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Hardware

Arm-based IoT gateway runs on Moxa Industrial Linux

Filed under
Linux
Hardware

Moxa announced a -40 to 85°C tolerant “UC-8200” IoT gateway that runs Moxa Industrial Linux on a dual-core, -A7 SoC and offers dual GbE, RS-232/422/485, and mini-PCIe links, plus a CAN port, WiFi/BT, and optional 4G LTE.

Moxa, which announced its Cortex-A8-based UC 2100 series of Industrial IoT gateways last April, partially unveiled a new IIoT gateway called the UC-8200. The system features an unnamed dual-core, Cortex-A7 SoC that “has been optimised for use in energy monitoring systems but is widely applicable to a variety of industrial solutions,” according to the PR-like Control Engineering story that announced the product along with a shorter Industrial Ethernet Book post.

Eventually, a product page should appear with missing details such as RAM and storage. Yet, even the product page for the similar UC-8100 series fails to describe the Cortex-A8 SoC. Other specs are complete, however, such as the earlier model’s 256MB to 512MB DDR3 and 8GB eMMC. (Update: LinuxGizmos reader Arnd Bergmann spotted the earlier UC-8100’s SoC family in the firmware image’s device tree. It’s a TI Sitara AM33x, perhaps one of the AM335x family, which runs on BeagelBone boards.)

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Also: Arm Neoverse N1 & E1 Platforms Announced For Cloud To Edge Computing

i.MX8M Mini based handheld dev kit has dual Linux BSPs

Filed under
Android
Linux
Hardware

Solectrix is prepping an “SX Mobile Device Kit” for developing handhelds with Debian and Yocto Linux BSPs, an i.MX8M Mini SoC, an optional 5-inch touchscreen, WiFi, BT, GNSS, and mini-PCIe, and features for prototyping CSI-2 camera sensors.

These days we rarely cover mobile computers, most of which are rugged field-service handhelds that run Android, such as Two Technologies’ N5Print. Yet, Solectrix’s SX Mobile Device Kit (MDK) seemed of particular interest since it’s a development kit with Linux BSPs and NXP’s new i.MX8M Mini SoC.

In addition, a Solectrix GmbH rep informed us that optional features like GbE and USB Type-A host and GbE ports enable the MDK to be used as a general-purpose embedded development board. Purchase options range from buying the 125 x 78mm PCB by itself all the way up to a fully equipped handheld with a 5-inch screen. Yocto Project and Debian Linux BSPs are available, and the board also supports Android 9 Pie.

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Also: i.MX8M and Snapdragon 820E SBCs run Linux and Android

Intel Preparing The Linux Kernel For Cascade Lake AP Multi-Die Support

Filed under
Linux
Hardware

Intel developers have begun posting their Linux kernel patches for enabling multi-die/package topology support to the Linux kernel as part of their Cascade Lake AP upbringing.

Cascade Lake "Advanced Performance" is a multi-chip package of multiple Cascade Lake dies, expected to be up to 48 cores / 96 threads per package and twelve DDR4 memory channels. Cascade Lake SP and Cascade Lake X Linux support already has been in order -- or at least appears to be based upon previous commit activity -- while Cascade Lake AP is taking some additional work due to the new multi-die design. Cascade Lake dies are connected via Ultra Path Interconnect (UPI) links.

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Also: Linux Seeing Support For The HyperBus

It's Still Undecided Whether Ubuntu 20.04 LTS Will Support 32-bit x86 (i386)

Filed under
Hardware
Ubuntu

Ubuntu 17.10 dropped its i386 / 32-bit x86 installer image while the i386 port has remained part of the package archive. Other Ubuntu derivatives over the past year have also moved to drop their 32-bit installer images and with Lubuntu/Xubuntu now ending their ISOs for that port, it's hitting the end of the road. Now for Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, there might not even be the i386 port.

Canonical's Steve Langasek has restarted the discussion about whether to include i386 for next year's Ubuntu 20.04 Long-Term Support release. Langasek commented today, "The real question is whether i386 is still supportable (and justifiable) as a release architecture at all in the 20.04 timeframe. There are significant technical concerns raised about whether we can continue to provide the expected security support for i386 over the lifetime of Ubuntu 20.04."

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Also: Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 566

5 of the Best Linux Distros for Raspberry Pi

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Hardware

The Raspberry Pi debuted in 2012, and since then the tiny computer and its successors have powered countless projects. While you can install regular Ubuntu on a Raspberry Pi, there are plenty of more specialized Linux distributions available. This list includes options that can handle everything from general computing to creating a tiny portable arcade.

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RISC-V: Military/Aerospace Designs, Road Ahead, Libre GPU

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Hardware
OSS
  • RISC-V Eases Innovation in Military/Aerospace Designs

    The RISC-V Instruction Set Architecture (ISA), and open hardware standards in general, have the potential to be a real boon the military and aerospace designers. “RISC-V is being received with open arms by the military and aerospace sectors,” said Tim Morin, director of strategic marketing in Microchip Technnology’s FPGA business unit. “They are very excited about it.”

    From a design perspective, the ISA addresses the need to minimize power consumption, streamline bill of material (BOM) costs, and optimize board space. “With RISC-V, when you create an integrated circuit, you do exactly what you need,” said Michael Cave, senior director, strategic technology at SiFive, adding that the company is bidding on DARPA projects currently. “The government loves that reality. The government feels like if they don’t do something innovative, China is going to capture the lead.”

  • RISC-V: The Road Ahead

    Now that RISC-V has established a beachhead as a deeply embedded controller in SoCs, it’s time to start asking the next question: Can this open-source instruction-set architecture (ISA) make the next big leap into being an alternative to Arm and the x86 as a host processor?

    The short answer is yes, but it could take several years and there are plenty of pitfalls along the way. Essentially, the freewheeling open-source community behind RISC-V will need to develop and adhere to a wide range of system-level standards.

    So far, Nvidia and Western Digital plan to use RISC-V controllers in their SoCs, and Microsemi will use it in a new FPGA. Andes, Cortus, and startup SiFive sell IP cores, and a handful of startups plan to launch mainly machine-learning accelerators using it.

    RISC-V is in as many as 20 million fitness bands and smartwatches in China. In the U.S., SiFive has shipped more than 2,500 development boards using processors that it aims to sell as IP cores or as SoCs through its design services.

    “The lowest-hanging fruit is the embedded space where the APIs are not exposed to programmers,” said Rick O’Connor, executive director of the non-profit RISC-V Foundation. “That’s the easiest thing to do, but there’s healthy activity in all segments.

  • Libre RISC-V GPU Aiming For 2.5 Watt Power Draw Continues Being Plotted

    Besides having a dedicated Intel GPU to look forward to in 2020, the effort around creating an open-source RISC-V architecture based graphics processor continues being spearheaded by Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton and other libre hardware developers.

    This is the ambitious effort for effectively creating a RISC-V-based Vulkan accelerator that hopes to be able to achieve 25 FPS @ 720p, 5~6 GFLOPs. Part of how they plan to make a RISC-V based GPU viable is via their Simple-V extension for RISC-V. While the performance target is incredibly lax by today's standards, they do plan for an aggressive power consumption target of just about 2.5 Watts.

Intel Graphics: Discrete Graphics Cards and SVT-AV1

Filed under
Graphics/Benchmarks
Hardware
  • Intel Preps For Discrete Graphics Cards With Linux Patches

    Intel has confirmed that recent patches to its Linux graphics driver were related to its continued work on preparing the ecosystem for its new line of discrete graphics cards.

    Phoronix reported that Intel released 42 such patches with more than 4,000 lines of code between them on February 14. The main purpose of the patches was to introduce the concept of memory regions in "preparation for upcoming devices with device local memory." (Such as, you know, discrete graphics cards.)

    [...]

    Still, any information about Intel's graphics plans is welcome. Right now the graphics market is dominated by AMD and Nvidia, and as we noted in December, Intel is probably the only company that even has a possibility of successfully introducing a new discrete graphics architecture. Why not enjoy the occasional glimpse behind the curtain as that architecture's being built?

  • SVT-VP9 Is Intel's Latest Open-Source Video Encoder Yielding High Performance VP9

    At the start of the month Intel open-sourced SVT-AV1 aiming for high-performance AV1 video encoding on CPUs. That complemented their existing SVT-HEVC encoder for H.265 content and already SVT-AV1 has been seeing nice performance improvements. Intel now has released SVT-VP9 as a speedy open-source VP9 video encoder.

    Uploaded on Friday was the initial public open-source commit of SVT-VP9, the Intel Scalable Video Technology VP9 encoder. With this encoder they are focusing on being able to provide real-time encoding of up to two 4Kp60 streams on an Intel Xeon Gold 6140 processor. SVT-VP9 is under a BSD-style license and currently runs on Windows and Linux.

Open Hardware: RISC-V and ESP32

Filed under
Hardware
OSS
  • RISC-V Climbs Software Mountain

    Now that RISC-V has established a beachhead as a deeply embedded controller in SoCs, it’s time to start asking the next question: Can this open-source instruction-set architecture (ISA) make the next big leap into being an alternative to Arm and the x86 as a host processor?

    The short answer is yes, but it could take several years and there are plenty of pitfalls along the way. Essentially, the freewheeling open-source community behind RISC-V will need to develop and adhere to a wide range of system-level standards.

    So far, Nvidia and Western Digital plan to use RISC-V controllers in their SoCs, and Microsemi will use it in a new FPGA. Andes, Cortus, and startup SiFive sell IP cores, and a handful of startups plan to launch mainly machine-learning accelerators using it.

  • Western Digital’s RISC-V ‘Swerv’ Core Now Available for Free

    Western Digital has announced that it’s completed work on its Swerv RISC-V CPU core and has published the register-transfer level (RTL) abstraction of the design. Publishing the RTL code allows other companies to use the design.

    Open-source hardware initiatives and ISAs have existed for decades, but RISC-V has gathered a critical ecosystem and corporate interests in these projects where historically there was little incentive to buy-in. The issue isn’t primarily cost savings — particularly as node sizes decrease, the licensing costs of an ARM core simply aren’t a major part of the total. The end of conventional Moore’s Law scaling has moved interest back to ISAs, as has the rise of IoT, AI, ML, and the need for new architectures to address these challenges.

  • Western Digital Releases Their RISC-V Cores To The World

    What grew out of a university research project is finally becoming real silicon. RISC-V, the ISA that’s completely Big-O Open, is making inroads in dev boards, Arduino-ish things, and some light Internet of Things things. That’s great and all, but it doesn’t mean anything until you can find RISC-V cores in actual products. The great hope for RISC-V in this regard looks to be Western Digital, manufacturers of storage. They’re going to put RISC-V in all their drives, and they’ve just released their own version of the core, the SweRV.

    Last year, Western Digital made the amazing claim that they will transition their consumption of silicon over to RISC-V, putting one Billion RISC-V cores per year into the marketplace. This is huge news, akin to Apple saying they’re not going to bother with ARM anymore. Sure, these cores won’t necessarily be user-facing but at least we’re getting something.

    As far as technical specs for the Western Digital SweRV core go, it’s a 32-bit in-order core, with a target implementation process of 28nm, running at 1.8GHz. Performance per MHz is good, and if you want a chip or device to compare the SweRV core to (this is an inexact comparison, because we’re just talking about a core here and not an entire CPU or device), we’re looking at something between a decade-old iPhone or a very early version of the Raspberry Pi and a modern-ish tablet. Again, an inexact comparison, but no direct comparison can be made at this point.

  • A Network Card For The Trash-80

    The idea for the trsnic comes from [Arno Puder]’s RetroStoreCard, a device that plugs into the TRS-80 Model III and connects it to a ‘personal cloud’ of sorts that hosts and runs applications without the need for cassettes or floppys. It does this with an ESP32 wired up to the I/O bus in the Model III, and it’s all completely Open Source.

    [Peter] took this idea and ran with it. Thanks to the power found in the ESP32, real encrypted Internet communication can happen, and that means HTTPS and TLS.

Open Hardware: Hackable Devices, RISC-V and 3-D Printing

Filed under
Hardware
OSS
  • freeDSP-aurora open source DSP offers 8 inputs and outputs

    Developers at Auverdion based in Verden, Germany have created the new open source DSP offering users eight inputs and eight outputs with USB Audio Class 2 and wireless control via Wifi and Bluetooth. The aptly named freeDSP-aurora DSP has this week been launched via Kickstarter.

    The new hardware supports macOS, Linux or Windows 10 operating systems and a XMOS XE216-512-TQ128 MCU is used to expose an USB Audio Class 2 compliant interface. The ESP32 MCU controls the operation of the DSP and support for both WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity can support peripherals such as a rotary encoder, display, temperature sensor, PWM controlled fan and IR sensor.

    “The freeDSP-aurora is a cost-effective real-time audio signal processing solution for audio enthusiasts, researchers, and the do-it-yourself community. It is a bare circuit board that can be incorporated into your own projects. It comes with no housing. Easy assembling and simple programmability are the main focus. It is based on Analog Devices’ ADAU1452 DSP chip.”

  • The Future Of Fritzing Is Murky At Best

    Fritzing is a very nice Open Source design tool for PCBs, electrical sketches, and schematics for designers and artists to move from a prototype to real hardware. Over the years, we’ve seen fantastic projects built with Fritzing. Fritzing has been the subject of books, lectures, and educational courses, and the impact of Fritzing has been huge. Open up a book on electronics from O’Reilly, and you’ll probably see a schematic or drawing created in Fritzing.

    However, and there’s always a however, Fritzing is in trouble. The project is giving every appearance of having died. You can’t register on the site, you can’t update parts, the official site lacks HTTPS, the Twitter account has been inactive for 1,200 days, there have been no blog posts for a year, and the last commit to GitHub was on March 13th. There are problems, but there is hope: [Patrick Franken], one of the developers of Fritzing and the president of the PCB firm Aisler which runs the Fritzing Fab, recently gave a talk at FOSDEM concerning the future of Fritzing. (That’s a direct FTP download, so have fun).

  • Slic3r vs Cura – 3D Printer Slicer Software Shootout

    A slicer is a software application that takes in 3D model files, like STL and OBJ, as input and, based on the user’s preferences and settings, creates g-code files as output.

    G-code is a set of commands that control the movement of a 3D printer along the X, Y, and Z axes for the entire model. They also contain instructions for heaters and other connected devices, such as servos or leveling sensors.

  • Can MIPS Leapfrog RISC-V?

    When Wave Computing acquired MIPS, “going open source” was the plan Wave’s CEO Derek Meyer had in mind. But Meyer, a long-time MIPS veteran, couldn’t casually mention his plan then. Wave was hardly ready with the solid infrastructure it needed to support a legion of hardware developers interested in coming to the MIPS open-source community.

    To say “go open source” is easy. Pulling it off has meant a huge shift from MIPS, long accustomed to the traditional IP licensing business.

    Wave’s first step was hiring Art Swift as president of its MIPS licensing business. Swift fit the bill as someone who knows the best of both worlds — old (traditional IP for licensing) and new (open source). Swift had served as vice-chair of the RISC-V Foundation’s Marketing Committee and was vice president of marketing and business development at MIPS Technologies from 2008 to 2011.

  • Building A RISC-V Desktop

    The core of this build is the HiFive Unleashed, a Linux-capable board from SiFive, makers of the first (production) RISC-V microcontroller. This board uses the Freedom U540 SOC built with a 28nm process, has 8GB of DDR4, and 32MB of Flash. For a board built on an Open archetecuture this is impressive, but it comes at a cost: the HiFive Unleashed ran for $1000 during its crowdfunding campaign.

  • Can Arm Survive RISC-V Challenge?

    We hear stories about new licensing practices at Arm since it was acquired by Japan’s SoftBank. Arm’s rivals tell us that they are engaged in many more talks with current Arm licensees who are looking for alternatives.

    Product developers no longer have the luxury of two-year product development cycles. And many don’t have the big budgets for licensing fees, often quoted as the huge barrier to entry for system-on-chip (SoC) design.

  • Open Source Hardware Benefits Procurement Practices

    “Open source does two things for you: it rationalizes price and motivates adoption and investment,” explained Keith Witek, senior vice president, Corporate Development, Strategy, and General Counsel at SiFive, a provider of commercial RISC-V processor IP. “If I charge you too much, you can leave and go to different vendor. I can’t lock you up with proprietary architecture or tools. And you feel like you can invest, because no one can take it away from you. RISC-V takes a big part in democratizing silicon.”

    The basics of RISC-V

    The RISC-V ISA is based on established reduced instruction set computer (RISC) principles. Anyone can use it for all types of implementation, including development and commercial and open source implementations, without cost. That means that anyone who wants to can design, manufacture and sell RISC-V chips and software.

  • The next generation open-source, 3D-printable Niskin bottle has arrived!

    The Niskin bottle, a seemingly simple device designed to take water samples at discrete depths, is one of the most important tools of oceanography. These precision instruments allow us to bring ocean water back to the surface to study its chemical composition, quality, and biologic constituency. If you want to know how much plastic is circulating in the deep sea, you need a Niskin bottle. If you need to measure chemical-rich plumes in minute detail, you need a Niskin bottle. If you want to use environmental DNA analyses to identify the organisms living in a region of the big blue sea, you need a Niskin bottle.

  • Arduino IoT Cloud Public Beta

    One of the reassuring things about the Arduino, and something that contributed to making it a success, was its open source nature. Of course, this caused Arduino - the company - problems. How to make money and keep control of an open source product is a headache. One solution is to move things online.

    Once upon a time the Arduino was programmed exclusively using an open source desktop IDE. Using it gave the security of open source.

  • Hack My House: Garage Door Cryptography Meets Raspberry Pi

    The garage door is controlled by a button hung on the garage wall. There is only a pair of wires, so a simple relay should be all that is needed to simulate the button press from a Raspberry Pi. I wired a relay module to a GPIO on the Pi mounted in the garage ceiling, and wrote a quick and dirty test program in Python. Sure enough, the little relay was clicking happily– but the garage door wasn’t budging. Time to troubleshoot. Does the push button still work? *raises the garage door* yep. How about the relay now? *click…click* nope.

  • How 3D Printers Work – Simply Explained

    Many of us will be familiar with the Star Trek scene where Captain Picard steps up to the food synthesizer and says, “Tea, Earl Grey, hot,” and the drink miraculously appears. When you mention 3D printing to the uninitiated, this is sometimes what they expect.

    The reality is that 3D printing is a lot more down to earth and certainly easier to understand than matter scrambling.

    In this article, we’ll look at how this approach to manufacturing has become a mainstay among hobbyists and engineers alike.

Bitmain SoC Support Coming To Linux 5.1 - Sophon ARMv8 + RISC-V Chip For Deep Learning

Filed under
Linux
Hardware

Queued for mainlining with the upcoming Linux 5.1 kernel cycle is initial support for Bitmain SoCs. Bitmain is the Chinese company that started out designing ASICs for Bitcoin mining with the Antminer and other products. The company has also been venturing into designs for artificial intelligence and deep learning.

With the upcoming Linux 5.1 kernel will be initial support for Bitmain's BM1880 System-on-a-Chip as well as the "Sophon Edge" developer board.

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