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USB-Based NIC Torrents While Your PC Sleeps

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the talking-in-your-sleep dept.

Networking 246

jangel sends us to WindowsForDevices.com for news on a prototype device created by researchers from Microsoft and UC San Diego. It's a USB-based NIC that includes its own ARM processor and flash storage, and can download files or torrent while a host PC is sleeping. As a result, its inventors say, the "Somniloquy" device slashes power usage by up to 50x. The device requires a few tweaks on the host OS side save state before sleeping. The prototype works with a Vista host but the hardware comprising the NIC is based on a Linux stack. Here is the research paper (PDF).

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I suppose I am not (5, Funny)

nnnich (1454535) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740235)

I had the realization that I'm not geek enough to care about posting on this topic.

Re:I suppose I am not (5, Funny)

SCPRedMage (838040) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740521)

And yet you did...

Re:I suppose I am not (1)

Mad Merlin (837387) | more than 5 years ago | (#27741359)

And yet you did...

Not only that, but fast enough to get a first post.

Re:I suppose I am not (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27740541)

Air Force One did 9/11!!!

I felt... (5, Funny)

Anenome (1250374) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740253)

I read the article, then I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of music executives cried out in terror and were suddenly calling their RIAA lawyers...

Re:I felt... (5, Funny)

ZosX (517789) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740315)

NOW I don't have mod points! Damnit!

Re:I felt... (5, Funny)

insane_machine (952012) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740693)

I do!

Oh, wait...

Re:I felt... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27741235)

You had, you started to post, realized you were doing something wrong, yet posted anyway. Are you George Bush? The name and the behaviour certainly suggest it.

Re:I felt... (1)

Korbeau (913903) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740959)

Use the force!

Re:I felt... (1)

quangdog (1002624) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740373)

That wasn't the force that was disturbed - well, maybe it was the dark side...but then, how would you have felt it?

Oh, wait...

I bow to our new USB-Based NIC overlords....

Re:I felt... (5, Funny)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740379)

Well, let me be the first to welcome our somnambulant pirate overlords... ;-)

Perfect for the computer lab (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27740273)

Plug it in at the end of the day, pick it up in the morning. RIAA/MPAA catches the traffic? No tracing it back to you.

Re:Perfect for the computer lab (5, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740333)

If it had Wifi, you could just stick it to the bottom of a table at your favorite coffee shop.

Re:Perfect for the computer lab (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27740401)

If it had Wifi, you could just stick it to the bottom of a table at your favorite coffee shop.

RTFA

Pulled directly from the link:

The resulting device, pictured above, includes a 200MHz Marvell PXA255 processor with 64MB of RAM and 16MB of flash storage, 10/100 Ethernet, WiFi, and an SD slot which was fitted with a 2GB memory card.

Re:Perfect for the computer lab (4, Informative)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 5 years ago | (#27741123)

2GB memory card - not nearly big enough. My torrent PC has 320GB hard drive which sometimes is too small.

A nice idea though. Now add a IDE or SATA port to it and make it autonomous, well, like a PC with the torrent software, so that I can:

1.set up the network, load the .torrent files, disconnect it from my PC, connect it to a battery and leave it somewhere to download. The ability to change MAC address would be useful.
2.If it is used as a network card - the small CPU should still work and download files so that if the host PC freezes or has a BSOD the downloads continue.

Re:Perfect for the computer lab (2, Informative)

nathan.fulton (1160807) | more than 5 years ago | (#27741389)

Hence SD. You can get 8GB for like $20.00. That's enough data that you will want some of it before the whole thing fills up -- meaning you can delete what's already there and let it fill up again.

Re:Perfect for the computer lab (4, Interesting)

Aranykai (1053846) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740467)

This is why I bought an eee. Run quite awhile when the monitor is turned off :P

With a 26GB cap on my down pipe a month, it really saves me that I can stash this thing at the library and pull all my low priority large files.

Re:Perfect for the computer lab (4, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740529)

If it had Wifi, you could just stick it to the bottom of a table at your favorite coffee shop.

You might need to build a dumb USB power supply for it though. How about a 9 volt battery, a resistor and a zener diode?

Re:Perfect for the computer lab (5, Informative)

colsandurz45 (1314477) | more than 5 years ago | (#27741035)

You might need to build a dumb USB power supply for it though. How about a 9 volt battery, a resistor and a zener diode?

How about that's extremely inefficient. For an additional $0.50 you can get a voltage regular or DC-DC converter. Come on, I'm on the digital side of EE and I know better.

Re:Perfect for the computer lab (5, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27741135)

You might need to build a dumb USB power supply for it though. How about a 9 volt battery, a resistor and a zener diode?

How about that's extremely inefficient. For an additional $0.50 you can get a voltage regular or DC-DC converter. Come on, I'm on the digital side of EE and I know better.

Yeah I really should have gone for the switchmode solution and saved a few microwatts. In my day sonny we were glad to have zeners. I had to walk all day in the snow....up hill...oh stuff it.

Re:Perfect for the computer lab (1)

colsandurz45 (1314477) | more than 5 years ago | (#27741249)

Yeah I really should have gone for the switchmode solution and saved a few microwatts. In my day sonny we were glad to have zeners. I had to walk all day in the snow....up hill...oh stuff it.

Do you really think a voltage regular only saves a microwatts compared a zener?

Re:Perfect for the computer lab (4, Funny)

drizek (1481461) | more than 5 years ago | (#27741063)

You don't need a 9v battery, just 4 1.2v rechargeable AAs. Duct tape the two together and chuck it through an RIAA window hoping it picks up a signal.

Re:Perfect for the computer lab (1, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27741105)

You don't need a 9v battery, just 4 1.2v rechargeable AAs. Duct tape the two together and chuck it through an RIAA window hoping it picks up a signal.

Come to think it forget about the signal. Just short the rechargeable AAs and chuck them through the window

Re:Perfect for the computer lab (5, Interesting)

igny (716218) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740601)

You better use the competitor of your favorite coffee shop.

RIAA/MPAA catches the traffic? No tracing it back (1)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740995)

I was wondering about that myself.

No need. (4, Funny)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740287)

I already torrent furiously in my sleep.

Re:No need. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27740767)

funny never heard masturbation called that before..

Re:No need. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27741423)

Sharing is caring.

Seeding, It does a body good!

Seriously tho...

You could Store your Data on some chicks boobies with an implant of one of these things.

Two. Great. Big. Hard Drives. with WiFi and all the rest.

Could be powered by jiggling alone.

Storing porn /IN/ porn? Imagine the potential!

Re:No need. (1)

woot account (886113) | more than 5 years ago | (#27741069)

Colorless green ideas sleep furiously?

Wow. (1, Insightful)

2names (531755) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740289)

A tiny computer that can download files while another computer sits idly by.

Big. Fucking. Deal.

Re:Wow. (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740397)

That is the boring bit. Were that what TFA is actually about, the correct response would be "Yawn. Get an NSLU2. Or a Gumstix, big deal."

The interesting(hardly earthshaking; but interesting) bit is the work they did on interaction between the gumstix board and the full PC. Making a little computer do stuff is trivial, making common applications IM, bittorrent, and parts of the network state, running on the full PC work with the little computer in a reasonably clever way is rather less so.

Re:Wow. (1)

Chabo (880571) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740581)

It'd be even better if it included PeerGuardian as part of the application bundle as well.

Re:Wow. (5, Interesting)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740879)

PeerGuardian is a trap. Consider.

Loads of people are torrenting at any one time. Probably the vast majority of them will torrent a few files and then stop. A small minority will torrent 24/7 maxing out their pipes.

Now if you want to shut down filesharing it is this small minority that you want to target, firstly because they are a legally inviting target - it's hard for them to claim they are innocent if you can show they were maxing out their DSL connection 24/7. Also from a PR point of view it's better to sue the hard core pirates than the casual ones - you avoid headlines about grandmothers being sued for thousands of dollars because their grandkids downloaded a couple of songs. Last but not least they are the ones seeding most of the files because the casual torrenters download what they want and then shutdown the application.

Normally of course there's no good way looking at one torrent to work out which torrenters are the hard core minority and which are casual torrenters.

Enter PeerGuardian.

The hard core torrenters will download and install it and the casual ones won't bother. Now you have an easy way to distinguish the two. Try to connect from a few IP addresses on the blocklist, and try to connect from a few that aren't. The last point is important - anti piracy organisations have lots of employees and could easily ask those employees to run some sort of tool from their home DSL connection, or they could buy a few DSL modems and stick them in the basement, or use a VPN to a pool of residential IP connections. I.e. it's quite easy for them to get hold of IP addresses which are not in their organisational IP block. So long as they don't attack torrents from those IP addresses there is no reason for those addresses to be blacklisted.

So PeerGuardian provides no protection for downloaders and it provides very useful information to anti piracy organisations.

If you don't want to get sued, don't seed and don't install things like PeerGuardian.

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27741343)

Too bad that torrent clients and the bit torrent protocol in general require you to seed. Tit for tat protocol remember. If you want the data, you have to share the data. Well, at least if you want it in this century instead of 4GB or more @ 1kb/s (WoW and AoC, I am looking at you). Did you even have any idea at all how Bittorent works?

But seriously...some protection is better than no protection at all, and your fallacious argument about suing grannies is just silly. They've sued DEAD PEOPLE.

Re:Wow. (4, Funny)

somenickname (1270442) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740727)

Actually, I thought the interesting bit was the part where Microsoft Research was involved in creating a device that ran linux. I find it very hard to believe that they couldn't slim down Vista enough for this project.

Re:Wow. (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740747)

I'm pretty sure that if you work at Microsoft and were capable of getting Vista running on a 400MHz ARM board with 64MB of RAM, they would either promote you to "Emperor of Microsoft" or bury you in a shallow grave outside of town.

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27741115)

Door number 3: Chair to the face!

Re:Wow. (4, Insightful)

nathan.fulton (1160807) | more than 5 years ago | (#27741411)

I'm pretty sure that if you work at Microsoft and were capable of getting Vista running on a 400MHz ARM board with 64MB of RAM, they would either promote you to "Emperor of Microsoft" or bury you in a shallow grave outside of town.

C'mon man, this is Microsoft. They will do both.

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27741037)

It is a Gumstix, asshole.

Re:Wow. (2, Insightful)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740429)

it is a "BIG FUCKING DEAL" when you consider people all of the world are leaving (and wasting power) their computers on to see "Watchmen" before it comes out.

Or download a game that you play one time and decide - this sucks, so you save EVEN MORE MONEY.

My guess is that you do not pay your own electricity bill.

50x less? (4, Informative)

Enry (630) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740307)

Argh!

It's one of the following:

1/50 the power usage

or

a standard PC uses 50x the power of this NIC

Re:50x less? (0, Troll)

CompassIIDX (1522813) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740415)

Calm down.

Re:50x less? (4, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740533)

Yet you knew immediately what the phrase meant. Gee, it's almost like it got its point across with perfect clarity.

Re:50x less? (4, Insightful)

Enry (630) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740619)

Yes, and I cn rd wrds tht r splld wtht vwls, but that doesn't make it right.

Re:50x less? (1)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 5 years ago | (#27741021)

What?

Re:50x less? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27740535)

Pro tip: 50x less means exactly the same thing as both of the things you guessed, so obviously you understood it just like everyone else. No need for the senseless rant on the evolution of our language.

Re:50x less? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27740707)

Not really. What is 1x? 1x=100%. So "Using 1x less" would be using no electricity at all.

If you are using 1 unit of electricity, 50x would be 50 units. Using 50x LESS would mean 1 unit - 50 units = -49 units. Holy crap it makes electricity.

Enry is much more correct.

Re:50x less? (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 5 years ago | (#27741149)

so, if you are using 1 unit of electricity, 50x would be 50 units (50 x 1 unit). Using 50x LESS would mean 0.02 units so that (0.02 x 50 = 1).

Re:50x less? (5, Funny)

jamesh (87723) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740669)

Thanks for clarifying that. When I read the article, I assumed that 50x less meant that if a normal computer used 10w, this device 'used' -500W, or actually generated 500W. Boy was I wrong!

(I'm kidding of course - I didn't read the article :)

KillerNIC? (4, Informative)

bstreiff (457409) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740313)

Isn't this somewhat akin to what the much-hyped KillerNIC [slashdot.org] was all about-- a separate device to offload network activity (for example, BitTorrent downloads)?

Re:KillerNIC? (3, Informative)

Vu1turEMaN (1270774) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740545)

No. Not at all.

Re:KillerNIC? (2, Interesting)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740587)

This one works while your computer is in a sleep state. The KillerNIC does not. Sure, it could in theory, but the software to do so doesn't come with it, and no third party ever developed such an app.

So while hardware offloading network activity is nothign new, software to run downloads while the computer is asleep is quite new, and quite nice.

At a reasonable price, I'd consider getting one myself, just to save on power costs.

Re:KillerNIC? (3, Interesting)

igny (716218) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740725)

A number of NASes can download files from web, like this one [synology.com]

Re:KillerNIC? (2, Informative)

blitzkrieg3 (995849) | more than 5 years ago | (#27741155)

In a way this is the exact opposite. The KillerNIC is designed to offload network processing to a host OS on the NIC while the computer is on. It promises do deliver better performance by using more power.

The NIC in the article acts a passthrough when the computer is on, and only starts doing its work when you turn the host PC off. It promises to deliver better energy usage by shutting the PC off.

SoC - exist today (2, Interesting)

bfmorgan (839462) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740357)

I've got the Sheevaplug that has the Marvell SoC. Its got an SD interface, 512 MB ram, USB 2.0 and the size of a wall wart. It is running Ubuntu and I have it scheduled to pick up torrent files nightly. Cost $99 for the Sheevaplug and $14 for the SD card. For additional space a .5TB hard drive can be connected via the USB for those really big files.

Re:SoC - exist today (1)

johnsonav (1098915) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740831)

Yep, Sheevaplug rocks. 500GB USB drive, rTorrent, and then uShare to the Xbox360. No muss, no fuss, no hassle. And, it has the capacity to do a lot more. Works out of the box, and everything is just an apt-get away.

Re:SoC - exist today (1)

Killer Orca (1373645) | more than 5 years ago | (#27741047)

Yep, Sheevaplug rocks. 500GB USB drive, rTorrent, and then uShare to the Xbox360. No muss, no fuss, no hassle. And, it has the capacity to do a lot more. Works out of the box, and everything is just an apt-get away.

Yes, uShare would be nice if the project was still being updated, for now it works fine but for how much longer I'm unsure.

KillerNIC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27740361)

The KillerNIC has been operating as an independent torrent device for years. It's overpriced so people ignore it, but it works well and runs Linux.

I guess this is nice because it saves power? There are other dedicated torrent devices for that - ones with proper hard drives instead of SD cards. I don't mean to come down as overly negative, but this is really not impressing me.

Uploading? (1)

autovertical (1453941) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740363)

I imagine it wouldn't be very cost effective to download, more for uploading since flash cards aren't exactly cheap..... Music however, wouldn't be a problem.

why get one of these when (2, Insightful)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740365)

there are so many other low-powered devices that will do so much more. like you could probably mod a router to run rtorrent and plenty of NAS already have torrent support. i have rtorrent running off a pico-itx board that also hosts my website,email,ftp,ssh,gopher,xmpp, a few python socket servers for random crap and if i had a script that would make me appear to be logged in on all those social networking sites 25/7 it would run this too.

having something that only supports bittorrent seems pretty limiting when you can have a fully featured unix CLI-based machine with plenty of room for expansion. but i said the same thing about a device that would "only play mp3's" in 2000

Re:why get one of these when (1)

Mr. Roadkill (731328) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740679)

having something that only supports bittorrent seems pretty limiting when you can have a fully featured unix CLI-based machine with plenty of room for expansion. but i said the same thing about a device that would "only play mp3's" in 2000

From the article, it's not just bittorrent - they've got other large downloads in mind too. It'd be nice to be able to leave a device like that downloading something like the entire debian stable branch for my particular architecture to a soon-to-be-cheap 64 gigabyte micro-SDHC card - a nice little pocket-sized debian mirror, up to date and fully populated from my ISP's free mirror just in case I need it. That may be a bit beyond what's described in TFA, but not by much.

Having that kind of functionality in your router or in a box on your network is nice, but you can't necessarily take that with you wherever you go. Plus, as that kind of device gets more powerful over time, it'd be nice to have a decent firewall built into the NIC too. Give it a few years... they haven't commercialised these things yet, and there will be a *far* bigger difference between this and future versions of this concept than there is between a circa-1999 MP3 player and the iPod Touch.

Re:why get one of these when (1)

corychristison (951993) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740931)

all those social networking sites 25/7 it would run this too.

Either that is a typo of I missed the memo.

Re:why get one of these when (1)

corychristison (951993) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740949)

Talk about typos!

I need to learn how to press that Preview button first. Is there a way it always Previews before posting (while logged in)?

Re:why get one of these when (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#27741079)

you could probably mod a router to run rtorrent

Bittorrent clients can be resource intensive though. rtorrent appears to be ncurses-based, which is a bit spartan for my taste. I've been using azureus, but the memory consumption is ridiculous - like, 200+ megabytes for 1 or 2 torrents!

What's an easy-to-use, full-featured, but resource-light torrent app?

The year of linux on the desktop. (1, Funny)

Cozminsky (452030) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740377)

This is truly the year of linux on the desktop. Even Microsoft is embracing it now.

Re:The year of linux on the desktop. (1)

InsertWittyNameHere (1438813) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740443)

The won't let it run Linux out of the lab.

The specs will be upped to 1.6GHz atom processor, 1GB Ram, it will be the size of a netbook and it's going to run Windows 7 Starter Edition, limited to 3 torrents at a time.

Re:The year of linux on the desktop. (1)

supernova_hq (1014429) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740561)

limited to 3 peers at a time.

There, fixed that for you.

Already have this... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27740403)

I already have Torrent functionality in my Asus W500L router with support for storing the files onto any attached USB drive.

Why the need for this device when you'll need your router on anyway?

Torrents going green?!?!!? (2, Funny)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740405)

well... thats the color that little icon with a u on it is at least :P

There's another name for such a device (4, Informative)

jdb2 (800046) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740455)

It's called the "Killer NIC" [killernic.com] . It's a PCI Express network card which offloads network packet processing to a custom embedded Linux distro running on a 400MHz ARM processor with 256MB of RAM, and oh, it works with Vista. As it's independent of the main CPU, it can run applications, such as a bittorrent client [bigfootnetworks.com] , while the main CPU attends to other tasks while still acting as a NIC for the main CPU even if one of the on-board applications is also network oriented -- they call this "Flexible Network Architecture" [killernic.com] or "FNA apps." Oh, and did I mention that it has a USB port for storage of such applications and any associated data ( such as files downloaded via Bittorent ) on a USB flash drive?

Another "great innovation" from Microsoft.

jdb2

Re:There's another name for such a device (1)

SCPRedMage (838040) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740551)

Can it continue to download torrents and such while the computer is powered-down/in stand-by?

Re:There's another name for such a device (2, Interesting)

Locutus (9039) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740681)

Dell did it one step better and put the ARM chip in the laptop along side the x86 CPU. I forget what version of laptop does this but it's currently used for instant-On but has full network access and I guess it shares it with Windows since they said Windows can boot while using the ARM stuff.

But as someone else stated, why not just put DD-WRT oh your router and let the torrents work from there.

LoB

Re:There's another name for such a device (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740827)

But as someone else stated, why not just put DD-WRT oh your router and let the torrents work from there.

2 things

1. The KillerNIC doesn't work while the computer is in sleep mode
2. The KillerNIC (or a DD-WRT capable router)is never going to get put into a laptop

I'd jump on this NIC in a heartbeat if they could shrink it down to ExpressCard size,
though I suspect it'll just eventually get integrated into Intel motherboards.

Re:There's another name for such a device (1)

gparent (1242548) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740771)

You forgot to RTFA and find out that the Killer NIC won't do it while your computer sleeps.

Re:There's another name for such a device (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740837)

The KillerNIC can not do this independently of the host like this device can. With Microsoft's prototype you can put your main computer to sleep (not off) and it continues to download.

The smart bit I see is the interaction: the take-over of the network state by the NIC from the main PC and vice versa, and the transfer of torrent files (this of course includes the downloaded bits and so), current connections, and whatnot. That is quite cool and afaik not done before.

So this one for a change appears to be a real innovation by Microsoft. Good to see that those thousands of smart guys can now and then pull off something that at least on the surface is innovative. They should do that more, seriously. Maybe Microsoft should, like e.g. Google and Philip's Natlab of old, give all their research employees a day a week full freedom to work on their own pet projects.

Re:There's another name for such a device (2, Insightful)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 5 years ago | (#27741181)

The killer XENO pro and Ultra WILL do this while the computer sleeps.

though the device is pci-e and will require a BIOS that supports this function.

Re:There's another name for such a device (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27740957)

Cut the ad crap dude !

Other functionality (5, Funny)

PopeGumby (1125507) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740461)

Yeah, but can it stay up all night looking up wikipedia for names of obscure early-90s dance acts and then scour all the torrent sites for full albums instead of just "Best of 90's Dance You Like Me Now?" compilations, and then stare at bittorrent, begging more seeders to come online to increase the speed from 0.01KB/s, and then say "screw it" and download the latest metallica and eminem albums on principle, delete them without listening to them, because it doesnt really like metallica or eminem, and then wander off to youtube to watch old WCW videos?

If not, it can't truly duplicate my torrent experience.

Re:Other functionality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27741163)

You do know a scripting language, right?

Ridiculous (1)

darpo (5213) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740503)

Most ridiculous thing I've seen in awhile. I guess it would be pretty low power. But why not use a headless torrent server on an older box you weren't using for anything? I just can't see this device being standardized in any way, compared to a regular old server.

Re:Ridiculous (1)

supernova_hq (1014429) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740595)

Not to us geeks. But remember, the people they are selling these to bought VISTA for gods sake! They'll buy anything...

Eh (2, Insightful)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740511)

The trouble is, this extra hardware will be a PITA to use. You'll have to have special versions of all your torrent software, IM software, etc that run on this device. The complicated way it works means that it will be heavily OS dependent, and vulnerable to all kind of glitches and problems. It's just too complex a technology to use in order to save a few watts.

Worse, every time it wakes up your main machine's mechanical fans and hard drives, it increases the wear on those components.

A much better approach is a multi-processor PC with the technology to completely shut down un-used CPU cores and reduce fan RPM, combined with SSDs for storage. Such a setup would let you continue to run your normal software - even let you use the PC for low powered desktop apps - and when you do something that demands more power, the system would wake up.

Right now, AMD is much better for this : the low end, passively cool ATI graphics cards will run at a fraction of their normal clock-speed when idle in desktop mode. The current quad core AMD CPUs will severely underclock the unused CPU cores as well. It's not as good as a complete shut-down, but a decent AMD rig with variable speed fans (with an SSD of course) can now be built to run quietly on low power, but provide high performance on demand.

Re:Eh (1)

blitzkrieg3 (995849) | more than 5 years ago | (#27741347)

I think you may need to RTFA:

4.4 Applications Using Stubs

To demonstrate how modest application stubs can enable significant sleep-mode operation in Somniloquy, we have also implemented application stubs for three applications that were popular in our informal survey: background web download, peer to peer content distribution using BitTorrent, and instant messaging. For all these appli- cations, we did not have to modify the operating system or the existing applications on the PC, which were only available to us in binaries. To capture the state of the application for the respective stub, we wrote wrappers around the binaries.

Emphasis mine.

With external power it'd just be a bittorrent NAS. (3, Interesting)

SpazmodeusG (1334705) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740523)

Here's something that hobyists have been doing for a long time. Get a router or NAS that can run Linux and put all the services you want on it. You now have something that works when your computer is completely powered down (not just in S3 sleep mode), requires no USB ports and if you really want to you can enable wake-on-LAN on your computer and have the same ability to remotely wake your computer with a particular network message as this board gives.

This gives new meaning to the term (3, Interesting)

enoz (1181117) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740567)

Zombie computers.

It's already been done (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27740585)

You can purchase a linksys router that will download your torrents to a usb hdd or cf card. One less thing that takes up a usb port.

Re:It's already been done (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740685)

yep and one less thing to get owned when your Vista powered PC gets hijacked by some type of malware.

Torrents should be the router's job (4, Interesting)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740621)

This is dumb. I mean, every house already has a running device with an ARM processor: their router! It would be so much more logical if torrents ran on the router than on a PC. For one thing, the router could throttle back the torrent if computers on the network were asking for data, and it could upload full bore when everyone is asleep.

Before you post links to routers with a USB port and a shoddy torrent client: I know about these, and it's a step in the right direction, but the interface needs to be much better. I should click on a torrent file on my bedroom computer and have that torrent be loaded into my router.

I like the idea that this thing accepts SD flash cards. Pretty soon, 8GB will be trivially cheap, and that could serve as cache. Periodically, as the cache fills up, the router could wake up a computer, transfer finished files to it and put it back to sleep. This wouldn't be hard - any proper geek could write a script to do this.

Re:Torrents should be the router's job (1)

melikamp (631205) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740687)

Hmm. Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:Torrents should be the router's job (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27740795)

Instead of waking a computer, you could have a NAS or File Server (FreeNAS) wake up to do the offloading. A lot simpler, and FreeNAS has many protocols to handle something like this.

Re:Torrents should be the router's job (3, Interesting)

blitzkrieg3 (995849) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740965)

This is dumb. I mean, every house already has a running device with an ARM processor: their router! It would be so much more logical if torrents ran on the router than on a PC. For one thing, the router could throttle back the torrent if computers on the network were asking for data, and it could upload full bore when everyone is asleep.

I like the idea that this thing accepts SD flash cards. Pretty soon, 8GB will be trivially cheap, and that could serve as cache. Periodically, as the cache fills up, the router could wake up a computer, transfer finished files to it and put it back to sleep. This wouldn't be hard - any proper geek could write a script to do this.

This makes me wonder if this is already possible with a little hardware hacking and something like openwrt. The only piece currently missing is the "I'm going to bed" packet from the client to the router, and the "go back to sleep packet" you mentioned. When a client goes to sleep, the router takes over the connections using whatever the mechanism is in this paper, and starts caching rx packets.

Then either when the buffer gets full or a certain pre-defined packet signature triggers the router, the router can send a replay of what happened at 100Mbps back to the client, which is all transparent to the OS.

The caveat of course being that the network stack would need to be similar, you can't have the client machine thinking it sent a RST where the router didn't. And the router would need to decide which packets it can handle, and which are unimportant, and which need to cause a wakeup. But on the surface there isn't a lot stopping a POC of this kind of thing.

Re:Torrents should be the router's job (4, Interesting)

SpazmodeusG (1334705) | more than 5 years ago | (#27741405)

Well if the router is always on anyway why have the services only switch to the router when the computer goes to sleep? Why not have the services permanantly running on the router?
A lot of people run rtorrent on their WL-500g's and use an rtorrent front end on the PC. It works perfectly well. rTorrent continuosly downloads on the router and the front end transparantly displays information as if it was downloading locally. No moving of the service to have it running on the PC or embedded device is required.

Really this board in the article has no advantages over a bittorrent capable router that i can see. It only allows 1 computer to make use of the services on the embedded device, so you'd need 1 for each computer. It takes up 2 USB ports when really it already has connectivity to the computer via the LAN anyway so why the need for USB at all? It still requires the modem/router to be on to work, so it uses more power than just a bittorrent router. It doesn't work when the computer is in hibernate or off completely, only when in S3 or above. It doesn't have any other storage options but the SD-Card...
I could go on but you get the idea.

Don't you mean MIPS processor. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27741089)

The famous broadcom 802.11g router chip and its successors use MIPS based microprocessors, not ARM.

not even a proof of concept (1)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 5 years ago | (#27740643)

The makers say this is a proof of concept. But it isn't. Networking protocols are incredibly flexible, on purpose. This device cannot know how to answer on a given socket unless the code I've written to answer is running on this device. Which isn't going to happen since my code is running in a different address space, on a different processor architecture on a different OS.

USB + NIC (1)

criptic08 (1255326) | more than 5 years ago | (#27741029)

For places where you don't have two ethernet cables, using a _USB_ primary NIC doesn't sit well with me at all. Reaching under my desk to switch cables isn't an option either.

why dont you linux fags just come out ? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27741053)

we already know you're a bunch of dick smoking faggots.

Neat concept (2, Interesting)

Demonantis (1340557) | more than 5 years ago | (#27741129)

I like the idea it makes the computer much more efficient. The one design decision that confuses me is the choice of using the nic card. I guess it benefits those without a router, but couldn't you just develop a os for a nas that does the exact same thing. Main benefit is that it doesn't require a proprietary nic card designed for torrenting.

I call bullshit (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27741171)

I've been "in" computers for a good deal of my professional life and I've never downloaded a file, legal or otherwise, using bit torrent. I just don't care to. But here on Slashdot it's such a BIG DEAL, as if so many people do it. So many slashdotters perhaps, but out in the Real World, meh.

This RIAA torrent business is just like pornography; the volume is huge but mostly because the file format is huge. Don't equate that to popularity across the population. Nobody gives a shit about microscopic torrent clients other than the RIAA (because it keeps their criminally executed quest in the public eye) and the Slashdot crowd (because they're locked in a macabre dance with the RIAA, like praying mantises, where one of you keeps fucking after your head has been chewed off by the other.)

Yippee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27741175)

Right, so they've created a prototype of what's been running on my old NSLU2 box for the last several months: NSLU2 + screen + rtorrent + flexget.py + ccxstream = all this and much more

Total cost: $0 (well, I had the NSLU2 plus a 8Gb USB key lying around)

something similar (3, Interesting)

tibman (623933) | more than 5 years ago | (#27741333)

My housemate has something similar. It's the typical NAS with two drives, but the cool part is the web interface. You can c&p torrent urls straight into it and even manage all your existing torrents through the web interface. So every computer in the house has a central torrent location. When it's time to play L4D we don't have to go around checking which machine is sucking all the band, we just log into the NAS and pause the torrents.

Just went and looked at it. It's a D-link DNS 323 (company link: http://www.dlink.com/products/?pid=509 [dlink.com] ).

I'd say the d-link beats the Microsoft research team's device (even though gumstix is awesome). No pc required and it can sit anywhere on your network.

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