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Intel Open Source Hardware Linux

Intel Releases $99 'MinnowBoard Max,' an Open-Source Single-Board Computer 97

A few months back, we posted a video interview with some of the folks behind the Linux-friendly, x86-based MinnowBoard. TechCrunch reports the release of a more powerful version of the same all-in-one computer, now with a 1.91GHz Atom E3845 processor. According to the linked article, "The board's schematics are also available for download and the Intel graphics chipset has open-source drivers so hackers can have their way with the board. While it doesn’t compete directly with the Raspberry Pi – the Pi is more an educational tool and already has a robust ecosystem – it is a way for DIYers to mess around in x86 architected systems as well as save a bit of cash. The system uses break-out boards called Lures to expand functionality."
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Intel Releases $99 'MinnowBoard Max,' an Open-Source Single-Board Computer

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  • by MindPrison ( 864299 ) on Saturday April 05, 2014 @05:24PM (#46672271) Journal
    ...considering the release of Novena. the Open Source Computer: []
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 05, 2014 @05:28PM (#46672301)

    Why is it that every time someone puts a new experimenter board they need to come up with some lame name for a daughterboard that adds capability?

  • by Hizonner ( 38491 ) on Saturday April 05, 2014 @06:45PM (#46672713)

    FPGAs aren't in any sense "open source hardware". Their physical embodiment is opaque and unmodfiable, although you do get at least some vague idea how they're organized. They're just devices that run a rather unusual form of software. That may or may not be a problem, but it's still true. ... and if you use them to emulate traditional processors, they will do it slowly and expensively, wasting their very real technical advantages.

    Being concerned about back doors isn't the only reason you'd want something to be open source... maybe you'd just like to be able to adapt and improve it. Or maybe not; hardware is a pretty unforgiving environment, and it's not obvious that that many people want to mess with it. Regardless of whether open source hardware is needed, it really doesn't exist in any significant way.

    "Significant" matters there, by the way.I said "basically NO open source hardware", and "basically" was in there for a reason. I can also have truly open source CPUs custom fabbed, but it's not something anybody does or will probably ever do.

  • Re:One of many (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 05, 2014 @06:49PM (#46672729)

    As it turns out, Intel's latest Atom offering is quite efficient and powerful. So it's not a bad deal if you've got something specific in mind. For example the cubietruck board, another $100 almost, only has a dual core A7 (I've no idea where you pulled those a10,13, and 20 numbers from). And Intel's processor here just outclasses that in every way.

    It's "expensive" from the standpoint of other miniboard computers like the rasberry-pi, but it appears you're still paying for what you get here, because what you get is pretty good.

  • by Lisias ( 447563 ) on Saturday April 05, 2014 @06:55PM (#46672763) Homepage Journal

    1GB RAM, SATA interface and a 1.5GHz x64 core.

    You can easily setup a cheap server or media center with tools you already knows, using a 2 or perhaps 4TB Hard disk and put the thing *INSIDE* the HD case.

    One size doesn't fits all!

    (and that 2GB RAM with dual core sounds yet more interesting)

  • Re:One of many (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @03:27AM (#46674467) Journal
    The CPU on any of these boards is probably adequate for most tasks. The big difference between Intel and most ARM SoCs for open source development? The GPU drivers. Intel releases documentation and code for their drivers. Most ARM SoC makers release blob drivers that work with a specific windowing system and kernel version. Trying to get running on one that only provides Android drivers, or trying to get any non-Linux OS running on them with acceleration is painful.
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @03:40AM (#46674493) Journal
    We're just about to open source our MIPS IV implementation (I'll post something to Slashdot when it's done - lots of legal paperwork for creating a community interest company to coordinate it and so on). It's written in Bluespec, which is a high-level HDL and very easy to modify (we've been setting an exercise to replace the branch predictor[1] in it to students for a couple of years now and they're able to in a couple of hours and get the required prediction rates).

    MIPS IV is nice, because it's a 64-bit ISA that's over 20 years old (the magic number for patents). FreeBSD 10 runs on it out of the box with the BERI kernel config on the Altera DE4 boards and in simulation and 10.1 should include a kernel config for the NetFPGA 10G board. These boards are pretty expensive, but we have a couple of configurations that will let it run on smaller FPGAs. Removing the FPU makes it a lot smaller and you can also build a microcontroller variant (simple static branch predictor, no MMU) that's even smaller. The simulator is slow, but just about useable (it takes about an hour to boot to single user mode, but it's enough for testing).

    It's only in the last couple of years that FPGAs have become interesting for this kind of thing. There are a few high-level HDLs appearing, because hardware is sufficiently complex that the traditional approach of throwing it all away and starting again every CPU revision is increasingly impractical. The devices themselves are now fast enough that they're useable for prototyping and getting a reasonable feel for behaviour. We can get 100-200MHz with 4 cores in a single FPGA with the latest generation - not competitive with an ASIC, but fast enough that you can actually use them. I gave a demo that ended up being more compelling than I expected because I was showing people some things running on the UART console and I'd left the network cable connected so the screen kept being spammed with messages about invalid ssh connection attempts. Nothing I was doing said 'this is a real computer' quite as much as people on the Internet trying to attack it...

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