that can slot into embedded and IoT products. It is powered by a Broadcom BCM2837 with four ARM Cortex-A53 CPU cores clocked at 1.2 GHz and a dual core VIdeoCore IV GPU clocked at 400 MHz. The processor is paired with 1GB of RAM. As far as onboard storage, the Compute Module 3 will come in two SKUs: the CM3 with 4GB of eMMC or a CM3 Lite without pre-installed eMMC and solder points for manufacturers to add their own eMMC or micro SD card slot. The VideoCore IV GPU supports 1080p30 decode of H.264. Users wanting hardware decode of H.265 and/or 4K support will have to look elsewhere. As is usual with Broadcom, exact specifications of the BCM2837 (especially their GPU) are kept close and quiet, unfortunately.

The exact ports and I/O from the Compute Module 3 will depend on the device and what manufacturers implement and wire to the connectors on the SO-DIMM slot. However, looking at the CMIO3 development board (96 Euros, $116 USD) shows that the CM3 supports GPIO, USB, micro USB, CSI (camera interface), DSI (display interface), HDMI, micro SD, audio, and networking. 

The Compute Module 3 can run Windows IOT Core or any number of Linux distributions compatible with ARM processors.

The Compute Module 3 is $30 while the “lite” variant without eMMC is $25. A kit including the development I/O board and both CM3 SKUs is $200. NEC has already announced it will be using the new Compute Module 3 in their digital signage and displays. Other applications include Smart TVs, home automation, and industrial control systems as well as hobbyist projects and robotics.

Source: Raspberry Pi

I’m Going To Build My Own Netflix With Pi and Plex

Subject: General Tech | November 28, 2016 - 01:44 PM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi 3, plex, pandora, Netflix

***This is your own personal Netflix seeing as how you are no longer able to access Netflix on "unofficial" devices.  Check the comments for great info.**

Over at Linux.com you can find instructions on making a very inexpensive headless Plex Media Server.  You will need a working PC to start up the installation by formatting an SD card and setting it up with NOOBS.  A little configuration work on the Pi, linking it to your locally stored video libraries and online content such as CNN and Netflix and you have a media centre ready for use, for well under $100.  Maybe you could consider making one as a gift for someone deserving.  The full instructions and parts list can be found here.

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"No, you don’t have to buy an expensive, bulky PC. All you need is a Raspberry Pi 3, a hard drive, an SD card and a mobile charger. It should all cost less than $100."

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Source: Linux.com