Circumference is a miniaturised datacentre-in-a-box, complete with programmable power distribution and sequencing, instrumentation, cooling, networking, and a switchable remote console — all packaged in custom-designed desktop enclosures which eliminate cable clutter and give you complete control over the hardware inside.
Chris Dent has a blog post about netbooting the Circumference.
In my previous posting on the Circumference I said that I wanted to get the eight Raspberry Pi nodes to netboot from the front end processor so I could more easily manage the nodes on which I wanted to install nova-compute. This post provides a very quick update on those explorations. Newer Pi 3 B have firmware that can allow them to netboot without any SD card in place, but it requires a fair bit of set up. I was struggling to make headway, never seeing bootpc packets from the nodes. Turns out a newer firmware is needed. Andrew Back, from Ground Electronics the company building the Circumference, pointed to a useful cookbook blog post, Network Booting a Raspberry Pi 3 from an Ubuntu Server, that includes pointers to the new firmware. That got me a bit further. I’m now able to see some nodes, sometimes choosing to send bootpc packets and otherwise talking to the network.[…]
SPIDriver is an easy-to-use tool for controlling SPI devices. It works with Windows, Mac and Linux, and has a built in color screen that shows a live logic-analyzer display of all SPI traffic. It uses a standard FTDI USB serial chip to talk to the PC, so no special drivers need to be installed. The board includes 3.3 and 5V supplies with voltage and current monitoring.
[…] You can think of Teardown as live-action Crowd Supply, but with fewer cardboard boxes and packing peanuts. We’ll be bringing together hardware aficionados from around the world to celebrate, inspect, create, and, of course, tear down hardware. There will be long-time Crowd Supply creators and backers, as well as people we’re meeting for the first time. There will be hardware, art, food, drink, puzzles, workshops, tutorials, talks, music, field trips, and friends. Most of all, there will be ideas and projects to explore and inspire.[…]
A message from Donald Robertson of the Free Software Foundation, quoted verbatim:
‘Large, complex systems such as Talos require minimum order quantities to be met for the component parts in use, in addition to R&D expenditure for prototyping, validation, and conformance testing. We have set the goal at the minimum level required to ensure that we can not only design the Talos systems, but also purchase the parts needed to manufacture these complex machines.’
They need every dollar they can get to make this system a reality. It is a difficult goal, but also one that is critical for the future of free computing. As they note in their explanation of the problem:
‘As of this writing, all currently manufactured, low- to mid-range and higher x86 devices, with the exception of two obsolete AMD CPUs, incorporate a security processor that is cryptographically signed, updateable, unauditable, and for which no source code or documentation has been made public. Worse, these security processors must load and continually execute this signed firmware for the system to either be brought online (AMD) or for it to remain operational (Intel).’
If we want a future in which we can continue to have fully free systems that run only free software, we have to build that future ourselves. The Talos Secure Workstation is a proposed system to help secure that future. Their plans are to create a device that will meet the criteria for [Respects Your Freedom] certification, but in order for their plans to come to fruition, they need your help. You can support their work by backing the project via their [crowdfunding page], or even better, by purchasing a mainboard andaccessory package. Every little bit counts. Will you help support the future of free computing?
The other week I pointed out a RISC-V project on CrowdSupply:
There’s another one, as Jeremy Bennett Embecosm announced on the Open Source Hardware User Group list:
Another RISC-V project
Hot on the heels OnChip and Open-V of comes
I note they have already met their target on the first day (it wasn’t a very hard target).
The Free Software Foundation is supporting the Libre Tea Computer Card’s crowdfunding effort.
“The Earth-friendly EOMA68 Computing Devices project is a crowdfunding campaign run on Crowd Supply to produce a line of hardware products that are ecologically responsible and built based on royalty-free, unencumbered hardware standards. […] After working closely with the developers and reviewing a sample test board, we are confident that their plans are to create a device that can achieve our Respects Your Freedom (RYF) certification. […] The project is being developed by Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton of Rhombus-Tech and is sponsored by Christopher Waid of ThinkPenguin, a company that sells [multiple RYF-certified hardware products. […] The Libre Tea Computer Card is built with an Allwinner A20 dual core processor configured to use the main CPU for graphics; it has 2 GB of RAM and 8 GB of NAND Flash; […]
Bunnie has a new book out, available via Crowdsupply, called “The Essential Guide to Electronics in Shenzhen“:
“A sourcing tool designed to help non-Mandarin speakers navigate the Hua Qiang electronics market. Going to Shenzhen, China is a massive enabler for Makers, hackers, and entrepreneurs alike. The Essential Guide to Electronics in Shenzhen is the book I wish I had when I first stepped foot into China a decade ago. I started visiting the Shenzhen electronic markets about 10 years ago. There, I learned about supply chains and how to mass-produce hardware. Over the years, I’ve blogged about my experiences in Shenzhen: ‘MLTalk with Joi Ito, Nadya Peek and Me’ and ‘Products over Patents’, and given tours of the markets to parties ranging from graduate students at the MIT Media Lab, to VCs and executives. I’ve spent a lot of time on the ground in Shenzhen figuring out how to build my (often quirky) pet projects, ranging from my own version of a Shanzhai phone to a bespoke ARM-based laptop, to interactive conference badges that encourage participants to breed unique light patterns through virtual sexual reproduction. With your help, we can add to that list a book that will help readers transform their own dreams into products. ” […]
A new USB-firmware-based open hardware product is being funded on CrowdSupply: Numato Lab’s Opsis, an FPGA-based HDMI2USB video capture device:
The Opsis was designed to run the HDMI2USB firmware developed by the TimVideos.us project. This firmware makes it easy to build automated conference/event recording systems. The HDMI2USB.tv firmware emulates a standard UVC webcam, allowing any video software, such as Skype, Google Hangouts, or WebRTC, to then send it to an online audience.