Subject: General Tech, Storage | July 18, 2013 - 04:56 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, nvidia, HPC, amazon
Adam DeConinck, high performance computing (HPC) systems engineer for NVIDIA, built a personal computer cluster in his spare time. While not exactly high performance, especially when compared to the systems he maintains for Amazon and his employer, its case is made of Lego and seems to be under a third of a cubic foot in volume.
Image source: NVIDIA Blogs
Raspberry Pi is based on a single-core ARM CPU bundled on an SoC with a 24 GFLOP GPU and 256 or 512 MB of memory. While this misses the cutesy point of the story, I am skeptical of the expected 16W power rating. Five Raspberry Pis, with Ethernet, draw a combined maximum of 17.5W, alone, and even that neglects the draw of the networking switch. My, personal, 8-port unmanaged switch is rated to draw 12W which, when added to 17.5W, is not 16W and thus something is being neglected or averaged. Then again, his device, power is his concern.
Despite constant development and maintenance of interconnected computers, professionally, Adam's will for related hobbies has not been displaced. Even after the initial build, he already plans to graft the Hadoop framework and really reign in the five ARM cores for something useful...
... but, let's be honest, probably not too useful.
Subject: General Tech | May 29, 2013 - 05:20 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: x11, weston, wayland, videocore iv, Raspberry Pi, linux, bcm2835, arm
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has been working with Collabora to fund development of a Wayland display server that is compatible with the Raspberry Pi and also allows the continued use of legacy X applications.
So far, operating systems that run on the Raspberry Pi have used X as the display server and window compositor. The Raspberry Pi Foundation wants to move to a window compositor that will take advantage of the Raspberry Pi's Hardware Video Scaler (HVS) and take the burden of window composition off of the relatively much slower ARM CPU. The Raspberry Pi Foundation has chosen Wayland as the display server for the task.
The Raspberry Pi Model A.
Taking advantage of the HVS and OpenGL ES compatible GPU will make the system feel much more responsive and allow for advanced effects (fading, Expose'-like window browsers, et al) for those that like a little more bling with their OS.
The Wayland/Weston display server allows for GPU acceleration and window composition using the Pi's VideoCore IV GPU and HVS (which is independent of the hardware units that run OpenGL code). The display server will feed the entire set of windows along with how they should be laid out on screen (stacking order, transparency, 2D transform, ect.) to the HVS which will hardware accelerate the process and free the ARM CPU up for other tasks.
According to the Raspberry Pi Foundation, the Raspberry Pi's HVS is fairly powerful for a mobile-class SoC with 500 Megapixel/s scaling throughput and 1 Gigapixel per second blending throughput.
In addition to GPU acceleration, Wayland will allow non-rectangular windows, fading and other effects, support for legacy X applications with Xwayland, and a scaled window browser.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has been working with developers since late last year and is nearly ready to roll a technology preview into the next Raspian operating system release. The developers are still working on improving the performance and reducing memory usage. As a result, the new Wayland/Weston display server is not expected to become the new default in the various Raspberry Pi operating systems until late 2013 at the earliest.
This is a project that is really nice to see, especially since at least a small part of the development work going into supporting the ARM-based Raspberry Pi on Wayland will help other ARM devices and Wayland in general which is becoming an increasingly popular choice in new Linux distributions and the best X alternative so far. Of course, this is primarily going to be a useful update for those Raspberry Pi users that run OSes with GUIs as the responsiveness should be a lot snappier!
If you simply can't wait until later this year, it is possible to install the technology preview (beta) of Wayland/Weston onto the current version of Raspbian Linux by cloning the git project or installing a Raspbian package of Weston 1.0. Blogger Daniel Stone has all the details for installing the display server onto your Pi under the section titled "sounds great; how do i get it?" on this post.
See a video of Wayland technology preview in action on the Raspberry Pi on the Raspberry Pi Foundation's blog.
Read more about the Raspberry Pi at PC Perspective.
Subject: General Tech | April 3, 2013 - 01:43 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: wireless display, Raspberry Pi, paperwhite, mobile, kindle, e-ink
The Raspberry Pi makes for a cheap and low power media PC, file server, or desktop but the lack of a display means that it is not very portable. Recently a hack was posted online by Max Ogden that enables the Rasbperry Pi to be used on the go by pairing it with an Amazon Kindle and its e-ink display. His wireless display setup was actually based on a previous hack that allowed the Pi to be paired with the 3rd-generation Kindle. Ogden's hack takes things a step further by supporting the latest Paperwhite versions as well as no longer requirig a wired connnection between the display and the Raspberry Pi.
By loading the Raspberry Pi with Raspian Linux and adding a terminal emulator to the Kindle, the Kindle connects to the Pi over an SSH session where the Pi console and any keyboard input can be seen on the Kindle's e-ink display. The hardware needed to make the setup work includes a Wi-Fi hotspot, a Wi-Fi USB NIC, The Raspberry Pi, a supported Kindle, and a battery pack with enough juice to power everything. A wired or wireless keyboard and Wi-Fi dongle can be added to the Raspberry Pi Model B, bu Model A users will need to add a USB hub as the $25 model only supports a single USB port on the device itself.
Max Ogden shows off his new portable battery-powered Raspberry Pi with wireless e-ink display.
There are some limitations to this setup. One is a bit of latency between typing and seeing the characters appear on the screen due to the low refresh rate inherent in e-ink displays and the wireless connection. Ogden estimates that this delay is around 200ms, and is noticeably but bearable while typing. The other major limitation is that the display can currently only be used to display the Pi console, and not the GUI of Raspian. For writing code or articles, you could get by with a command-line text editor like nano or vi--at the very least it would be a distraction-free writing environment as you could not procrastinate and browse Reddit or watch videos even if you wanted to (heh).
If you are interested in setting up your own wireless Raspberry Pi display, you should check out Ogdens blog for a list of recommended hardware as well as Rod Vagg's tutorial on configuring the Kindle Paperwhite with the correct software.
This is one of the more-useful Raspberry Pi hacks that I've seen so far. Hopefully, a future hack will come along that will also allow one of these e-ink devices to display the GUI desktop environment and not just the terminal.
Subject: General Tech | April 2, 2013 - 07:25 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: x86 emulator, rpix86, Raspberry Pi, gaming, dos
The Raspberry Pi is proving to be a popular destination for all manner of interesting software projects and open source operating systems. The most-recent Pi project I've come across is a DOS PC emulator by Patrick Aalto called rpix86. A port of DSx86, which ran on the Nintendo DS handheld console, rpix86 is now up to version 0.04 and emulates a 90's X86 computer with enough hardware oomph to run classic PC games!
Rpix86 is an emulator that runs from the console (not within the X GUI desktop environment) on the Raspberry Pi. It emulates the following X86 PC specs:
|Processor||80486 @ ~ 20 MHz (inc. protected mode. No virtual memory support)|
|Memory||640 Kb low memory, 4 MB EMS memory, 16 MB XMS memory|
|Graphics||Super VGA @ 640 x 480 w/ 256 colors|
|Audio||Sound Blaster 2.0 (+ AdLib-compatible FM sounds)|
|Input Devices||US keyboard, analog joystick, 2 button mouse|
|Misc||Roland MPU-401 MIDI Support via USB MIDI Dongle|
Patrick Aalto added support for analog USB joysticks and foot pedals (4 buttons, 4 analog channels) as well as 80 x 50 text mode (required by some MIDI software and Little Big Adventure's setup program) to the recent 0.04 update. He also stripped out debug code, which cut the program size approximately in half.
The developer has stated on his blog that he is working on allowing rpix86 to be used from the terminal within X and adding support for intelligent MPU MIDI mode. A port to the Android operating system called ax86 is also in the works. You can grab the current version of the Raspberry Pi X86 emulator on the developer's website.
With this emulator, you can run most of the DOS games you grew up with (Wolf3D and Digger anyone?), which is definitely a worthy use for the $25 or $35 Raspberry Pi hardware! At the very least, it is an interesting alternative to running DOSBox, and much smaller and more power efficient than running an old X86 PC dedicated to running classic games. Getting those floppies to work with the Pi might be a bit of an issue though, assuming they are still readable (heh).
Read more about the Raspberry Pi computer at PC Perspective.
Subject: General Tech | February 15, 2013 - 01:27 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: WPAD, security, Raspberry Pi, fud
On this weeks Podcast, Ryan wondered what he could do with his new Raspberry Pi and Hack a Day has an idea for him, though it is a wee bit nefarious. It seems that Travis over at MADSEC is using a Raspberry Pi in penetration testing, using the NetBIOS Name Service to get responses from the Web Proxy Auto-Discovery Protocol (WPAD); responses which can include LM hashes from Windows machines. With the use of Rainbow tables you can crack those hashes and take control of existing accounts on the PCs. This type of attack is well know, but automating the attack on something as small and easily modifiable as a Raspberry Pi adds a new layer. Whether you use it for good or evil, you can read more about it at Hack a Day.
"Plug in the power and Ethernet and this Raspberry Pi board will automatically collect Windows hashes from computers on the network. With a couple of RPi boards on hand [Travis] was searching for more hacks to try with them. This made a great little test to see how the board performs with the well established attack."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Traceroute reveals Star Wars Episode IV 'crawl' text @ The Register
- Your own head-mounted display for under two bills @ Hack a Day
- Apple: iOS 6.1 network overload caused by our Exchange SYNC OF DOOM @ The Register
- Doped nanotubes boost lithium battery power three-fold @ The Register
- SSDs at the Office – Trials, Tribulations and Still Worth It @ Techgage
- Nvidia revenues fight the PC tide, but annual profits pinched @ The Register
- Valve releases its Steam client for Linux @ The Inquirer
Subject: General Tech | February 14, 2013 - 04:07 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: podcast, NVDIMMS, Raspberry Pi, Thinkpad, tablet 2, nvidia, amd, southern islands, Solar System, Crysis 3, Intel
PC Perspective Podcast #238 - 02/14/2013
Join us this week as we discuss the Thinkpad Tablet 2, Raspberry Pi, Nonvolatile DIMMS and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano
Program length: 1:13:52
Podcast topics of discussion:
- Week in Reviews:
- 0:16:18 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
- News items of interest:
- 1-888-38-PCPER or firstname.lastname@example.org
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
Subject: General Tech | February 10, 2013 - 12:45 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SFF, Raspberry Pi, camera, arm
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has been working on offering a camera attachment for Raspberry Pi boards for some time now. The developers began with a 41MP sensor, but have since moved to a smaller (and cheaper) camera with a 5MP sensor. That particular model is nearly complete and should be available for purchase sometime this spring, according to the developers.
The Raspberry Pi camera will be $25 which aligns itself well with the recently released Model A Raspberry Pi computer (which is also $25). The PCB hosting the camera module measures 20 x 25 x 10mm, while the camera module itself measures 8.5 x 8.5 x 5mm. It connects to the Raspberry Pi board via a flat cable into the CSI port below the Ethernet jack.
The $25 camera is capable of capturing HD video as well as stills. It uses the Omnivision OV5647 sensor and a fixed focus lens. The 5MP sensor is capable of capturing still photos with a pixel resolution of 2592 x 1944 and up to 1080p video. While the developers are still working on the kinks to ensure that it the camera can do this, the sensor itself is capable of 1080p30, 720p60, and 640x480p90 video capture. The Raspberry Pi Foundation has stated that at least the 1080p30 capture mode is working.
Interestingly, the Raspberry Pi ISP hardware can support two cameras, but the PCB only provides a single CSI connector (so no 3D image capture using two cameras). The Raspberry Pi Foundation is providing this little CSI camera as an alternative to USB cameras. While it is possible to use USB cameras with the Raspberry Pi, USB driver overhead and USB bandwidth issues specific to the Raspberry Pi limit the performance that you can get out of USB cameras. The $25 CSI camera add-on bypasses the USB interface in favor of the CSI port that feeds into the image processing parts of the ARM SoC.
The developers have not released an exact weight measurement, but have described it as being rather lightweight--making it ideal for use in drones, weather balloons, and other flying projects. For more information, the developers have set up a forum thread to answer questions and keep interested users updated on the project status.
Subject: General Tech | February 5, 2013 - 05:32 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, model a, cheap computer, arm
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced that its Model A computer is (finally) available for purchase in Europe. The Raspberry Pi Model A is the small computer that the foundation originally pitched as the low-cost $25 PC. The other computer is the Model B, which has been available for some time now. The Model A is a stripped down version of the Model B covered previously. It features a single USB port, and half of the RAM of the latest Model B at 256MB. Further, there is no Ethernet jack on the model B, so users wanting Internet access will have to grab a USB NIC.
The Model A PC. Notice the lack of Ethernet support.
The Model A is powered by the same Broadcom BCM2835 chipset as the Model B. That includes an ARM1176JZFS processor clocked at 700MHz and a Videocore 4 GPU. The GPU is capable of hardware accelerating H.264 video decodes at up to 1080p30 and 40Mbps video. The GPU is rated at 24 GLOPS general compute performance, and it supports the OpenGL ES2.0 and OpenVG libraries.
Interestingly, the Model A was originally planned to have a mere 128MB of RAM, but with the update of the Model B to 512MB RAM, the Raspberry Pi Foundation was also able to include twice the RAM in the Model A while maintaining the $25 price point.
The underside of the Raspberry Pi Model A.
The Model A reportedly uses as much as a third of the power as the Model B, which makes it ideal for projects that will run off of battery or renewable energy sources--like solar. The Raspberry Pi Foundation suggests that the Model A will be useful in robotics and networking projects, for example.
The Model A Raspberry Pi PC is currently available in Europe, but US availability is coming soon. It will cost $25, but you will also need at least an SD card for the operating system and a DC power source (like a cell phone wall charger with male micro USB connector). The promised $25 PC is finally here (at least for those on the other side of the pond). What will you be using it for?
Read more about the Raspberry Pi at PC Perspective.
Subject: General Tech | October 6, 2012 - 05:16 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, programming, IDE, adafruit
The popular, if elusive, Raspberry Pi had the original intent to be a cheap computer capable of introducing kids to programming. In furthering that goal, Adafruit has been working on a programming IDE (Integrated Development Environment) with a simple interface designed to be accessible to beginners. The so-called "WebIDE" is installed on the Raspberry Pi and then can be run on any other networked computers from within a web browser. It syncs your programming code with Github competitor Bitbucket as well.
The Raspberry Pi WebIDE is currently in alpha and can now be downloaded by the public for those Raspberry Pi users adventurous enough to test it out. Adafruit has put together an installation guide as well as made an install script available to simplify installation. The WbIDE acts like any other programming environment in that you can add and edit files as well as test code on the Raspberry Pi hardware. Hitting "Run" on a program will open up a terminal on the Pi and execute your program, allowing you to develop your code on the hardware it will be used on. Further, it has an automatic update feature for the IDE software itself.
Because of its in-development alpha status, the current release is likely to be somewhat buggy and rough around the edges. Adafruit recommends that only experienced users install it at this time. While there is no ETA on a final release, Adafruit has stated that "it is certainly our intention to get this solid and ready for all users, and we will let everyone know when we think it is at that point."
This definitely seems like a useful piece of software if you picked up a Raspberry Pi to learn programming. You can find the full Raspberry Pi WebIDE guide in PDF form on the Adafruit website.
Subject: General Tech | September 20, 2012 - 11:53 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, overclocking, arm
The Raspberry Pi has proved a popular – if difficult to get a hold of – low-cost computer. The Pi is powered by a Broadcom BCM2835 ARM system on a chip that features a VideoCore IV GPU and ARM1176JZFS CPU core. By default, the processor runs at 700MHz, but enthusiasts put it through its paces and found there to be more than a bit of headroom. Unfortunately, if your particular chip required a bit of extra voltage to run at higher frequencies, it would mean voiding your warranty in order to get the extra performance – until now, that is.
In a bit of good news for overclockers, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced that official overclocking will now be supported even when the processor has been over-volted. In the raspi-config file, you will be able to choose from one of five overclocking presets where the highest overclock will run the processor at 1GHz.
Interestingly, the overclocked frequency is managed by the cpufreq driver and can be dynamically adjusted. The processor will run at up to the frequency defined in your chosen preset as long as the temperature of the chip does not reach 85 °C. Also, the overclocked frequencies will only be applied when the SoC is under load. When idling, it will happily use less power by turning the clockspeed down. Further, when applying the higher clocks, you are also adjusting the GPU Core, SDRAM, and system bus speed.
When combined with other software fixes (below), the Raspberry Pi Foundation is claiming various performance improvements. According to the site, Linux benchmark nbench reports 52% better integer performance, 64% increased floating point performance, and a 55% improvement in memory.
Left: default clockspeeds, right: 1GHz overclock
Should your particular Raspberry Pi not boot after applying a higher overclocking preset, you can hold down the Shift key during boot to force the Raspberry Pi to revert to default clockspeeds. Then, you can back down to the next-highest preset to see if the Raspberry Pi is capable of running at that (though it would be a better idea to start at the lowest preset and work your way up). The Raspberry Pi Foundation recommends playing through a bit of Quake 3 as it is a good indicator of a stable overclock.
In addition to the new turbo mode, a fix has been applied to the USB driver to reduce the USB interrupt rate, which improves performance approximately 10%. Because even the LAN port is on the USB bus, reducing CPU load should help a lot in freeing up the limited resources of the ARM processor for other tasks. If you have Wi-Fi devices based on the RTL8188CUS chipset or is otherwise supported by Linux, it should now work with the Raspberry Pi out of the box.
In order to get all of the above improvements (among a couple of other minor tweaks), you can run the following command to update to the latest image:
“sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade”
It’s nice to see continued support for the Raspberry Pi, and the ‘free’ overclocking performance is always a plus!
Image of Raspberry Pi hardware courtesy Gijsbert Peijs via Flickr Creative Commons. Thank you.
Read more about the $35 Linux-powered Raspberry Pi computer at PC Perspective!