April Community Update thread
#1
Chat away!
You can find me on IRC, Discord and Twitter


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#2
Just wondering if you might have any insights on the pine tab? I am assuming it is still on the back burner behind other more pressing
projects?
Dennis Hoshield
PBPro/ANSI/Manjaro
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#3
(04-15-2020, 07:54 AM)dhosh Wrote: Just wondering if you might have any insights on the pine tab? I am assuming it is still on the back burner behind other more pressing
projects?

The Tab is addressed in the update. It appears production-ready, but is being shelved for the time being to avoid further potential for shipping complications.
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#4
Are the issues on BH v.1.1 PCB feature breakers? Some of them sounded critical, like not being able to sleep the modem because it shared power with something else? Or not being able to reliably connect to the front facing camera because it shares an I2C with the rear camera.

Does v1.2 fix these? Because these seems like a really good reason to want to upgrade the PCB in BH...

I’m in no way a hardware guy so I might be misunderstanding the current issues on v1.1. Please enlighten me! Smile
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#5
While I am disappointed in the PineTab delay, I also completely understand the current-logistics decision. Thank you so much for dedicating a brief section about it. The attention-currency it has received has been, IMNSHO, underwhelming.

On the RockPro router idea:

That's great! Why can't we use off-the-shelf PCIe cards? (I don't have a PCIe-capable Pine64 board, so I'm not following this closely) I think it makes more sense to include a 3rd party card choice in the Pine Store, and maintain a list of "officially supported" (ie: thoroughly tested) other cards, than it does to develop your own expansion card(s). Pick a kernel driver developer with existing and mature code, send them a SBC and ask for better ARM support. Don't limit this to network cards. Maybe I want to plug in a video card. Maybe I want to plug in a card with M.2 ports; or a shortwave radio (HAM) antenna; or AM/FM tuner, or TV capture; or live-stream capture/export; or sound cards; etc etc. Yes, some of these are more cheaply available [new] using the GPIO pins, but there's also a whole bunch of legacy cards installed in aging gear; and new hardware coming out all the time with greater capabilities than what's available via GPIO header. Seriously, you should market and support that PCIe slot much stronger than you already do.

If the case you're designing includes a standard PCI plate slot, there's no reason why it would need custom openings for a custom card.

If you're going to do a custom card, why not a host for SoPines?

On the subject of the SBCs:

I really think SBCs should be (still are?) the core of the Pine64 business and should routinely see updates in the blog. I'm not in a position to write SBC-dedicated blog posts; and I'm not sure that's necessary. However, I appreciate seeing even short mentions of development happenings.

It seems to me that the SBCs have suffered in the attention-currency department since the announcement of the PinePhone and PineBook Pro. The rk3399 is getting long in the tooth and is RAM-throttled. Meanwhile, application suites have become more resource hungry. Google TV devices in the same price ranges as the Pine64 product line are considerably more compute-capable using AMLogic or other SoCs, and come pre-installed in an enclosure, with power-supply, and don't need an SD card! Even the Raspberry Pi now outperforms everything on offer from Pine64, at a lower price.

SoPine hasn't changed significantly since its initial introduction. The Clusterboard could use better spacing to allow for (passive) heat sinks on the modules, and it's own processor for module management; and what if it were a standardized PCB size (and port cluster) to fit available enclosures?

Other PCBs:

Actual desktop-grade boards with expandable RAM? Nobody's doing it at a price competitive with (sub-$1000) solutions from Intel/AMD systems. Yet, processors have been available for four or five years, now.

Servers? How about a rack-mount chassis with backplane to support, say, 10 ClusterBoards. Or even the earlier suggested desktop-grade PCBs. There are already ARM servers in the wild, but they are all very expensive, very custom, very proprietary systems. Would anyone change out their existing ATX-based, ancient, Intel server motherboard for shiny, new, lower-electricity ARM board in the same form factor from Pine64?

Other thoughts and questions:

Will you make available that back-plane in the server-chassis photo?

Power supplies. How many people with SBC clusters have had to kluge together their own? (me! My A64 cluster is powered from a USB hub; awkward but effective) Also handy for any PCIe card(s) that need power not available from the SBC.


Okay, this has run long enough and wandered way off-topic.  Angel
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#6
(04-15-2020, 09:23 AM)tophneal Wrote:
(04-15-2020, 07:54 AM)dhosh Wrote: Just wondering if you might have any insights on the pine tab? I am assuming it is still on the back burner behind other more pressing
projects?

The Tab is addressed in the update. It appears production-ready, but is being shelved for the time being to avoid further potential for shipping complications.
I guess I didn't see the update!??  
Must have missed it.......
Dennis Hoshield
PBPro/ANSI/Manjaro
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#7
(04-15-2020, 06:04 PM)dhosh Wrote:
(04-15-2020, 09:23 AM)tophneal Wrote:
(04-15-2020, 07:54 AM)dhosh Wrote: Just wondering if you might have any insights on the pine tab? I am assuming it is still on the back burner behind other more pressing
projects?

The Tab is addressed in the update. It appears production-ready, but is being shelved for the time being to avoid further potential for shipping complications.
I guess I didn't see the update!??  
Must have missed it.......

It's usually linked, but it should be easily found on the main Pine site/blog.
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#8
Unfortunate - IRT the pinetab. Excitedly waiting for it. I'd still like the option of different screen sizes (particularly 8 or 12 inch), or post the specs for screen and driver boards so I can find other sizes that will work. I can make my own case if necessary.

IRT the router - yes! You could call it Pineroot!
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#9
On the router idea - absolute YES.

There are some open source devices on the market but they are very expensive.

It would be very nice if it had SIM card socket so it could be used as LTE/5G router.
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#10
I'm afraid to say I'm a little sceptical of the router proposal, or at least I am when it is "just" focused on being a router.

Whilst Pine64 direct sales/pricing strategy is undeniably important, I think Pine64 has gained a lot of attention recently by combining its sales model alongside taking on products that target underserved areas that are of interest to hackers: powerful SBC (with PCIe), Arm64 laptops, non-Android phones, watches without the back glued on.

So I'm not skeptical because the Rock64Pro can't be an adequate router. It can. It is simply that I don't the unmet need. There are are already a ton of great platforms to run the various open source router operating systems on and those platforms have been available to us for nearly 20 years now.

So the question about the router proposal is what new things it brings to the table?

Personally I think the answer could be "lots of PCIe slots". In other words a "router" implemented using a daughter board containing a 4-to-1 PCIe bridge can lead to some very interesting options. The most flexible form is a raw PCIe bridge with a chassis for low profile PCIe cards (network cards, M.2 converters for SSD). However that has some problems since connecting something like an M.2 4G modems would still be difficult (because there is no USB on the M.2 slot of a simply PCIe to M.2 converter). That might mean trading some flexibility for being a better router (maybe provide mostly M.2 and support one or two full height PCIe slots with a right angle riser to keep things compact?). Either way I think there has to be focus on how to plug in things to a PineRouter that can not already be trivially connected to an off-the-shelf router.
PineTime: wasp-os and MicroPython, Pinebook Pro:  Debian Bullseye
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