April Community Update thread
#11
(04-15-2020, 02:32 PM)Paraplegic Racehorse Wrote: 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.

Our intent is to have a few common platforms across devices with very strong FOSS support and inter-compatibility, rather than scattering everything across dozens of mismatched SoCs with varying support based on whatever is fastest at the time of design. At this time, the A64 and RK33xx family are those common platforms.

Also by the way -- despite what the specs look like on paper -- the RockPro64 (and Pinebook Pro) are significantly faster than the Pi4 under most workloads. Granted the RP64 is more expensive than a Pi4... but watch for updates. Wink

Quote: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?

Moving up to boards like that would be an extremely large and risky investment. Development prices would be astronomical, and the market of people who want to buy a $800 ARM tower workstation or $2000 server is a lot smaller than that for a $50 SBC or $200 laptop. The business side of Pine64 is best described as "marginally profitable", so I'm not sure there's the financial capital to make it happen.

Additionally, as mentioned before: FOSS is a major point on all our devices. I'm not sure how the mainline support is on something like the ThunderX(2) chips.

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

The backplane board could be made available if there really is enough interest for it. It's probably not of much use without the custom case to go with it though -- and we have zero intent of selling that case. It's just too difficult (and expensive) to set up production of such a thing.

Quote: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.

We have a power supply designed exactly for A64 cluster use. Wink
Community administrator and sysadmin for PINE64
(Translation: If something breaks on the website, forum, or chat network, I'm a good person to yell at about it)

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#12
I appreciate the reply, fire219. That's a great rundown of ideas, etc.

I still would love to see a PCIe card and drivers to serve as host for SoPine; I think you could comfortably fit four modules, with proper spacing for passive heat sinks, on a full-height and half-length standard format card.

(04-16-2020, 09:11 AM)fire219 Wrote:
(04-15-2020, 02:32 PM)Paraplegic Racehorse Wrote: 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.

We have a power supply designed exactly for A64 cluster use. Wink

::BUZZER:: Nope. That's a power supply for a single clusterboard. My minicluster is made of four Pine64 A64 512MB boards, individually powered via cable from a USB hub (network switch and mini-router also powered from same source!) I've had it since shortly after the original Pine64 board was Kickstarted.

I was thinking something more along the lines of a 120vac (US) or 230vac (EU, NZ, etc.) buck/boost switching 12/24/5.5vdc supply of 100+ watts, and appropriate cabling, such as this:

[Image: s-l300.jpg]

Of course, if there aren't enough individual orders of multiple-SBC boards, it wouldn't make any sense to put it in the store. I get it.
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#13
Quote:Pinebook Pro: I cannot overstate the level of testing and polish ...  optimised trackpad settings,

Why keep us waiting ... and not add them to the wiki for everyone to apply.



Quote:USB-C dock: These specs are not final ...

My vote goes for vga and sd card slots.

I think a micro sd card slot was a mistake in the first place. The Pinebook Pro should have been shipped with an sd card slot. Those who really only use micro sd cards could permanently put one of these plastic adapters in the sd card slot.
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#14
(04-16-2020, 06:05 PM)Paraplegic Racehorse Wrote: I appreciate the reply, fire219. That's a great rundown of ideas, etc.

I still would love to see a PCIe card and drivers to serve as host for SoPine; I think you could comfortably fit four modules, with proper spacing for passive heat sinks, on a full-height and half-length standard format card.

(04-16-2020, 09:11 AM)fire219 Wrote:
(04-15-2020, 02:32 PM)Paraplegic Racehorse Wrote: 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.

We have a power supply designed exactly for A64 cluster use. Wink

::BUZZER:: Nope. That's a power supply for a single clusterboard. My minicluster is made of four Pine64 A64 512MB boards, individually powered via cable from a USB hub (network switch and mini-router also powered from same source!) I've had it since shortly after the original Pine64 board was Kickstarted.

I was thinking something more along the lines of a 120vac (US) or 230vac (EU, NZ, etc.) buck/boost switching 12/24/5.5vdc supply of 100+ watts, and appropriate cabling, such as this:

[Image: s-l300.jpg]

Of course, if there aren't enough individual orders of multiple-SBC boards, it wouldn't make any sense to put it in the store. I get it.

How is the Pine64 in a 4-node cluster configuration like yours? 
[Image: Cluster-Board-600x600.jpg]
I have a small Raspberry Pi 3 cluster (2-node) and a old and ancient PC cluster (8-node made of PII/PIII processors) and have thought about getting the Pine Clusterboard to replace my old PC-based cluster for the energy savings alone!
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#15
(04-18-2020, 09:24 AM)ajbieee Wrote:
(04-16-2020, 06:05 PM)Paraplegic Racehorse Wrote: My minicluster is made of four Pine64 A64 512MB boards, individually powered via cable from a USB hub (network switch and mini-router also powered from same source!) I've had it since shortly after the original Pine64 board was Kickstarted.

How is the Pine64 in a 4-node cluster configuration like yours? 

My little Pines are working great! They are not a cluster, in the sense that they do not share any work. They're just configured, physically, as a cluster. 4 individual nodes with 4 discreet tasks.

[Image: MyPines.jpg]

Quote:I have a small Raspberry Pi 3 cluster (2-node) and a old and ancient PC cluster (8-node made of PII/PIII processors) and have thought about getting the Pine Clusterboard to replace my old PC-based cluster for the energy savings alone!

I think you're onto something there. I'm holding off on a clusterboard. The slots are really close together, so if you need to add heat sinks to the chips (you probably don't NEED to...), you can't without first figuring out some way to insulate the SoPines because the heat sinks will touch the neighboring cards. I'm hoping a PCIe host card, with better spacing of the DIMM slots, will be released for the RockPro64. I'm also hoping for a SoC upgrade for SoPine.

It actually would be awesome to see an rk3399 (or rk3366?) on a 184-pin SDRAM PCB. Smile Since it's not uncommon for SDRAM to ship with heat-sink/shrouds already on 'em, something like this could be cooled fairly easily. This doesn't happen with SODIMM. Also, the increased number of available pins provides more IO options for interfacing with components on a baseboard/backplane. In some ways, this would be near-ideal for upgradable tablet-PCs or cheap laptops. Edge-mount the compute module onto mainboard to keep things slim and you're a winner.
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#16
From the blog:
Quote:Lastly, work on the upgrade RK3399 kits for the original Pinebook is underway. We already did a fair bit of testing to determine the best way to cool the SOC in the plastic chassis. Our initial ideas to cool the RK3399 using a thin sheet of copper fell through, as the SOC ran hot and throttled quickly under moderate load. We’ve now moved onto testing using a graphene cooling system, which we believe will deliver much better thermal dissipation performance. One issue I’ve encountered insofar is with getting the keyboard firmware to play nice with the Pinebook Pro board – as a result, I expect this is likely something developers will have to get their hands on prior to end-users.
Ok.  So...  Hold on, I think I misunderstood what the upgrade kit is supposed to be.  May I start at the beginning?

If I have a pinebook 1080p and I want to have a pinebook pro (which I sorta invested in)... There are three main paths I may take.
  • Throw out the PB1080p and buy a PBPro.
  1. PRO: simple
  2. CON: wasteful
  3. CON: expensive, maybe?
  • Throw out everything except some of these items, because they are identical or compatible enough (hackers gonna hack), and order the PBPro version of the remaining items
  1. Screen?
  2. eMMC?
  3. Battery?
  4. Keyboard?
  5. Touchpad?
  6. Top of the clamshell?
  7. Bottom of the clamshell?
  8. Webcam?
  9. Mic?
  10. Speakers?
  11. screws/hardware/hinges/wires/ports/sockets?
  • Throw out only the mainboard and painstakingly redesign a new PBPro within the constraints of the existing case and hardware
  1. Well the daughter board might as well be replaced, eh?
  2. Obviously heat will be a problem
  3. etc

So, which broad path is the Pine64 crew taking?

Thank you, thank you!!
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