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Hardware

Devices: RISC-V, Avalue, AOSP

Filed under
Linux
Hardware
  • RISC-V expansion board for Linux software and firmware developers

    In collaboration with SiFive, Microsemi has launched the HiFive Unleashed Expansion Board as part of its Mi-V RISC-V ecosystem, aiming to broaden the capabilities of SiFive's HiFive Unleashed RISC-V development board, further enabling software and firmware engineers to write Linux-based applications targeting a 1GhZ+ RISC-V 64 bit central processing unit (CPU).

  • Apollo Lake module lets you choose between GbE and extra PCIe

    Avalue, which last fall produced a Linux-ready EQM-APL Qseven module based on Intel’s Apollo Lake, has now returned with a 95 x 95mm COM Express Compact Type 6 module that taps the same system-on-chip family. In this case, the Atom models are not invited, but you can choose a quad-core Pentium N4200 or a dual-core Celeron N3350, both of which have a low 6W TDP. The module supports Linux 4.5 or later, as well as Windows 10 Enterprise.

  • Win a device from Sony by becoming a Hero Open Source Developer

    Sony is one of the largest contributors to the Android Open Source Project, bringing us RRO themes and more. The company has always been fairly open in development as well, running its Sony Open Devices Program to entice people to contribute to Sony device development and get custom ROMs running. To further entice people into helping contribute to AOSP development on these devices, the company is reopening the Hero Open Source Developer initiative, which aims to repay developers who contribute heavily to AOSP development on Sony devices.

Powerful GNU/Linux Hardware

Filed under
Hardware
  • Upgrading the home server rack

    My original home server rack is being upgraded to use more ARM machines as the infrastructure of the lab itself. I've also moved house, so there is more room for stuff and kit. This has allowed space for a genuine machine room. I will be using that to host test devices which are do not need manual intervention despite repeated testing. (I'll also have the more noisy / brightly illuminated devices in the machine room.) The more complex devices will sit on shelves in the office upstairs. (The work to put the office upstairs was a major undertaking involving my friends Steve and Andy - embedding ethernet cables into the walls of four rooms in the new house. Once that was done, the existing ethernet cable into the kitchen could be fixed (Steve) and then connected to my new Ubiquity AP, (a present from Steve and Andy)).

    Before I moved house, I found that the wall mounted 9U communications rack was too confined once there were a few devices in use. A lot of test devices now need many cables to each device. (Power, ethernet, serial, second serial and USB OTG and then add a relay board with it's own power and cables onto the DUT....)

    Devices like beaglebone-black, cubietruck and other U-Boot devices will go downstairs, albeit in a larger Dell 24U rack purchased from Vince who has moved to a larger rack in his garage. Vince also had a gigabit 16 port switch available which will replace the Netgear GS108 8-port Gigabit Ethernet Unmanaged Switch downstairs.

  • A semi-review of the Raptor Talos II

    After several days of messing with firmware and a number of false starts, the Talos II is now a functioning member of the Floodgap internal network. It's under my desk with my other main daily drivers (my Quad G5, MDD G4, SGI Fuel and DEC Alpha 164LX) and shares a KVM. Thanks to the diligent folks at Raptor, who incredibly responded to my late night messages at 2am Pacific, the fans are now much more manageable and I'm able to get proper video output from the Radeon WX 7100 (though more on that in a minute). As proof of its functionality, I'm typing this blogpost on the Talos instead of on the G5.

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Working around Intel Hardware Flaws

Filed under
Linux
Hardware
Security

Efforts to work around serious hardware flaws in Intel chips are ongoing. Nadav Amit posted a patch to improve compatibility mode with respect to Intel's Meltdown flaw. Compatibility mode is when the system emulates an older CPU in order to provide a runtime environment that supports an older piece of software that relies on the features of that CPU. The thing to be avoided is to emulate massive security holes created by hardware flaws in that older chip as well.

In this case, Linux is already protected from Meltdown by use of PTI (page table isolation), a patch that went into Linux 4.15 and that was subsequently backported all over the place. However, like the BKL (big kernel lock) in the old days, PTI is a heavy-weight solution, with a big impact on system speed. Any chance to disable it without reintroducing security holes is a chance worth exploring.

Nadav's patch was an attempt to do this. The goal was "to disable PTI selectively as long as x86-32 processes are running and to enable global pages throughout this time."

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Also: ZFS vs XFS

Minifree’s Libreboot X200 tablet runs nothing but free software (on decade-old hardware)

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Hardware

Want a new PC, but don’t want to run the latest Windows software? There are plenty of free and open source alternatives including popular GNU/Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, and Linux Mint.

Want to run nothing but free and open source software? That’s a bit trickier, since most recent laptops, desktops, and tablets ship with chips and other hardware that rely on closed-source, proprietary bootloaders and other components.

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Linux still rules IoT, says survey, with Raspbian leading the way

Filed under
Linux
Hardware

The Eclipse IoT Developer Survey shows Linux (led by Raspbian) is the leading IoT platforms at 71.8 percent, with FreeRTOS pressing Windows for second place. AWS is the leading IoT cloud platform.

The Eclipse Foundation’s Eclipse IoT Working Group has released the results of its IoT Developer Survey 2018, which surveyed 502 Eclipse developers between January and March 2018. While the sample size is fairly low — our own 2017 Hacker Board survey had 1,705 respondents — and although the IoT technologies covered here extend beyond embedded tech into the cloud, the results sync up pretty well with 2017 surveys of embedded developers from VDC Research and AspenCore (EETimes/Embedded). In short, Linux rules in Internet of Things development, but FreeRTOS is coming on fast. In addition, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the leading cloud service for IoT.

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Also: Key Trends from the IoT Developer Survey 2018

USB 3.2 Work Is On The Way For The Linux 4.18 Kernel

Filed under
Linux
Hardware

USB 3.2 was announced last summer as an incremental update to the USB standard to double the bandwidth for existing USB Type-C cables.

We haven't seen much in the way of USB 3.2 mentions in the Linux kernel yet but then again we haven't really seen USB 3.2 devices yet. USB 3.2 brings a multi-lane operation mode for hosts and devices using existing Type-C cables as well as a minor update to the USB hub specification. USB 3.2 allows for new 10 Gbit/s and 20 Gbit/s rates using two lanes, USB 3.2 Gen 1x2 and USB 3.2 Gen 2x2, respectively.

It's looking like kernel developers are now working on getting their USB 3.2 Linux support in order. We were tipped off that as of last week there are some USB 3.2 patches queued in the usb-next tree maintained by Greg Kroah-Hartman's.

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Also: Linux 4.16.6 Brings Correct AMD Ryzen 7 2700X Temperature Monitoring

Open Hardware: Open-source Circuit Simulation and Open-Source Turbomolecular Pump Controller

Filed under
Hardware
OSS
  • Open-source Circuit Simulation

    For simple circuits, it’s easy enough to grab a breadboard and start putting it together. Breadboards make it easy to check your circuit for mistakes before soldering together a finished product. But if you have a more complicated circuit, or if you need to do response modeling or other math on your design before you start building, you’ll need circuit simulation software.

    While it’s easy to get a trial version of something like OrCAD PSpice, this software doesn’t have all of the features available unless you’re willing to pony up some cash. Luckily, there’s a fully featured free and open source circuit simulation software called Qucs (Quite Universal Circuit Simulator), released under the GPL, that offers a decent alternative to other paid circuit simulators. Qucs runs its own software separate from SPICE since SPICE isn’t licensed for reuse.

  • An Open-Source Turbomolecular Pump Controller

    It’s not every project write-up that opens with a sentence like “I had this TURBOVAC 50 turbomolecular pump laying around…”, but then again not every write-up comes from someone with a lab as stuffed full of goodies as that of [Niklas Fauth]. His pump had an expired controller board, so he’s created an open-source controller of his own centred upon an STM32. Intriguingly he mentions its potential use as “I want to do more stuff with sputtering and Ion implantation in the future“, as one does of course.

    So given that probably not many Hackaday readers have a turbomolecular pump lying around but quite a few of you will find the subject interesting, what does this project do? Sadly it’s a little more mundane than the pump itself, since a turbomolecular pump is a highly specialised multi-stage turbine, this is a 3-phase motor controller with analogue speed feedback taken from the voltage across a couple of the motor phases. For this reason he makes the point that it’s a fork of his hoverboard motor controller software, the fruits of which we’ve shown you in the past. There isn’t a cut-out timer should the motor not reach full speed in a safe time, but he provides advice as to where to look in the code should that be necessary.

Leap Motion details low-cost AR headset, plans to go open source

Filed under
Hardware
OSS
Gaming

“We believe that the fundamental limit in technology is not its size or its cost or its speed,” writes Leap Motion, “but how we interact with it.”

This statement demonstrates the fresh perspective that companies like Leap Motion have been bringing to the commercial 3D tech industry. In fact, in the past year or two, we’ve started to feel a sea change as even the most entrenched, traditional manufacturers in the commercial 3D space have taken a hard turn toward simplicity of operation and sheer usability.

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Raspberry Pi-alike NanoPi K1 Plus: For $35 you get 2xRAM, 4K video, Gigabit Ethernet

Filed under
Linux
Hardware

FriendlyElec has released a $35 rival to the Raspberry Pi 3 B+, outdoing the better-known board with 2GB of memory, Gigabit Ethernet, and a more powerful GPU.

The NanoPi K1 Plus follows FriendlyElec's Nano Pi K2, released last year with similar dimensions to the Raspberry Pi 3 for $40.

The NanoPi K1 Plus shares similar specs to the Nano Pi K2 and maintains the Raspberry Pi's form factor, but offers double the RAM, Gigabit Ethernet, and 4K video playback.

The device also has the same 40-pin GPIO pin-header as the Raspberry Pi 3, so it should work with Raspberry Pi accessories and housings.

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Raspberry Pi alternatives: 10 single-board computers for novice coders

Filed under
Linux
Hardware

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ is the dinky single-board computer grabbing headlines around the world, and for good reason. Initially launched as a tool to train up amateur coders, it has since gone on to sell more than 19 million units worldwide.

[...]

If you’re weighing up your options, read on for the best Raspberry Pi 3 B+ alternatives.

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