Open Source Hardware certification update

The Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA) has updated their certification:

After almost a year and a half of community discussion, OSHWA unveiled the Open Source Hardware Certification Program at the 2016 Open Hardware Summit. Today, with the help of a major grant from the Sloan Foundation, we are excited to announce that we are taking major steps towards Certification 2.0. The original certification program has some fairly straightforward goals. It is designed to make it easy for creators to identify their hardware as compliant with the community definition of open source hardware, as well as make it easy for users to know that hardware that is advertised as “open source” meets their expectations. The certification process gives a creator confidence that they have done everything required to call their hardware open source. The certification logo gives users confidence that they will be able to access, build upon, and hack any hardware that they receive. We didn’t know what to expect when we launched the certification program and have been blown away by the results. There are currently 170 certified hardware projects from 18 countries on 5 continents participating in the program.[…]

Facebook’s Big Sur


Big Sur is our newest Open Rack-compatible hardware designed for AI computing at a large scale. In collaboration with partners, we’ve built Big Sur to incorporate eight high-performance GPUs of up to 300 watts each, with the flexibility to configure between multiple PCI-e topologies. Leveraging NVIDIA’s Tesla Accelerated Computing Platform, Big Sur is twice as fast as our previous generation, which means we can train twice as fast and explore networks twice as large. And distributing training across eight GPUs allows us to scale the size and speed of our networks by another factor of two.

In addition to the improved performance, Big Sur is far more versatile and efficient than the off-the-shelf solutions in our previous generation. While many high-performance computing systems require special cooling and other unique infrastructure to operate, we have optimized these new servers for thermal and power efficiency, allowing us to operate them even in our own free-air cooled, Open Compute standard data centers. Big Sur was built with the NVIDIA Tesla M40 in mind but is qualified to support a wide range of PCI-e cards. We also anticipate this will achieve efficiencies in production and manufacturing, meaning we’ll get a lot more computational power per dollar we invest.

Servers can also require maintenance and hefty operational resources, so, like the other hardware in our data centers, Big Sur was designed around operational efficiency and serviceability. We’ve removed the components that don’t get used very much, and components that fail relatively frequently — such as hard drives and DIMMs — can now be removed and replaced in a few seconds. Touch points for technicians are all Pantone 375 C green, the same touch-point color as all of Facebook’s custom data center hardware, which allows technicians to intuitively identify, access and remove parts. No special training or service guide is really needed. Even the motherboard can be removed within a minute, whereas on the original AI hardware platform it would take over an hour. In fact, Big Sur is almost entirely toolless — the CPU heat sinks are the only things you need a screwdriver for.
Collaboration through open source

We plan to open-source Big Sur and will submit the design materials to the Open Compute Project (OCP). Facebook has a culture of support for open source software and hardware, and FAIR has continued that commitment by open-sourcing our code and publishing our discoveries as academic papers freely available from open-access sites. We’re very excited to add hardware designed for AI research and production to our list of contributions to the community.

We want to make it a lot easier for AI researchers to share techniques and technologies. As with all hardware systems that are released into the open, it’s our hope that others will be able to work with us to improve it. We believe that this open collaboration helps foster innovation for future designs, putting us all one step closer to building complex AI systems that bring this kind of innovation to our users and, ultimately, help us build a more open and connected world.


Open Source Hardware for Scientists

Joshua M. Pearce has an article on Scientific American’s blog, talking about making lab hardware using Open Source Hardware model.

Science for All: How to Make Free, Open Source Laboratory Hardware

[…] If you are a working scientist, it is in your best interest to share the designs for your hardware. Consider for example the humble lab jack, which is used to move heavy or bulky equipment small distances up or down (we use one in my lab to move solar photovoltaic materials into a light path, for example). I received a shocking $950 quote for one. Although much less expensive lab jacks are available, we wanted a customizable lab jack. We designed one for less than $5 and shared it on the web. Then the fun began. A Finnish maker recommended an improved assembly that made it better and since then over 3,700 others have downloaded the designs. Next, a French scientist shared a better design that reduces the number of non-3-D printed parts. Most recently a Seattle-based company posted a 100% 3-D printable version. It even prints assembled! Now anytime I need a lab jack I can print one out of recyclebot-made plastic filament for a few pennies. […]

Full article:

PS: Next year’s Open Hardware Summit will be in Portland Oregon in October 2016-timeframe:

Olimex ARM64 OSH laptop update

Olimex is working on an Open Source Hardware-based AArch64-based laptop, based on their Open Source Hardware-based AArch64 dev board. They have a update on the system. Including some prototype pictures:

“needless to mention this window button will become Tux. :-)”

I wonder about what firmware they’ll use, and if the use will be able to update it themselves, from source….

OSHWA announces Open Source Hardware Certification v1

Excerpting the initial text:
Open Source Hardware Certification Version 1

This is version 1 of an official certification for open source hardware housed in the Open Source Hardware Association.  It outlines the purpose and goals of such a certification, and establishes the mechanisms for the operation of the certification process itself.

Primary Goals
*  Make it easier for the public to identify open source hardware.
*  Expand the reach of open hardware by making it easier for newer members to join the open source hardware community.

Read the full document:

Andy Simpkins: Developing products in the open

Last month, at the DebConf, the annual Debian conference, there was a talk for OEMs on using Open Source Software and Free Software (FOSS), as well as using Open Source Hardware. Most have heard an Open Source advocate discuss the merits of open-source -vs- closed-source software. This talk is from the perspective of vendors who need to buy and build hardware.

Developing products in the open
Andy Simpkins
Over the last couple of decades the world of product development with embedded systems has changed considerably. Changing to Open Source (for hardware as well as software) is not easy. The world resists change, this is a brief history of where I have succeeded, where I have failed and the lessons learned. This is a not a technical talk, more a collection of observations.

The video can be downloaded in WBEM format from DebConf site, or watched online via Youtube:


Parallax announces JTAGulator:

Designed by Grand Idea Studio, JTAGulator is an open source hardware tool that assists in identifying OCD connections from test points, vias, or component pads on a target device.

The product is currently on sale for the next few days, 15% off until 2015-08-31 (US$136 instead of US$160).

Open Hardware Summit program announced

The Open Hardware Summit is the annual conference of The Open Source Harware Association (OSHWA), the world’s first comprehensive conference on the Open Source Hardware movement. This year’s summit will be on September 19, 2015 in Philadelphia, PA. The speakers and program have just been announced:

* AnnMarie Thomas, Associate Professor in the School of Engineering, the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship, and the Opus College of Business at University of St. Thomas

Science and Education:
* Ben Leduc-Mills. Open Hardware, Open Minds: The Rise of Open Hardware in Academia and K-12 Education
* Nancy Ouyang. The Rise and Fall of an Open Source Hardware Company
* Peter Marchetto. Open Hardware in Community/Citizen Science
* Ryan Fobel, Christian Fobel, Michael Dryden and Aaron Wheeler. DropBot: an Open-Source Platform for Lab Automation
* Joshua Pearce. Making Open Hardware the New Standard in Science
* Hugo Boyer. Open Source Robotics Foundation and the Robotics Fast Track

Workflow: From Chip to Product:
* Eric Wilhelm. Overview
* Sanket Gupta and Sam Wurzel. Common Parts Library
* Andreas Olofsson. Open Source Chip Design: The Final Frontier
* Hannah Stewart and James Tooze. Circularity and Community Factories – Logic and Geographies of Redistributed Manufacture and Makespaces
* J. Eric Townsend (aka jet). Foundation for a Common Object Description Language
* J. Simmons. Demonstration of Open Source Engineering Analysis and Parametric CAD Modeling for OSHW
* Kipp Bradford. Successfully Manufacturing your Open Source Hardware

Case Studies: Projects and Processes:
* Catarina Mota. History of Open Source
* Joshua Lifton. A Tale of Two Laptops: Case Studies in Open Consumer Electronics
* James Parr. ULTRASCOPE: Automated Robotic Observatory (ARO)
* Myles Cooper, Grace Ahn, Elizabeth Doyle and Michael Searing. Investigating Normal – Hacking Prosthetics
* Bevan Weissman and Dan Beyer. Dynamic Infrastructure for Social Innovation

The Role of Open Hardware Going Forward:
* Benedetta Piantella. Humanitarian Open Source Tech Projects
* Bruce Boyes. What the Wright brothers Can Teach us about Open Source vs Closed Source
* Tega Brain and Surya Mattu. Unfit Bits: Free your Fitness Data from Yourself
* Pedro Oliveira and Xuedi Chen. Open Source Riots – Appropriating Technologies for Protests of the Future
* Tom Igoe. Speaking In Tongues and Catching Flies: OSH and Connected Devices

Bunnie on closed phone platforms

Earlier this week, bunnie Huang, creator of Bunnie Studios and the open hardware-based Novena system, created a video on YouTube that helps remind people about how closed phone-based computers are, how little options consumers have, and the need for more openly-available (unlocked), Open Source Hardware, firmware, and software options, for the community to be able to drive things, not just a handful of corporations.

“The phone lies at the foundation of 21st century human (and non-human) communication, and shapes these exchanges for the hand, for the eye, and in the mind. The video was created by bunnie huang and Kevin Slavin.

RMS on Free Hardware from LibrePlanet 2015

The Free Software Foundation has released some of the videos from LibrePlanet 2015. The presentation from RMS is described as:

Free software, free hardware, and other things by Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation. Richard gives his take on some major issues facing the world of free software and explains how the free software philosophy extends to hardware.

It is a 45-minute video, the first 23 minutes are presentation, the remainder are QA. Video is here:

I have few questions of my own, from watching it:

At the beginning, he mentions that remote attestation of TPM doesn’t work, without any details on why he thinks that. I don’t understand what he’s talking about, there are multiple TNC implemenations, as well as non-TNC equivalent solutions that use TPM for network attestation. Linux-based Chrome OS, StrongSwan for Linux, Linux-IMA or OpenAttestation (OAT) for example.
If someone has more background on his perspective on remote attestation of TPM doesn’t work, please speak up. Heck, even the UEFI firmware on most modern systems have TNC support. IMO, it would have been more interesting to hear a discussion about new TPM 2.0 features, as well as TrustZone on ARM, and how that impacts various Free Software/Firmware/Hardware movements.

Later, he talks about “Free Hardware” term, which AFAICT isn’t that well-defined, and recommends using GPLv3 for hardware, and doesn’t mention OSHWA license, except to say that the alternatives offer no value. I am not sure that the existing OSHWA has the same opinion as RMS with his “Free Hardware” perspective, see March-April thread on the OSHWA list. IMO, Free Hardware -vs- Open Hardware needs some clarification. I guess, like with software, we’ll have the Open camps and the Free camp, with FSF as the Free owner and OSHWA instead of OSI for the Open camps, in addition to the Closed camps. However, unlike ISVs, I’ve never met an OEM or IHV that likes the GPL, so any Free Hardware will likely have to be community-funded, like Novena; I hope the FSF plans community-funded Free Hardware in the coming months.