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PCMCIA Computer Project Aims Even Higher (and Cheaper) Than Raspberry Pi

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the concept-that-can-be-turned-into-an-idea dept.

Linux 161

lkcl writes "An initiative by a Community Interest Company Rhombus Tech aims to provide Software (Libre) Developers with a PCMCIA-sized modular computer that could end up in mass-volume products. The reference design mass-volume pricing guide from the SoC manufacturer, for a device with similar capability to the Raspberry Pi, is around $15: 40% less than the $25 Raspberry Pi but for a device with an ARM Cortex A8 CPU 3x times faster than the 700mhz ARM11 used in the Raspberry Pi. GPL Kernel source code is available. A page for community ideas for motherboard designs has also been created. The overall goal is to bring more mass-volume products to market which Software (Libre) Developers have actually been involved in, reversing the trend of endemic GPL violations surrounding ARM-based mass-produced hardware. The Preorder pledge registration is now open (account creation required)." Of course, the Raspberry Pi is not only only much further along, but has recently announced an expansion module (the Gertboard).

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161 comments

Great (4, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408316)

I'll buy one of each.

Re:Great (3, Informative)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408918)

good man! feel free to fill in the preorder form http://rhombus-tech.net/allwinner_a10/orders/ [rhombus-tech.net] i'm a bit reluctant to do it on your behalf [aitch tee tee pee slashdot dot org slash tilde hatta]

please do bear in mind that in the early stage we're *not* going to sell completely untested cards in mass-volume right away, that would be foolish. we're going to follow the process that Dr Schaller has been doing on the development of the GTA04 - http://wiki.openmoko.org/wiki/GTA04_revisions [openmoko.org] as have various other projects, OpenPandora included.

so, early alpha boards go out to people prepared to take a risk, but who have the money spare (under $100, gosh, wow, break the bank why not) to consider "what the heck, this is cool, let's support this initiative" but at the same time have some expertise in embedded GNU/Linux development, and they might actually get something that works perfectly first time, and they're the ones that got it, before anyone else.

beta boards go out to people who want something that, hardware-wise, is pretty much guaranteed to work 100%, but maybe the software's not all there, and they might have to (gosh) get involved and help write it.

stable boards go out to people who really would "just like something that works, thank you, where's the debian distro image, where's the instructions for putting everything onto an sdcard, heck, where can i buy a pre-loaded MicroSD card so i don't have to do that, even".

so it's a known trade-off: the principles of Software (Libre) Development as applied to hardware: release early, release often. exactly the sort of thing that you never normally see in the development of hardware products, and i think it's pretty damn cool to be able to witness and be part of something that *isn't* GPL-violating. at bloody last.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38410180)

A humble suggestion... the preorder form could probably use a X quantity at Y unit price, or just a $Z USD total intention. Lots of people are trying to figure out how to communicate that, in various ways, in the qty field.

Re:Great (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409050)

Okay I'll bite....why? What's the point? Not the third world, as they are bypasssing our " program it yourself" early 80s phase and going straight to smartphones, see several Indian and Chinese companies that are trying to outdo each other in dropping smartphones for the third world for examples, and the first world? We have more damned chips than we know what to do with, so why?

I'm sure this will find a teeny tiny niche like Beagleboards or Arduino, which i'm trying to get the local college to use for their rocketry program, but most people aren't building rockets. Now I could at least understand the goal of OLPC, since they wanted to hand out preloaded Linux laptops that could be filled with books, now THAT made sense, but a $15 circuit board? Sorry but I don't get it other than a "for the fuck of it" kind of reason that is.

Re:Great (1)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409696)

allo mr hairyfeet - good question. much of the reasoning _is_ "for the hell of it", but it is definitely more than that. what i haven't mentioned is that my associates have contacts with very very large PRC manufacturers. we really really are in a position to go, stage by stage, from a prototyped system all the way to massive-scale production that would dwarf even Dell (because companies such as IBM and HP actually use one of the PRC manufacturers that we are in communication with). now this is *not* "bragging" - i'm mentioning it because you asked, even though there is the risk of many people reading this to go "we don't believe you, who the hell do you think you are??".

if we were planning this to be a "tiny niche" product, we would have picked SO-DIMM form-factor, not re-use of legacy PCMCIA. SO-DIMM form-factor is perfect for R&D purposes: look at the pricing and functionality of modules from colibri, or directinsight and so on. they're expensive, and they don't scale into mass-production (sadly).

but, the other thing that you're missing is that when you match up low-cost china-based factories with the kinds of retail pricing expected by Software (Libre) Developers and so on, using pricing levels set as a precedent by things precisely like the BeagleBoard, Arduino or better the Leafpad Maple, you actually make quite good profit margins.

i'm not sure if you're aware of this but the profit margins on mass-volume products, especially at the consumer-grade level, are pretty damn small. like... a few dollars small.

ironically, therefore, the profit margins of medium-volume sales would be about the same order as the mass-volume sales! if we get this right, we can transition from one to the other, *without* having "the usual" massive NREs associated with having to do *complete* product redesign each and every time (thanks to the modular design).

so it's a complex strategy, based on bootstrapping up from zero NREs, which, itself, is far from being silly or impossible, is again _part_ of the strategy of keeping the overall costs down.

Re:Great (1)

Raenex (947668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38410774)

If you're going to right paragraphs of text it would help if you used conventional capitalization. I know it's common in the instant/text/tweet messaging world to forgo them, but they really help with readability in longer texts.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38410724)

Mmm. Bite the raspberry pi...

The raspberry pie is a very small, very cheap computer runs a pretty standard flavor of linux. It isn't solder-it-yourself or program-it-yourself. It can run stuff that is already out there. It connects to stuff you already have. This could make computers available to people who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford one. It could also open the door to build stuff for which you might not want to risk your $500 laptop. Add a "real" computer for robotics. Use it as a flight-nav system and launch it into space. Use it to download images from the internet to burn onto your toast in the morning... At twenty five bucks the question is - "why not"?

Exciting (1, Interesting)

inglorion_on_the_net (1965514) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408328)

This is really exciting. Personally, I can't wait for the Raspberry Pi to start shipping and I will definitely get a few, but if Rhombus can pull this off, that will be fantastic, too!

Why PCMCIA? (4, Interesting)

bcmm (768152) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408332)

Why use the PCMCIA form-factor? It appears they aren't actually using it for PCMCIA. Is it very difficult to design a connector, or is it to do with using existing manufacturing tools originally designed to make PCMCIA cards?

Re:Why PCMCIA? (3, Interesting)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408354)

PCMCIA seems to be what happens when a marketing droid forces design constraints on something. "It needs to be the size of a credit card"! If if smaller and thicker, connectors would have been much sturdier.

Re:Why PCMCIA? (4, Informative)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408546)

PCMCIA was originally designed as a memory card form factor. It was later thickened up for use as an expansion card form factor.

Also I think being thicker would have doomed it sooner as laptops got thinner.

Nothing wrong with PCMCIA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38408368)

Theres nothing wrong with PCMCIA or Cardbus FTM. Remember the REX line was in PCMCIA form factor and it was very successful.
Granted it was a while ago, but adequate hardware in pcmcia form factor would still be useful even today.

Re:Why PCMCIA? (2)

LinuxIsGarbage (1658307) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408446)

PCMCIA has been obsolete for like 15 years replaced with identical form factor Cardbus cards. Not only that but Cardbus has been obsolete for 5 years replaced with Expresscard, which itself isn't that popular because most people use USB for add-on peripherals these days.

So really they are comparing it to an old obsolete format.

Re:Why PCMCIA? (1)

pedrop357 (681672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38410200)

When I first saw this article, I wondered if they were making PCMCIA/Cardbus or ExpressCard form factor computers that could go into expansion slots.

I have to admit that the possibility of plugging a cardbus computer into my 9 year old laptop would be sweet (and completely unnecessary).

Moving to the present, the expresscard computer could act as a nice coprocessor or ASIC.

Re:Why PCMCIA? (2)

mikael (484) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408456)

I'd guess it's for upgrading a laptop. PCMCIA would give the board a chunk in memory-map space, as well as being in a robust form-factor. USB dongles tend to end up having damaged connectors to the point they are unusable.

Re:Why PCMCIA? (0)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408568)

I'd guess it's for upgrading a laptop. PCMCIA would give the board a chunk in memory-map space, as well as being in a robust form-factor. USB dongles tend to end up having damaged connectors to the point they are unusable.

I have never mangled a USB connector badly enough to make it unusable, but I have to fix up my laptop's PCMCIA connector a few times after bending pins while inserting a card. One pin broke off completely when I was trying to straighten it. And I plug/unplug my USB peripherals *much* more than I ever plugged in a PCMCIA card.

What are you doing to mangle your USB connectors? Stepping on them?

Re:Why PCMCIA? (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409766)

I could ask the same about you and PCMCIA cards. I have had many, SCSI, NIC, modem, Wifi, and USB 2.0 and used them extensively and interchangably. I never managed to bend any pins. Same thing with USB, though.

Re:Why PCMCIA? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409972)

I could ask the same about you and PCMCIA cards. I have had many, SCSI, NIC, modem, Wifi, and USB 2.0 and used them extensively and interchangably. I never managed to bend any pins.
Same thing with USB, though.

I blame poor tolerances in the computer's PCMCIA slot - too much clearance let the card shift enough that the pins didn't quite line up. This seemed to be a common problem back in PC cards were popular - we always ended up with a computer or two at the office with pins mangled so badly that we had to replace the PCMCIA slot module.

Apparently I'm not the only one to have this problem, since the howto guide on fixing the pins mentions the problem:

http://www.ehow.com/how_8690286_fix-bent-cardbus-pins.html [ehow.com]

However, the pins in the slot where the card connects can sometimes bend, making it impossible to insert the card into the slot. Forcing the card to insert will only make the problem worse and can bend other pins

Re:Why PCMCIA? (1)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38410058)

I blame poor tolerances in the computer's PCMCIA slot - too much clearance let the card shift enough that the pins didn't quite line up. This seemed to be a common problem back in PC cards were popular - we always ended up with a computer or two at the office with pins mangled so badly that we had to replace the PCMCIA slot module.

Apparently I'm not the only one to have this problem, since the howto guide on fixing the pins mentions the problem:

http://www.ehow.com/how_8690286_fix-bent-cardbus-pins.html [ehow.com]

hey guess what, dude? if you manage to mangle it irretrievably, then thanks to the modular design you've only got one part to replace, not the entire device, eh? is that good apples or what? :)

Re:Why PCMCIA? (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 2 years ago | (#38410714)

Guess, I must have computers with good tolerance then. I'm still not convinced though. I liked the PCMCIA form factor very much.

Re:Why PCMCIA? (1)

mikael (484) | more than 2 years ago | (#38410694)

First time was when I had an USB TV stick on a laptop. Lifted up the laptop and was about to sit on the sofa, when the cat decided it wanted that seat :) Laptop slipped backwards, and straight onto the USB TV stick - bent the connector off the circuit board.

Other time was USB headphone adapter stick that has a pair of standard audio connector headphones. Tripped over the cable and stretched the USB connector again.

Simple because the PCMCIA sockets are on the side and not back alleviates thes problems. For audio I now use Bluetooth headphones.

Re:Why PCMCIA? (2)

bcmm (768152) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409226)

It's just the form-factor/connector. TFA says it won't be electronically compatible with PCMCIA and will be physically keyed to not fit in a PCMCIA slot (though otherwise identical).

Re:Why PCMCIA? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38408674)

I think they're just using the physical PCMCIA connector, not the PCMCIA pin-out. I think it's so that the entire thing can be plugged in to a variety of hardware devices: small form-factor computers, TVs, tablets, whatever. There are benefits to that approach. Wouldn't it have been nice, for example, if you could have upgraded your original iPad by simply ejecting the motherboard and inserting a new one? There might not have been any reason to replace the screen and battery. This sort of modular approach resolves that. And it opens up opportunities for hardware manufacturers if they know they can get a whole computer in a known form-factor. It would relieve them of an otherwise huge part of the product design.

Re:Why PCMCIA? (2)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408860)

I think they're just using the physical PCMCIA connector, not the PCMCIA pin-out. I think it's so that the entire thing can be plugged in to a variety of hardware devices: small form-factor computers, TVs, tablets, whatever. There are benefits to that approach. Wouldn't it have been nice, for example, if you could have upgraded your original iPad by simply ejecting the motherboard and inserting a new one? There might not have been any reason to replace the screen and battery. This sort of modular approach resolves that. And it opens up opportunities for hardware manufacturers if they know they can get a whole computer in a known form-factor. It would relieve them of an otherwise huge part of the product design.

exactly! now, why did you say this as an anonymous coward? :) the problem with the above is that what end-users would love is exactly what consumerism hates! planned obsolescence is what it's called, i believe. we don't like that sort of thing round here, y'all :) hence the initiative is being done under the umbrella of a Community Interest Company, because it removes the absolute requirement to maximise profits over-and-above-all-else [CICs just have to not make a loss, and there are *no* Shareholders, and no dividends to pay out]. thus, there is no driving force, for example, to justify planned obsolescence, nor is there a justification to remove the dual motherboard design, because to do so would result in larger profits through the argument that "when it breaks people will spend more money with us, buying a whole new one, profit is higher".

the other reason for the modular approach is that there are now restrictions on air-shipment of explosives (lithium batteries being an explosion hazard). so by having a modular design where there is a battery compartment that can take AA or AAA batteries, and you can upgrade later to a lithium pack, Mass-Volume Hypermarket Retail Stores can do "Just in Time" ordering of the main parts of the device(s), get them shipped in by Airfreight, as well as stock up on Sea-freighted modular battery packs in large volumes which, if they truly run out or don't arrive in time, doesn't matter because the sales staff can direct people to buy the bit of plastic that holds standard AA/AAA batteries.

we've thought this through from lots of different angles. really :)

Re:Why PCMCIA? (3, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409286)

Then what we really need to be shooting for is CRFF or card reader form factor because frankly i haven't seen any express card or cardbus slots in a while on anything sub $1k but they ALL have card readers now. Sure that doesn't give a lot of space but that is why everything is going nano right? tell them white coats to get on it!

And while I love your idea of bringing standardization to mobile sadly it will NEVER happen, and here is why: all those PCs companies (with the exception of the fruit company and their world famous RDF) found that with standardization comes commoditization and razor thin margins and they don't like that, hence why there isn't jack shit interchangeable anymore if they can help it. I'm sure they miss the days of "Compaq RAM" that was 3 times the price but you had to buy if you had a Compaq, or Dell PSUs that were just funky enough they wouldn't fit in a normal case, and that is what they have now with mobile. After all how could they gouge you on a battery if you could just run AAAs? How could they get you to buy a whole new unit if the tiniest part fails if you could easily just buy the part and DIY or take it to the local shop?

Sadly the corps have figured out "designed for the dump" gives them their biggest profits hence why everything is so flimsy and easily broken now. Personally I wish the FOSS guys all the luck in the world, i'd love a cell phone or laptop where parts were as easy to get and interchange as your average desktop but I doubt the corps would ever let that happen, it'd cost them too much profit.

Re:Why PCMCIA? (1)

Nethead (1563) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409650)

Hairy,

They are using the form factor of PCMCIA to use existing parts. They are going out of their way to make sure it can't plug into a laptop PCMCIA slot as the electrical pin-outs are no where near the same. They just want a cheap connector that is small but with lots of pins.

In the old days we made homebrew computers with DB25 connectors for I/O even though we were never going to use it for serial or Centronics printer connections. It's just a cheap connector available everywhere.

PS: I just used Ninite to build an XP box for my stepdaughter. What a cool service. Thanks again.

-Joe

Re:Why PCMCIA? (1)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409730)

Sadly the corps have figured out "designed for the dump" gives them their biggest profits hence why everything is so flimsy and easily broken now. Personally I wish the FOSS guys all the luck in the world, i'd love a cell phone or laptop where parts were as easy to get and interchange as your average desktop but I doubt the corps would ever let that happen, it'd cost them too much profit.

we've spoken to several of them, already. the profit margins anticipated by the large companies are, exactly as you surmise, too low. thus, we have no competition. question for you: tell me where you can get a GPL-compliant 1ghz+ ARM Cortex laptop with 1gb or 2gb of RAM, anywhere in the shops with a 1280x800 LCD or better for $150 and i will quit working on this and go buy it.

ok, that's just one point covered - i've said quite enough on this discussion already, i'll leave it for a while, ok? :)

Re:Why PCMCIA? (3, Interesting)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408766)

http://rhombus-tech.net//faq/#index4h2 [rhombus-tech.net] - re-use of *existing* connectors, housings and assemblies keeps the price right down. yes you're absolutely right: expecting a complete new design of connector to be reasonably affordable is impossible.

the whole initiative is based around leap-frogging over the normal barriers to entry for products. use Software (Libre) Developers for the software engineering. use off-the-shelf parts as much as possible. do a deal with the factory ["we won't charge you for software engineer time if you won't charge us for hardware engineer time"]. use pre-existing casework designs from China-based Industrial Flea Markets (don't get the wrong idea, here - these Markets are the size of football pitches and 7 stories high!) and so on.

No competition, yet (4, Interesting)

LtGordon (1421725) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408360)

The Raspberry Pi is expected to ship to mainstream customers early Q1 2012. Per the summary, this group is still in the "could end up in mass production" phase. They can hardly compete if this one isn't being sold.

Re:No competition, yet (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38408572)

Right. Because of any niche technology there can only be one producer and one product that well. Shit like Android and the iPhone should have never have sold because of WinMo and Blackberry. iPod should have left the field to Archos. And Arduino? Fuck that noise... we don't need no stinking prototyping platform!

Re:No competition, yet (2)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408808)

yaa, who said anything about competing? :) feel free to buy a 700mhz ARM11 unit for $25 when it's available. we're going in incremental stages. if you've seen what happened to projects like the OpenPandora, the OpenMoko and so on, you'll appreciate why. http://rhombus-tech.net//faq/#index2h2 [rhombus-tech.net]

Re:No competition, yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38410462)

We've seen what happened to the open pandora.
That's exactly OP's point. It sold years later, and by the time it finally went to sale, it was already too late. It inferior to pretty much everything else on the market, and was very expensive for what it is...

Raspberry pi doesn't beg for money (pre-orders or such), they actually had alpha production, the product does exists and it is in the fabs at this exact moment.

I hope that the pcmcia thingy is not vaporware, but at this stage, no one can know for sure.

Re:No competition, yet (1)

Broolucks (1978922) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409036)

At that price I'm going to end up buying a bunch of each anyway!

Re:No competition, yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38410466)

it was supposed to ship last month, then this month. last i heard they're charging double for the first run of them and afaik we don't have a release date... other than they'll go to production in january.

so by the time you'd get a raspberry pi at the intended price of $35 (b model with ethernet), this group could be shipping alphas on a faster, better, cheaper devices.

Sort of a truism (1)

bigsexyjoe (581721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38410488)

Of course someone is working on something better and cheaper than Raspberry Pi. And of course there will eventually be something better and cheaper than Raspberry Pi. And in ten years, everyone is going to have PC hooked up to their tv. And most people will have one that costs less than $100.

This isn't a reason to not get a Raspberry Pi, but exciting nonetheless.

Ewok Orgasm (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38408366)

just imagine it

Lotsa Talk (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38408370)

There has been a lot of talk about these ultra low cost(and low power) computers recently. But, until something ships, meh.

Where is my Raspberry Pi?
Where is my Chumby NeTV?
So far, the only ones to ship have been the Plugcomputers and they haven't been cheap.

How is this any better than the Raspberry Pi? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38408396)

As far as I can tell, it's got the exact same problem: It's not running open spec hardware, esp for the GL stack, and there's no open source software stack available for it.

Maybe it's just me, but that makes it just as much of a non-starter as the Pi itself.

(And for anyone who goes, oh hey, there's mali GPL code up on the arm website: No, there's drm code there so much like the past few companies trying, they hope to get the drm code into the kernel without actually released open source GL libs/userspace drivers that actually support it.)

Open platform (3, Interesting)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408678)

Had it been running an open spec hardware, it would have been more expensive. If you want an open CPU, ARM is not it - the only one I can think of is OpenRISC. One idea - take the OpenRISC CPU (essentially Verilog code that one would implement on an FPGA), take another FPGA to contain all the interface and support logic it needs, and then add whatever the appropriate amount of RAM and Flash it needs. Once all that is there, port something like Minix on top of it (so that the resource consumption is not much) and you'll have a purely open system.

However, it will not be anywhere near as cheap as $35, at least initially. First of all, it's not something just a couple of guys will do - one would need whole engineering teams to do various things
  • Write a complete spec on both the hardware and the software
  • Make the tweaks to the design that are necessary for it to be supported on any fab, process & lithography, and work w/ the fab on ensuring acceptable yields
  • Procure the other supporting chipsets or design needed to make a complete system
  • Port an existing FOSS platform to this reference design - the OS, the UX, and everything else
  • Produce bundles based on different requirements - from low price to high functionality - which can then be sold in the market
  • License that entire design - hardware & software - to whoever wants to manufacture, market and sell it
  • Work on price reductions

The above exercise would enable a company to produce a bunch of products that can be spec'ed @ difference performance points, and targeted towards various market segments - from home hobbyists and education going right up to smart phones and tablets.

Re:Open platform (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38408916)

The problem is not the ARM core - the core hardware is proprietary but all the information you need to work with it in software is freely available. It's the broadcom graphics stuff that's tacked onto the side (although technically it's the other way around) which is the big problem - broadcom are about as tight-fisted as you can get when it comes to actually using any of their stuff. They're a damn hardware company, so if I've bought their damn hardware, why am I not allowed to know how to actually use it?

Re:Open platform (1)

Narishma (822073) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409892)

You single out Broadcom, but all the other SoC providers are just as "tight-fisted" as you call them. They all require a proprietary firmware and closed source drivers to work with their GPUs. The only companies that release the specs of their GPUs are Intel and AMD, and they don't make embedded stuff.

Re:Open platform (1)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409028)

yes. now, what's really cool about the idea of doing an open hardware CPU is that when it succeeds, and when the rhombus-tech initiative succeeds, there will be a ton of compatible motherboards sold as mass-volume products that end-users, who don't want to go to the trouble of reinventing the laptop wheel or the tablet wheel can just go "yes! i'll have one of those, and now i have a laptop with an open hardware CPU" and even "yes! i have a smartphone with an open hardware CPU".

try that with anything other than a modular architecture and see how far it gets you.

not a fair pricing comparison (5, Informative)

pz (113803) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408414)

"Mass-volume" pricing is manufacturer speak for wholesale prices, as in buying thousands of units at a time. You expect those prices to be half or less of retail. So a $15 OEM price will be about $30 at retail, generally speaking. That compares reasonably well to the $25 retail pricing of the Raspberry Pi, given that this new board has somewhat higher specs.

Re:not a fair pricing comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38408688)

See their wiki page [elinux.org] . They estimate the mass-volume component cost to be 5-6$. So 15$ most probably is the retail price.

Re:not a fair pricing comparison (2)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408796)

"mass-volume" is code usually for 100k+ pricing. the pricing quote for the raspberry pi is equally based on mass-volume (100k) pricing. the pricing quote for the raspberry pi equally excludes profit, shipping, tax, packaging, delivery, handling, tax, customs duty, tax on customs duty, agent shipping handling fees, tax on agent shipping handling fees, customs duty on tax on agent shipping handling fees and so on. whilst that sounds like a joke it's not: each and every one of those costs _does_ actually exist.

now, in the case of the raspberry pi, because they are a not-for-profit foundation, they are *not allowed* to make a profit (definition of "not for profit"), thus there is no room for expansion or for investment. as the front page explains, and i think i put it on the FAQ as well, sales of products for this initiative is being done via a "Community Interest Company", thus, when we say "it's possible that all profits can be fed directly back into R&D for further products to the direct benefit of Software (Libre) Developers" or "a decision can be made to spend an entire years profits on buying modules and giving them away to charity or to Software (Libre) Developers for strategic purposes", you know that we really MEAN that.

if Rhombus Tech was a "Ltd Company" and tried that kind of "stunt", the shareholders would be absolutely screaming blue murder and would want the Directors' heads on a platter. CICs are pretty misunderstood and under-rated, but they're a much better vehicle for what is being planned.

Re:not a fair pricing comparison (1)

jockm (233372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409108)

I think you misunderstand the meaning of “not for profit”. It doesn't mean you can't make money, or turn a profit, it means that those profits must be reinvested in the activities of the company.

So of course a not for profit like like Raspberry Pi can have “room for expansion”, and while they cannot have investors who expect dividends or to get a share of the profit; they can have backers who will invest in the company in exchange for access to the IP, or for more favorable sales terms, etc.

Re:not a fair pricing comparison (1)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38410010)

jock, thanks for the clarification: i didn't explicitly mention it before, but it's worthwhile now, having made the mistake of not mentioning it earlier. the book that i read which describes the differences - patiently and in-depth - is Professor Yunus's book "Creating a World without Poverty". Professor Yunus is an Economics Professor, formed the Grameen Bank, pioneered "Micro Loans", and is the joint winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. his book is just awe-inspiring, but crucially it describes why Ltd Company, not-for-profit and charity is not as appropriate a vehicle as a CIC. ok i leave it at that :)

Reptiles are among us! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38408438)

This is pure speculation on my part, but it could be that the Illuminati (or most of them) are a combination of human and reptilian DNA. How they came to be I have no idea, but seeing how monstrously evil they are, I'm not ruling out the possibility of them being born of some evil spirit incarnate. Or then they are biotech creations that lack any sympathy due to their reptilian essence, which would point to ET interference with earthly matters, making us all a testing playground.

Re:Reptiles are among us! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38408516)

As a member of the Illuminati, I can assure you that we have no reptilian DNA at all. You are confusing us with some of our experiments.

Please leave your Faraday cage, then we can reprogram you with correct ideas.

Re:Reptiles are among us! (4, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408544)

I am a reptilian illuminati, you insensitive clod!

I'll wait until ... (3, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408442)

... there's a website that I can order one from at that price, which will deliver with 7 days.

Until that time it's just vapourware - same goes for the Raspberry Pi, unless you want a keyboard sticker, they've got nothing on the market.

Re:I'll wait until ... (1)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408948)

... there's a website that I can order one from at that price, which will deliver with 7 days.

pete: done. we have a deal :)

please feel free to fill in a preorder which says exactly this. you want "Stage: stable". if you think it would be better to have a stage "7 day delivery at the stated price" then please feel free to say so, but bear in mind that it may be better for you to wait until the product's in Hypermarket Retail Stores and you can buy them off-the-shelf (literally). of course, you miss out on all the fun that way... :)

Re:I'll wait until ... (2)

michael_cain (66650) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409340)

Let's be honest; you haven't provided the information the grandparent post is asking for. No date for "Stage: stable"; no predictable quantity-one price. The Raspberry Pi has made a commitment to a known quantity-one price: $25 w/o Ethernet, $35 w/, shipping date unknown but Feb 2012 looks like a reasonable expectation. The beaglebone has a quantity-one MSRP: $89, and I can order from Digi-Key USA at that price today.

I have multiple small projects in mind for which this type of system on a card would be useful, but the hardware and the software need to be stable and reliable. The question, "When can I buy one such board, and what will the price be?" is reasonable, and so far as I can tell, not yet answered.

Re:I'll wait until ... (2)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409846)

michael, hang on dude! you're asking me to try to run before we walk, ok?

if you're not familiar with the way this stuff works... ok: the only thing we can do - *right now* - is set an "upper bound" based on known costs.

so *right now*, and *at this stage*, which is "alpha stage", we can say that, based on the fixed NREs of $USD 2,000, the more people that place preorder pledges, the more that we can subdivide those costs across the total number of people.

*right now* we have approximately 30 pre-order committments which, if they were all "alpha" committments, that $2000 would mean $75 per person.

what we _do_ know is the "upper bound" as well - based on the $15 figure from the SoC manufacturer, which is $15.

in between those two values the costs are a *direct* relation to the size of the order.

i've explained this - clearly - on the preorders page. i hope. i think. if it's not clear, please do say so.

but if you absolutely want a fixed price i'm sorry, that's just simply not possible. ok, it is, but you'll have to place cash on the table to get it.

do you have cash up-front that you can put on the table? because if so, then that's absolutely fine: i can then go to the Factory and say "we have a cash order for NNNNN units, please can you quote an *exact* figure for us?" they will then ask for a deposit - which you will have to pay - before they proceed with the work.

do you see how that is a completely different kind of deal from the one that we're doing? what we're doing is to *collaborate* with the Factory. we've done a deal which summarises as "we won't charge you for software engineer time if you don't charge us for hardware engineer time", and ensuring that the EOMA-PCMCIA CPU card can fulfil both *their* customer requirements as well as our mass-volume sales opportunities *and* fulfil the requirements of Software (Libre) Developers... ... you see how radically different that is from the "standard" business deal of "pay a factory in china to get it done (y'all), add that to the product retail cost and multiply up by some margin equals profit"?

it's... _complicated_, michael :) i'm doing my best to keep it simple, but also following the lessons learned from other related products like the PixelQI screen (they borrowed factory time at christmas of a taiwanese LCD manufacturer) and Goldelico's GTA04 product, designed by Dr Schaller. (Dr Schaller deliberately picked components that are available right down to Qty 1).

ok i'll leave it at that, hope that helps clarify.

p.s. it turns out that we do have someone who is willing to place an order for 1,000 units. i've asked - and will keep pressing - the factory for a quote based on those quantities. when it's available, i'll update the pages accordingly.

Computer on a PCMCIA card (3, Insightful)

rossdee (243626) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408444)

Great, so this low cost computer can be plugged into the PCMCIA slot of a laptop. Or you couyld just use the laptop. Am i missing something here?

Re:Computer on a PCMCIA card (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38408600)

Are you stupid or are you pretending?
Does "PCMCIA-sized" have to mean that it is an actual PCMCIA card? Do computers even have PCMCIA today? No. Good.

Re:Computer on a PCMCIA card (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38408658)

Sup dawg, I herd yo like computers...

Re:Computer on a PCMCIA card (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38408714)

RTFA before posting

Re:Computer on a PCMCIA card (3, Insightful)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408760)

Perhaps the project leaders should instead think before writing marketing copy.

Re:Computer on a PCMCIA card (1)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409056)

been doing that for 2 years, dude. consider yourself lucky that i'm a software (libre) developer, not a marketing droid. mwahahahah all your base are belong to us, we are Ltd Company pathological liars who will do annnnything to get your moneyyyy mwahahah. http://www.thecorporation.com/ [thecorporation.com]

Re:Computer on a PCMCIA card (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38409114)

Pretty sure he called it a "PCMCIA-sized modular computer", I only read the summary tho.

I think what you meant to say was "the slashdot headline could be misleading." Yes, they sometimes are.

Re:Computer on a PCMCIA card (4, Informative)

Rennt (582550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408746)

They are just using a cheap connector with plenty of pins. FTFA:

These pinouts make no attempt to be electrically or electronically compatible with the legacy PCMCIA standard. 16 GPIO pins, 24-pin RGB/TTL, USB2, I2C, 10/100 Ethernet and SATA-II interfaces are included in the Version 1.0 specification.

Re:Computer on a PCMCIA card (3, Informative)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408978)

Great, so this low cost computer can be plugged into the PCMCIA slot of a laptop.

ah NO! :) the mechanical design prevents insertion of EOMA-PCMCIA CPU cards into legacy PCMCIA slots:
http://elinux.org/Embedded_Open_Modular_Architecture/PCMCIA#Deliberate_Mechanical_Non-interoperability [elinux.org]

if you tried to force it in, you would mechanically damage the laptop and/or the card, and once you'd done that, the chances are that you'd blow up the card and/or the laptop as well.

Or you couyld just use the laptop. Am i missing something here?

you're missing something :) the design concept is that the EOMA-PCMCIA CPU card *is* the laptop... but only when the modular CPU card is plugged into an EOMA-PCMCIA-compliant laptop Motherboard that's *designed* to take these CPU cards. see example motherboards here: http://elinux.org/Embedded_Open_Modular_Architecture/PCMCIA#Example_Motherboards [elinux.org]

to have an x86 CPU in a laptop already (cost of $300+) and to then put in an extra low-cost CPU card that does pretty much the same job as far as 98% of computer users are concerned, well... that would just be silly. why not just have a modular mass-volume laptop plus CPU card that can retail for about $95, eh? :)

Re:Computer on a PCMCIA card (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409500)

no one said it would be plugging in, its just the same size and credit card sized is so 1980's

RTFS

Great for 3rd world countries, if they success (1)

Clarious (1177725) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408448)

There isn't many detail now, even their website is just an wiki page. Nevertheless, I hold high hope for this one, living in a 3rd world country, I have always interested in fighting illiteracy and connecting people with the power of the internet. Of course there are many projects like that, both by the government and other organisations, but they aren't very successful. One of the reason for their failure, IMO, is that normal desktop PC requires proper maintenance, especially in remote areas where the weather aren't very friendly with electronic devices. The fact that many projects re-use old PC doesn't help either. Most 'computer room' just sit there gathering dust after the local get bored with playing games, chatting and half of the computer dies. LTSP is another choice, but we still need someone to be there to fix in case problems arise, and there isn't many FOSS technician here.
So we need some kind of computer that is really cheap, require little maintenance (for both software and hardware), easy to deploy. Actually Intel promised us that kind with their Atom CPU, but AFAIK an Atom-based PC still in 200~250$ range, which is not cheap at all. And now this project seems promising.

Re:Great for 3rd world countries, if they success (2)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408742)

This stuff about these solutions being good for 3rd world countries is just a fantasy, first thought out by god knows who! The only way it would be of any use to 3rd world countries is if they had high computer literate population - and by that, I mean that an average citizen of one of these countries is as knowledgable as the average /. poster. Only then would it make sense - you give some average citizen in Malawi or Cameroon a PCMCIA or Raspberry Pi, and next thing you know, you have a whole bunch of websites w/ plenty of software and other fun things based on these platforms coming out of those countries. Or you'll have Linus being flooded w/ kernel fixes and suggestions from these places once such things become popular. Guess what - it's not going to happen.

Essentially, any product would have to do a minimum of what an average phone or tablet can do - be a calculator, a GPS, a planner, a notepad and maybe a few games. If not, why will anybody pick those when most phones are already enough? Oh, and I'm assuming that they will have an easy to use UX - not something one factors in when one thinks of a $25 unit, which they're probably imagining will be good enough to run emacs or bash.

Blob? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38408458)

Will this one have closed hardware parts like the GPU in the Raspberry Pi?

Come on Tim, proof read! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38408498)

"...only only..."

computer in your wallet (1)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408564)

I think a computer that can fit in your wallet would be extremely useful. Once ubiquitous they could be carried everywhere by everyone and connected to available monitors. Add secure cloud storage and everyone has a laptop at all times without the hassle.

Re:computer in your wallet (3, Insightful)

nyctopterus (717502) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408604)

You mean.. like a phone?

Re:computer in your wallet (2)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409006)

ah, but then can you take the CPU out of the phone and put it into a low-cost beowulf supercomputer cluster? yes, seriously: one of the options that's possible with these little CPU cards, because they have SATA-II interfaces (proper ones) and also use such little power, is to plug them into a massive rack, 1gb RAM, 1ghz CPU speed, NEON instruction set per CPU, hell you'd have an ultra-low-power supercomputer in no time! if only bloody ARM would release information about how to use the GPU on the MALI 400 MP for scientific purposes we'd be laughing.

Re:computer in your wallet (1)

spasm (79260) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409992)

Seriously. I don't think we're that far away from a 'phone' which gives you a touchscreen gui oriented towards phone/mobile use when unplugged but a desktop gui when plugged into a cradle with a monitor & keyboard attached.

Re:computer in your wallet (1)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 2 years ago | (#38410432)

Probably more like connecting a wireless display and keyboard to turn a phone into a tablet, netbook or low-power laptop, depending on the situation.

Re:computer in your wallet (1)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408754)

iPod touch? iPhone? Android phone or tablet?

Re:computer in your wallet (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408966)

iPod touch? iPhone? Android phone or tablet?

Which of them fits in your wallet?

Re:computer in your wallet (1)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38410650)

The iPod touch. Even though I don't have much cash in it, my wallet is big enough

I've never had Raspberry Pi (1)

glutenenvy (1248588) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408584)

I did have a Blackberry crumble after falling down the stairs and Apple crisp up a lapboard after it was on a few hours.

Eight is enough! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38408814)

So many links I don't know where to start. (Eight is enough!) Oh well I'll just wait for the Raspberry PI. It's easier than reading all those links!

But I really want a good CPU/GPU with:
1. One or Two Mini-PCI Slots (mounted at a 45deg angel to the main board!)
2. One or Two Mini-PCI-E (mounted at a 45deg angel to the main board!)
3. Min of four or more USB.
4. Some GPIO.
5. On board temp sensors! And air temp sensors! And Humidity Sensors! (a must have for real data acct and system monitoring.).
6. On Board Power Supply. (10V to 18V Range with Shutdown control with delay) (Think Automobile Apps. or maybe just Solar.)
7. BlueTooth!
8. GigaBit Port. At least one. (must be full bus bandwidth!)

Note: WIFI! It is just to easy to add the WIFI chip of choice via USB, miniPCI or miniPCI-E.

Beagleboard? (1)

ikedasquid (1177957) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408870)

Doesn't this already exist as the beagleboard? Arm cortex A8 @ 1GHz, 512 MB RAM, USB host/OTG, DVI out, SD slot, Ethernet, RS232... It's not as small as a Rasberry Pi or a PCMCIA but it's still pretty small (about the size of a 3.5 inch floppy). Draws about 1/2 amp at 5V at full load. Can be powered off USB as long as it's own USB host is not used. Lots of projects already going on it and it's open HW, schematics for everyone! It's trivial to get one up and running with several flavors of Linux (I've been using Ubuntu). Plenty of other options as well.

Re:Beagleboard? (1)

LuxuryYacht (229372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409112)

There is a possibility that a design very similar to the BeagleBone will be spun with this new Embedded Open Modular Architecture/PCMCIA standard as well as other ARM soc designs. It will probably be at much lower cost than the BeagleBone $89 USD. http://beagleboard.org/bone [beagleboard.org]

This new standard allows you to plug in whatever cpu module you wish that is compliant.

Re:Beagleboard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38409190)

From http://rhombus-tech.net/ [rhombus-tech.net]

"The second idea under consideration is to adapt the beaglebone, which has full CAD/CAM schematics, publicly available under Open Hardware Licenses. The reason for considering this CPU is that in mass-volume it is as low as $USD 5. Placing this into an EOMA-PCMCIA-compliant format would provide a low-cost second option, and use of the AM3357 instead of the AM3358 would allow products that used the AM3357 to be FSF Hardware-endorsed."

Re:Beagleboard? (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409520)

yea arm on board is nothing magical and the world is allowed more than one (especially if it cost less than HALF of the beagleboard)

Re:Beagleboard? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38410066)

Beagleboard is around 100 US$. It's not about the specs, it's about the price. If you can get a whole smartphone for a few hundred bucks, why it's brain costs equally?

Good step in the right direction (3, Interesting)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409002)

I work in a company where some of our products are basically Full-HD TFT displays with integrated ARM-based computers (glorified nettop components) running a company-internal Linux distro.

Having one of these to replace/upgrade their computer like you'd switch the optical drive in a business laptop would certainly cut down costs.

Re:Good step in the right direction (1)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409898)

I work in a company where some of our products are basically Full-HD TFT displays with integrated ARM-based computers (glorified nettop components) running a company-internal Linux distro.

Having one of these to replace/upgrade their computer like you'd switch the optical drive in a business laptop would certainly cut down costs.

oo - lennier1, i want to talk to you :) i'd love to know how much these cost (the product your company has) because esp if it's gnu/linux based and has a decent amount of RAM i'm sure it would be desirable by many Software (Libre) Developers. please could you email me, to talk more? thanks!

Re:Good step in the right direction (1)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 2 years ago | (#38410320)

It's tied to a lot of paperwork for proprietary hardware but I'll see if I can establish any official contact.

These systems are used in a variety of ways, airport arrival/departure displays, conventions, concerts, in-store advertising (e.g. fashion shops book advertising slots in nearby stores), events, ...

Pricing depends on the size of the project/company. A supermarket in a shopping mall (1-5 displays plus license for the necessary application) is of course a different kind of project than, for example, a mid-size airport who buys/leases a ton of them and orders custom-made modules for our proprietary applications to boot.

@topic:Take a small project like a shopping center with 50 of such displays and now imagine how easy this makes the upgrade process from single-core to dual-core modules with more RAM and better graphics, followed by a flash update.

Re:Good step in the right direction (1)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38410698)

thanks lennier1. yes we have someone in the same line of business, he's looking at placing an order for 1k units, precisely because the cost of development of what is effectively the major bit of the work - the CPU card - is so much lower. then, they can do a 2 to 4 layer board for the remaining bit, covering all the peripherals. that way, they've just got themselves a decent profit-margin back, even on low-volume production runs of their product, because the main CPU card is a "consumer-grade" off-the-shelf part.

exposed email (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38409032)

yeh sweet, i'd preorder a few...but to leave my email address sitting out in plain view for anything to scrape...no thanks.

opensource (1)

yupa (751893) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409066)

Yes it is opensource, the but code look very ugly : http://anonscm.debian.org/gitweb/?p=arm-netbook/arm-netbook.git;a=commit;h=fe9f45a106b84dacf86117a5953b5efa57bae223 [debian.org] Good luck to people that will work with these drivers !

Re:opensource (1)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409870)

ahh, you've dealt with SoC manufacturers rushing things out the door before, i see? :)

Re:opensource (1)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 2 years ago | (#38410362)

It's hardly limited to those. Even stuff like Realtek's network card drivers provide the occasional WTF moment.

poorly chosen connector (1)

Gravis Zero (934156) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409138)

i've seen this idea for a modular computer before and the choice of using PCMCIA dumb.
1) There isnt an explanation for why they choose PCMCIA so it's quite arbitrary.
2) They talk about ejector assemblies for the cards as if you would be popping out the card on a regular basis which would be foolish. For one, i dont want some jackass popping out the core of my laptop and running off with it to sell on eBay.
3) Like someone said before, making PCMCIA cards is difficult because of the connector. Why not just use an edge connector that will reduce manufacturing faults?
4) It's not even a standard PCMCIA connector, it has "Deliberate Mechanical Non-interoperability" so that you cant put in other PCMCIA cards by accident.

A simple X pin edge connector (like what RAM uses) would simplify manufacturing and not require custom connection parts. Just opening a small panel with a couple screwed under your laptop and stick in the new edge connector based module would solve all these issues.

This idea for a easily popped out card is STUPID.

Re:poorly chosen connector (2)

LuxuryYacht (229372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409420)

I imagine the reason that they reused the PCMCIA design is for reuse of the tooling for the case and also the durability of the connectors. The PCMCIA connectors have durability ratings of 10K insertions. Many card edge connectors have only a durability of 100-200 insertions. The simply made fascia plate keeps these new cards from being inserted into legacy sockets. The cpu card might be swapped from a laptop to a desktop, set-top-box, car PC, cluster rack, etc etc. You could make devices with a simple cover plate to keep the cpu module from being easily ejected if you wish. Devices such as laptops, set-top-boxes, etc might be easily upgraded to a newer or more powerful cpu or more RAM by simply swapping the cpu module.

Re:poorly chosen connector (1)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409942)

I imagine the reason that they reused the PCMCIA design is for reuse of the tooling for the case and also the durability of the connectors. The PCMCIA connectors have durability ratings of 10K insertions. Many card edge connectors have only a durability of 100-200 insertions. The simply made fascia plate keeps these new cards from being inserted into legacy sockets. The cpu card might be swapped from a laptop to a desktop, set-top-box, car PC, cluster rack, etc etc. You could make devices with a simple cover plate to keep the cpu module from being easily ejected if you wish. Devices such as laptops, set-top-boxes, etc might be easily upgraded to a newer or more powerful cpu or more RAM by simply swapping the cpu module.

*snort*. i wish i'd written what you'd written, it's spot-on :) can i borrow what you wrote, put it (attributed) somewhere on the wiki? seriously :)

Ho-Hum... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38409564)

Preorders? And the thing is in "schematic design stage"?

Then you need a PCMCIA connector to mate with the card, along with all the hardware connectors, consisting of

        RGB/TTL: 28 pins
        USB2: 2 pins
        I2C: 2 pins
        10/100 Ethernet: 4 pins
        SATA-II: 4 pins
        GPIO: 16 pins
        5V Power: 2 pins @ 0.5A per pin

Very nice at a proposed $15 price point, but when you've got to add the hardware to connect it to anything meaningful then it becomes rather less enticing. Have fun wiring up VGA, USB. Ethernet, SATA and power sockets to get operational. For $10 more, the Model A Pi is plug'n'play operational. And I'm more confident that the Pi will appear in January than the Rhombus appearing any time in 2012.

But what sticks in my throat is the idea of pre-ordering something thats nothing more than a statement of intent predicated off the back of the interest in Raspberry Pi.

"ME TOO" anyone????

Re:Ho-Hum... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38409768)

it's hardly off the back of the Pi. Designs like these have been in demand for several years but greed, power or mental illness have always gotten in the way.

The $15 Allwinner A10 module is not associated with Broadcom in any way. That is a big plus for many developers and they won't have to deal with binary blobs and lack of Linux support.

For $10 more there can easily be mating accessories for I/O to keyboards, mice, display and hard drives.

What is this going to mean for me, the end-user? (3, Insightful)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409910)

I'm not a programmer or a hardware hacker. I don't know anything about soldering circuit boards. I'm just a guy who likes to surf the net, write stories, play games, hang out on-line, and so on. What is the availability of this $15 device going to mean for me?

I mean, at least (as far as) I know the Raspberry Pi is going to be producing fully-realized devices that I can buy, plug in a keyboard and monitor and Ethernet cable, and I'm done. It sounds like this project is just about building a circuit board. And while it's nice it will be 40% cheaper and three times as fast, I'd like to know what I could do with it if someone came up to me on the street and handed me one.

Re:What is this going to mean for me, the end-user (1)

LuxuryYacht (229372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38410086)

Modules like these will support and industry of mass produced low cost devices that will interoperate with them. You'll be able to plug the cpu module into your desktop unit or set-top-box at home and surf the net, write stories, play games, hang out on-line, and so on. You'll also be able to take the module out of your desktop unit or set-top-box and plug it into your laptop unit and surf the net, write stories, play games, hang out on-line, and so on.

Re:What is this going to mean for me, the end-user (2)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38410514)

I'm not a programmer or a hardware hacker. I don't know anything about soldering circuit boards. I'm just a guy who likes to surf the net, write stories, play games, hang out on-line, and so on. What is the availability of this $15 device going to mean for me?

I mean, at least (as far as) I know the Raspberry Pi is going to be producing fully-realized devices that I can buy, plug in a keyboard and monitor and Ethernet cable, and I'm done. It sounds like this project is just about building a circuit board. And while it's nice it will be 40% cheaper and three times as fast, I'd like to know what I could do with it if someone came up to me on the street and handed me one.

if they _literally_ handed you one on the street, you'd be able to plug in a USB-OTG-powered hub, then you could put in a keyboard and a USB ethernet, and also an HDMI monitor, and some headphones.

if they also included the "micro-header" that is also a planned product, you'd also be able to plug in an ethernet cable (without the USB internet dongle), and you'd not have to plug in that USB-OTG hub, you'd be able to put a standard hub on instead, and also power it from a 5V PSU, and you'd also be able to connect a standard (externally-powered) eSATA drive.

oh, and there's a MicroSD slot, so if the man-on-the-street had taken out its OS card before giving it to you, you'd be able to download ready-built standard GNU/Linux OS distros, shove them in and go.

so hell no, it's most definitely *not* about just "building a circuit board" - that's just the first step.

make a pcmcia accelerator (1)

unique_parrot (1964434) | more than 2 years ago | (#38410914)

Would be very nice to have a native arm accelerator as a pcmcia card, which could be used to drive the google avd's in the emulator. For $30 I would get one immediately !
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